Eugene’s Planning Commission invited comment on the City’s middle housing plan. Speakers included many local housing leaders and influencers – most in support, and some cautious about adoption. Our recap of the historic deliberation begins with advocates for elders.
[00:00:21] Carmel Perez Snyder: My name is Carmel Perez Snyder. I’m associate state director for AARP in Oregon. AARP’s roots in housing equity and affordability run deep, from the moment that our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, found a retired teacher living in a chicken coop and then set out to ensure that that was not the norm for older adults.
[00:00:42] House Bill 2001 expanded housing options for Oregonians of every age, income level, and family size by allowing a greater variety of housing types, such as duplexes and multiplexes. AARP supported this legislation on the state level and continues to support the implementation in cities across the state.
[00:01:03] You as a Planning Commission have the ability to lead by listening to the hundreds of voices saying yes to missing middle housing. We should not let the voice of a handful of housing-secure individuals clog up the system and stop progress.
[00:01:20] Bandana Shrestha: My name is Bandana Shrestha. I’m state director for AARP Oregon. We know from our research that 80% of people at 45 and over say they want to remain in their own home and community, but a lot of times affordability and the lack of housing options is a barrier for people to be able to age in place, to be able to live in that community and thrive throughout their life course. And for older Oregonians, as Carmel has mentioned, both renters and homeowners, housing cost burden is a real thing. You have an opportunity to be bold. I say, ‘Be bold. Listen to what people are saying.’ And I will emphasize what Carmel said. We know that housing options, housing cost and affordability is a major issue for people 50 plus and their families.
[00:02:04] Stan Honn: I’m Stan Honn. I live in Eugene in Friendly Neighborhood. And I’ve lived in that neighborhood for nearly 40 years. I’d like to spend my allocated three minutes here to just reflect with you, through the lens of aging in place. Each of us is getting older each year. Our lives change, our abilities and faculties may diminish. Our family network of close friends may change as we decline. I’m painfully aware that things change as time passes. What’s this got to do with the middle housing code amendments? Everything. If over time as changes occur, we can stay in our homes or on our property and have the flexibility to add a second unit or a third, whether it’s an ADU or a little larger space and avoid having to sell and move, those are the options, that’s the flexibility I find attractive. And that could come from these code changes. If our neighborhood can morph over time and allow these changes to be woven into the fabric of our block, we add diversity and interest in the neighborhood, not just of housing types, but of people types as well, and that’s healthy for all of us. So as this process unfolds, I’m going to look forward to the opportunity the new code gives us to age in place in our home, on our block, in our neighborhood.
[00:03:23] David Barajas: I’m David Barajas. I’ve lived in Eugene for 48 years. What the commission has done and their staff I think is wonderful. I’m a senior citizen. I don’t look it, but I’m 71 and it’ll enable me to live in this house if I can have an additional unit or two on the property. And the numbers look really good. So I love what you’ve done and I don’t think people, most people in their lifetimes never have a chance to do what you’re doing. You’re going to positively affect hundreds, if not thousands of people in Lane County.
[00:03:52] There’s a plethora of homes that are not stick-built. They’re not like stick-built and I know this isn’t land use, but I hope that there can be an avenue for building codes to address solutions for these. The one I’m looking at, that I love, is made of concrete, steel, and foam, and it’s rock solid. Doesn’t need a foundation. They did an EnergyStar rating on it, and it got $28 per month. And that’s with electric everything: refrigerator, stove, shower, heat.
[00:04:27] John Q: We heard support from local housing leaders, many actively building Accessory Dwelling Units or small affordable homes.
[00:04:35] Kaarin Knudson: I’m Kaarin Knudson. I’m an architect and urban designer and the founding director of a housing advocacy organization based here in Lane County. Better Housing Together has long supported Eugene’s efforts to expand housing, affordability, diversity, and supply. 82% of the public input asked for the city to go beyond the minimum allowed standard. But many of the draft code standards are still at this ‘Allow’ level. And we think that they can be improved upon.
