April 21, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

People have to live somewhere; readopt the middle housing ordinance

3 min read
Lynn Porter: There was one public speaker on the proposed changes to the parking ordinance. Bill Armstrong talked about problems in his neighborhood with homeless RV parking. Councilors Clark, Groves, Semple and Keating agreed with him. None spoke up for the homeless.

by Lynn Porter, Homeless Action

The Eugene City Council held four public hearings at its Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 work session:

  1. Changing the zoning of a property to allow for more uses.
  2. Extending the sunset date for the city ordinance that allowed for larger “Safe Parking” and “Safe Tent” homeless camping sites.
  3. Changing the city’s parking ordinance to make it easier to impound homeless RVs.
  4. Changing details in the middle housing ordinance to meet conditions imposed by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The council’s meeting packet included an extensive discussion of the Safe Sleep Sites and middle housing ordinance changes. Only 3 and 4 were controversial.

There was one public speaker on the proposed changes to the parking ordinance. Bill Armstrong talked about problems in his neighborhood with homeless RV parking. Councilors Clark, Groves, Semple and Keating agreed with him. None spoke up for the homeless. The council will vote on the ordinance changes on Feb. 26. We should track their votes.

Proposed changes to the parking code would:

  1. Limit a vehicle to parking once per day for the maximum time allowed.
  2. Allow for a vehicle to be impounded after a third violation within a 90-day period.
  3. Prohibit a vehicle from “blocking a mailbox” and authorize the vehicle to be impounded immediately if blocking a mailbox.
  4. Impound discharging vehicles.
  5. Remove the $2.00 maximum charge for on-street hourly parking.
  6. Increase the maximum parking fine levels and allow for changes in the presumptive fine schedule for parking violations, including fine doubling after 30 days for unpaid parking fines.

All this will just make it that much harder for the homeless. Taking away an RV they need to survive is just cruel and will solve no problems. Our City Council simply refuses to deal with reality, which is that we need more shelter and affordable housing, not a new ballpark they want to spend $15 million on.

Eugene’s “middle housing” code, passed by the council (2022) in response to state law HB 2001 (2019), abolished single-family housing zoning, and allowed “middle” housing such as townhouses, cottages, duplexes, fourplexes, etc. As recommended by the Planning Commission, the council went somewhat beyond what was required by the state law, to make it easier to build more housing.

 Ted Coopman and Paul Conte wanted the council to just do the minimum to meet the law’s requirements, and appealed the council’s approved code to the state Land Use Board of Appeals. LUBA upheld the city’s ordinance, which was then appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals, which found that the city had not adequately dealt with the issue of sufficient infrastructure for new housing allowed by the ordinance. The proposed changes to the ordinance would deal with that and make other small changes to put the ordinance back in effect.

Three people spoke against the ordinance at the work session and three for it. Eliza Kashinsky, running against Coopman for the Ward 1 council seat, and mayor candidate Kaarin Knudson spoke effectively for the ordinance. You can find their testimony in the video beginning at 35:01.

The council will vote on the middle housing ordinance changes on March 11. We should track that vote. It will pass, because people have to live somewhere. The law of supply and demand still works. More apartments will eventually give us lower rents.


Lynn Porter is actively working to create more survival shelter sites to serve the 4,703 persons reported as unhoused in Lane County during January 2024.

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