Oregon House Bill 2007 (2017) – deregulating development in historic districts and single-family neighborhoods, disguised as “affordable housing”
We are a nonprofit Foundation whose three goals are eliminating homelessness, developing and promoting affordable housing, and championing historic preservation of important historic homes, buildings and neighborhoods. These goals are not, we repeat, NOT contradictory. However, Oregon House Bill (HB) 2007 which is being rushed through the legislature, would virtually negate Historic District demolition protection, would allow developers to build multifamily housing in single-family zoned neighborhoods, and would take away a lot of local development regulation control from Oregon towns and cities for any housing development claiming to have some “affordable” units.
This is very important. Oregon House Bill 2007 would basically eliminate any protection from demolition and outsized development provided by Historic District designation in the future in the name of “affordable housing”. The McCulloch Foundation is ALL ABOUT Affordable Housing. It is our mission. We develop it. We agree that more streamlined procedures to get affordable housing developments through more quickly would be very welcome. We agree, obviously, that we need more affordable housing, and pronto. But we do not agree that every developer should have the right to build whatever multi-family development they want, wherever they want, if some of the units will be for “affordable housing” (and not even affordable for those who really need it most). This misguided legislation would encourage destruction of currently affordable homes and allow replacement by new, much more expensive housing.
Please reach out to your Oregon state representatives and senators, especially Speaker Kotek, Representative Starkand the other sponsors of the Bill (Representatives Fahey, Keny-Guyer, Olson, & Sanchez and tell them that HB 2007 should be amended. Historic District protection and discretionary design-review guidelines should be preserved. We should amend building codes to make it easier to make internal conversions of existing homes into duplexes and to discourage demolitions.
Make an appointment to visit your legislator’s office in Salem, make a phone call, or send an email.
Find out who your legislators are here:
For more information on HB 2007 (Oregon) and ideas on what to say when you contact your legislator (do it soon!), please read John McCulloch’s letter to the right, and check out these posts on SaveLaurelhurst.org and HistoricLaurelhurst.com
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Summary of the Bill (what it will and won’t do) from the office of Speaker Kotek
Truly Affordable Housing
We do need more affordable housing (more housing in general, in Portland), but we especially need housing to help those in the lowest income brackets, which this bill does not address. In this bill, developers could not be denied approval for a development where 50% of the units in a housing development are affordable to someone making 60% of the median income. According to the Portland Housing Bureau information, “affordable” rent (based on someone earning 60% of the median income in the Portland area) starts at $771 a month for a studio, and would be $1,140+ for a three-bedroom apartment. People who can pay that much in rent are not those most in need of affordable housing, like many seniors on fixed incomes (and senior women in particular), many of whom could not afford even $300 a month for a studio apartment.
According to the Social Security Administration, more than 17 percent of unmarried, elderly women live in poverty—almost twice the percentage of men. In 2012, the average annual Social Security income for a man was $16,398, compared with $12,520 for a woman. Social Security for women who never married, or who divorced prior to ten years of marriage, is even lower. The system does not make adjustments for time out of the workforce to care for family members, although most people would agree this is an important social contribution and certainly qualifies as work. Thus, retirement benefits for these women are extremely low, often in the range of $500 to $850 per month.
Excerpt from an article from “Oregon Humanities” magazine called “Sunday, Laundry Day” by Josephine Cooper
Latest News on HB 2007
HB2007: The “anti-house” House Bill
Dear Fellow Oregonians,
Oregon HB2007 deregulates developers. I, John McCulloch, am a developer and removing these industry rules would benefit me. Yet this bill would increase demolition and pollution in exchange for mass produced, low quality housing at luxury prices. This is not the Oregon way. Together we can expose this bill for not really being about affordable housing, but as a giveaway to development corporations like mine. Help me fight this “anti-house” House bill! Please take a moment to contact your Oregon legislator and feel free to use any of the following talking points to encourage them to vote against or at least make amendments to this bill.
- HB2007 seeks to eliminate single family zoning statewide, in favor of multi-plex housing.
Cities and counties may not prohibit the development of ADUs and duplexes in single-family zoned districts within Urban Growth Boundaries.
The bill pretends to help affordability but in fact fuels infill inflation and demolition. Every family neighborhood will become a multiplex infill zone.
HB2007 inadvertently encourages demolition of existing homes in favor of more expensive and larger infill units.
Thousands of small Portland houses have been demolished and replaced by luxury houses and luxury duplexes. You would think this would result in more affordable, higher density housing, but in fact, because the vast majority of duplexes and infill houses are even more expensive than the homes they are replacing, the result is that lower-income families are forced out, property values are inflated, and neighborhoods become unaffordable. The bill expands this lucrative trend for developers. Because rip-and-replace costs more than reusing existing housing, the most affordable house is the one that already exists.
