ADU Housing Is Not The Answer

Kaarin Knudson’s saccharine “thank you” to the Eugene City Council would be laughable were it not for the false narrative that Knudson unrelentingly promotes. (EW Letters, 9/23).

Nowhere near “half our community is housing cost-burdened.” Based on HUD’s most recently available data, an estimated 30 percent to 40 percent of households in Eugene lack enough money for basic necessities after they cover monthly housing expenses. (Even these estimates are probably high because of various factors, including the large number of student residents with parental support.)

The true crisis in Eugene is the severe housing cost burden of households that rent and whose income is less than 50 percent of the area’s median family income. With construction costs around $300 per square foot, market-rate ADUs are viable only for Airbnbs or as a residence for a family member or caregiver.

Knudson’s too-quaint-by-half characterization of council’s “fix[ing] our backyard cottage code” overlooks that the council approved looming ADU walls of 22 feet, just five feet from a neighbor’s backyard. Some “cottage”!

Knudson’s satisfaction with the council’s action is also premature. The city planning and the legal staffs made so many procedural and substantive errors in their third attempt at an ADU ordinance that the ordinance is again being appealed and likely will require a fourth round before Eugene’s ADU code meets statutory requirements and conforms to comprehensive plan policies.

Housing justice advocates should also know that the “regulatory Frankenstein” to which Knudson alludes comprises six LUBA appeals brought by the Homebuilders Association and their proxies and bungled by the city attorney.

Paul Conte