King City is getting ready for housing challenge
When some people in the Portland-area think of King City, they might have an image of a community of mostly older, retired folks all living in single-family homes driving golf carts around a small town. As a person of color and a mayor on an unusually diverse city council, I am here to inform you that King City has changed and we're far different from the stereotype of days gone by.
Today, we're an inclusive city — much younger and far more ethnically and racially diverse than just a few years ago. We are also a community that includes a variety of housing choices affordable and accessible to families of all types and income levels. To steal from the old car ad: we're not your father's, or mother's, King City.
This matters because the Portland-area is in the middle of a housing affordability crisis and King City has a proposal before the Metro Council to be part of the regional housing affordability solution. Our proposal will allow us to maintain the special character of existing neighborhoods while creating new housing options that would be accessible and affordable for families of all income levels. Our plan makes room for everyone, from young families looking to purchase their first home to singles and empty-nesters looking for a smaller apartment, condominium or innovative modular home.
According to Metro, the Portland-area needs 300,000 more homes of all types and prices to meet the population growth expected over the next 20 years. This year, three cities in addition to King City — Beaverton, Hillsboro and Wilsonville — have submitted proposals to Metro that, together, would add 9,200 more housing units to help drive down costs. In other words, just a drop in the housing-supply bucket. We believe the math alone supports approval of all four city proposals. Given our relatively small size, we realize that we must offer something more than just supply and demand to support our plan.
What King City offers is a strong commitment and concrete plan for a livable, affordable, inclusive community for people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds seeking diverse housing choices.
King City is expected to grow by 2 percent per year for the next 20 years but today we're out of room to grow. Fortunately, many years ago regional planners identified lands just west of King City as "urban reserves." In other words, land specifically designated for future development by King City. Our plan will create compact, high-quality residential neighborhoods designed with pedestrian-friendly streets, sidewalks and trails connecting residents to new retail amenities and future public transit options. Roughly 40 percent of the new area will be set-aside for open spaces, parks, natural areas and recreation. Importantly, our plan will pay for itself, with private developers and new taxpayers, not existing taxpayers, picking up the tab for new development. All of this will make life better for existing residents and create high-quality and affordable housing options for the new residents coming to the region.
Given the severity of the housing affordability crisis, we urge the Metro Council to support our proposal to increase the regional housing supply to combat rising housing costs. As a community, we've spent the past two years holding public meetings to share, listen and learn about our future. King City is ready to play its part as a regional leader in providing housing choices that are accessible, affordable and welcoming to all.
Ken Gibson is mayor of King City