History Made: Oregon Legislature Ends Single-Family Zoning

A bill that seemed like it could be a casualty of a bitter partisan feud managed to squeak under the wire. With Governor Kate Brown's signature, single-family zoning will be prohibited throughout the state of Oregon.

2 minute read

July 1, 2019, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


State capital building

JPL Designs / Shutterstock

[Updated: July 1]

Oregon is the first to eliminate single-family zoning, making history this week as the State Senate approved House Bill 2001, which now heads to Governor Kate Brown.

Eliot Njus reports that the bill overcame the drama surrounding the State Senate in recent weeks, and survived a frantic race to approve legislation before the constitutionally mandated end of the legislative session, which would have been a death knell for the bill. The bill notably had support from both sides of the aisle, unlike the climate bill that inspired the Republican walkout the preceded the frantic finish.

Njus provides the following summary of the bill's historic statewide planning reform:

It will allow duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and “cottage clusters” on land previously reserved for single family houses in cities with more than 25,000 residents, as well as smaller cities in the Portland metro area. Cities with at least 10,000 residents would be required to allow duplexes in single-family zones.

Njus also describes next steps for the implementation of the law, after Governor Kate Brown's expected signature:

Though the bill contains an emergency clause, only elements of the bill intended to prepare for the density mandate would take effect upon its passage. The bulk of the provisions wouldn’t take effect until 2020, with the extra time intended to allow city planners to revise their zoning code.

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