In this month’s Home Building News magazine, Ezra Hammer examines HBA’s collaborative approach to advocating for members and industry needs with the jurisdictions in the Portland metropolitan area. You can view an online version of the Home Building News here. Over the past year and a half, I have had the pleasure of leading your Government Affairs team. In this role, it is my responsibility to ensure that your interests are represented in local jurisdictions around the Portland metropolitan area. Given its geographic, cultural, and political diversity, we are tasked with crafting unique messages and initiatives tailored to fit and respond to these differences. Some members see the need to defend our industry in a zero sum, us versus them framework. While this sort of approach may feel good and may even look good on cable television, it is a recipe for abject failure in the communities that make up our region. Rather than proceed in a rigid manner, your Government Affairs team has developed a robust collaboration first approach. This approach focuses on building personal relationships with jurisdictional staff and elected leaders and working closely with them to develop community appropriate pro-housing initiatives and policies. Instead of merely pushing our own ideas, we listen and respond to community concerns and needs. This has produced significant success and led to unique outcomes that we never could have developed on our own. Case in point; instead of seeking to embarrass Tualatin and Clackamas County for their lack of available housing, we worked closely with their staff and elected leadership to develop a set of tools to help them better understand their housing constraints so they can focus on crafting appropriate policy responses. Instead of complaining about a potential fee in Happy Valley, we worked with the city better understand its public safety needs and coordinated on efforts to reduce property crime on construction sites. While confronting these jurisdictions may have made us feel good, it was only through dedicated collaboration that we were able to achieve positive outcomes for you. Importantly, this approach bore fruit last month in two important ways. First, following months of conversations, the Metro Council directed staff to bring back information so they can start crafting a series of exemptions and reductions to the regional construction excise tax with a focus on supporting the residential development industry. Metro is certainly not known for reducing – rather than increasing – development fees, but with sustained engagement we were able to kick off a critical conversation that could produce real results in the coming months. Second, following four months of discussions with elected leaders and staff, the Beaverton City Council unanimously supported a joint city-developer recommendation for buildout of a non-potable water system for the Cooper Mountain and South Cooper Mountain areas. Only after sustained collective efforts were we able to overcome the significant initial divides that separated the development community and staff. In both of these instances, success occurred because of collaboration – rather than confrontation. While some instances leave us no choice but to fight, those are few and far between. Indeed, when we keep our opposition powder dry, it is far more impactful when we have to use it. I am committed to continuing this process and we know that your interests are best served when your Government Affairs team carries forward a message of cooperation and partnership.