Clear & Objective Housing Approval Criteria Update
As part of the Envision Eugene urban growth boundary (UGB) process, in 2015, City Council provided direction on housing by initiating several projects. These included establishing a baseline UGB, establishing urban reserves, growth monitoring and updating the City’s needed housing (clear and objective) regulations. Related to the City’s needed housing regulations, the Council specifically directed the following action:
- Update the City’s procedures and approval criteria for needed housing applications (applications to develop housing in areas identified for housing in the City’s BLI and HNA).
- Target for City consideration of proposed updates: within 1 year of State acknowledgement of the baseline UGB.
Why Update Our Clear & Objective Approval Criteria?
Multiple factors contribute to the need to update our existing land use application approval criteria and procedures for housing developments. As identified during the Envision Eugene process, we will need to accommodate approximately 15,000 new homes within our urban growth boundary (UGB) by 2032. We will need to find a way to efficiently accommodate this growth while preserving the community’s values regarding livability, public health and safety, and natural resource protection.
Oregon’s Statewide Planning Goal 10 (Housing) requires that local governments adopt and apply clear and objective standards, conditions, and procedures regulating the development of “needed housing.” This is to ensure that communities do not use discretionary or subjective criteria to deny housing projects. The clear and objective standards, conditions, and procedures can't discourage housing through unreasonable cost or delay. This includes development standards such as setbacks and building height that apply to housing at the time of building permit, as well as land use application criteria that apply to partitions, subdivisions, site reviews, conditional use permits and planned unit developments that will provide housing.
Cities that have a clear and objective land use application approval path can also adopt alternative or “discretionary” approval criteria. Developers may elect the alternative path to allow greater flexibility in housing development proposals. Eugene's land use code provides two approval paths: a clear and object path and a discretionary path.
Our clear and objective land use application approval criteria have not been updated since 2002. Existing approval criteria are perceived by some as barriers to providing the housing our community needs, and others believe they do not do enough to address our community’s values regarding livability, public health and safety, and natural resource protection.
Several legal challenges, through appeals of land use decisions, have tested the clear and objective nature of our approval criteria. Addressing concerns about development criteria through appeals is costly and creates uncertainty during the development process. If criteria are removed through the legal process, our community has no ability to address the underlying issues.
Our existing clear and objective approval criteria need to be reevaluated and updated to meet these goals:
- accommodate growth on lands available within our current UGB
- continue to provide a clear and objective path to land use approval for all housing as required by State law
- guide future development in a way that reflects our community’s values
The Clear & Objective Housing: Approval Criteria Update will be completed in four phases. The project timeline, which includes an overview of the project phases, the public engagement strategies for each phase and key products, is provided below along with a summary of the four phases of the project:
Phase 1 – Issue Identification: The initial phase will include outreach to stakeholders, an external land use code audit, and an internal legal analysis that will help identify the range of issues to address within the scope of this land use code update. A Summary of Key Issues report will be produced at the end of the phase.
Phase 2 – Concepts and Evaluation: Using the Summary of Key Issues report generated in Phase 1, stakeholder working group meetings will be held to review and vet issues, generate concepts and evaluate potential clear and objective approaches to addressing the issues. A Preferred Concepts report will be produced once a preferred concept or concepts for each issue has been identified. Staff will check in with Council to seek direction on preferred concepts before proceeding.
Phase 3 – Draft Proposed Land Use Code Changes: This phase will involve writing proposed land use code changes based on the Preferred Concepts report and soliciting stakeholder feedback. Once draft land use code changes are vetted, we will seek Council action to move forward to formal adoption. Our target is to request City Council action on a proposal for updated approval criteria in January 2019 (one year from UGB acknowledgement by the State).
Phase 4 – Formal Adoption Process: Following Council direction, the formal adoption process will commence. The process for a change to the City’s land use code is a legislative land use process, which provides for multiple opportunities for public involvement, including public hearings before the Planning Commission and the City Council.
Planning Commission and City Council Updates
- Eugene Planning Commission, June 25 2018, 11:30 AM. Sloat Room (1st Floor), Atrium Building, 10 West Broadway, Eugene (Agenda, Webcast)
- Eugene City Council, May 30 2018, 12:30 pm work session. Harris Hall, 125 East 8th Avenue, Eugene. (Note: This work session was postponed from the original date of May 29, 2018). (Agenda, Webcast)
- Eugene Planning Commission, May 8 2018, at 5:30 pm work session. Sloat Room (1st Floor), Atrium Building, 10 West Broadway, Eugene (Agenda, Webcast)
Existing Clear & Objective Approval Criteria for Housing
Below are the land use code criteria relevant to the application types being reevaluated as part of the Clear & Objective update. With each criteria set, a reference table and the general criteria (where discretion is allowed) are provided for reference and comparison.
- Conditional Use C&O Criteria
- Partition C&O Criteria
- Planned Unit Development C&O Criteria
- Site Review C&O Criteria
- Subdivision C&O Criteria
You can access the entire Eugene Land Use Code here.