OP-ED: Large Cities Preparing to Allow Middle Housing in Residential Areas
by Sara Sayles
In 2019, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2001, which was aimed at providing more affordable housing to Oregonians. To achieve that goal, HB 2001 made it easier to build denser housing in residential zones by requiring medium-size cities to allow duplexes on each lot or parcel zoned for residential use that allows single-family homes. It also requires large cities and cities in the Portland-metro region to allow middle housing types such as duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, cottage clusters, and townhouses in residential areas. In essence, HB 2001 mandates the allowance of denser, more affordable homes in residential areas.
To ease the transition for medium and large cities, the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopted administrative rules outlining minimum standards and setting implementation deadlines. Medium cities are defined as those with a population of more than 10,000 and less than 25,000 and not within Metro’s jurisdiction. The implementation deadline for medium cities was June 30, 2021. Large cities are those outside of the Portland-metro area with a population of 25,000 or more, those inside the Portland-metro area with a population greater than 1,000, and Portland-metro counties. The implementation deadline for large cities is June 30, 2022.
With the deadline approaching, large cities must soon allow: 1, a duplex on each lot or parcel zoned for residential use that allows detached single-family dwellings, and 2, all middle housing types in areas zoned for residential use that allow detached single-family dwellings, but not necessarily on each lot or parcel. Large cities will still be able to regulate siting and design of such middle housing, provided the regulations do not discourage middle housing development. If large cities do not develop their own code standards in compliance with HB 2001 by June 30, 2022, then the LCDC model code will be applied.
For cities like Portland, the approaching deadline does not mean much, given that in August of 2021 Portland implemented the Residential Infill Project (RIP), which is aimed to implement the mandates of HB 2001. RIP includes rezones, new overlay zones, increased options for housing, and limits on building scale, as well as the deeper affordability bonus and the historic resource demolition disincentive. The Portland City Council voted unanimously on June 1 to approve part 2 of the Residential Infill Project. RIP2 focuses on implementing the remaining HB 2001 mandates:
- expand housing opportunities in very-low-density zones,
- allow for attached houses and cottage clusters across all neighborhoods, and
- increase options for homeownership.
Other large cities in Oregon that have already implemented code standards in compliance with HB 2001 include Albany, Bend, Corvallis, Forest Grove, King City, Salem, Springfield, Tualatin, and Wilsonville. Most other large cities not listed have submitted post acknowledgment plan amendments (PAPAs) modifying their city codes and have implementation hearings scheduled throughout May and June. Only Fairview has not submitted a PAPA.
With the implementation of HB 2001 approaching, Oregonians should expect to see a focus on the development of affordable housing in medium and large cities in the coming years. This likely means that residential zones will start to see denser housing.
This article summarizes aspects of the law and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice for your situation, you should contact an attorney.
Column first appeared in the Oregon Daily Journal of Commerce on June 17, 2022.