Housing Tools and Strategies
Housing affordability and availability is a long-standing and growing problem in Eugene. There is a need for a comprehensive, coordinated approach that considers the spectrum of tools and strategies available to the City to promote more housing affordability, availability, and diversity.
At the May 2018 Work Session Opens a New Window. , Eugene City Council passed a motion to have staff implement a process to identify barriers to housing affordability, availability, and diversity, and to suggest, evaluate, and recommend possible strategies and tools to address the barriers. The process that resulted was the Housing Tools and Strategies (HTS) Working Group.
HTS Action Inventory
The Housing Tools and Strategies Action Inventory organizes the Working Group's identified potential actions into three categories:
- In-progress actions;
- Recommended actions; and
- Not recommended actions.
The document is intended to be used as an inventory of potential actions that can affect housing affordability, availability, and diversity of type. It is a large menu of actions that can be implemented over time, many of which require additional research to understand impacts, resources required, and how best to implement to be effective. It is a work in progress—it will be modified as new ideas emerge, as actions are implemented, and actions found to be ineffective are removed from the inventory. For each action, the document provides a brief explanation and the level of support the action had from the HTS working group.
Items within the Action Inventory can be identified on the City's website with the icon above. This icon serves to provide a cohesive narrative around the HTS recommendations and their progress, identifying the items that serve to increase housing affordability, availability, and diversity of type.
Work has been initiated on the following actions identified in the HTS Action Inventory, organized into four broad strategies.
- Remove Land Use Code Barriers
- Reduce Time and Cost Burden for Development of Housing
- Increase Inventory of and Access to Affordable Units, and
- Additional Options
This strategy includes actions that require some change to the City's land use code (Chapter 9).
Complete land use code audit of regulatory and process barriers to housing production
This audit is a process and regulatory audit of the land use code will identify barriers to ADUs and missing middle housing. By identifying these barriers we can amend the code in the future to facilitate easier development of these housing types.
On March 18th, the Planning Commission provided input on the scope and methodology to analyze the City’s comprehensive plan, land use code, and other land development documents and regulations. The Planning Commission reviewed the draft audit on April 22nd. The presentation is available online as slides or as a webcast.
The audit was completed in June. To see the completed audit and more details, visit the project website.
Improve the Clear and Objective standards
Revision of the Clear and Objective language will allow residential development to have a clear path forward for land use applications for housing, thus saving time and saving money. This is a set of approval criteria that are intended to be objective and measurable, which is useful for straightforward developments that don't require flexibility.
City Council gave the green light to advance proposed code amendments to the formal adoption process at the May 20 work session. The draft language provides the basic framework for code amendments that will implement the approved concepts for key issues identified at the beginning of the project, which range from simple maintenance fixes to addressing more complex items like tree preservation and geotechnical requirements. Refinements to the language are likely as the formal adoption process will include opportunities for community input at public hearings. We anticipate holding the Planning Commission public hearing this fall, followed by the City Council meeting this winter. The process will take approximately six to nine months before amendments are adopted. Stay tuned to the project website for upcoming meetings.
This strategy includes actions that reduce or remove financial and regulatory barriers.
Streamline/speed up the permitting process
eBuild 2.0 builds on the streamlining and benefits that exist within the current eBuild system. eBuild 1.0 was implemented in 2015 and transitioned builders from a paper-based system to a system where drawing submission, fee payments, and contractor selection are all available electronically. The public facing portion of eBuild 1.0 has significantly streamlined permitting process that the City has made available for the community. eBuild 2.0 will streamline internal processes and bring the building inspection team to the electronic system. This continues the focus on high quality, safe outcomes our community expects.
eBuild 2.0 will-
- Improve inspectors’ ability to work in the field,
- Allow City staff to easily witness, verify, and track projects, with large improvements in phased permits approvals, and
- Manage records and data, keeping all plan documents which will result in long term efficiencies and higher quantities of property information for owners
Though completion of eBuild 2.0 is still several years away, eBuild 1.0 has resulted in many improvements for the community’s large and small projects. The eBuild website is a great place to get started.
Clarify requirements for erosion control standards
In April, the City of Eugene's Erosion Prevention Program updated the residential erosion permitting applications to provide a checklist for home builders.
This checklist can assist builders with having a completed application. When complete applications are submitted, the City can review and issue permits much more quickly, saving builders time in the permitting process. This checklist will save builders time in the permitting process.
The City's erosion standards are performance-based, meaning that the standards are based on achieving certain outcomes and options are presented to achieve these outcomes, allowing builders to select the best solution for their budget and project. The application has been revised to include this checklist and a sample site plan in order to provide clarity for those undertaking single family residential or duplex projects. The new application can be found here.
