Hood River to rezone park for affordable housing

Hood River is in a housing crisis

Hood River, Oregon. (KOIN)
Hood River, Oregon. (KOIN)

HOOD RIVER, Ore. (KOIN) — Hood River has a controversial plan to deal with its housing crisis — turning a city park into affordable housing.

The Hood River City Council approved the plan to re-zone the five acre Morrison Park. City Council President Kate McBride argues that the need for affordable housing in Hood River is dire.

“We know it’s not going to provide every single bit of affordable housing we need but we want to try and move the needle to some extent so that’s why we voted to do this,” McBride said.

Leading up to the vote, the city did a housing needs analysis, learning in the next 20 years the city will need 2,000 more residential units. About half of those would need to be for people who make less than the average median income.

City officials want the people who work in Hood River to be able to afford to live there too.

“The City of Hood River is made up of lots of different industries and tourism is just one of the industries,” City Planning Director Cindy Walbridge said. “We have Insitu, we have Hood River Distillers, we have Tofurkey we have Full Sail.”

Not everyone is happy about the decision, including people who enjoy the park’s disk golf course.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to take a nice park that everyone in the community uses,” park user Nathan Lazar said.

There is also some talk that people will try to appeal the decision.

Because Hood River is surrounded by the Columbia River, a national scenic area and high value farmland, the city says space is limited.

“It’s a hard decision to take out park space,” McBride said. “I mean it is a hard decision to do that but we don’t have another space to do this.”