May 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Not drinking the Kool-Aid: NLC asks for minimum on HB 2001

7 min read

Neighborhood Leaders Council looked at the City’s upcoming vote on housing code amendments. At the March meeting, NLC Chair Jackson Kellogg.

[00:00:07] Jackson Kellogg (Cal Young): This is a big issue for the City of Eugene and for all of our quality of life. And I think this is something we really need to take on and focus on. So, let’s just open this up to discussion and see what other people think. I know that other people have thought about this pretty deeply.

[00:00:26] Ted Coopman (Jefferson Westside): If you look at what’s going on in Council, right now, there are forces that are going, ‘We need to go all in, we really need to do this, we really need to jump on with the staff is doing.’

[00:00:34] And then there are councilors that are like, ‘This is too much, we’re acting on incomplete information. There’s HB 2003, and a bunch of other legislation that requires us to do a very detailed inventory on affordability and how we’re going to build out our Housing Implementation Pipeline that, we don’t know what that is.’ So it’s kind of crazy. As (Councilor) Randy Groves said, ‘Let’s jump into the shallow end of the pool and then we can scale up depending on how that works,’ right?

[00:01:03] Pam Wooddell (Friendly Area Neighbors): I’ve spent the last couple of days reading through the public testimony. I went through Batch Number 16 and 17. They had 80-some and 90-some letters each, and I was putting them on a spreadsheet to say who was for, who was against, and sorting it out to see where the public was at. And on Batch 17, it was, like, two that supported the staff’s position and 88 that didn’t support it.

[00:01:29] I saw just a tremendous amount of support for taking it slow and realizing we can add incentives later, we can’t take it back.

[00:01:37] And there’s a lot that we haven’t researched. For instance, early on I mentioned to Terri Harding and I said, ‘Why don’t we consider doing what Cambridge did with the Affordable Housing Overlay?’ And she hadn’t heard of it. And I don’t think she’s still looked into it, and they’re doing a lot of cool things in California too: Grounded Solutions, Partnership for the Bay’s Future, they’re doing really cool stuff, they’re getting funding, they’re building houses. So their thing is ‘Production, Preservation, and Protection,’ so at the same—because they’ve realized that at the same time that you need to build these houses, you need to also keep your lower-income people in the neighborhoods. You don’t want to displace people because there’s a lot of hidden costs behind displacing people. And so they do a lot of things with funding of refurbishing houses that are still usable. So there’s just so much we could explore really if we have a little more time.

[00:02:24] John Q: The initial proposed motion was brief and to the point.

[00:02:28] Ted Coopman: Jackson, I did send you a draft motion that was pretty generic. It’s pretty good. Pretty basic. Just that, it requests that they do a minimum implementation based on state guidelines, which I think is where a lot of us are going.

[00:02:48] Tom Bruno (Laurel Hill Valley): I’m frustrated that there’s so much ambiguity before the councilors, that they really don’t understand the baseline, the encourage line and whatever you want to call it recommended. I’m just, I’m cautious about how they will interpret that. And I’m just trying to be a little more definitive.

[00:03:12] Carolyn Jacobs (South University): I would support having it very brief and simple the way Ted did, but I mean, I think we could add some language to define what we’re talking about with minimum standards.

[00:03:26] Jon Belcher (River Road): If you go to the City’s website, they have something called a Planning Commission Recommendation Guide. And if I could have a chance to share my screen for a minute, Jackson.

[00:03:35] The planning commission broke down their recommendations into three different categories. Number one was the allow, which is basically the minimum standards that DLCD requires of us. So that’s the minimum standards.

[00:03:52] Then they had one that was encourage, that goes beyond the minimum standards and the staff and the planning commission by agreement saw that if we did a little more, that more middle housing would be built, that’s probably true. But the concern that I, and I think the rest of us have is, it’s going to be more expensive than the current housing is now. So it encourages middle housing, but it doesn’t make it affordable.

[00:04:17] And then finally they had a third group which they called it incentivize, which said, you can only use these standards if (a) you provide a certain amount of affordable housing in the project, and or you stay below 800 square feet.

[00:04:32] The people I’ve talked into the community including at least one city councilor have for want of a better term ‘drunk the Kool-Aid’ and accept the argument from staff and the Planning Commission, that this will make housing more affordable. So I think anything we write in encouraging the minimum standards for now should focus on that affordability question.

[00:04:57] Dennis Hebert (Southeast Neighbors): I’ve been getting lots of questions from people with CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions), wanting to know if in fact CC&Rs will override the new state mandate. Okay. So I called up the City Manager’s office. They put me through to the City Attorney’s office (Oh, no.). When I was speaking with a paralegal there about, I was wanting an answer to a question. The first thing I was told was that they don’t answer questions from just ordinary citizens that have to be from either the City Council or from planning or some staff member to, to get an opinion. And I said, well, I just need to know whether it’s the City’s call or the state’s call as far as CC&Rs on House Bill 2001. And I said, ‘Are you familiar with House Bill 2001? And this person responded, ‘No, I really don’t know what it’s about.’ This is the person working in the City Attorney’s office. So to me, there’s such been such a lack of outreach on the City’s part to at least inform the people what is going on, it’s disheartening. It’s very, very, very bad.

[00:06:10] Jon Belcher: As far as CC&Rs are concerned, that the legislature realized if there are CC&Rs that prohibits middle housing existing, then this law cannot override that, because it’s a contract with the property owners. In general, if CC&Rs say: ‘You can only have one building on a lot,’ that ‘you can’t subdivide your property,’ that ‘it has to be owner-occupied,’ all of those things are potential roadblocks for a particular property owner to be able to put middle housing on their lot.

[00:06:44] Our neighborhood sent a letter to Council pointing out that looking at CC&Rs, most of the subdivisions (not PUDs, subdivisions) that have been developed after 1990 have some kind of a restricted standard that will make it such that middle housing would not be allowed if a neighbor was to sue.

[00:07:05] Jackson Kellogg: In a democracy, you know, you have to take a stand. And if people don’t like how you vote, then they should come and run against you in an election and unseat you. I think it is our role actually to vote as we see things, with our neighborhoods in mind.

[00:07:22] John Q: With the final wording, Jon Belcher.

[00:07:24] Jon Belcher: So: ‘Request the City Council direct staff to develop for their consideration an alternative proposal that conforms to House Bill 2001’s minimum requirements. We suggest that the Council then take the necessary time to consider adopting future middle housing standards that will demonstrably further the goals of the Housing Implementation Pipeline.’

[00:07:46] Jackson Kellogg: I have seven ‘yes.’ Okay. Two nos.

[00:07:51] John Q: In certifying the vote, Jackson recognized departing NLC member Harry Sanger.

[00:07:56] Jackson Kellogg: Harry did a very like thorough and detailed job. I appreciate his service to the NLC and I’m sorry to see him go. I liked his perspective on things, even if I didn’t always totally agree with what he thought.

[00:08:09] This went really well, this discussion on HB 2001. Not totally 100 percent consensus, obviously, because we had two members who didn’t vote for the motion, but I think we’re actually on the same page, which is great.

[00:08:20] John Q: Echoing Randy Groves, most NLC representatives ask Council not to go off the deep end. The public hearing is set for April 18th.

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