Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Oregon’s 2021 Legislative Session will be very different from past sessions.
As much as the legislative leadership and administrative staff have tried to plan for a largely remote session, there undoubtedly will be challenges and changes we cannot foresee now. The Capitol building will remain closed to the public until coronavirus levels are under control and health experts advise it is safe to re-open. However, that hasn't stopped over 2,000 bills from being filed — with expectations that there will be even more. Finally, the Legislative Session must end on or before June 27, 2021.
Legislators of both parties have made clear that several issues are the primary ones they must deal with this session:
- Coronavirus and its health and economic impact on all Oregonians, including school-age children, businesses, renter protections, and more
- Oregon’s state budget
- Wildfire recovery, preparedness, and resiliency
- Racial justice & equity
- Legislative redistricting
1000 Friends of Oregon will be working for you to pass strong land use improvements and to block attempts to weaken Oregon’s land use program. Already, approximately 100 bills that relate to land use in some way have been filed.
This session, 1000 Friends has worked with Representative Mark Meek to craft two bills:
HB 2556 | Notice for All
Current, decades-old statutes set the standard for local government notice of land use proceedings that are limited and inequitable. Today’s law requires that notice be mailed only to property owners, and within a short distance. Renters are excluded from those required to receive notice of land use proceedings, even land use changes that might be proposed for next door. Land use changes, especially in rural areas, can have impacts beyond the immediate vicinity.
The proposed bill would revise and expand the current law in two ways:
- Require notice of local land use proceedings be mailed to both property owners (current law) and to the property/resident addresses (which would include renters and lessees).
- Expand notice distance inside urban growth boundaries from 100 feet to 600 feet (about 2-3 blocks) and rural notice provisions from 500-750 feet to 2640 feet (1/2 mile).
HB 2560 | Equitable Access
At present, Oregon has introduced a COVID-related emergency/temporary requirement that all local governments provide a remote access option for local public hearings and meetings. This proposed bill would make remote access a permanent feature after the state’s COVID-related restrictions on in-person hearings are lifted.
Remote access to public hearings and meetings is an equalizer, as the in-person only nature of many meetings excludes a large swath of Oregonians. Equitable access to meetings is especially important for disabled individuals, those who live far from their county seat, who do not or cannot drive, or who have family or school obligations that prevent them from coming in person, to name a few.