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Pushing Back Against the Banning of Single-Family Zoning

A report by the Willamette Week found that Oregon’s House Bill 2001—a law effectively ending single-family zoning in most Oregon cities—is now facing backlash from local leaders. 

"People are absolutely outraged," says City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who is the Portland City Council's liaison to the League of Oregon Cities. "There were multiple people saying it needs to be repealed."

House Bill 2001 went into effect on August 8 and mandates that cities with a population of more than or equal to 25,000 must allow high-density zoning on development’s previously reserved for single-family housing. 

The bill also requires that the state’s cities must come up with an implementation plan by the end of next year. The Willamette Week states two cities—West Linn and Lake Oswego—have been the most prominent detractors, as the majority of both cities have single-family housing and the region’s highest home values. 

West Linn Mayor Russ Axelrod referred to the legislation as “stupid” during an October 21 work session. 

"This seems like it will create more problems than it will solve," Axelrod said, according to the Willamette Week. 

The mayor noted single-family zoning w used was as a tool for segregation in Oregon and across the country.”

"Tragically, the concern is, these will not be affordable housing units when built-in these more isolated locations," Axelrod said, "and the benefits to the state-required allowed housing will principally be to the developer's pockets."

Joining Oregon in its move from single-family are California, Minnesota, and North Carolina. 

Los Angeles Times report from October details how California lawmakers successfully passed pieces of legislation over the past several years that have chipped away at single-family zoning. 

The report says that California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed multiple bills into law this week that allowing property owners to build a backyard home of at least 800-square-feet. The bill would also allow homeowners to convert a garage, office, or spare room into living quarters. The new legislation would allow for three homes on land previously zoned for single-family.

“We’re on the precipice of single-family zoning functionally not existing,” said Ben Metcalf, former Director of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development.

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.

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