With a stroke of Governor Brown's pen, Oregon emerges as national leader in the effort to meet 21st-century housing needs and restore housing affordability for all.
Today, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law HB 2001, a groundbreaking statewide mandate that is rapidly gaining national attention, and is considered by many, including 1000 Friends of Oregon, to be the most important piece of housing legislation in Oregon since SB 100 itself. No other state in the nation has yet achieved such progressive residential zoning reform. 1000 Friends of Oregon played an active role in support of the new law, which enjoyed bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate floor votes. As part of our advocacy, we assembled and led a diverse coalition of more than 25 partner organizations, including AARP Oregon, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Oregon Home Builders Association, Habitat for Humanity of Oregon, Oregon Association of Realtors, Coalition of Communities of Color, and many others who showed up in Salem to give testimony in favor of the bill.
Our Deputy Director Mary Kyle McCurdy, who gave testimony on behalf of 1000 Friends back in February, was in attendance for the official signing in Salem.
Sponsored by Representative Tina Kotek, Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, HB 2001 restores the opportunity to build classic Oregon home types such as duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhomes, and cottage clusters on lands currently zoned exclusively for single-family homes. Historically, much of this land once qualified for such structures (which is why you see so many of them in many of Oregon's most cherished historic neighborhoods), but was rezoned in the mid-20th century (which is why you see so few of them in Oregon's newer neighborhoods, or on any property that has been rebuilt in the intervening years). The gentle density of older Oregon neighborhoods gave way to gentrified extremes: micro-units in high-rise buildings, or ever-larger single family homes, with nothing in between. The end result of those decades of exclusionary zoning has been just that: more and more Oregonians sized out and priced out of their own communities. In Oregon, the overall housing shortage now stands at 155,000 homes and counting.
HB 2001 is a major step toward correcting for those years of increasing imbalance.
The question now is, "What does implementation look like?"
Over the next few years, the 50 towns and cities in Oregon with populations of 10,000 people or more will be required to adopt zoning changes that allow for duplexes on current single-family-zoned lots. For cities of 25,000 people or more, the zoning changes will need to allow for the full suite of housing types mentioned above. Single-family homes are of course still permitted, but will no longer be the only type of home allowed. LCDC will be creating an easily-adoptable model for those code changes in the coming year, and 1000 Friends will be working to bring as many Oregonians as possible to the table as the changes are rolled out.
Over the next decade or two, then, patterns of development will begin to shift, with smaller multi-unit homes once again filling in the fabric of our cities, adding back the gentle density that brings with it increased affordability, accessibility, and other urban amenities, while reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. Pressures to expand many of Oregon's urban growth boundaries will ease as people find it easier to build and obtain homes within city limits.
In the long run, HB 2001 will mean that Oregon's children, grandchildren, and generations yet to come will all enjoy a better, broader set of housing options than are currently available. It will mean that their neighborhoods will be more connected, more climate-resilient, and more economically and demographically diverse. Just as SB 100 was when it established Oregon's statewide land use planning program nearly 50 years ago, HB 2001 will become one of the single most important efforts in Oregon history to, in the words of Governor Tom McCall, "keep Oregon lovable and to make it even more livable."
Thank you to everyone who supported the passage of this landmark legislation!