New Push to Create Missing “Middle Housing” in Bend

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(Graphic | Courtesy of City of Bend)

Code Update, Per State Law, to Allow Individual Ownership of Multi-Plex Units

One hope of newly implemented legislation in Bend is to bring the dream of home ownership within easier reach to more of its ever-expanding population.

Oregon made history in 2019 by being the first state to adopt legislation — known as House Bill (HB) 2001 — to effectively end single family housing and pave the way for more diverse types of living options.

Now Bend is the first city of more than 25,000 people to comply with that enactment, in the shape of amendment to the Bend Development Code — to implement Senate Bill (SB) 458 — which, among other outcomes, allows for the ownership of one unit of a duplex or triplex.

Along with other new development types such as micro-unit, small dwelling unit and zero lot line developments, the latest move is part of a state mandated push to address ways to provide alternative and attainable housing types for a growing and diverse population within city limits.

Small-scale, infill specialist developers such as Bend-based Mary Hearn supported these code changes, commenting that they “will allow a pathway for small, infill developers like myself to provide the ‘Missing Middle’ housing that is so desperately needed and desired.”

Effectively, SB 458 allows for a land division of a parent lot solely for ownership opportunities of middle housing units. For example, if a triplex used the middle housing land division process, you could purchase one unit of the triplex and the land around it.

As a follow-up to, and local refinement of, HB 2001, it requires jurisdictions to allow middle housing lot divisions for any relevant middle housing type (duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, townhomes etc.) built in accordance with the relevant Oregon Revised Statute (ORS). It applies to middle housing land divisions permitted after June 30, 2022.

Hammered out pursuant to stakeholder advisory group input, work sessions and public hearings, Bend City Council has approved a large set of development codes to bring the city up to date with the requirements of the enacted legislation.

The code change now requires that triplexes, duplexes and town homes be allowed in any residential zone where a single family-home is allowed, subject to appropriate parameters such as setback requirements and so forth. It also lowers parking requirements for developers and includes more stringent regulation of short-term rentals.

The primary thrust of the legislation aims to provide Oregonians with more housing choices, especially housing choices more people can afford, and required updates to local codes that previously limited the type of housing people can build.

Locally, the statute compelled the City to amend the Bend Development Code to comply with the new housing act, with the amended code provisions overriding any conflicting Comprehensive Plan or provision.

A spokesperson said, “The City will continue to create incentives for and remove barriers to development of a variety of housing types in all residential zones.

“This policy is intended to implement the City’s obligation to encourage availability of adequate numbers of needed housing units at price ranges and rent levels which are commensurate with the financial capabilities of Oregon households and allow for flexibility of housing location, type and density.”

Bend City has reaffirmed its support for residential infill development to help achieve the mix of housing identified in its adopted Housing Needs Analysis, and the fiscal year 2021-23 Council Goal Framework plan includes a housing goal to “Take meaningful action to make this statement a reality: People who live and work in Bend can afford housing in Bend.”

That goal includes a strategy to pursue policy actions to increase the supply of housing as a “platform for equity” by removing and reducing regulatory barriers for development of housing, with an emphasis on incentivizing rent and price restricted affordable housing, middle income housing and housing that serves vulnerable community members.

Relevant residentials districts within Bend’s jurisdiction affected by updated code flexibility include Low Density (RL), Standard Density (RS) and Medium Density (RM-10 and RM) Districts.

To help meet Bend’s pressing housing needs and Council’s goals and strategies, implementing the HB allows “new types of housing in areas where they were previously prohibited, provides additional opportunities to meet the housing needs of Bend residents, and also provides additional opportunities for housing in the Urban Growth Boundary, thereby increasing its capacity.”

According to the adopted Bend Housing Needs Analysis (HNA) Bend is planning for growth of approximately 38,500 people between 2008 and 2028, requiring nearly 16,700 new dwelling units. Mirroring general trends, Bend’s housing needs are evolving, and key demographic changes are coming in Central Oregon and across the nation.

Examples include Baby Boomers that may need affordable housing or may choose to downsize their housing, resulting in greater demand for middle housing types and small single-family dwellings, cottages, accessory dwelling units, townhomes, apartments and condominiums.

Growth in Millennial households will similarly increase the need for affordable housing for renters and homeowners such as small single-family dwellings, cottages, accessory dwelling units, duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, garden apartments and apartments.

The Bend City Framework Plan also prioritizes “leveraging legislative opportunities to obtain housing for those most in need and provide additional opportunities for first time home ownership.”

Such removal and reduction of regulatory barriers for development of housing places an emphasis on incentivizing rent and price restricted affordable housing, middle income housing and housing that serves vulnerable community members.

This is especially relevant in light of the average rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Bend currently hovering around $1,800 per month, which represents a 13 percent increase compared to the previous year.

The City will continue to promote a mix of housing types in areas zoned residential through the updated “clear and objective” standards which will see impacts to include:

  • Middle housing in areas of Bend where it was not previously permitted. Bend residents need a variety of housing choices to fit their lifestyles, and not everyone needs or desires a large home. The new code allows middle housing in all residential areas of Bend, regardless of zoning, with the exception of areas with existing covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that prohibit these types of housing.
  • Housing prioritized over development standards. Middle housing is designed to be more affordable. Affordability is impacted by building requirements such as parking, height, and distance from the road and other structures. The new code reduces many of the requirements previously limiting the development of middle housing, helping to prioritize more units that are likely more affordable than large homes.
  • More housing for community members who live and work in Bend. The new code limits permitted short-term rentals for developments that have more than one unit. Previously there was no restriction on the number of short-term rentals units by property. Now, the code will allow only one short-term rentals unit per property in residential zones, as long as the property complies with all other requirements for short-term rentals. This change will further the goal of supporting the use of middle housing for people who live and work in the City of Bend.

The approved code was drafted by the HB 2001 Stakeholder Advisory Group, which was comprised of members from the City CouncilPlanning CommissionAffordable Housing Advisory CommitteeNeighborhood Leadership Alliance and others. To view the proposed amendments and for more information on Bend’s HB 2001 implementation, visit bendoregon.gov/HB-2001.

The new legislation also necessitated updates to the Bend Comprehensive Plan  to ensure compliance after City staff spent several months working with the HB 2001 Stakeholder Advisory Group, which comprised of members from the City CouncilPlanning CommissionAffordable Housing Advisory CommitteeNeighborhood Leadership Alliance and members of other special interest groups, to draft a package of proposed amendments for consideration by the Bend Planning Commission and City Council.

bendoregon.govoregon.gov › lcd › SB_458_Guidancebendoregon.gov/HB-2001

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Simon Mather — CBN Feature Writer

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