Removal of Regulatory Barriers

HUD defines “regulatory barriers” as outdated, exclusionary, and unnecessary regulations that continue to block the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing.

An Oregon land use expert, John VanLandingham (staff attorney, with Lane County Legal Aid and Advocacy Center), has developed some specific strategies which local governments might find useful to employ as tools to enhance affordable housing development.

    1. Land use planning and related ideas that assist with the provision of affordable housing (“AH”)
      1. Local needs assessment: Numbers of people and types of families in need; housing supply (vacancy rate, housing condition); anecdotes: worthy-poor examples (e.g., 1987 Eugene Planning Commission/LCOG analysis; 1989 Lane County Task Force on Homelessness and Affordable Housing; 1995 Eugene City Council Committee on Affordable Housing).
        1. Also assess how a region or local government is meeting the need.
      2. Local regional advisory group (e.g., Eugene-Springfield-Lane County Housing Policy Board)
        1. Makeup: Cities, county, universities/community colleges, public housing authority, utilities, private sector developers and builders; low income housing consumers, housing advocates.
        2. Benefits: Identify local priorities; understand connection between AH and education, employment and economic development, public safety, and social services; publicize the issues and draw attention with local governments and the media; coordinate among local governments and with/among nonprofit developers; technical assistance from the private sector to nonprofit developers; advise local governments on project funding and other AH issues, for example, property tax exemptions; and support funding/grant applications.
        3. Dedicated local government staff committed to AH.
      3. Comprehensive plan for addressing the problem – for example, focus on rental housing for very low income families, with little addition to the emergency housing supply; housing ladder, from emergency shelter to transitional housing to permanent rental housing to homeownership.
        1. Eugene’s goal: 100 new rental housing units for very low income families per year.
      4. Adequate supply of developable low density (single family units) and medium and high density (multifamily units) residential land, appropriately zoned and serviced, and located near transit, jobs, and shops.
      5. Density bonus for AH in single family zones.
        1. Includes the number of allowed units, additional floor area ratio, height increase.
      6. Duplexes allowed on corner lots in single family zones; allowed on interior lots if neighbors on both sides are also duplexes.
      7. Clear and objective permitting standards. ORS 197.307(3)(b), (6)
      8. Urban renewal district, with tax increment funds used for AH.
        1. Housing implementation strategies for developers (e.g., Portland w/ Pearl, River Districts).
      9. Allow planned unit developments, cluster subdivisions.
      10. Allow small lots (e.g., 3,500 square feet) in single family zones.
        1. Allow development of existing substandard lots.
        2. Impose minimum density requirements in single family land divisions.
      11. Allow rowhouses/attached units in single family zones (no minimum side yard or front yard setback requirements).
      12. Allow single-room-occupancy units (quads, quints).
      13. Allow skinny streets.
      14. Allow flag lots (aka panhandle lots).
      15. Allow alley-access lots.
      16. Allow granny flats.
      17. Allow accessory units.
      18. Allow manufactured homes in single family zones. ORS 197.314
      19. Allow manufactured home subdivisions.
      20. Allow manufactured home parks in multifamily zones. ORS 197.312?
      21. Minimum density requirement in multifamily zones.
      22. Mixed use (housing and commercial) zone.
      23. Mixed use and higher-density zoning in town centers and along transit corridors.
      24. Reduce or eliminate parking requirements, for downtown housing and for AH for elderly and disabled families and along transit corridors.
      25. Allow/support homeless campground, along with allowing homeless street parking in industrial zones. (Eugene tried both; both are no longer allowed.)
      26. Allow homeless camping in single family home side and back yards.
      27. Allow homeless camping on city-supervised “donated” off-street spaces.
      28. Regulation of condominium and manufactured home park conversions, with relocation assistance.
      29. Allow group homes for people with disabilities in single family zones at 150 percent of typical occupancy standard of 5 unrelated adults.
      30. Survey local and state governments and agencies and school districts for surplus land.
      31. Referrals from house demolition permits; require notice to demolisher that local nonprofits will take donations of the home (for example, Jerry’s Home Improvement Store expansion).
        1. Demolition delay for housing.
      32. Solicit county tax-foreclosed lots (sometimes not worth the county selling them).
      33. Limit city subsidies to those housing projects that commit to long-term affordability.
      34. Housing code enforcement.
      35. Simplify codes.

NOTE: Some of the above concepts are sometimes restricted by a subjective approval process or have added aesthetic design requirements or set back requirements that defeat efforts at increasing density or efforts at reducing land or development costs.

  1. Other land use ideas that are not currently allowed, are rarely used, or need work
    1. Amend Goal 10 to make clear what kind of needs analysis a city must do, especially regarding housing price ranges/rent levels and incomes. Must a city use OHCSD’s housing needs analysis formula? Should a city be required to consider a list of possible policies to promote AH, as Metro requires? Does Goal 10 require more than the provision of an adequate supply of land for low, medium, and high density residential development? Should It?
      1. Related issue: Confusion and conflict between ORS 197.296(3)(b), 197.303, 197.307(3)(a), 197.309, and Goal 10 Guidelines A.
    2. Inclusionary zoning.
    3. Prioritize rural lands for UGB expansion if portion of the land is dedicated for AH.
      1. Ashland variation on ORS 197.309, which is intended to block inclusionary zoning, by requiring AH in exchange for an annexation or other density bonus.
      2. DLCD legislative proposal for 2007 session.
    4. Priority in permitting (or a permit-expediter) for AH projects (or just generally speedier permitting).
    5. Transfer of development (density) rights.
    6. Employer-sponsored/subsidized housing for employees.
    7. Authority for local gov’ts to waive some design standards for AH units, such as rear-entry garages for rowhouses.
    8. Location-efficient mortgage programs for Fannie Mae-determined eligible neighborhoods.
    9. No net loss housing policy for any demolitions for new market rate housing.
    10. Linkage fees for new commercial/industrial development.
    11. Jobs/housing balance.
    12. Regional solution requirements, with fair share approach.
    13. More market-style, incentive-driven ideas.
  2. Money / Resources
    1. Local government money contribution – direct: General fund, federal funds pass-through (CDBG, HOME, other), county road funds
      1. Allocated in an open, public process after a competitive RFP with advance criteria.
      2. Support for finding funding sources for AH.
    2. Local government money contribution – indirect: Subsidize or waive SDCs, permit fees.
    3. Land banking: City buys land and holds it for later allocation and development.
    4. Local utility SDC subsidy (EWEB).
    5. Construction loan float at reduced rate, using unspent federal funds.
    6. Property tax exemptions
      1. Nonprofit low income rental housing, ORS 307.540 to 307.548.
      2. Low income new rental construction (20 years; not limited to nonprofits), ORS 307.515 to 307.537.
      3. Multiple unit housing in core areas (10 years; not limited to AH), ORS 307.600 to 307.637. Eugene requires that the units be low income or that there be a 10 percent recapture of the tax savings after the third year; Portland requires that 15 percent of the units be at or below 80 percent median family income.
      4. Homeownership property tax exemption, ORS 307.651 to 307.687.
    7. Rehab loan programs, rental and homeownership housing.
    8. Homeownership programs: Construction/development subsidy, downpayment assistance, homebuyer fairs.
    9. Community land trusts.
    10. Web-based regional AH referral source.