[00:04:57] We recommend creating a deeper affordability bonus program to support the integration of affordable housing; the reduction and elimination of parking development mandates; refined siting and design standards and lot standards; and greater flexibility and incentives for projects that meet identified community goals like deeper affordability and environmental performance.
[00:05:15] Oregon is leading the nation in efforts to re-legalize traditional housing types and address exclusionary zoning, which means Eugene is among the cities leading the nation. Other communities will look to this planning commission and what it offers to a new shared body of knowledge that seeks more affordable, more equitable, and more diverse American housing supply. So please continue your good work and support great outcomes with our middle housing code. Our future literally depends upon it.
[00:05:40] Nir Pearlson: My name is Nir Pearlson and I’m a principal of Aligned Architecture in Eugene. My firm provides housing for people of all walks of life from custom homes to tiny homes to affordable housing. And our most gratifying work is with organizations both locally and out of town and out of state similar to Square One Villages sponsors DevNW, Homes for Good and other such groups.
[00:06:05] My main input really tonight is just to empower city staff, commissioners, counselors, and citizens to hold steady in the face of those who are comfortable, have access to power and money and are set on keeping us in the past— the good old days when less voices were heard. And we need to keep that focus and that steadfastness as we work together to prepare and live in the future
[00:06:30] As we all know, the main event really is climate change and global warming. Nothing else really matters. And I think any and all our decisions that we make must be done within this context of how the world is changing and that’s including environmental changes, socioeconomics, climate migration, and how all cities, including our city, must evolve to allow us to live in the future.
[00:06:57] Kitty Piercy: I’m Kitty Piercy. I’m here tonight in my role as the chair of Square One Villages, I’m the board chair.
We ask that you recognize a history of discrimination created by zoning rules resulting in ongoing disparities in housing for some populations. Communities all over this country, Eugene included, have used exclusionary practices in single family only zoning to perpetuate racial separation and discrimination. Systematic injustice created by a system of exclusionary zoning practices over the past century will be corrected only when we change the system. So I urge you—it’s a very short comment, but I think it’s really important in the context of the conversation tonight—
[00:07:41] I do not think we can change systematic problems that affect people’s access to justice if we’re unwilling to make change. I don’t believe that this can be done without the Whole Community recognizing, we each have to give up a piece so that we can all have a piece.
[00:08:00] Senior Planner Jeff Gepper: Up next is Dan Bryant.
[00:08:03] Dan Bryant: I’m executive director of Square One Villages. Square One began 10 years ago as an effort to provide shelter for unhoused or unhoused neighbors. Currently we provide shelter for about 50 people and it was in doing that work we discovered that people literally had no place to go once we were able to help them get off the street and get their life together. And so we decided to start building a permanent housing and we now have almost 40 homes that we have built a tiny homes for which we are known.
[00:08:32] And our wonderful partner, Dylan Lamar, the C Street Project. And what’s so wonderful about this particular project is combining the benefits of a community land trust that owns the property and then a limited equity co-op that is actually buying the housing in which they are living. We are able to create a new path to ownership for very low income households. So where else can you have that possibility to be buying your own home for less than $800 a month?
[00:09:01] To do that, it’s absolutely critical that we have the deeper affordability bonus as part of this middle housing code, because it’s that bonus that enables us to do that kind of project to make it pencil out. So I would just really encourage you to include that in your recommendation so that we can bring this kind of project into Eugene.
[00:09:24] Dylan Lamar: My name’s Dylan Lamar. I’m an architect and developer. I’m here tonight to urge you to support affordable home ownership in Eugene through the adoption of flexible and effective middle housing code amendments and to incentivize them as much as possible.
[00:09:36] A recent New York Times article quoted that now the largest living generation, millennials, control just 4% of America’s real estate equity. In 1991, baby boomers were a comparable age, they already controlled one-third. Our housing crisis is a crisis of social equity. But I’m here to tell you that middle housing can not only restore, but actually expand home ownership access in America. And particularly in Eugene. As a local architect and developer, I recently completed a project that demonstrates this well, the C Street Co-op in Springfield.
