Over 520 residents less inclined to choose townhomes, triplexes among denser housing options mandated by state law

On Saturday, July 10, Clackamas County released survey results revealing preferences for expanding housing options, which became Oregon law in 2019.

State legislators approved House Bill 2001 to increase the housing options and opportunities available for residents as housing becomes less and less affordable statewide.

Under this law, counties must allow their urban residential zones to incorporate a cost-effective alternative to apartment complexes called "middle housing," such as cottage clusters, townhouses, duplexes, triplexes, etc., in areas where houses are permitted, effective July 1, 2022.

From May 3 to 30, the county collected survey responses from over 520 residents about how they would like middle housing to be incorporated into their area, information which will help the county develop HB 2001's official code, expected to be completed in summer 2022.

Overall, county residents found that most residents preferred cottage clusters, individual detached housing units often clustered together around a green space. Cottage clusters had perceived benefits, including more affordable housing, and addressed concerns like increased on-street parking.

Clackamas County's results came from 426 residents responding to an English survey and 96 responding to a multicultural survey available for non-English speakers.

Most participants who answered the English survey own a single-family home near Milwaukie, Oak Grove or Happy Valley. Asked to select their middle housing preferences (and to check all types that applied), 71% of residents included cottage clusters on their list, 49% included townhomes, and 40% included triplexes.

Asked to choose up to three benefits and concerns regarding middle housing, the most chosen benefits were increased affordable housing (66%) and increased diversity (38%) while the most chosen concerns being more cars parking on the street (53%) and smaller yards due to development (50%).

Most who answered the multicultural survey live near Happy Valley, Sunnyside and Canby and either own a single-family home or rent an apartment. Of the multicultural survey respondents, 69% included cottage clusters on their preference list, with 53% including townhomes and 28% including triplexes.SCREENSHOT: CITY OF WEST LINN - Middle housing includes townhomes, duplexes, triplexes and cottage clusters.

Increased affordable housing was the most chosen benefit (65%), followed up by increased diversity and increased flexibility for building on land (36% each). The greatest concerns were increased traffic on roads (57%), more cars parking on streets (51%) and that middle housing is incompatible with the current neighborhood (43%).

Participants from both surveys responded that they were somewhat familiar with HB 2001 prior to recording their answers.

The county will continue conducting community engagement and culturally specific outreach through the completion of HB 2001 code development in June 2022. Code development just started this summer.

HB 2001 is included in phase two of the county's land-use housing strategies, with phase one including increasing housing density, transitional shelters, optimizing parking requirements and providing incentives for developers to build affordable housing units.

To learn more about the survey and HB 2001 implementation, click here. To learn more about county housing strategies, click here.

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