“This is about choice,” said Rep. Tina Kotek, the Democratic speaker of Oregon’s house and the bill’s architect and lead champion, when she introduced the bill in February. “This is about allowing for different opportunities in neighborhoods that are currently extremely limited.”
“We all have an affordable housing crisis in our areas,” said Rep. Jack Zika, a Redmond Republican who supported the bill before a different committee June 11. “This is not a silver bullet, but will address some of the things that all our constituents need. … We have an opportunity now for first-time homebuyers.”
About 2.8 million Oregonians live in jurisdictions affected by the bill. Of those, about 2.5 million live in larger cities and the Portland metro area where up to four homes per lot would become legal; the rest, in mid-size cities where only duplexes would be legalized.
Cities would retain the ability to regulate building size and design, giving them leeway to ensure that change will be gradual. Cities also have flexibility to incentivize projects that create new below-market homes. (Portland, which has been working on its own fourplex legalization for the last four years, is planning to do exactly that, using a sliding scale of size bonuses that lets buildings be slightly larger for each additional home they create, and another bonus if one or more of the homes is offered below market price.)