Standards allowing more density and diverse kinds of housing are coming to Eugene one way or another, but people still have a chance to weigh in on what the rules will look like before a June 30 deadline.
The end of June is when the city must comply with House Bill 2001, a law passed during the 2019 session that requires large cities to allow for development of diverse housing types in historically exclusionary single-family zones.
That law sets forth minimum standards, and the state developed a “model code” that meet those requirements, but cities can develop their own codes to implement the standards.
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Eugene must adopt code that meets at least the minimum standards by June 30 or the state’s cookie-cutter code will apply automatically.
Officials are holding a public hearing Monday on proposed code changes that meet the model code in many areas and go beyond it to incentivize middle housing in other areas.
What’s required under state law?
No later than June 30, 2022, Eugene and other cities with a population of more than 25,000 must amend land use regulations to allow:
- A duplex on each lot or parcel that is located within city limits, zoned for residential use and on land where regulations allow detached single-family dwellings.
- Triplexes, quadplexes, cottage clusters and townhouses in residential zones within the city that allow detached single-family dwellings. Unlike duplexes, these do not have to be allowed on every lot.
These types of houses are so-called “missing middle housing.” While middle housing isn’t the same as affordable housing, it’s priced to meet the needs of younger people, older people and others who can’t afford a large, detached house of their own — something that’s becoming more difficult as housing prices increase at record-breaking rates.
What are HB 2001’s minimum standards and the state’s model code?
Under state law, cities must allow certain measurements for lot sizes, building height, parking spots, frontage and yard setbacks, lot width and coverage and allow homeownership incentives.
Minimum lot size
- Duplex: 4,500 square feet under both minimum standards and the model code
- Triplex: 5,000 square feet under minimum standards and 4,500 under the model code
- Fourplex: 7,000 square feet under minimum standards and 4,500 under the model code
- Rowhouse (townhouse): 1,500 square feet average under minimum standards and none under the model code
- Cottage cluster: 7,000 square feet under minimum standards and 4,500 under the model code
Maximum building height
- Duplex: 30 feet under minimum standards and the model code
- Triplex: 30 feet under minimum standards and 35 feet under the model code
- Fourplex: 30 feet under minimum standards and 35 feet under the model code
- Rowhouse: 30 feet under minimum standards and 35 feet under the model code
- Cottage cluster: No limit under minimum standards and 25 feet under the model code
For all but cottage clusters, there’s an additional 7-foot allowance for steeper, pitched roofs.
Minimum required off-street parking
- Duplex: 1 spot under minimum standards and 0 spots under the model code
- Triplex: 1, 2 or 3 spots, depending on lot size, under minimum standards and 1 spot under the model code
- Fourplex: 2, 3 or 4 spots, depending on lot size, under minimum standards and 1 spot under the model code
- Rowhouse: 1 spot under minimum standards and 1 spot under the model code
- Cottage cluster: 1 spot under minimum standards and 1 or 0 spots under the model code, depending on unit size
Minimum yard setbacks
- Duplex: No more than for a single, detached dwelling under minimum standards and less than 20 feet in the front and 15 feet in the back, except for garages and carports, under the model code
- Triplex and fourplex: No more than for a single, detached dwelling under minimum standards and less than 10 feet in the front and back, except for garages and carports, under the model code
- Rowhouse: Same as triplexes and fourplexes with some difference when there’s rear alley access or when units share walls
- Cottage cluster: No more than for a single, detached dwelling or 10 feet under minimum standards and model code in the front and similar in the back, but specifying minimum distances between the cottages
Maximum lot coverage
- Duplex: No less than the maximum lot coverage applicable to a single, detached dwelling under both
- Triplex and fourplex: No less than the maximum lot coverage applicable to a single, detached dwelling under the minimum standards and not applicable in the model code
- Rowhouse and cottage cluster: Not addressed
For frontage and lot width, the requirements and model code specify the minimums can’t differ from what’s allowed for a single, detached dwelling or don’t address the issue at all.
The model code allows for detached duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes to offer paths for ownership of different middle housing units on the same lot.
How does Eugene’s proposed code differ?
Eugene’s proposed code differs in a few ways, mostly by allowing smaller lot sizes and taller buildings.
In most cases, it matches the model code for minimum lot size for a fourplex, rowhouse or cottage cluster.
It allows smaller lot sizes for duplexes and triplexes — 2,250 square feet and 3,500 square feet, respectively.
When units are small or income-qualified, the proposed code reduces the minimum lot size by 25% for all but rowhouses, which have no minimum lot size.
Other than allowing for duplexes as tall as 35 feet, the planning commission recommendations match the model code for maximum building height.
The recommendations for parking match the minimum standards unless units are located near transit or have small or income-qualified units, in which case there’s no requirement for off-street parking.
The proposed code for yard setbacks and for frontage is within the model code guidelines or matches the model code for all types of middle housing.
But the allowance for lot coverage is greater — 75% for duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes, compared to 50% for single, detached dwellings.
Like the state’s model code, Eugene’s proposed code allows for detached duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes. And design standards for middle housing such as standards for driveways, parking configuration and landscaping either match existing standards for single-family homes or are aligned with the model code, according to the city.
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What’s happening Monday night?
Monday night’s meeting is not a vote. It’s a public hearing in which people will have two or three minutes to speak about the proposed code changes.
People can join in two ways:
- On Zoom: Join via the link at eugene-or-gov.zoom.us/j/86361475377 or using the meeting ID 863 6147 5377 and passcode council9.
- Via phone: Call 1-877-853-5257 and use the meeting ID and passcode.
There will be instructions for how to sign up to speak during the meeting.
The public hearing starts at 7:30 p.m. and the proposed changes comment period is the second of two comment periods on Monday. People who only want to watch the meeting can do so at bit.ly/Eugene-meetings or on Comcast channel 21.
Contact city government watchdog Megan Banta at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.