CTA Header HB 2007

Misguided Attempt to Boost Affordable Housing Will Create More Demolition, Strip Protections from Historic Districts

UPDATE:

A revised version of the bill is expected next week and a hearing is scheduled for Thursday, May 25th at 8 am in Salem. More details as we learn them. Scroll down to the bottom for relevant articles and OpEds.

Call to Action: Email Your Opposition to HB 2007!

In an extreme example of good intentions degenerating into bad outcomes, a bill intended to promote affordable housing will actually incentivize demolition of existing affordable housing, strip away protections for historic districts, prohibit design review for new construction, and usurp local control over zoning and density.

Sponsored by House Speaker Tina Kotek with backing from the Oregon Homebuilders Association and 1000 Friends of Oregon, HB 2007 ostensibly seeks to fast-track construction of affordable housing and add density within Urban Growth Boundaries statewide. These are important goals that Restore Oregon enthusiastically supports, but the bill goes off the rails with provisions that would severely degrade the livability of our neighborhoods.

It gives developers a free pass to demolish good, modest-priced houses and replace them with much more expensive homes that will do nothing to ease the affordability crisis.  As currently written, HB 2007:

  • Offers no protections against the demolition of existing affordable homes, and includes no requirement that a demolished home be replaced by affordable units.
  • Eliminates discretionary design review for ALL housing types, not just affordable housing, sharply reducing neighborhood input and local control over compatibility.
  • Compels cities to allow duplexes and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in all single-family zones.
  • Prohibits historic overlay zones that might effect density (i.e. would deny districts the ability to reduce the scale of a building to make it compatible with its neighbors).
  • Denies historic districts protections against demolition or incompatible infill.

HB 2007 sets up a false conflict between affordable housing and historic preservation that is not borne out by the facts.  It is important to note that historic districts represent a tiny fraction of the total residential zoning statewide.  In Portland, it’s less than 3%.  No rules currently governing historic districts prohibit affordable housing or compatible infill development, and there are many examples of affordable housing in historic buildings. Urban historic districts are already dense, and opportunities abound to add even more density through internal conversion of historic homes into multiple units or the addition of ADUs.

There is no doubt that an affordable housing crisis exists and density needs to be encouraged within Urban Growth Boundaries, but we can achieve density without demolition, and affordability without sacrificing livability.  As it stands, this tangled mess of a bill will do more harm than good.

The good news is that HB 2007 doesn’t need to be scrapped altogether, but it does need a major rehab (pun intended). We endorse provisions that would:

  • Speed up affordable housing permits
  • Establish “clear and objective standards” for affordable housing design
  • Study ways to shorten the development timeline
  • And allow religious institutions to create affordable housing on their property.

We Need Your Help to FIX HB 2007 and Protect Our Neighborhoods! 

Email Speaker Kotek and members of the Ways and Means Committee today – especially co-chairs Richard Devlin and Nancy Nathanson – and tell them to rehab HB 2007:

  • Limit fast-track approvals to affordable housing only.
  • Add prohibitions to the demolition of existing housing.
  • Amend the building code to make it easier to do internal conversions of historic houses.
  • Remove prohibitions to design review because ugly buildings last a lifetime.
  • Leave protections for historic districts in place – they are not the problem, and are too important to sacrifice.

Restore Oregon and a coalition of preservation and livability-minded groups will be formally presenting these amendments in the next week. Stay tuned for further updates.

Additional Resources & Information:

Erickson Fritz Apartments:  A good example of affordable housing in a historic district can be found in the Erickson Fritz Apartments, a DeMuro Award Winner:


 

 

 

 

 

 

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