[00:10:06] The C Street Co-op is a single family house and an ADU built as a series of six private one-bedroom suites, each with their own kitchenette and bathroom. As a limited equity co-op it allows each of the six residents to own a share of the attached housing.
[00:10:20] Creating more affordable homeownership opportunities like the C Street Co-op requires middle housing code amendments which maximize flexibility. Here’s a few key items I’m hoping you’ll consider: Maximize the opportunity for fee simple home ownership; that is, one house per lot. Don’t require street frontage for townhouses; allow townhouses to be developed in backyards and along alleys. Support deeper affordability bonuses, particularly for limited equity co-ops which are a wonderful way to provide home ownership with all types of housing.
[00:10:49] Kevin Shanley: I’m Kevin Shanley. I’m a retired urban designer, planner, landscape architect. I’m sure you’ve all heard about the housing ladder with the unhoused at the bottom and mansions at the top. You know, in Eugene, we have an extension ladder with a motorized rope pulling it up and the rungs up at the top of the ladder, single family homes, McMansions, keeps rising, rising, rising, and we’re missing all these rungs in between. We have almost no rungs at the bottom. We desperately need more diversity in our housing stock. I strongly support the middle housing code amendments and I encourage you to recognize that this needs to be an iterative process.
[00:11:33] Isaac Judd: My name is Isaac Judd. I speak out in strong support of the middle housing code amendments. As a realtor for 17 years, I’ve helped many folks in our community find appropriate housing, but it’s becoming harder and harder for folks to achieve this. As a community, we have a responsibility to support more affordable and diverse housing options to meet the demands of the people who live here. We have a growing population with nowhere near the amount of housing to accommodate all of our neighbors and this causes the available housing that is currently available in our community, both as for ownership opportunities and for rental opportunities, to become more and more expensive. I encourage us to embrace the housing innovation and lead in this area, first by adopting this middle housing code amendment, including dropping the minimum parking requirements. We need to incentivize the types of housing that we are missing in order to achieve truly diverse community that allows opportunities for people of all economic backgrounds to participate in our city.
[00:12:30] Haley Campbell: My name is Haley Campbell. I am a planner in the private sector. Too often I’ve seen clients come to me, and I’ve had to tell them that they can’t build missing middle housing because their lots don’t meet the minimum lot sizes, minimum setbacks, minimum frontage, things like that. Or it’s outright prohibited in their neighborhood. And it’s so disappointing, I have so many clients who want to build, but they can’t build because those lot standards cannot be adjusted.
[00:12:57] John Q: With the Burrito Brigade, Lisa Levsen.
[00:13:00] Lisa Levsen: I am a board member with Eugene Catholic Workers and we serve over a hundred people every single day in Washington Jefferson Park. Many of the people living in our community— whether they’re couch surfing or living in the car or staying with some relatives or actually tent camping in Washington Jefferson Park— are working. They may, if they’re seniors, have Social Security; what they don’t have is housing that they can get into. And so missing middle housing is key to solving our homeless crisis in Eugene. There is literally no place for these people to go.
[00:13:36] We have a transition house on Washington Street. We have four people living in the house right now, where we are looking for the next level low-income housing to move them so that we can create more spaces to bring people out of homelessness and transition them. And there is literally no place for them to go. They’re on wait lists and they’re waiting.
[00:13:56] And from a second aspect, I have two children living here in Eugene that went to high school and college here, and I can speak directly to how hard it was for them to get housing. At one point, my son who works here in Eugene, was looking at having to move to Cottage Grove because he literally couldn’t find a home to rent for his three children and his wife and their two dogs. And so this missing middle housing will be critical.
