Would you like to build a Secondary Dwelling Unit on your property?  Or would someone in your family like to live in one?  The Oregon Legislature, in SB 1051, says you should be able to.

The public record for comment related to Eugene's compliance with SB 1051 remains open!  Written comments can be email to Alissa.H.Hansen@ci.eugene.or.us through April 30th at 5pm.  A Council decision is expected on May 14. 

On April 16th, City Council heard public comment about how  Eugene will comply with SB 1051 and permit every single-family homeowner who wants to to be allowed to develop a secondary dwelling unit.  In a marathon hearing, Council heard from over 30 people who want to see SDUs be easier in Eugene now.  Get Involved.
 
Planning Commission forwarded its recommendation to Council on March 26th.  The recommendation indicated that the following changes needed to be made in order to bring Eugene into compliance with state law:

  • Adds Secondary Dwelling Units as a permitted use in zones that allow detached single family dwellings but do not currently allow Secondary Dwelling Units (such as higher density residential zones.)
  • Re-writes Eugene’s Definition of Secondary Dwelling Units to match state language in SB 1051 regarding Accessory Dwelling Units.
  • Closes a loophole in Eugene code that permits places of worship to develop one or more than three affordable housing units on their property, but not two.

Unfortunately, Planning Commission’s recommendation omits referring changes to several areas in Eugene’s code that would result in Eugene remaining out of compliance with state law.  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.

What is SB 1051?

SB 1051,  passed by the State legislature  in July,  2017, says that by July 1, 2018:

A city with a population greater than 2,500 or a county with a population greater than 15,000 shall allow in areas zoned for detached single-family dwellings the development of at least one accessory dwelling unit for each detached single-family dwelling, subject to reasonable local regulations relating to siting and design.

This means that by July, 2018, jurisdictions, like Eugene, must remove restrictions in their zoning code that prohibit each single family dwelling from developing a secondary dwellings if they so desire..  They can maintain reasonable regulations related to “siting and design”--i.e., where the building sits on a lot (such as setback requirements), and what it looks like (height limitations, etc.) 

At the recommendation of staff, on January 22nd, 2018 City Council initiated a two phase process for compliance with SB 1051 by July 1.  Phase One would make minor code adjustments affecting only zones where single family homes were permitted but SDUs were not, and Phase Two would involve a community process to discuss what design and siting requirements might be reasonable in R-1 residential neighborhoods.   However, a public testimony before the Planning Commission and additional guidance released by the Department of Land Conservation and Development suggested that Eugene would need to remove additional restrictions in the code by July 1 to be in compliance with the new state law.   

Why is this important?

Eugene is facing a housing shortage that is affecting residents across all income levels.  There just simply isn't enough housing in our community for everyone who wants to live here, resulting in rising prices for both homeowners and renters.  More and more people being priced out of Eugene's housing market or pay un-affordable costs to continue living here.  
 
Encouraging  secondary dwelling units is  the most basic, non-controversial first step to addressing the  housing crisis.  Secondary Dwelling Units are smaller units that are built in conjunction with an detached single family home-- either as  a backyard cottage or as  a basement, attic, garage, or spare room converted  into a separate living unit.
 
SDU’s are the epitome  of small-scale, incremental infill: individual projects, typically taken on by an existing homeowner rather than a large developer, and often intended to provide housing for a family member  They preserve the existing home, and can provide rental income that can make the existing home more affordable to the homeowner.  Of all the methods of providing  additional housing in our community, SDU’s have the least impact on existing neighborhoods.  
 
Tell Council you want them to take the housing crisis seriously.  Get Involved.

Resources

SB 1051 Text
Cottage Code Amendments
SB 1051 Analysis
City of Eugene Materials
Cottage Code Amendments Letter
WE CAN Planning Commission Letter
WE CAN City Council Letter
DLCD Guidance
Planning Commission Materials