Our housing crisis is real. Part of Oregon’s problems of affordable housing can be traced back to Senate Bill 100 and the formation of the Land Conservation & Development Commission (LCDC) in the late 1970s.
More than 40 years have passed, and it’s obvious that the old LCDC goals and guidelines do not adequately deal with some of the new realities of the 21st century. There is no climate change goal, for example.
And the statewide problem of homelessness is not just a political, economic and social problem, but it’s also a land use issue. The city of Eugene recently pressured the state into outlawing homeless camps along the Willamette River. Roughly 100 out of 140 homeless camps in Eugene are located in that area. Where are they supposed to go if the law is actually enforced?
And the number of homeless people is expected to grow every year for the foreseeable future. Clearly, land use plans need to address how homeless populations can live in safe and secure environments. Land use planning needs to address the neighborhood resistance that prevents groups of homeless people from being dispersed in a well-thought-out manner.
It’s time to reevaluate LCDC’s total framework to take into account the massive social and land use challenges we’re facing today. A rethinking of land use planning and zoning in the state and city can lead us all to new ideas and novel solutions.