[00:14:25] Timothy Morris: My name is Timothy Morris. Within my day job at the Springfield Eugene Tenant Association, we primarily work with low-income renters and see the outcomes of the lack of housing every day: Domestic violence survivors who have the finances and the energy and the opportunity to leave their abusive situations but can’t because they cannot find new housing. Families with children and senior renters who receive an eviction notice and are unable to secure any new housing and to find themselves on the street. People who are looking for their first time homes, such as myself, who will never be able to afford a new home because of generational wealth and income inequality. Vulnerable members of our community, who are desperately begging for more affordable, accessible, and available housing.
[00:15:04] I served as a volunteer member of the rule making advisory committee of House Bill 2001, 2003. We took into consideration the challenges, the entire state of Oregon faced and developed a model code that made sense for the rest of Oregon. But Eugene is not all of Oregon. Our challenges are distinctive. Our housing stock is uniquely terrible and the economic struggles Eugenians face are particularly and especially bad. We are absolutely must build and adopt a model, code here in Eugene that makes sense for Eugene and not just what the state of Oregon has proposed. Study after study shows that a diversity of housing builds a diversity of community. And that must be at the center and core of our conversations.
[00:15:45] Eliza Kashinsky: My name is Eliza Kashinsky. As Eugene has struggled to confront our housing crisis over the past years, too often, we’ve ended up doing the bare minimum or less than the bare minimum. It’s extremely heartening to see this proposal’s responsiveness to all of the community feedback, seeing that we need to be doing more than the minimum to increase housing options in Eugene. I support the draft code to bring Eugene into compliance with House Bill 2001, and to take additional steps to encourage and support middle housing in Eugene.
[00:16:16] As someone who is passionate about zoning code, I’ve noticed over the years, the same names come up over and over. I would like to commend you and the city staff for your efforts to engage with community members who are not typically involved in with land use processes and for incorporating their perspectives into this work. As we move forward, I can only hope that we don’t allow their voices to be drowned out.
[00:16:42] John Q: Many speakers recognized the extraordinary work done by City Planning staff.
[00:16:47] Alexis Biddle: I’m Alexis Biddle, 1000 Friends of Oregon’s Great Communities Program Director and Staff Attorney. It is my job to engage with communities across Oregon to review their implementation of House Bill 2001. 56 cities are required to implement the House Bill 2001, and I have been paying attention to all of them.
[00:17:03] There can be a spectrum of how to engage the public. On the one end planners can merely inform the public about decisions that are already made that affects them. On the other planners can empower the public to actively participate in the decision making process. I have sat on advisory groups, gone to open houses, taken surveys, and met with planners countless times in this process. And I can tell you without hesitation that the planning staff in Eugene is among the most talented and dedicated planners in the state and that they are doing great work in this process. No city has been more transparent in their outreach and no city has held even close to as many meetings for stakeholders and the public to participate in the planning process.
[00:17:42] Citizen involvement is Goal 1 for a reason. Without the public land use conversations are dominated by the loudest voices in the room in an age where we need to take equity more seriously than ever.
[00:17:53] John Q: We heard from the NAACP and the City’s Healthy Democracy panel.
[00:17:59] Isis Barone: My name is Isis Barone and I am representing the Eugene Springfield NAACP. One of the biggest points that stands out to me with the middle housing is that we want to create environments in all areas of town, not outskirts, that people can live. There’s a lot of history in Eugene, Oregon, and towns in Oregon in general that have restricted people of color of owning and living in city limits.
[00:18:28] We operate our office in the first black owned home within the city limits of Eugene and the second oldest home, which was purchased under a different name and sold to CB and Annie Mims in 1948, which is not that long ago. One of the biggest points for me is as a mother with children in an area of town in which we rent , I’m not in a position to purchase a home. And that is due to the price of homes and the ability to live in a desired area that I can afford a house in is not where I would like to be. I feel that one of the biggest things that I want is to create that generational wealth, which has skipped multiple generations for families of color and has not been a ability for most people of color to have ownership of homes, not only in Oregon, but further. I think it’s so important for us to look at middle housing as an opportunity of growth and change, which we need.
