Oregon has become the first state in the nation to require cities with a population of more than 10,000 to permit duplexes in neighborhoods that were once zoned for single-family zoning—or only one home per lot.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed four bills into law earlier this month that set out to address the state’s housing shortages.
“This session, we committed to significant investments that will help every Oregon family have a warm, safe, and dry place to call home,” Brown said in a statement. “No one single solution will address our housing crisis, and this legislation tackles the whole spectrum of issues, from homelessness to stable rental housing to increasing homeownership.”
Oregon has also passed recent legislation to restrict rent increases and prohibit no-cause evictions.
The move to nix single-family zoning in a statewide effort follows on the heels of similar efforts in other cities nationwide. In late 2018, Minneapolis became the first major U.S. city to do so.
City and state lawmakers are looking for solutions to address housing affordability and housing shortage woes across the country. But ending single-family zoning has been met with resistance among some residents who are concerned about the change in character to their neighborhoods.
“I’m opposed to this bill, because it can have negative effects on established neighborhoods without mandating affordability,” says Stewart Wershow, a resident in Corvallis, Ore., and president of his neighborhood association.
He told OregonLive.com that he’s concerned denser housing in traditional single-family neighborhoods could ruin the area’s appeal and add traffic, noise, and strain on city services.
Portland resident and former Colorado planning commissioner Frances Moore is “concerned that increasing urban density without making corresponding changes in infrastructure will cause major problems, especially in transportation (road congestion, parking) and water/sewer adequacy.”
But advocates said the bill will reduce soaring home prices and increase the number of homes available where they’re needed: near jobs and in walkable neighborhoods.
Garlynn Woodsong, land use and transportation committee chair for Portland’s Concordia Neighborhood Association, said workers at local shops and restaurants have to commute from towns outside the city because they can’t afford to live where they work.
“We want to see more homes for regular folks, rather than just more homes for the very well-to-do,” Woodsong wrote in her public testimony. “We must protect our environment by ensuring enough flexibility for more affordable home types and more compact, inclusive neighborhoods.”