HB2001 Hearing Monday Feb 11!

ALERT! The House Human Services and Housing Committee will hold a hearing on HB2001 on Monday February 11. “Invited” testimony will be heard from 1:00 pm to 2:45 pm, then “public” testimony will be heard from 5:00 pm on.

It isn’t clear there will be other opportunity for public testimony to this committee on HB2001. When the Speaker of the House last tried to rezone all Oregon neighborhoods in 2017, with HB2007, the public was given very little opportunity to testify. Capitol insiders and lobbyists had plenty of opportunities; ordinary Oregonians didn’t.

If you have views on HB2001 that you want the legislators to hear, here’s what you can do:

In the “subject” line of your email, state “HB2001” and whether you support or oppose it. For example: “I OPPOSE HB2001”. Then in the body of your email, state your position and what you want the legislators to know.

Important: to become part of the record for this hearing, your email must be sent before Monday Feb 11. So, take a little time this weekend to do it.

For more effect, copy each of the legislators on the Committee and the committee’s staff with your email. Here are all of their email addresses: you should be able to copy/paste these addresses directly into your email.

Rep.AlissaKenyGuyer@oregonlegislature.gov, Rep.RonNoble@oregonlegislature.gov, Rep.TawnaSanchez@oregonlegislature.gov, Rep.CheriHelt@oregonlegislature.gov, Rep.MarkMeek@oregonlegislature.gov, Rep.TiffinyMitchell@oregonlegislature.gov, Rep.SheriSchouten@oregonlegislature.gov, Rep.AnnaWilliams@oregonlegislature.gov, Rep.JackZika@oregonlegislature.gov, amie.fendersosa@oregonlegislature.gov, adam.buell@oregonlegislature.gov

  • Email the Committee before Monday asking them to postpone the hearing, or hold another hearing, to allow more opportunity for public testimony.

You can make this request by email to the addresses above. Again, you should do it right away – if you want your voice to be heard.

  • Why is HB2001 so important? Why is it such a bad idea?

This is basically Speaker Kotek’s attempt to impose Portland’s Residential Infill Project (RIP) concept on every city and county in Oregon. Local communities, governments, and voters won’t have any say at all.

Every neighborhood will be rezoned to duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes or cottage clusters, whether the community wants it or not, and whether it actually makes sense or not.

This is, as many have pointed out, a developers’ dream. But a nightmare for lower-income families and neighborhoods, because rezoning for higher density ofter results in redevelopment with luxury housing, displacement of lower-income families, and widespread demolitions. Read more at Rezoning -> Higher Prices.

“easing these [zoning] codes would do little to address housing affordability and might actually serve to increase housing prices in the neighborhoods in question, for the simple reason that developers would use the land not for affordable units but for luxury construction.”

Even planning professionals are alarmed by HB2001. Here is what one retired senior planner wrote:

“1. HB2001 literally throws Goal 1 out the window. Citizen involvement is virtually nil when dealing with state legislation. And since HB2001 creates a mandate, citizens at the local level will have no say once the mandate comes down to their cities/counties to implement.
2. There is a mindset in some people that mixing medium and low density uses together is good planning. It’s not. Why do you think Euclidian zoning was created in the first place? 
3. Zoning is not inherently exclusionary or racist. Zoning was created to separate potentially incompatible uses and to allow for orderly and compatible transitions. The misuse of zoning standards to promote exclusion is the fault of the people in power. I could give examples of some of these myself, but they aren’t really relevant to the discussion.
4. Mixing low and medium density uses is not going to promote equity or affordability. There’s nothing in HB2001 that even deals with these. And in a market situation where many prices are artificially inflated, more supply does not necessarily guarantee reduced prices. This is not a traditional supply and demand situation.
5. The fact that there is not a rush to build ADU’s, even though the legislature mandated they be permitted everywhere SFR’s are, shows such mandates will not alleviate the affordable housing shortage.
6. The action taken by the City of Minneapolis in December to open up low density residential zoning in that city is touted as something to be followed. The problem is, their project has not been implemented yet and is untested. In addition, they are only including up to triplexes in their proposal, not fourplexes. They also have no provisions to guarantee affordability or equity. And finally, their proposal is only covering the city of Minneapolis, not the entire state of Minnesota. In short, just because they’re doing it doesn’t mean it will work or should be applied statewide in Oregon.
7. What kind of input went into HB2001 anyway. I’m hearing many relevant groups, including planning, were not involved. If this is just a copy of Portland’s Residential Infill Project, that project has a lot of flaws and is opposed by many. There are too many assumptions about what this is going to accomplish and too little discussion on potential negative impacts.” 

Environmentalists are also alarmed by HB2001, because widespread house demolition will be a major climate change impact. Here is another email we’ve received:

The continued demolition of buildings across Oregon amounts to a staggering amount of embodied energy that is literally being thrown away. Every time we raze an older house and replace it with a new, more energy efficient one, it takes an average of 50 years to recover the climate change impacts related to its demolition.  See January 28, 2014 article entitled “The Impact of Oregon’s Increasing Demolition Trend” by Brandon Spencer-Hartle on the restoreoregon.org website. According to former PSU Professor Lutzenhiser, 11/16/16 statement to Portland City Council,“Our demolition and new construction carbon emissions estimate is in the neighborhood of 47,000 pounds of CO2 emitted in the demo-construction process. The estimate for a major energy retrofit of an existing house is about 1,500 lbs (about 1/30th as much), and building a new ADU is estimated to produce around 12,000 pounds of CO2.”

Even many real estate professionals oppose HB2001. Here’s what one submitted as testimony to the committee last week:

As a Realtor, community continuity is necessary to preserve home values and provide residents a stable living environment. The proposed legislation, which would allow up to a 4-plex to be developed on a single-family lot, would undermine promises made to the community through zoning and master planning. It will turn balanced communities into chaotic architectural patchworks, and existing home values near these denser builds will plummet.

As I’m sure you’ll hear from the cities and counties, this also undermines the critical planning for infrastructure capacity. With already overburdened waste water facilities here in Clackamas County, adding four households where only one was expected, all with flushing toilets and other typical household water use, you will create a public health crisis as cities and counties rush to try and accommodate the capacity.

The careful planning of cities and counties in determining what density will go where is based on capacity. Capacity for water, power, storm water, spots in our local schools, traffic, pedestrian and bicycle accommodation, and more. This bill destroys all of that. The chaos that will ensue will rip our communities apart.

You have also ignored a major need of the demographic you are attempting to serve. Planning for density always involves consideration for access to public transportation. That’s why apartment buildings, duplexes and townhomes tend to be near busier roads that are serviced by buses. If you try and wedge this density in suburban neighborhoods where detached single-family homes are typically sited, you isolate the new occupants from public transit, making it harder for them to get the grocery store, the doctor, or work.

This is a terrible idea. Please do not consider it for a work session and focus your efforts on less devastating legislation.