[00:19:37] Jose Melendez: My name is Jose Melendez and I was a member of the Middle Housing review panel. Over the course of 15 meetings over six months, beginning last fall of 2020 I recall how in one of the process review committee meetings last December I pointed out the observation that besides myself, everyone else on the committee was white. I pointed out how it would be a shame if a process that was indeed representative of the social economic diversity of Eugene, engage in meaningful work, and provide recommendations, only to be dismissed or watered down at the end of the process by the planning commission and city council that are nowhere near the socioeconomic diversity of the middle housing panel. Indeed, if this ends up happening, if you ignore the call of the panel to favor incentivized code change options, you end up replicating how meaningful diverse community engagement usually ends— with not a meaningful say in the process.
[00:20:29] We did our work diligently and respectfully, and with great pride. We hope you honor that work and don’t see to the loudest voices in the room. We continue to hope that you are bold—the theme of the night. Be bold with the new city codes you propose to adopt, centering on how to incentivize affordability and increase the socioeconomic diversity of all neighborhoods.
[00:20:51] John Q: Francisco was also on the Healthy Democracy panel.
[00:20:54] Francisco: I live in in the north Eugene area. I’ve been living here for the past 18 years, my family and I, we have three little kids. Last fall I was selected by random simulation to be part of this review panel that was put together by the City of Eugene and Healthy Democracy, just like Jose Melendez gave his testimony earlier. I was one of that panel. And as you may know, this process prioritizes diversity. This is the first time in years, I was actually involved something that had to do with the City. So I think it was a very interesting, and I think our voices needed to be heard. And somehow they got us to participate, which I think is great.
[00:21:40] We were presented with information that related to the history of housing for Oregon, which to me, was new to me, it was like an eye opener. Our main objective as a panel was to establish key principles— the most important issue was affordable housing and provision for continuous improvement.
[00:21:57] John Q: Paul Conte, Bill Aspegren, Emily Fox, and others expressed concern or opposition.
[00:22:03] Paul Conte: My name is Paul Conte and I would suggest a website: housing-facts.org. If you have a chance to visit that, what you’ll see is evidence-based information based on how the market responds to deregulation of zoning. The problem is that deregulating to allow middle housing only leaves the later decisions to the market, to the investors. What’s missing here, the real missing middle, is that there are no provisions for actually ensuring that we get affordability. And there are no provisions to protect vulnerable populations from displacement because of gentrification.
[00:22:46] There is a page at that website called Voices. And that’s the voices of people who are really in the communities speaking for the vulnerable populations. If you want to learn what’s really going on with the vulnerable populations, do an internet search for ‘housing justice.’ The housing justice community understands what the market does. And it understands that the kind of things that the Eugene Planning staff and Commission are promoting is actually exacerbating racial exclusion and economic exclusion. We need to have evidence-based decisions.
[00:23:27] Bill Aspegren: Hi my name is Bill Aspegren. I asked that the Planning Commission recommend implementing only the minimum requirements to satisfy House Bill 2001. This includes only allowing minimum lot sizes required by HB 2001. Do not allow detached plexes, keep building height at 30 feet for both middle housing and single-family housing. Require one onsite parking place for dwelling, no exceptions. Maintain lot coverage at 50% for middle housing and single family housing. Implementing House Bill 2001 in this way matches the requirements of the legislation and will provide Eugene increased opportunities for more diverse housing.
[00:24:13] The commission’s oversight of middle housing project and its citizens involvement process has been inadequate. There has been no mailing to all city residents and owners to alert them of these major changes and give them an opportunity to sign up as interested parties. As it is, there are less than 105 people receiving notifications as interested parties. The middle housing survey had 741 responses. By contrast, the neighborhood survey was conducted in 2009 and received 4,700 responses, more than six times the middle housing survey. This response level was due to neighborhood organizations reaching out to neighbors. Sending out postcards and other outreach webpages and social media are not sufficient.
