Concerns Over Planning Commission

Secondary dwelling units to be discussed at Monday's meeting

A Eugene Planning Commission meeting on Monday, March 26, will address secondary dwelling units in Eugene. City Councilor Emily Semple says she has been approached by constituents concerned that the Planning Commission is moving ahead on SDU planning without enough public outreach.

According to the Planning Commission agenda, it will be addressing “Secondary Dwellings (Phase 1 Implementation of Senate Bill 1051).” However, Semple says that attachments to the agenda involve Phase 2 issues.

The agenda’s briefing statement says:

In an effort to address housing affordability, the Oregon State Legislature adopted Senate Bill (SB) 1051 during the 2017 legislative session. This bill, which became effective August 15, 2017, contains a number of new provisions in state law intended to facilitate housing affordability. Pertinent to this process is the portion related to accessory dwelling units (known as secondary dwelling units in Eugene), which requires:

“A city with a population greater than 2,500 or a county with a population greater than 15,000 shall allow in areas zoned for detached single-family dwellings the development of at least one accessory dwelling unit for each detached single-family dwelling, subject to reasonable local regulations relating to siting and design.”

To allow for emerging community conversations around housing affordability and neighborhood livability to evolve, in January 2018, the City Council initiated a phased approach for land use code changes to implement Senate Bill 1051 related to secondary dwellings. The current phase (Phase 1) addresses where secondary dwellings are permitted in the City. The existing standards for height, setbacks, building size, etc., are proposed to remain in place at this time. Phase 2 is proposed to begin following adoption of Phase 1 and consist of a review and potential update of our existing standards for secondary dwellings through an inclusive community process. This will allow for the emerging community conversations around housing affordability and neighborhood livability to inform potential changes.

In an email to City Manager Jon Ruiz, Mayor Lucy Vinis and others, Semple writes, “I’m hearing outrage from constituents about the Planning Commission’s agenda for Monday’s meeting.”

The outrage, she says stems from the Planning Commission’s attachments, which “include revised code language/amendments that address the considerations in Phase 2.”

Semple says in her email, “I thought that came after the public outreach. We haven’t talked about Phase 2 at all. Is Phase 2 now part of the Phase 1 Public Hearing at the whim of the Planning Commission? It appears that the Planning Commission is taking off on its own to make enormous decisions that will be controversial and affect many different groups. Is this how the Planning Commission works? I’ve heard it’s the most powerful commission, but if the above interpretation is true, it’s too much and it is an outrage.”

Semple says she intends to be at the meeting, which is 11:30 am Monday, March 26 at 99 West 10th Avenue in the Sloat Room of the Atrium Building.

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