Talking points: Houses aren’t disposable. Re-use, don’t rip and replace. The most affordable house is the one that already exists. New housing is not built to be affordable unless mandated to be so.
Solution 1: Amend 197.312(5) requirement to apply only if both units of the new duplex, and the ADU, are all affordable; define “affordable” as total monthly rent or mortgage payment no greater than 33% of 60% x median family income for the county and guaranteed to remain affordable for at least 60 years under a covenant appurtenant.
Solution 2: Prohibit demolition of sound, habitable house unless stringent exception criteria are met. Exceptions may include 1) to build at least five units on property, or at least three affordable units, 2) if the house has an appraised value in excess of the median value of houses in the county, 3) if a soundness report by a licensed architect, engineer or contractor demonstrates that the cost to upgrade construction deficiencies exceeds 50 percent of the replacement cost of the structure, 4) original owner of demolished house will continue to occupy replacement house. Must not pre-empt or weaken local government rules on demolitions, such as Portland’s demolition delays and demolition reviews. 100 day time limit for final action on applications for development shall begin after expiration of any demolition delay periods under local rules.
2. HB2007 WILL DEMOLISH HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOODS
HB2007 prevents cities or counties from applying additional protections to housing in residential neighborhoods designated as a national historic place.
- Neighborhoods listed in the National Register of Historic Places are among the most historically important places in the United States, and are cultural assets that deserve to be protected.
- Historic neighborhoods represent a tiny percent of housing; in Portland, historic districts represent less than 3% of land. This small amount of housing will not make a difference in affordability. Stripping design review that ensures the compatibility of new construction WILL destroy the character of these neighborhoods.
- Talking Points: Stop demolishing our neighborhoods. We can have density without demolition. The most affordable house is the one that already exists. Protect Oregon’s historic places. Re-use, don’t discard houses. Houses are not disposable.
Solution 1: Eliminate all references to National Register Historic Districts other than to encourage clear design guidelines be established for new historic districts and to permit internal conversion of historic houses to multiple units and the addition of ADUs (as is already the case in Portland). Direct DLCD to study and recommend building code changes to remove unnecessary obstacles to internal conversions.
Solution 2: Only affordable housing projects can bypass protections to National Register Historic Districts. Not “needed housing” which is too broad, includes all housing.
Solution 3: Change 197.303(1) definition of “needed housing” to replace broad category (a) of all housing [all “attached and detached single-family housing and multiple family housing for both owner and renter occupancy”] with proposed category (f) of affordable housing [using prior definition of “affordable”]. This would permit affordable housing, but only affordable housing, to bypass protections for historic districts.
HB2007 ENCOURAGES DEMOLITION OF SMALLER, LESS EXPENSIVE HOUSES.
HB2007 would essentially do away with single family zoning statewide and compel every city and county to permit construction of duplexes and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in all single family house residential zones. These duplexes and ADUs are not required to be affordable.
In Portland, thousands of small houses in the $250,000 to $350,000 range have been purchased by developers, demolished, and replaced by new luxury duplexes at $700,000+ per unit.
Ordinary buyers cannot compete with developers’ cash offers. Renters are displaced.
The result is that lower-income families are being forced out, property values are inflated, and neighborhoods become unaffordable.
HB2007 IS AN ATTACK ON OUR HISTORY AND HERITAGE.
National Register listing designates the very highest level of historical importance in the United States. Historic neighborhoods receiving this designation unquestionably merit protection. HB2007 seeks to eliminate those and make Portland’s historic houses open game for demolition to build high-priced ‘McMansions’. National Register Historic Districts represent far less than 1% of the housing units in Oregon, and if every historic house in Oregon is demolished, it won’t make any difference to our supply of affordable housing. But these are the most historic neighborhoods in the state, and the most worthy of preservation, which is why they are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
HB2007 WOULD VIRTUALLY ELIMINATE DESIGN REVIEW FOR ANY “AFFORDABLE HOUSING“ DEVELOPMENT IN ANY NEIGHBORHOOD.
This would cripple Oregon’s designated historic districts by eliminating protections provided through formation of new districts composed of housing and would restrict design review of new housing erected in historic districts. Some cities such as Portland have designated “design zones” where projects are reviewed by a panel of experts to consider materials, shape and mass of new buildings to be sure they will fit into historic neighborhoods. While design reviews do slow the planning process by just a few days, they help assure that buildings intended to last for generations are well-designed and use suitable materials. The long-run success of communities is not enhanced by shoddy materials or design.