Increasing Housing Density In Oregon Gains Momentum

Increasing Housing Density In Oregon Gains Momentum

Earlier this year, Oregon House Speaker, Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland) drafted House Bill 2001 that would increase housing density across the state. The bill was unanimously approved by a House committee Monday after the Portland Democrat agreed to make several changes and even has some allies across the aisle.

More than 70 percent of Portland’s residential land is designated for single-family housing. According to The Mercury, “Portland, is overrun with residential buildings that fall into one of two categories: Massive apartment complexes or standalone houses built for a single family.”

This means that Portland is missing a “middle” housing option such as a duplex, triplex or cluster of small homes. In a statement, Kotek said, “The state’s housing crisis requires a combination of bolder strategies. Oregon needs to build more units, and we must do so in a way that increases housing opportunity for more people. Allowing more diverse housing types in single-family neighborhoods will increase housing choice and affordability, and that’s a fight that I’m willing to take on.”

House Bill 2001 requires Oregon cities with populations larger than 25,000 to allow a variety of multi-housing options in neighborhoods that are currently zoned exclusively for single-family homes. These multi-housing options include attached units, cottage clusters and townhomes. It also includes more flexible rules to convert houses into multiple units.

And smaller cities, with populations between 10,000 and 25,000 would have to allow duplexes in these neighborhoods, as well.

Supporters of zoning reform say that breaking up larger homes into more units and allowing smaller buildings on the same lot makes housing more affordable.

According to OPB, “Kotek told reporters Monday that the latest version of her bill won’t satisfy its most fervent critics. But she said that she’s been able to win over a wide variety of groups.”

“What this [bill] is saying is that there should be more choice in single-family residential neighborhoods,” Kotek said. “Single-family homes are going to look different in the future.”