Clear & Objective Code

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This page addresses the Senate Bill 1051 requirement that there be “clear and objective” approval processes and standards, as well as conditions of approval, for all proposed housing development.

See “What’s On Deck,” below, for news and events worthy of immediate attention

Post your comments on this topic, using the link at the bottom of the page.

The Oregon Legislature adopted Senate Bill 1051, which amended ORS 197.307 to read:

” * * * * *
(4) Except as provided in subsection (6) of this section, a local government may adopt and apply only clear and objective standards, conditions and procedures regulating the development of housing, including needed housing.
* * * * * “

Whereas ORS 197.307(4) used to require clear and objective standards for only “needed housing” (defined in ORS 197.303(1)), the amended section now requires clear and objective standards for all housing, except in historic areas designated for protection under a statewide planning goal that protects historic areas. See ORS 197.307(5)(b).

In simple terms, a clear and objective standard, condition or procedural requirement is one that two individuals with appropriate knowledge and expertise, and operating in good faith, could apply with a high degree of certainty that they would reach the same conclusion as to conformance to a standard, condition or procedural requirement.

Example: Minimum Lot Size: 4,500 square feet

State law also allows Eugene to have discretionary standards, conditions and procedures for housing development, which a property owner or developer can optionally chose when they submit a land use or permit application.

Nothing in the language of ORS 197.307, the needed housing statute [now the “clear and objective” statute], prohibits a city from offering a discretionary process for approval of a proposal for needed [any] housing as long as the non-discretionary process remains available to an applicant. The needed housing [“clear and objective”] statute protects an applicant for a permit for needed [any] housing from the city’s imposition of discretionary standards without its agreement, but an applicant may agree to be bound by discretionary standards without running afoul of the statute. SE Neighbors Neighborhood Assoc. v. City of Eugene, 68 Or LUBA 51 (2013).

When an applicant seeks an exception or variance to a clear and objective standard, the approval of the exception or variance does not have to rely only on clear and objective criteria. Shamrock Homes LLC v. City of Springfield, 68 Or LUBA 1 (2013).

The Planning Division has begun a project to assess Eugene Land Use Code (Chapter 9) and provide recommendations for code amendments to make the code’s criteria and procedures conform to ORS 197.307(4). View the Handout from staff provided to participants in several “focus group” meetings on June 11 and 12, 2018.

There is not yet a web page for this project, but you can …
Visit the Eugene Planning Division web site.

E-mail the planner who is leading the project at:
Jenessa Dragovich
Phone: 541.682.8385

E-mail the consultant the city has engaged for a “code audit” at:
Elizabeth decker
Phone: 503.705.3806

Planning staff presented a draft “charter” and “public involvement plan” (PIP) to the Eugene Planning Commission on May 8, 2018. You can view those drafts at:

Here are two critiques of these drafts from Paul Conte that were also provided to the Planning Commission:
Critique of Charter (PDF)
Critique of PIP (PDF)

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Help shape an effective scope and public involvement process. Timeframe: Immediate!!
Click here

Help guide and validate the “code audit” process. Timeframe: Very Soon!
Click here


Link to Eugene Land Use Code (Chapter 9)

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You can read an extensive examination of “needed housing” and “clear and objective standards” by the Neighborhood Leaders Council “Needed Housing Committee”  in the committee’s report at:

An attachment to the report provides a side-by-side comparison, with difference highlighted, between Eugene’s current “General” (i.e., discretionary) approval criteria and “Needed Housing” (i.e., clear and objective) approval criteria for five the five current land use actions that have alternative sets of approval criteria: Lot Partitions, Lot Subdivisions, Planned Unit Developments, Site Review and Conditional Use Permits. Note that the SB 1051 broadened the requirement for “clear and objective” standards to all housing, including, but no longer limited to “needed housing.” Thus, how to interpret “needed housing” has become much less important. The scope of the current project is “all housing.”

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Learn the how the Jefferson Westside Special Area Zone (which is “clear and objective”) was create. Click here to view the slides from a presentation to the Planning Commission.

The foundation for getting the code right was to determine the “good” elements of residential development to encourage and the “bad” elements to discourage.
Click here the following links to see the documents that were developed by the neighborhood:
The JWN assessment of “Neighborhood Character”
The JWN assessment of “Negative Impacts”


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