This past summer, the Oregon Legislature passed two bills which make it easier to build affordable housing in urban areas.
Under SB 8, local governments are now required to allow affordable housing on non-residentially zoned land in most instances. If the land is not zoned industrial, the affordable housing on property should be allowed so long as (1) it is owned by a public body or religious organization, or zoned for commercial or religious uses, (2) it is adequately served by water, sewer, storm water drainage, and streets, and (3) the property is not of too great of slope, located within a floodplain, or constrained by regulations related to natural resources, or natural disasters and hazards. For property zoned industrial, the property must be publicly owned and adjacent to land zoned for residential or school use, and may not be designated for heavy industrial use.
HB 2008 provides incentives for religious organizations to develop affordable housing. It makes land and buildings owned by religious organizations and used solely for affordable housing exempt from property taxes. Additionally, it makes it easier to develop such housing on residentially zoned property within an urban growth boundary by prohibiting local governments from imposing conditions to the development, other than standards and conditions that are either clear and objective, or relate to health, safety, habitability, or infrastructure. If the property is not residentially zoned, the local government must approve the development so long as the property is not zoned industrial, and it is contiguous to land which is zoned residential. In such cases, the local government may only impose restrictions which are applicable to the contiguous residential property, and may not require that the subject property be rezoned as residential. The housing must stay affordable housing for at least 60 years.
These two new laws give options for building affordable housing in Oregon’s urban areas in addition to the residential areas that already allowed such housing. Hopefully, they will result in getting more of this much needed housing built soon.