By David Krogh

HB2003 is yet another affordable housing bill sponsored by State House Speaker Tina Kotek, but, the bill attempts to strike into the heart of Oregon’s affordable housing challenge by creating a realistic and well-founded response.

Speaker Kotek believes cities did not adequately address State Housing Goal 10 when it required them to determine a variety of housing types and income levels as part of the comprehensive planning requirements of 1973’s SB100. HB2003 proposes to provide specific guidance on how cities should perform these evaluations and sets responsibilities on state and other government entities in the administration and oversight of meeting identified housing needs.

Ed Sullivan, the renowned former Oregon land use attorney and current board member for Housing Land Advocates, told The Southeast Examiner: “There’s a lot in the bill and one could say it was drafted to assist the planning and construction of housing, especially affordable housing.”

Sullivan provided a partial list of specific elements in the bill including:

• The Department of Administrative Services (DAS) must come up with a methodology for assessing housing needs by calculating existing housing and projected housing shortfalls on a twenty-year timeline with a review every four years.

• DAS must apply this methodology to Metro and cities over 5,000 population in their Urban Growth Boundaries. This can include the expansion of urban growth boundaries if housing needs are not met within current boundaries. Such expansion must consider the need of additional lands for school facilities.

• For cities over 10,000 in population, Metro must review housing inventories every eight years and, if there is a shortfall, adopt a strategy to meet that shortfall. The Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) would have the power to compel changes to local comprehensive plans and land use regulations to assure compliance.

• LCDC may choose up to ten cities annually and assist them in achieving their housing obligations with technical and/or monetary support.

• Public property may be used for affordable housing provided provisions are met including a minimum of 50% of the units being affordable.

• Oregon Building Codes Division shall collect and maintain System Development Charges (SDCs) existing or modified from local governments and the Secretary of State (SOS) may audit SDCs and bring action to correct violations.

• If a challenge is brought for an affordable housing project and the petitioner loses, the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) shall award attorney fees against the petitioner.

If a local government reduces density or height standards below a certain level, it bears the burden of justification if challenged.

• Church property may be used for residential purposes with limitations.

Certain of these provisions are also applicable to counties that have unincorporated area within urban growth boundaries. In addition, although no specific types of housing are mandated, it is assumed that cities will be able to determine the kinds of housing most appropriate to meet their respective housing and income needs.

These could include: single family houses, duplexes, triplexes, apartment buildings, cottage clusters, tiny homes, and/or innovative housing. This flexibility for cities may be reduced if HB2001 is passed as the bill sets mandates as to what residential uses shall be located in (what may no longer be) traditional single family designated areas.

If HB2001 is adopted before HB2003, cities might be limited in how they are able to meet housing needs within traditional low-density areas. Damian Syrnyk, Chairman of the Legislative and Policy Affairs Committee for the Oregon Chapter of the American Planning Association, concurs that “HB 2003 should have been introduced before or concurrently with HB 2001” so as to avoid potential implementation conflicts.

Sullivan perhaps sums up HB2003 best when he says, “The Speaker and others formulated a program in which local governments must confront housing shortfalls with more than just words.”

That is really the focus of what HB2003 attempts to accomplish.

The public can monitor the legislative progress for HB2003 via bit.ly/2XixnRr.