LUBA Remands Eugene's ADU Regulations

On November 29th, the State Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) sent Accessory Dwelling Unit regulations back to the City of Eugene for further evaluation to determine if our regulations on ADUs are "reasonable" and "related to siting and design."

In two decisions released that day, Home builders Association v City of Eugene and Kamps-Hughes v City of Eugene, LUBA confirmed that the City can not apply existing regulations on ADUs without first considering if that regulation is reasonable and related to siting and design. This applies both to broad zone changes (like applying ADU restrictions in new zones) and specific decisions (like determining if a particular property--in any zone-- can build an ADU or not.)

LUBA also confirmed that a dwelling that meets the definition of an ADU can be considered an ADU for purposes of compliance with SB 1051, regardless of what it is called. While this means that the Jefferson Westside Special Area Zone can continue to call ADU-like structures whatever it wants, it also presumably means that those structures can only be disallowed based on reasonable regulations related to siting and design, and Jefferson Westside regulations on second dwellings must also now be examined for reasonableness.

While LUBA declined to weigh in on the specifics and reasonableness of Eugene's regulations, they did suggest that Eugene pay special attention to lot size minimums and alley access prohibitions on ADUs when they do the review.

In 2017, the State passed SB 1051, which says that cities shall allow each detached single family dwelling to develop at least one accessory dwelling unit, subject to reasonable regulations related to siting and design.

The City of Eugene declined to examine its code to determine if it prohibited ADUs for reasons that weren't reasonable or that weren't related to siting and design. Eugene's ADU standards contain many criteria that either aren't related to siting and design or aren't reasonable (for example, the City of Eugene requires that someone who has an ADU must provide the City with a doctor's note if they are going to be gone for more than six months for medical reasons.)

Until the City of Eugene examines its code, and removes all regulations not related to siting and design and all unreasonable regulations related to siting and design, we are in a situation where every application for an ADU is subject to appeal, and no homeowner who wants to build an ADU knows if they can or not.

What Comes Next

The process to change our code takes time. It requires review by the Eugene Planning Commission, multiple notice periods, and at least two public hearings. Learn more about how a code becomes The Code.

The Eugene City Council's December 10th 5:30 pm work session is focused on discussing tools and strategies to make housing more accessible, affordable, and diverse in Eugene. This provides a perfect opportunity for the Eugene Council to initiate a land use process to update our ADU code.

Think they should move forward on making ADUs easier in Eugene? There is no public comment before their December 10th work session, but Council can be reached via email.