Oregon House Bill 2001 Threatens Eugene and Springfield Single-Family Homeowners and Renters
Jefferson Westside Neighbors Newsletter — August 2019
Oregon House Bill 2001 and the JWN
Paul Conte, former chair of JWN
The 2019 Oregon Legislature narrowly passed HB 2001, which will up-zone targeted areas of older and often low-income single-family neighborhoods, including large JWN areas east and west of the Fairgrounds.
Impacts of HB 2001
HB 2001 applies to Eugene and Springfield, but excludes nearby commuter towns with a population of 10,000 or fewer, including Coburg, Junction City, Veneta, Creswell, Pleasant Hill, Harrisburg, Monroe, Lowell, and Oakridge. The bill also exempts all existing subdivisions with applicable Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs). Thus, residents of many wealthier and newer developments won’t bear any of the burden. In all remaining single-family areas, HB 2001 requires that by June 30, 2022, Eugene code allows two dwellings (detached or attached), triplexes, fourplexes, townhouses, and cottage clusters on individual R-1 lots.
As it stands, residents in typical homes could see a three-story structure with up to four dwelling units rise up just five feet from their property line. Potential impacts include loss of privacy, a sense of crowding, diminished sunlight and wind, noise, and traffic on neighborhood streets.
Further, market pressure likely will increase housing prices and rents. Older, less expensive houses will get replaced with higher-cost condos (exempt from the Oregon’s new rent control law), as well as over-taxing water, sewer, and transportation infrastructure that was never designed to handle greater density.
HB 2001 unleashes a powerful market incentive for real estate investors to redevelop unprotected, lower-cost single-family areas in desirable locations close to amenities. Previously, these areas weren’t financially attractive for redevelopment because it didn’t pay to tear down a cheap home and rebuild with just another more expensive house. However, with upzoning, the investment return becomes attractive when a cheap home is replaced with two or more high-end condos or apartments. In the JWN, older, smaller homes in the R-1 area immediately east and west of the Fairgrounds are potential targets for such redevelopment.
Proponents claim that upzoning will reduce housing costs. However, research overwhelmingly shows that building new, expensive dwellings doesn’t lower housing prices and rents for lower-income households. In fact, upzoning lower-cost neighborhoods, without placing restrictions on the price or rents of new construction, often pushes housing costs higher due to speculative investment for redevelopment.
HB 2001’s blanket upzoning is limited to four dwellings per lot and creates a set of counterproductive problems:
a) This approach won’t scale up to provide the number of lower-cost dwellings that are needed to meaningfully address the housing crisis for low-income households.
b) The distributed and unpredictable density increases will have substantial impacts on livability, infrastructure, and services.
c) By not concentrating density close to existing or potential public transit routes, the city will find its ability to justify and create more high-volume, frequent bus rapid transit lines are diminished.
In the end, HB 2001 is inequitable because it exempts areas with CC&Rs. The bill has the potential to exacerbate housing and transportation costs for some low-income households as well as displace residents from low-income, and often more diverse, neighborhoods. HB 2001 creates a strong incentive for economically mobile households to move to nearby smaller towns that are exempt, thus intensifying economic segregation, increasing commutes, and producing more carbon. Finally, increased density reduces the city’s tree canopy and carbon sequestration, resulting in urban heat
Read a full analysis of HB 2001 and its impacts on Eugene single-family neighborhoods — Eugene Citizen’s Guide to HB 2001:
Does Eugene have a “housing affordability crisis”?