The city council counts affordable housing, finding a water partner and a proposal for a light rail as highlights of its tenure
Tom Anderson makes his way home to his tenure as a member of Tigard City Council and is pleased to have been on board at a time when the city oversaw the planning of a proposed light rail route through the city and laid the foundations for growth in The city created the Tigard Triangle area and invested in new sources of drinking water.
Still, Anderson cites affordable housing as one of his – and the – greatest achievements of the council during his four-year tenure.
“You know, it’s been a big push across the region, but we’ve made it a priority,” Anderson said in a recent interview with his Tigard Real Estate company on Southwest Main Street. “It’s a team effort, but I really got a building excise tax on affordable housing.”
By the time Anderson arrived, the city had 690 housing units aimed at low-income residents – a number that city officials said had stagnated for a long time. Four years later, Tigard now has 955 affordable housing units, 519 of which will soon be available.
Anderson said this is important to him – not just as a real estate professional, but also because of the desire for affordable housing for those who want to live in Tigard.
“We just need it,” he said. “You know it was a big push across the region, but we made it a priority. We really made it a priority.”
After serving on the Tigard Planning Commission for seven years, Anderson was elected to the council in a four-way race in 2016 along with incumbent Jason Snider. Snider was elected mayor in 2018, and Heidi Lueb was appointed to fill the remainder of Snider’s tenure.
Anderson said he think his time on the planning committee helped make him a better city councilor and enabled him to answer many of the land use questions that the city council has to answer.
When asked to choose a high point for his time on the council, Anderson simply said he was happiest standing in for Tigard. He’s especially proud of the city’s housing regulations, and says Tigard is way ahead of the curve.
“Our code is really good, so I’m always proud to represent Tigard when we talk about land use,” said Anderson. “We’re just really good at it.”
Among the major accomplishments Anderson saw during his tenure on the council was moving from reliance on Portland water to partnering with Lake Oswego to develop the Clackamas River as a source of water. This project was completed in 2017.
Anderson also campaigned for the city to participate in an expansion of the Willamette River inlet facility in Wilsonville and membership in the Willamette River Coalition. If voters finally agree, the Willamette River could become another source of water for the city over the next two to three decades.
“The time, effort and engagement of Councilor Anderson has helped the Tigard community strengthen its long-term water supply strategies and make Tigard an active payer in the area to address the upcoming drinking water and supply challenges in Washington County to tackle and in the metro area, “said John Goodrich, chief executive of Tigard’s public works division.
Anderson stressed that the development of the Tigard Triangle, an area bounded by Highway 99W to the north, Highway 217 to the west and south, and Interstate 5 to the east, also became an important issue during Anderson’s tenure. The city’s planning staff, with the blessing of the council, created a so-called “Lean Code” to attract developers.
Since some projects are already running or have been completed in the triangle, Anderson expects business to develop in the region soon.
“The applications aren’t flooding in right away, but people are interested,” he said. “It will be neat.”
Anderson is also confident that the Southwest Corridor light rail project will eventually materialize. In November, voters rejected Metro’s 26-218 measure, which would have helped fund the light rail project as well as other transport-related projects.
“I think (a loan to fund) the Southwest Corridor light rail project will eventually be successful,” said Anderson. “I think they just have to figure out how to fund it.”
Tigard plays an important role in this proposal. Five of the seven stations are planned for the 11-mile route of the planned MAX line through the city.
When the MAX comes to Tigard, Anderson believes it will change the face of the Tigard Triangle even more, adding opportunities for “more affordable housing and some cool businesses.”
Still, Anderson said that the development of Tigards Main Street is also an important factor. He is looking forward to the future construction of a four-story building on Main Street next to his office and realizes that this will change the vertical landscape of downtown.
The plan is for Ava Roasteria, a chain of upscale coffeehouses, to construct the building, which will include a café, convent, tasting room and pastry shop on the ground floor. The second floor is home to executive offices, including Ava Roasteria headquarters. The third and fourth floors are reserved for 22 apartments.
“It will bring more development,” predicted Anderson. “As soon as (developers) see this happening downtown, someone else will say, ‘Well, we can build another four-story building’ or ‘We can build parking spaces under something’.”
Regarding the search for a new city manager – the city council recently announced the names of three finalists – Anderson said it was really a search for someone who is effectively the “soul of the city.”
“We set the vision, but it’s very important to staff morale,” he said, pointing out that Tigard’s municipal government has more than 300 employees.
That year, Anderson did not run for re-election. Instead, he sought a more regional office to run for the Metro Council. He felt the position would play to his strengths and understanding of land use issues, he said.
Anderson ran for the District 3 seat against Gerritt Rosenthal, an environmental adviser and former legislative candidate. Anderson noted that Rosenthal previously ran against former Tigard mayor Craig Dirksen and didn’t seem to have much support at the time. This time, however, things were very different.
“This time, because I wasn’t a well-known factor like Craig, the machine, the democratic machine, came out really tough on him and basically won it for him,” suggested Anderson, reflecting on Rosenthal’s disgruntled victory in this year’s election. “I think Gerritt was more surprised than me.”
He believes part of that strategy was to tie Anderson, a registered Republican, to President Donald Trump, who is deeply unpopular in Washington County. It is a settlement that Anderson rejected.
“I’m temperate,” said Anderson. “I work with both Republicans and Democrats and Independents and everyone. That was unfortunate because it’s an impartial position – but I understand why he did it because he wanted to win.”
For his future, Anderson said he could run for council or mayor or even district commissioner again, but he is not committed to any future policy.
Anderson said he doesn’t think he’ll have a hard time filling his time with activities when his council days are up, and he believes he will become more involved in the Tigard Rotary club.
“I’ve always wanted to get into Habitat for Humanity,” he added.
Anderson’s wife, Kelcie, coordinates homeless assistance at Rise Church, formerly Calvin Presbyterian Church. Anderson said he would like to help more with that too.
Anderson is a music major at Washington State University and still plays the trumpet. He is part of a radio band, Funktown PDX, a group that often performs at corporate events, large restaurants and hotels, and weddings.
Meanwhile, Anderson is pleased with Tigard’s instruction.
“Between the planning commission and the council, we planned 10 years in advance,” said Anderson, citing Washington Square, the Tigard Triangle and downtown Tigard as districts he is particularly excited about developing. “Tigard has good things ahead of him.”
Mayor Jason Snider commended Anderson for his time on the council, and the council passed a resolution recognizing his service.
Snider summarized Anderson as follows: “He was the councilor who said more but spoke less, and when he picked the moment to discuss a topic, people listened because what he had to say always mattered His insight and perspective on living and working with the homeless has been invaluable to the council, and I appreciate his contributions. ”
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