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Asked about road maintenance at last week’s mayoral debate, state Rep. Jefferson Smith, brought up the very sexy phrase "systems development charges" and used the opportunity to criticize the third leading candidate in the mayoral race, former city Commissioner Charlie Hales.
Systems development charges are paid by developers -- of housing, new retail buildings, etc. -- to offset the effect of more people on roads, water, sewer and parks. The money goes toward infrastructure to handle more people.
"But one difference is is that I don’t agree with Mr. Hales that we should give a sweeping break to the developers to allow them to build that infill housing without paying for those very basics. So before we talk about spending new money, or even spending old money, let’s make sure we don’t give away the money we already have," Smith said.
Does Hales want to give "a sweeping break" to housing developers as Smith claims?
Apparently Hales does, but it’s not limited to housing developers. He’s called for a two-year moratorium on systems development charges, saying that they squash business, including the food cart operator looking for a solid building or the retailer who wants to move into bigger space. And yes, we need cheaper, more affordable homes in the city, his campaign says.
By limiting his comment to housing developers, who are unpopular in some circles, Smith was suggesting Hales has a cozy relationship with one group when his proposal is broader. Hales wants to grant this "sweeping break" to all developers, including the more sympathetic food cart operators. (In fact, Hales says these charges make no sense within the city, where infrastructure already exists.)
We find Smith’s statement needs a little clarification. We rule the statement Mostly True.
Oregonian/KGW Mayoral debate, April 30, 2012
Emails from Jessica Moskovitz, Hales campaign manager, May 1, 2012
Interview with Jefferson Smith, May 2, 2012
Interview with Justin Wood, lobbyist with Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, May 2, 2012
The Oregonian, "Portland's top mayoral candidates share job-generating visions," March 23, 2012
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