Oregon legislature finds ‘missing middle’, passes ban on single-family zoning

Built in 1927, this duplex has been illegal has been prohibited in our zoning code for almost a century. HB 2001 changes that.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

When it comes to boosting bicycle mode share, where we build our homes is more important than how we build our streets. Density of residential dwellings matters because the viability of bicycle use increases as people live closer to their jobs, schools, friends, and other destinations.

That’s why we’ve talked up the connection between cycling and land-use planning and zoning on this site for well over a decade.

Now we’re very happy to share that over the weekend the Oregon Legislature passed a bill that bans single-family zoning. This is a boon for the potential of efficient transportation modes like cycling, and transit.

Here’s the lowdown from Michael Andersen at Sightline:

If signed by Gov. Kate Brown in the next month, House Bill 2001 will strike down local bans on duplexes for every low-density residential lot in all cities with more than 10,000 residents and all urban lots in the Portland metro area.

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In cities of more than 25,000 and within the Portland metro area, the bill would further legalize triplexes, fourplexes, attached townhomes, and cottage clusters on some lots in all “areas zoned for residential use,” where only single-detached houses are currently allowed.

Read more about the bill at Sightline.org.

Or, as some more dramatic headlines have summarized it: The bill bans single-family zoning.

Longtime BikePortland readers will recall that Andersen began writing about this “missing middle” housing back in 2015 in our Real Estate Beat column. Andersen’s story was inspired in part by a Pedalpalooza ride led by local developer Eli Spevak, who led participants on a tour of multi-family homes built before Portland’s establishment of “single-family” zones.

In the past four years, activism around more housing options in residential neighborhoods has flourished and in the end it was a very broad coalition that helped make the passage of HB 2001 a reality.

Thank you to everyone who worked on this bill. We can’t wait to see how it impacts the creation of more vibrant, healthy, earth-friendly — and more bikeable — neighborhoods.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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