2021 Mid-Session Update

Mary Kyle McCurdy

It’s been only three months since Oregon’s 2021 Legislative Session began, and we’ve had our work cut out for us. Here are a few of our accomplishments so far:

  • Over 220 action alert responses sent directly to legislators
  • 8,000+ Oregonians directly engaged on our legislative priorities through targeted emails
  • More than 40 pieces of written testimony submitted by our team, many accompanied with oral testimony
  • Three 1000 Friends-authored bills introduced: HB 2560A, HB 2556 & HB 2558
  • Almost 200 bills on our list of legislation to monitor

One of our focal points this session is HB 2560A — also known as Equitable Access to Civic Engagement — a bill of our own creation. If passed into law, HB 2560A would make remote access to public hearings a permanent feature after the state’s COVID-related restrictions on in-person hearings are lifted. 

Oregon’s first Statewide Land Use Goal is Civic Involvement for a reason. Our land use planning system is only as powerful as the voices involved in the decision-making process. Civic involvement has not historically been equitable, with many inequities still existing to this day. 

The in-person-only nature of local, regional and county meetings excludes a large number of Oregonians — those not able to take time off work, travel or who are physically unable to attend meetings. Such limitations disproportionately impact low-income, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, eldery and disabled community members — which can result in decisions that aren’t truly representative of Oregonians. If the last year has shown us anything, it’s that remote meeting access works, and it works well. 

HB 2560A passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 42-5. 

Below is a list of important legislation we're engaged in.


HB 762-6: Omnibus Wildfire preparedness & resiliency bill from Sen Golden/Gov. Brown.  Hearings and a work session have been held. Status: passed the Senate Natural Resources  & Wildfire Committee on a bipartisan vote.  It is now awaiting assignment to one of the committees that deals with funding needs. Stay tuned for an alert to support this bill.

Major Threats

SB 16 would waive Oregon’s land use laws and allow up to 100 new houses — not related to farming — to be scattered across 200 acres of exclusive farm use (EFU) lands in the large “eastern Oregon border region”.   

This is the very productive farming and ranching area extending at least 20 miles in from the Idaho border, and including the Malheur County cities of Ontario, Vale, and Nyssa, the areas of Willow Creek and Brogan, and the farm and ranch lands and habitat in between. Allowing homes on farmland that are not related to farming is fundamentally contrary to Oregon’s land use program and sets a terrible precedent. Status:  SB 16 has passed the Senate and has been referred to the House Rules Committee.  

HB 3072A: Allows UGB expansions into urban reserves without a showing of need. Status: passed out of the House Housing Committee to the House Rules Committee without recommendation. 

Equitable Access to Decision Making  

HB 2560A:  Passed on the House Floor with a strong bi-partisan vote.  42 aye, 5 no, 13 excused. The next step is a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee. Learn more about our bill here.

HB 2556: 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. Our bill would make two big changes to the current notice system:  

  • Require notice of local land use proceedings to 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 2556 has not yet had a hearing. Regardless of the fate of this bill, 1000 Friends will keep working to ensure notice for all. Learn more about our bill here. 

Equitable Access to Housing

SB 8:  This bill streamlines the approval criteria and process for regulated subsidized, long-term affordable housing to be sited on residential or commercial lands or lands zoned for religious institutions inside UGB. Status: Passed the full Senate and is on its way to the House. 

HB 3335: An ADU pilot program, inside UGBs, in which accessory dwelling units are developed for income-eligible homeowners (at or below-average median income) and then are available for lease by income-eligible tenants (at or below 60% average median income). 

HB 2918: Requires local governments — and allows mass transit districts or transportation districts — to prepare and submit to the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) an inventory of surplus real property. Real property is land, everything that is permanently attached to the land, and all of the rights of ownership, including the right to possess, sell, lease, and enjoy the land. HB 2918 Also establishes an alternative process for cities to sell real property for purpose of developing affordable housing

HB 2583: Removes residential occupancy restrictions, if the restriction is based on the familial or nonfamilial relationships among any occupants.

HB 2558: Allows modestly higher density in residential areas within ⅛ mile of transit stops — making it easier for communities to access affordable, carbon-friendly methods of transportation while also preventing urban sprawl. As the Sightline Institute sums it up, “good transit is pointless when people can’t live near it”. Unfortunately, this bill died, the victim of those resistant to allowing more and diverse housing options near transit. The current iteration of the bill is dead in the water; however, 1000 Friends will continue collaborating with other organizations to achieve the same outcomes. work with cities that are willing and excited to implement the concept locally. 

Supporting Oregon Agriculture lands - Food Systems and EFU Zoning

SB 555: Called Double Up Food Bucks, this bill enables & enhances the purchasing power of SNAP beneficiaries at farmers markets and participating local stores. Status: Passed the House Human Services Committee, and is currently in the Joint Ways & Means Committee.

HB 2785: Funds a state meat inspection program. Status: Passed the House Agriculture & Natural Resources  Committee, and is currently in the Joint Ways & Means Committee.

HB 3322: Prohibits homeowners associations from restricting the growing of food on one's own residential lot, whether the resident is the owner or renter. Status: passed House Housing Committee; voted on by the full House on April 26.

OWEB budget: Budget Policy Option Package supports the ability of the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program to obtain other public (e.g., federal) and private funding for the program.

Funding for Farm to School Program: Oregon's Farm to School Grant Program provides garden-based education and funding for schools to purchase healthy, local food. A budget request is now before the Joint Ways and Means Committee. Funding for the program was reduced from $15 million to $10 million in June 2020.  Organizers are hopeful that the current funding level of $10 million will be renewed, if not fully restored to $15 million.

Most bills that would have been damaging to Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) land never had a hearing. A few had hearings where we testified, but the bills did not proceed further. Several bills have also been modified to where we no longer oppose them. 

Racial Justice, Equity and Climate

HB 2488: This bill is now focused on incorporating equity and racial justice into land use planning Goal 1, Public Involvement, through the Land Conservation and Development Commission undertaking a Goal 1 revision. Status: in the Joint Ways & Means Committee. 

SB 286:  Establishes an Environmental Justice Council in the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Directs DEQ to develop environmental vulnerability assessment for natural resource agencies, including DLCD,  to consider when developing administrative rules or agency policies or programs. Status: in the Joint Ways & Means Committee.