The 2019 Oregon Legislature has finally adjourned — and we’re just now able to reflect back upon how far we’ve come in a little over five months. Nearly 3,000 proposed bills were introduced, and over 700 were passed by the House and Senate. During this time we supported 17 bills, opposed nine significant bills, and tracked dozens of others. Additionally, 1000 Friends and our affiliate groups testified over 100 times to support or oppose legislation. Thank you to our members, partners, and affiliates who took the time to contact legislators and show up in Salem!
At the eleventh hour, this session provided a big win for us, many of our partners, and all Oregonians with the passage of HB 2001; which has been the focus of much of our legislative time and energy. HB 2001 re-legalizes middle housing in single-family zones in cities with populations over 10,000. This victory is a huge step in addressing the lack of affordable housing faced by one in three Oregonians. It’s more than just a win for Oregon — HB 2001 is the most progressive statewide housing bill in the country and sets the precedent for middle housing in America.
The coalition supporting HB 2001 was impressive: affordable housing developers, homebuilders, realty organizations, tenant’s rights groups, environmental organizations, nonprofits and more.
The vote to pass it was bipartisan in both chambers. We can’t thank enough the sponsor of the bill, Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, for her tireless work to ensure HB 2001 stayed afloat in a tenuous political climate. However, the work on middle housing is not over yet. It is now up to Oregon cities to implement it, and local initiatives like Portland’s Residential Infill Project and Better Housing by Design, as well as the middle housing efforts of other cities to strengthen HB 2001 so it works to the benefit of all communities.
“Oregon is a great state to live; we have a lot of people who are moving here; we don’t have enough housing for them, so the cost of housing skyrockets.” “House Bill 2001 addresses this challenge head-on by allowing more homes to be built in highly restrictive neighborhoods.” - Deborah Kafoury, chair of the Multnomah County Commission
We also saw big wins for our food systems work — with HB 2579 adding over $10 million to the Farm to School Grant program, Double Up Food Bucks securing $1.5 million and HB 5050 providing pre-development funding for the James Beard Public Market.
What we do wouldn’t be possible without the support of our members that donate to our programs and respond to our Action Alerts, and our affiliates and partners who assist us with advocacy every step of the way. Our work doesn’t begin or end with the session — throughout the year, issues that affect land use emerge in cities, counties, courts and agencies across the state.
To stay on the leading edge of advocacy and civic engagement, we have implemented a new communication platform to expand our outreach strategy, allowing us to take our Action Alerts to the next level. In just the last 45 days of the session, our Action Alerts were opened over 6,000 times — and that meant you and other supporters we able to send hundreds of messages directly to your legislators’ inboxes.
The session may be over, but it won’t be long before the process starts all over again — and we’re ready to continue the fight to keep Oregon’s farm, forest, ranch, and wild lands protected for generations to come.
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2019 Legislative Wins:
- HB 2001 - PASSED: Requires cities over 10,000 in population to allow middle housing in areas zoned for single-family housing: duplexes are allowed on all single family lots and in cities over 25,000 other middle housing is to be allowed somewhere in single family areas. “Middle housing” is defined as duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, townhomes, and cottages.
- HB 2225 - PASSED: Limits new homes in forested and wildfire-prone areas, by clarifying where certain houses, which are not related to forestry, are allowed. Without this bill, people and forests would remain in jeopardy, but this small statutory fix will help Oregon’s land use planning system protect people and forests from natural hazards like wildfires.
- HB 2351 - PASSED: Authorizes the State Marine Board to adopt special regulations to protect shoreline in Willamette River Greenway, including pursuant to Goal 15, the Willamette River Greenway Goal.
- HB 2790 - PASSED: Requires mass gatherings of over 3000 people in 72 hours to go through a land use permit process and allows counties to assess fees based on the number of attendees. The number of very large gatherings of people taking place on rural lands, and specifically farmlands and ranchlands, has increased, particularly with multi-day music festivals. These gatherings are land- and resource-intensive, often using more local water, fire and safety resources than many other land uses.
- SB 88 - KILLED: Allows counties to authorize construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on lands zoned for rural residential use, pursuant to specified conditions of approval. 1000 Friends was concerned that dwellings in wildfire-prone areas were not adequately addressed in the proposed bill.
- SB 334 - KILLED: Would have undermined long-range urban planning, including infrastructure planning already done by cities, by requiring immediate expansion of UGBs into urban reserves, where they exist, for “workforce commercial” development and workforce housing.
- SB 413 - KILLED: Would have allowed highways/tollways authorized pursuant to this bill to override laws on rural reserves (farmland) to be built.
- SB 961 - KILLED: Would have permitted avoiding statewide Goal 18 — the land use planning Goal that protects beaches and dunes — by including more shorelands that could be lined with rip-rap.
- HB 2152 - KILLED: This bill had many aspects, but we were most concerned with what appeared to be a sunset of the forest tax deferral program.
- HB 2456 - KILLED: Notwithstanding the land use planning goals, this bill would have allowed a county to rezone exclusive farm use lands that are within the “Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Region” for residential development in certain circumstances.