Newberg City Council to decide on amending comp plan and codes with public hearings

The city of Newberg will soon deliver to the City Council an amendment to the Newberg comprehensive plan and municipal code to implement the provisions of the state Affordable Housing Act.

Senate Bill 1051, which passed in the 2017 session and became effective Jan. 1, requires any city with a population greater than 5,000 or a county with a population greater than 25,000 to review and decide on applications within 100 days for proposed housing developments that contain affordable housing units.

According to SB 1051, affordable housing is that which is affordable to households with incomes equal or less than 60 percent of the median family income for the county in which the development is built or for the state, whichever is greater. Multifamily residential building means a building in which three or more residential units each have space for eating, living and sleeping and permanent provisions for cooking and sanitation.

The bill changes the definition of needed housing to include housing types for low-income households. Effective July 1, SB 1051 further requires that cities allow housing to be built on land owned by worship institutions for affordable housing, provided the underlying zoning of the land allows housing. The bill prohibits a city from lowering the density of a proposed development if it is within the designated density range permitted in the zone.

Applications submitted to the state are for development or a multifamily residential building that contains five or more residential units within the urban growth boundary and at least 50 percent of the units included in the development will be sold or rented as affordable housing. SB 1051 also restricts the owner and each successive owner of the development from selling or renting any unit as housing that is not affordable housing for a period of 60 years from the date of occupancy.

In addition, SB 1051 requires that a county may not deny an application for a housing development located within urban growth boundaries, if it complies with clear objective standards, designs and land use regulations. The city can retain some authority to reduce density if there are health, safety or habitability concerns.

The City Council is not being asked to rule on these changes at this time, but to initiate the amendment so these proposed changes can be studied through a public hearing process. If the council initiates the amendment, then the city will schedule a public hearing with the planning commission to make recommendations. The planning commission will then bring the recommendations to the council for a public hearing and final decision.

The Newberg Housing Group, a subcommittee of the council, has spent the past year discussing proposals to address the affordability of housing within Newberg; this will provide another tool for discussion.

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