Five months after Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a quartet of housing bills — including one that would eliminate single-family zoning in certain cities — Portland residents are split on upzoning certain neighborhoods.
One of the key pieces of legislation, signed in early August 2019, requires cities with a population greater than 10,000 to “allow duplexes in lands zoned for single-family dwellings.” It also requires metro counties and cities with a population greater than 25,000 to allow “middle housing” in neighborhoods where zoning had previously only allowed single-family homes.
Middle housing typically refers to units that fall somewhere in between suburban-style single-family homes and high-density urban apartments. It includes small multi-family buildings like duplexes and four-plexes, as well as groups of tightly packed houses called “cottage clusters.”
The Portland City Council this week set aside two days for public comments, which drew dozens to testify on Wednesday, according to a local CBS affiliate. Some even showed up hours in advance to speak, according to the report.
The City Council’s current recommendations include allowing for middle housing in areas that are currently zoned for single-family homes. Activists, including those associated with the Sunrise Movement, a climate-focused political movement, believe it will help relieve the city’s affordability crisis and reduce pollution by allowing people to move closer to where they work.
However, detractors believe that more density would have the opposite impact — a larger carbon footprint and a negative effect on the affordability crisis.
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