[00:25:05] Emily Fox: On the one hand, I realize that Eugene needs more housing of different types. However, I think the Eugene city draft code goes too far in making the Eugene land use code benefit developers more than the public. The code encourages incentivizing, so that developers have less red tape, but I think this will not contribute to more livable neighborhoods, as once basic regulations are met, there is little or no design control and certain neighborhoods with older housing and deep lots will be more affected by the density. I fear that these neighborhoods, through the domino effect, will be affected by the density, the parking, the building heights, more traffic wear and tear on already degraded streets and infrastructure, or will be enticed by the money. Gentrification may set in so that current neighbors will no longer be able to rent.
[00:25:55] Lot coverage up to 70% leaves little room for shade trees. Allowing buildings to be three stories high will affect garden space, green space, and very possibly solar access. More concrete and buildings means more runoff, water runoff. The ground will not be able to absorb this. Therefore I’m recommending a more moderate approach of just the ‘allow’ or ‘encourage’ to the land use with 50% lot coverage, not encouraging cottage clusters in small spaces, increasing lot size, shrinking the area of density permitted near busy corridors so the neighborhoods in between these corridors will remain intact, and requiring more off-street parking in these areas. The quarter of a mile is too large of an area. That’s really like a half-mile swath, reducing building heights to what the HB 2001 model code suggests.
[00:26:51] Also, I just want to say that I am a senior. I hope to age in place and these changes could affect me greatly.
[00:26:58] Lena Houston-Davisson: Hi, I’m Lena Houston-Davisson. And I really care deeply about affordable, equitable housing for all, and building a sustainable resilient community to meet current and future climate challenges. And looking at the amendments, I have a few concerns. How do we ensure affordability? Where are the safeguards to address climate resiliency? I see a huge reduction of green space. Where are the protections for solar access? Where are people supposed to park to charge their electric vehicles? Or do we keep circling the block to find a place to park?
[00:27:35] As a disabled person I need access to a vehicle in order for me to be able to function in the society, for me. And where are the safeguards to present prevent a rash of temporary rentals, such as AirBnbs or vacation rentals? I fear a trickle down scheme, which once again, will perpetuate concentration of real estate wealth into the hands of a few, rather than opportunity for all especially lower income. I’m not your enemy. I’m a concerned citizen. I support appropriate middle income houses. I just think this needs a little more work.
[00:28:12] Pam Wooddell: I’m kind of sad to hear that those of us in opposition to that planning department’s plan, to hear us portrayed as obstructionists and selfish and stuff like that. Most of the people out here understand the need and are sensitive to that, highly motivated to get people out of tents. We understand the history of racial exclusion We want to undo the inequity. But I’ve done a fair amount of research and evidence shows, and it’s pretty clear, that upzoning and deregulation alone will not undo the past or help people get out of tents. And even EcoNorthwest analysis bore this out.
[00:28:46] I recommend slowing down and sticking with the minimal requirements, supporting the minimal requirements of HB 2001. And then allowing the additional incentives exclusively for affordable housing. Cambridge, Massachusetts is utilizing affordable housing overlays, AHOs, because they allowed deregulation and kept finding that they never ever got the affordable housing that they were seeking. Same with Vancouver BC, and Boston.
[00:29:14] We have to think outside the box because continuing to allow simple deregulation and neoliberal economic policy is just, it’s not going to get us there. And there’s plenty of evidence to show that we need a public option for housing. And we also need to be aware that we don’t know what’s going to happen with the climate.
[00:29:30] Jon Belcher: I’m Jon Belcher. Here’s the reality: Missing middle housing units are unlikely to be affordable enough for those who are housing cost burdened or homeless without mechanisms beyond adopting these land use code provisions.
