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Affordable housing plan could ease land-use rules

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SALEM — A bill aimed at increasing affordable housing by easing Oregon’s land-use requirements within two pilot projects is making headway in the House.

Under House Bill 4079, the process for expanding “urban growth boundaries” would be expedited by exempting local governments from certain land use rules or goals on two 50-acre parcels — one next to a city with fewer than 25,000 residents and the other with more.

On Feb. 17, the House Committee on Rules passed an amended version of the bill 5-3 and referred it to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means.

The committee’s amendment changes the size threshold of the pilot project cities to 25,000 residents, down from 30,000 residents. Pilot projects are excluded from Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties under the newest version of the bill. Previously, the pilot projects were also barred in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties, as well as a portion of Jefferson County, in addition to the Portland metropolitan area.

The bill previously won the unanimous approval of the House Committee on Rural Communities, Land Use and Water on Feb. 10.

The Oregon Farm Bureau and conservation groups have opposed HB 4079, arguing that new housing developments should occur within existing urban growth boundaries where roads, powers and water are more readily available that in rural areas.

Another proposal to expedite urban growth boundaries more broadly across Oregon — Senate Bill 1575 — while allowing limited “inclusionary zoning” of housing tied to local incomes has died in committee.

Mateusz Perkowski is a reporter with the Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group Capital Bureau in Salem.