By Midge Pierce

With astronomical rental and housing costs, no one denies the need for affordable housing. The  question is whether HB 2007 is the solution.

Critics call HB 2007 a “statewide attack on local controls”, “sweeping upzoning”, “homebuilders’ goldrush” and “land grab writ large”. Opponents include Restore Oregon, Portland Coalition for Historic Resources, United Neighborhoods for Reform, League of Oregon Cities, the City of Astoria and various Portland grassroots organizations and neighborhood associations.

Proponents hail it as a fair and just emergency housing measure that will reduce obstacles for needed market rate and affordable housing.  Proponents include Oregon Home Builders Association, 1000 Friends of Oregon, Portland for Everyone and AARP.

Here is a sampling of reactions to HB 2007 that may soon be law of the land:

Restore Oregon Executive Director Peggy Moretti cites unfettered build-out in unaffordable San Francisco as proof that the “trickle down theory” of Build Baby Build will not result in low cost housing. Rather it is good intentions degenerating into bad outcomes.

The Architectural Heritage Center calls the bill a proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. It takes a “one size fits all” approach that encourages demolition of smaller, less expensive homes and does specific harm to historic districts.

The McCulloch Foundation says the bill being rushed through the legislature would “virtually negate Historic District demolition protection” and take away local development regulation from Oregon towns and cities.

A member of the Historic Laurelhurst preservation group says, “The Oregon Home Builder’s Association is using the State Legislature to force residential infill – no matter how poorly designed – on every city in Oregon.”

Portland Together (not be confused with 1000 Friends of Oregon’s local coalition Portland for Everyone) believes the bill is massive de-regulation for the benefit of for-profit developers.

United Neighborhoods for Reform says the bill negates “decades of careful landuse planning and local determination”.

A blogger posts, “Follow the funds. There’s a lot of money at stake here funneling straight to the grassroots through the former environmental group 1000 Friends of Oregon and the ironically named Portland for Everyone.”

A member of the Portland Coalition for Historic Resources reports the bill is driven by heavy money profiteering without promises of affordability.

HEART (Historic Eastmoreland Achieving Results Together) says HB 2007 is driven by Tina Kotek’s social engineering. Founder Derek Blum says it’’s “pretty disgusting that an elected official characterized homeowners seeking to preserve single family neighborhoods as NIMBY elitists. “

A grassroots objector blasts 1000 Friends of Oregon as a “former environmental organization that sold out to developers”, adding “Tom McCall would roll over in his grave.”

A member of Portland’s Residential Infill Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee known as one of the RIPSAC 7 asserts, “Density does not equal affordability.”

Proponents respond:  

House Speaker Tina Kotek told Salem meeting attendees that historic districts rationalize inequities that create barriers to building both market rate and affordable housing. “HB 2007 gets rid of loopholes that allow neighborhoods to self segregate.”

Portland for Everyone supports HB 2007A because “it will help ensure that every Oregonian has a safe and affordable place to live”.

1000 Friends of Oregon says HB 2007 streamlines local government procedures and strengthens requirements for clear and objective development review standards that make it easier to provide housing to more people “of all ages, ability, income and backgrounds in all neighborhoods”.

Deputy director Mary Kyle McCurdy cites “misuse of national historic districts to prevent change. Walled off communities contribute to exclusionary zoning.”

On its webpage, the Homebuilder’s Association says that HB 2007 limits the ability of cities, counties and historic districts to reduce density or prevent infill and redevelopment.

The AARP promotes housing options that serve citizens at all stages of life.

From AHC

AHC Advocacy: Fix Oregon House Bill 2007
Oregon House Bill 2007 remains a concern due to its targeting of historic districts as a detriment to increasing the supply of affordable housing. However, historic district designation itself does not prohibit the construction of either new infill housing or ADUs, or alterations to existing dwellings to increase the number of housing units. Also, historic districts occupy only a small percentage of all land in the state. Housing is crucial, and we look forward to continuing to be part of the solution to find ways to help provide more within historic districts and other vintage neighborhoods, as well as other locations.
While the legislative situation is evolving, HB 2007 is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee. Please read the engrossed version of the bill and express your opinion to your legislators. We will have very little warning about the exact time that the bill will be considered by Ways and Means. Speak up now, and be prepared to share your views with your state senators when the bill shifts to the Senate. For more information on HB 2007 and the AHC’s ongoing response to the bill, please see the AHC’s Advocacy News posts on our website.