[00:29:43] As you conducted your outreach to develop this proposed code, the prevalent cry was for housing that’s affordable to the half of the Eugeneans who are housing cost burdened. Therefore, as we assess this proposed code, we should use two criteria to evaluate it:
A. Does it meet the requirements mandated by DLCD? and
B. Does it help provide affordable and workforce housing?
[00:30:05] You have clearly identified the first group by classifying the mandated codes with an ‘Allow’ tag in today’s agenda. These must be adopted. The rest of the proposed amendments, classified as encourage and incentivize, should be tested against the second criteria of creating affordability. Unfortunately, all the other code proposals classified as encourage or incentivize will not by themselves guarantee the middle housing units will be affordable because of the realities of the market. Building costs— they’ve gone up. There’s little undeveloped land in Eugene. Most developers are motivated to maximize their profit and Eugene housing prices relative income are already among the highest in the nation.
[00:30:45] Therefore, I propose the city council adopt these amendments defined as ‘allow’ and defer the adoption of the remaining ‘encourage’ and ‘incentivize’ amendments as a starting point for the City Council to use, to develop a strategy for building our way out of our most pressing problem: housing more Eugeneans.
[00:31:03] Cindy Allen: This is Cindy Allen. The Oregon legislature was the first to vote away the protections of R-1 zoning. Is this constitutional? Shouldn’t this have been put to a vote by the people of Oregon? It has been said on the internet, if this were done in other areas, people would be in the streets, protesting. People paid their taxes, their mortgages, made improvements. Perhaps they should ask for a refund if for three or four story apartment goes up next to their home. I think the rest of the country will be watching to see how these unprecedented policies will work out for the people of Oregon. The implication of these sweeping proposed zoning changes need to be fully understood. Overpopulation and overbuilding in a valley is not healthy.
[00:31:54] John Q: Active transportation activists spoke up for the plan.
[00:31:58] Daniel Wilson: Hello, my name is Daniel Wilson. I’m a co-chair of the Eugene active transportation committee. But I’m here tonight on behalf of my children who are currently in the bath, so I can’t take long. I live across the street from a beautiful park that my children can not visit on their own. And call me crazy but I think that is really, really a huge shame. The reason they can’t go there is because there are cars traveling at 60 miles an hour down a road that was designed to be comfortable with that. In order to live in a city where people have equitable access at all ages, we need to live closer together, because a future that is livable in Oregon means far, far fewer cars. Electric cars aren’t going to cut it. We need to live closer together. And so I’m here in support of making it possible for homeowners to do what they know they need to do, and what they want to do, which is to build more and increase the value of their property so that they can house more folks. By eliminating requirements for off-street parking, we are voting confidence in property owners to do the best thing that they need to do with their properties. And I hope that these changes will end up making it easier to walk and generally enjoy life in Eugene, so we can see each other and get out of our boxes.
[00:33:20] Sue Wolling: Hi, I’m Sue Wolling and I support the middle housing code amendments as an opportunity to create new housing options in Eugene and reduce our dependence on automobiles. Eugene’s largest source of greenhouse gases. In fact, as someone who knows how easy it can be to travel by bicycle, I encourage you to incentivize middle housing, not only along transit corridors, but also along major bike-friendly quarters. There can be no doubt that we have a housing crisis, not only of homelessness, but of affordability. Middle housing alone will not eliminate this crisis, but by allowing new forms of housing, reducing or eliminating parking requirements and providing incentives for projects that help achieve our climate and transportation goals, we can make an investment in creating more adaptable and affordable housing for decades to come. By incentivizing middle housing and eliminating parking mandates, we can allow more people to find housing that works for them while also moving toward a future of greater energy efficiency and climate resilience.
[00:34:11] John Q: Young professionals and young families favored the changes.
[00:34:15] Kelsey Zlevor: Hi, my name is Kelsey Zlevor. I’ve been a duplex renter my entire time I’ve lived in Eugene, going on seven years. I know my neighbors, I can walk to work, and I enjoy where I live. As someone who is unpartnered, there’s no family nearby, my independence as a young professional has been linked to my ability to rent, as I’m not in a place to be able to buy a home. Frankly, my ability to affordably rent in my neighborhood, Jefferson Westside, is what has enabled me to stay in Eugene and contribute to this community I care so deeply about. We stand at a crossroads right now. The future will not look like the past, and I encourage us to support the middle housing code amendments, and the impressive body of outreach work done by staff to begin shaping that future, right now.
