Don't Let City Council Ignore The Housing Crisis

Secondary Dwelling Compliance Goes to Council

What: Public Hearing Regarding SB 1051/SDU compliance in Eugene
When: April 16th, 7:30 (arrive early to sign up to comment)
Where: Harris Hall, 125 E 8th Ave, Eugene

At their meeting today, the Eugene Planning Commission has forwarded their recommendations to City Council about what changes Eugene needs to make to their code in order to be in compliance with State SB 1051, which says that cities like Eugene shall allow “at least one accessory dwelling unit for each detached single family home.”  Unfortunately, the recommendation Council will be considering meets neither the spirit nor the letter of the requirement.  Let Council know what you think!  Be heard at the public hearing on April 16th.
 
(Not able to make it?  Send a comment to Alissa.H.Hansen@ci.eugene.or.us by April 9th to have them included in the packet, and watch the hearing on the web.

The recommendation before Council suggests some needed changes to our code to comply with SB 1051, such as ensuring that zones which currently allow single family dwellings but don’t allow secondary dwellings permit them, and brings our definition of SDUs into closer alignment with state language.  It also recommends closing a loop-hole in the code that prevented places of worship from developing affordable homes on their property.  However, it does not address the major elements of Eugene’s code that prevent homeowners from creating Secondary Dwelling Units and puts us out of compliance with state law, instead punting all difficult discussions to an unscheduled, unfunded “Phase 2” process.

SB 1051 says that secondary dwellings can be subject to “reasonable regulations related to siting and design.”  This includes things like height limits and setback requirements—it is about the structure and placement of the building on the lot.  As reasonable people can disagree about if 18 feet or 24 feet or 10 feet is a reasonable height for a SDU, Council reasonably suggested a “Phase 2” to discuss those types of siting and design questions.  However, it appears that instead they are trying push off all questions related to SDUs to a later date, regardless of siting or design.

Of note, unless Council acts, two roadblocks which are clearly not regulations related to siting or design will remain in the code—Owner-Occupancy Requirements and Lot Size Minimums.  Lot Size Minimums prohibit nearly 5,000 homeowners from being able to construct a SDU and are specifically recommended against by the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development’s guidelines on implementing SB 1051.  Owner-Occupancy Requirements do not regulate the building—they regulate who can live there.  

Even if Council initiated a Phase 2 immediately, any outcomes of that process would not be complete by July 1st, 2018 in order to be in compliance with SB 1051.  That is why Council needs to act now to remove non-compliant regulations on SDU from Eugene’s code.  Eugene is facing a major housing shortage, resulting in rising rents and home prices.  The longer we delay in addressing the roadblocks to creating the housing we need to meet this crisis, the worse it is going to get.  

City Council will be holding a public hearing on April 16 at 7:30 at Harris Hall, and will be holding a work session with potential action on May 14th.  

Learn more about SB 1051 and the areas where Eugene puts in place roadblocks to Secondary Dwellings.

Be Heard on Making Cottages Easier...

Right now, a proposal is before the Eugene Planning Commission to modify our zoning code to... do next to nothing.  Think Eugene should be doing something to address our housing crisis and making it easier to create safe, legal granny flats, backyard cottages, or garage apartments in Eugene?  The Planning Commission is accepting written statements for the public record through March 13th at 5pm.