City manager updates state of PT

Posted 10/25/23

I was as pleased to read the Editorial last week as I am to be sharing the space this week. I’ve noticed recent changes in our iconic local paper – changes for the better. I like the …

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City manager updates state of PT


I was as pleased to read the Editorial last week as I am to be sharing the space this week. I’ve noticed recent changes in our iconic local paper – changes for the better. I like the direction and the City is a partner along the journey. 

The same is true for affordable housing. The Leader and City have a lot to gain or lose around this most critical community priority. All of us do. That’s why I welcome the dialogue here and invite yours. An informed and engaged community is an essential ingredient to success. All of us have more to learn, energy to give, and challenges to overcome if we are to make real progress on housing – or on anything, for that matter.

It’s not possible to cover where we’ve been, where we are, and where we need to go in 500 words. But a brief sketch:

Where we’ve been? Largely unaware, especially these past few decades, of how consequential our inattention to incremental progress in housing would be. Sailing through a series of perfect storms across the nation, we’ve left our community more vulnerable and blown off course than we should be.

Where we are? Playing catch-up and wrestling with change. As was said by Leader Editor Erik Dolson last week, those who work hard for our community cannot work hard enough to exist as residents here. That’s true for City staff, Leader staff, and just about any other industry or organization around. It doesn’t have to be this way, and something – many things – must change. 

Here’s a hard truth: there’s an intoxicating nostalgia for the past – and rightfully so when our past is so rich and unique. But it may be equal parts poison and elixir. We stand now at an inflection point where all those who follow will judge our community on whether we came together to protect what’s great about our people and this place, and prepared deliberately and thoughtfully for the future – or didn’t.

Where we need to go? There might not be much to judge or many people around to do so if we get this wrong. We’ve made a huge recent push on housing to catch up for lost time. Just this past week, City Council raised height limits in some zones to allow more density of multifamily units. Just this month, we unveiled the preliminary design for Evans Vista – with 321 units, triple originally imagined. Just this year, we allowed Tiny Houses on Wheels as part of our efforts to “re-legalize middle housing.” We’ve also made housing a core feature of our multi-year Financial Sustainability Initiative and drafted a whitepaper on innovative housing and infrastructure ideas.

Looking immediately ahead, we’ve teed up a housing element as part of a future golf park. We’ve also drawn in $700,000 in grants to include urban forestry and climate resilience into our housing work. Action on housing in PT isn’t bad for the climate, it is climate action.

This also leads to our #1 priority next year: the Comprehensive Plan Update. That’s when we can truly accelerate community commitment and action to reflect the PT we want to be now and into the future. No one can do it alone, and many agencies and individuals are stepping up and working in partnership. Please join us. It’s an ideal opportunity to set aside our own individualism to think and act like a community – to make that quirky, authentic, awesome place we call home possible indefinitely.

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