Oregon Legislature Passes Nation’s First State-wide Ban on Single-Family Zoning in Cities

Two- three- and four-unit buildings will now be allowed in urban Oregon neighborhoods on lots where only one home was previously allowed.

Single-family housing in the Hollywood neighborhood (Walker Stockly)

The Oregon Legislature took the dramatic step of passing a bill on the final day of the 2019 session that will require at least duplexes be allowed in city neighborhoods where previously only one home was allowed per lot.

House Bill 2001 applies to cities of at least 10,000 people. For cities of 25,000 or more triplexes and duplexes will also be allowed.

Supporters of the bill hope it will provide one more way to increase housing supply. Some supporters have also backed the proposal as a way to provide economic and racial diversity, reversing what the intended effects of single-family zoning.

Larger cities will have until June of 2021 to officially revise their plans for allowing diverse housing types, and smaller cities will have an extra year.

The bill was the second piece of high-profile housing legislation successfully championed by House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland). The first was a statewide cap on rent increases.

No other state has either policy in place.

The 17-to-9 vote for the bill by the state Senate in the late afternoon came hours after the bill narrowly failed.

Sen. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis) returned to the Senate floor for the second vote, after declining to be present when State Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) was present.

Boquist, who had implied he would shoot any state police sent to retrieve him during the Republican walkout, was not present for the second vote, and neither was Sen. Herman Baertschiger Jr. (R- Grants Pass).

Related: The Quest to End Single-Family Zoning in Oregon Crashes Up Against Fallout From the Republican Walkout

Gelser was a yes vote. Boquist had voted for the bill earlier in the day. Baertschiger against it.

Two Senators—Sen. Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) and Sen. James Manning Jr. (D-Eugene)—switched their vote to yes, as did Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), who had voted against the bill for the technical reason of wanting senators to be able vote on the bill again.

Two Portland-area Democrats—Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) and Mark Hass (D-Beaverton)—were among those who stuck to a vote against the bill.

The House had already passed the bill earlier this month, and the governor is expected to sign it.

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