Advocate to change liability requirements for condominiums
Under current Oregon state law, condominium projects (i.e., owner-occupied, multi-family) are subject to a ten-year statute of limitations on construction defect claims. The lengthy time period has contributed to increased insurance rates for condominium projects, which has deterred developers from initiating new condominium projects. In the 2019 Legislative session, HB 2661 sought to reduce the time period to six years. The bill, however, did not move beyond a committee hearing before the end of the Legislative session. The City of Eugene supported the legislation, and will do so again in the next session.
Review tree removal policy
Upon investigating this recommendation, staff realize that there are many different scenarios that can come into play when developing on a site with or adjacent to trees. To eliminate some of the confusion around how to manage trees on or near a development site, a new internet resource will be developed to outline the process for both private and public trees, their removal, valuation and coinciding landscape improvements, and permits and contact information. Providing one spot to hold all of the information on trees will offer clarity around the processes, regulations, and values our community has around trees.
This internet resource will be made available in late summer, early fall of this year.
Automatically create an account for a project with EWEB when City permit is initiated
Syncing with EWEB’s customer service system proves to be a large undertaking. To move towards a solution with this recommendation, staff investigated the permit submission process and steps eBuild customers need to take once their building permits have been submitted and accepted. We are working to create a checklist that identifies next steps for customers upon having an accepted permit. This checklist will fold into the existing eBuild receipt mechanism, and will be communicated to customers in more than one circumstance. This checklist will help to identify items that need to be completed prior to major project milestones like beginning of construction or receiving a certificate of occupancy, hopefully reducing some of the knowledge and time barriers that come with complex project or newer developers.
The checklist will launch as a part of eBuild this summer.
If you have to-do items that you feel would be helpful to include on the eBuild Notice of Accepted Application, send them to HousingTools@eugene-or.gov.
This strategy includes actions that can lead to a larger supply of explicitly subsidized, income-qualified, Affordable housing units.
Identify new revenue sources for affordable housing/charge a CET
On Monday, April 8, 2019 City Council approved the implementation of a Construction Excise Tax (CET). The City Council meeting is available online to view. The CET establishes a tax for people who apply to construct a commercial or residential improvement in the city. $500,000 per year of City funds from the CET will be designated to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The information packet at the above link contains a complete review of Eugene’s CET legislation.
City Council will receive an update on CET implementation on July 24 beginning at 12:00 in Harris Hall (125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene).
Shift money from the General Fund to Affordable Housing
With the recent implementation of the CET on July 1, $500,000 per year of City funds from the CET will be dedicated to Affordable Housing by placing it in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Staff are recruiting for an Advisory Committee which will determine the use of these funds. The Committee will be formed in the fall, and recruitment is open until July 26.
Reduce delays for environmental reviews of affordable housing projects
In December, Community Development's Housing Opportunity Team hired a limited duration position to focus on environmental reviews for Affordable housing and rehabilitation projects. This position will provide the capacity for a faster review process and for more reviews to take place.
Expand Eugene’s land banking program
Community development is in the early stages of investigating the possibility of using 1059 Willamette, the site of the old LCC downtown campus, as a land banking site. In April 2019, the City Manager submitted a Letter of Interest to President Hamilton at LCC, that stated the Urban Renewal Agency would like to purchase the property for $500,000, subject to approval from the City Council (acting as the Urban Renewal Agency). On May 16, the LCC Board of Directors unanimously passed a motion to authorize President Hamilton to take all actions necessary or appropriate to sell and convey the property to the URA. Currently, $3M of downtown urban renewal dollars is budgeted towards the building and its renovation towards a storefront that contributes to the region’s economic prosperity.
Community Development Division staff are exploring the use of CDBG funds to purchase the site as a land bank for the potential development of affordable/work force housing. Given the buildings strategic location and our need for more affordable housing options we believe there is high potential to establish housing on the site. Next steps include conducting an environmental assessment and a review of the historic significance of the building, both requirements of federally funded projects.
Additional Options addresses the ideas that didn't fit into the three main strategies, but may be impactful. This category is a catch-all for these ideas.
Protect renters and availability of rental properties
The City is recruiting for a new Housing Policy Board (HPB) Renters Protections Committee. The objective of the committee is to identify priority tools and strategies to protect renters and prevent displacement in areas with changing housing market conditions in Eugene. The committee will have 12 months, beginning in August 2019, to focus on five areas of renter protections including information, strategies, and potential programs and policies. This new committee will consist of nine at-large members, representing a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds. Appointments will be made at the August 5 HPB meeting. Applications are due by July 26. To apply for the committee visit the HPB website.
Create a housing action plan/implementation strategy
Staff utilized the actions identified by the Working Group, Better Housing Together, and other technical research to create the Housing Tools and Strategies Action Inventory. This document is the first step towards implementing “a housing action plan” identified through the HTS process.
Community Involvement and Feedback Options:
- Email - HousingTools@eugene-or.gov Opens a New Window. is the project email available to send in questions and/or give feedback. This email goes to an inbox monitored by staff, not directly to Working Group members. ONLY emails sent to the Housing Tools email will be included with certainty so please make sure to use this email.