Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



People provided input on middle housing concerns and benefits after learning more about House Bill 2001.

COURTESY ILLUSTRATION: OPTICOS  - Lake Oswego staff and representatives from the Cascadia Partners consultant firm met virtually with the public during the first middle housing community forum.Lake Oswego staff and representatives from the Cascadia Partners consulting firm met virtually with the public during the first middle housing community forum Dec. 9 to discuss recommendations for how to bring city code into compliance with House Bill 2001.

During the forum community members learned about the history of HB 2001 and key decisions made by the city so far. The public asked questions and answered polling questions for staff to receive a better understanding of how the community felt. 

HB 2001, which was approved by the Legislature in 2019, requires cities with more than 25,000 residents — or within Metro — to allow "middle housing" like duplexes, triplexes and other multi-unit, clustered housing options to be built on land zoned for single-family homes. 

Back in May, the Lake Oswego Planning Commission discussed and received direction from the council on recommendations relating to work around the bill. Specifically, city staff and the planning commission asked for guidance on whether Lake Oswego should adopt state-modeled codes — which staff didn't recommend — or develop middle housing siting and design standards specific to the city to regulate middle housing opportunities. During that meeting, staff also received direction to form a 13-member Middle Housing Advisory Committee to provide policy guidance to the planning commission for HB 2001 compliance.

Cascadia Partners was brought on late last year as a consultant to conduct research of neighborhood conditions and patterns to generate both a qualitative and quantitative analytical understanding of the city. As part of the process, neighborhood associations were brought to the table and hundreds of residents completed a survey relating to neighborhood development patterns, character and architectural history. There was also an audit of the city's comprehensive plan and development code. All of these findings helped inform a middle housing report and recommendations.

Recommendations included revising the definition of "demolition" to include remodels that remove more than 50% of exterior walls; defining duplexes, triplexes and quadruplexes to include detached units in addition to the more commonly seen attached units; applying existing single-family housing garage and driveway design standards to townhouses; regulating open space for detached units in the same manner as attached units; and providing financial incentives for middle housing projects. 

Last month, the Middle Housing Advisory Committee wrapped up its work and presented its recommendations to the Lake Oswego City Council. The council decided to focus on the recommendations that related to the minimum requirements to comply with HB 2001 by June 30 first, and then address the leftover recommendations at a later date. Recommendations that aren't related to HB 2001 include impervious surface requirements and incentives for affordable and accessible units. 

One question posed during the Dec. 9 meeting referred to the possibility of using solar power at cottage clusters. Jamin Kimmell, with Cascadia Partners, said any type of solar generation that could happen with a single-family home could happen with cottage clusters.

"It (HB 2001 changes) probably won't affect the things that regulate that," Kimmell said. 

One community member asked if the demolition fees would be increased or if there would be incentives in place to keep existing homes. Demolition fees are currently $15,000. 

"We're not considering an increase to the demolition fee right now, but we are considering changing what would qualify as a demolition so more projects would be qualified as demolitions that are currently qualified as remodels," City Planner Erik Olson said.

Another question referred to the maximum number of lots on a unit. 

Kimmell said the answer to that question depends on the housing type that's being proposed. 

"Generally it would be four units if its proposed, as for example, a quadruplex, or a set of townhouses would be no more than four attached units," said Kimmell, adding that if someone wanted to develop a cottage cluster, it would require a larger lot and then the number of units per lot could go up to eight. 

One opportunity for input related to cottage cluster size and whether the size of cottages should be limited. Kimmell said without overall size limitations, there could be four units at about 1,800 square feet for each unit, while a size limitation could allow about six units at about 1,000 to 1,800 square feet. Kimmell said smaller sizes might discourage developers, though it may be more affordable to folks.

A majority of attendees voted that the size of cottages should be limited. 

Overall, people were mainly concerned with traffic associated with middle housing development, as well as neighborhood compatibility, privacy and impacts to the tree canopy. As far as the most important benefits to middle housing, there was a three-way tie during an online poll between affordability, housing options and an answer that claimed there were no benefits. 

There will be other opportunities for public input, including neighborhood association presentations and planning commission work sessions at various dates from December through February. The tentative date for the second community forum will be Feb. 10. 

In the meantime, more information and a survey are available online.

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