[00:34:54] Claire Roth: My name’s Claire Roth. I’m here to speak in support of middle housing options in Eugene, and also in support of reducing or eliminating parking minimums. Middle housing is what’s missing from existing residential neighborhood design. And they are a sign of a city who values the housing needs of a growing and future community, not just the needs of existing few with time on their hands.
[00:35:14] Eugene is a city that plans, and as our population continues to increase, we need to plan for a community design that supports walkability, local businesses, and access to public transportation options. This is what middle housing does. It provides community members of all ages and abilities, access to more affordable, energy-efficient and climate-resilient housing.
[00:35:34] On the topic of parking minimums, I’d like to quote research professor and author of The High Cost of Free Parking, Donald Shoup: “Minimum parking requirements, subsidized cars, increased traffic congestion, and carbon emissions pollute the air and water, encourage sprawl, raise housing costs, exclude low-income people, degrade urban design, reduce walkability, and damage the economy.”
[00:35:57] At the end of the day, what I’m describing is the kind of place people want to work and live in, a place that will attract young professionals like myself to move here at 24, a place where older adults can age in place enjoyably, and a place where families with children can expect affordable housing. A community with middle housing is a place where people don’t have to circle in their car for hours looking for a parking spot because they live close enough to the store to walk, or close enough to transit to take the bus; where they don’t have to worry about their kids’ safety on their walk to school because they chose to live in Eugene, a place with safe transportation and affordable middle housing options.
[00:36:30] Roxana Humphreys: My name is Roxana Humphreys, and as a young professional in Eugene, I often feel like the home ownership dream continually gets farther away. Both my husband and I have great jobs and earn what is considered a living wage.
[00:36:47] And we recently started our family, and having an eight month old crawling around showed us how much we need to find a house of our own. For some context, we live in a one bedroom rented apartment, and we are getting close to the point where our son is just to back to share a room with his parents. We pay as much as we will hope to pay for a mortgage, but the truth is that 3% down payment on $450,000 is a lot of money when you’re dealing with childcare expenses and daily needs that get more expensive every year. We have been saving money through every means available to us, but still find ourselves short. And we are at an intersection where time is critical. We love this community and I’ve always seen Eugene like the perfect place to raise our family. However, we feel forced to keep other options open outside of the metro area, just because of the few housing options here.
[00:37:50] To be frank, there are a lot of people who dream about putting down deeper roots, people who are already here and who are contributing to our community every day. More middle housing is key to the success of our community and also to the talent they bring in our area.
[00:38:04] Gabriele Hayden: My name’s Gabriele Hayden. I hope that the city will implement what’s planned and also go beyond it to whatever is the maximum feasible politically feasible extent in encouraging middle housing.
[00:38:17] I love living in a walkable neighborhood. I live in the Jefferson Westside. The kind of missing middle density that we’re seeing can really make a difference with climate change. We can’t walk to a coffee shop unless there are enough people around to go to coffee shop, right? So we need a certain density of people.
[00:38:33] And I think a lot about this as, as someone who grew up when being gay was a little more challenging than it is now. And grew up in Boring, Oregon and watching how Portland got more and more expensive over time. And you know, when I was a kid, you could kind of like move into the city and like be a Bohemian, right. But I think if we, as a community care about those liberal values, we need to be a place where young people can come and and join our community, where immigrants and refugees can come and join our community. At the same time, when I came, I rented in a missing middle housing unit, because it was cheaper.
[00:39:11] John Q: City planner Terri Harding described the adoption process.
[00:39:15] Terri Harding: We are at the first step of the formal adoption process at the Planning Commission public hearing. After this hearing, we will move towards Planning Commission deliberations, and a formal recommendation, which will happen at the end of this year or early next year. Then we’ll go to the City Council for a second public hearing in the early part of the year. And the council must take action prior to that deadline of June 30th.
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