May 20th: ADU Public Hearing

The City of Eugene has released their proposed changes and findings for revisions to remove barriers to Accessory Dwelling Units in Eugene, and bring the City into compliance with state law.  Unfortunately, the proposed changes don't go nearly far enough. City Council needs to do more, and they need to hear from you.

Mark your calendars!  
What: Accessory Dwelling Unit Public Hearing
When: Monday, May 20th, 2019, 7:30 PM
Where: Harris Hall, 125 E 8th Ave., Eugene, OR

Advice on testifying
Can't make the public hearing? 
Submit your comments in writing before May 20th
Watch Online
See the draft ordinance and findings here.

In 2017, the State passed SB 1051, which said that cities must permit at least one accessory dwelling for each detached single family home.  Eugene, whose zoning code prohibited many single family home owners from creating an ADU if they so desired, attempted to update their code in 2018 to allow ADUs in additional zones while retaining all of the other barriers to ADUs.  This was appealed to the State Land Use Board of Appeals, who remanded the City's ordinance.  The City now has a second chance to bring its code into compliance with state law and to make it easier for homeowners to provide much needed additional housing in the city at a small scale.

After the public hearing, Council is scheduled to discuss ADUs and possibly act at their work sessions at 5:30pm on June 10th and June 24th. 

What is needed

While Eugene technically allows ADUs in most areas of the city, they have some of the most onerous and byzantine regulations on ADUs in the state.  Requirements such as lot size minimums prohibit over ten thousand homeowners from developing an ADU if they so desire-- even simply converting an exciting garage or basement into a home for a family member or to supplement their income by providing housing for someone seeking to rent a home.  Other regulations add to the expense and difficulty of building an ADU with no clear benefit.  

The state allows cities to regulate ADUs by putting in place reasonable regulations related to siting and design.  While it is appreciated that the City has chosen to propose removing some of the regulations that clearly do not related to siting or design, such as the excessive owner-occupancy requirements, they have chosen to propose to leave in place many requirements that are in no way reasonable.  In most cases, the City was unable to provide any rational as to how the regulations in question were reasonable, beyond vague claims that they would "prevent overcrowding" or "preserve livability."

In addition to removing the owner-occupancy requirement, and eliminating bedroom and occupancy maximums, the City should also:

  • Remove lot size minimums, density maximums, and prohibitions on alley access lots which prevent over 10,000 homeowners from being able to develop an ADU and are in clear violation of both the spirit and letter of the state law.

  • Remove the separate size limitation based on lot size for ADUs.  While limiting the size of an ADU is reasonable, reasonable size and lot coverage limitations already exist, and there is no explanation as to how a 700 square foot ADU and a 1000 square foot house on a 6000 square foot lot is any more impactful than a 600 square foot ADU and a 1100 square foot house.

  • Remove special ADU regulations in the University areas, including separate lot coverage and area dimension requirements.

  • Remove special requirements for sloped setbacks for ADUs.

  • Do not reinstate terminology exceptions for Special Area Zones.  While at the end of the day this is merely semantics, the confusion cased by calling ADUs one thing in one area and a different thing in a different area was already on display when discussing potential System Development Charge exemptions this past fall.   

  • Remove the Outdoor Storage/Trash Screening Requirement.  The City exempts single family homes and duplexes from the storage/trash screening requirements.  It is unreasonable to assume that the impact of outdoor storage from a single family home and an ADU is somehow much more than that from a duplex, and it is clear this regulation only serves to add expense and roadblocks to creating ADUs.

With these additional changes, the City will be much closer to both achieving compliance with state law, and accomplishing its own goal of removing barriers to housing affordability, availability, and diversity.  As it stands now, the City is just continuing to try to do the absolute minimum they think they can get away with.

More about ADUs in Eugene