New Oregon housing bills to ‘have direct impacts on the City of Corvallis’

Paul Bilotta, Community Development Director at City of Corvallis, standing outside of Corvallis City Hall on March 20, 2024
Paul Bilotta, Community Development Director at City of Corvallis, standing outside of Corvallis City Hall on March 20, 2024

When senate bills 1530 and 1537 were passed by the Oregon State Legislature in early March, cities across the state began to rethink their housing policies due to the new legislation introduced by Gov. Tina Kotek at the beginning of the short session. 

SB1537 and SB1530 will help fund various programs and agencies to address the housing crisis in Oregon, according to Paul Bilotta, community development director for the City of Corvallis. 

SB1530 will provide funding for social services aimed at helping Oregon’s houseless populations. According to Bilotta, these funds tend to be allocated to non-city entities such as counties, community action programs, coordinated care organizations or social service providers themselves, meaning that they will more likely be handed to Benton County rather than the city itself. While the city did submit a request for water service expansion, it was not included in the final draft of the bill.

SB1537, on the other hand, “will have direct impacts on the City of Corvallis,” Bilotta said. “It is a complex bill and some of the details will take a bit more action from the state until we understand fully what they will mean.”

Stipulations that pertain directly to the city include a new housing project revolving loan fund which can be used to award funds to housing developers; unspecified changes to the city’s land development code; a new housing accountability and production office which will oversee city’s compliance with the new mandates; regulations on anyone who tries to appeal a housing project to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals; an infrastructure support fund to help cities bolster new infrastructure and reduced barriers for housing and building developers.

It is always a little hard to know how a particular bill will impact a city right after it is approved because often the bill will still require additional rulemaking or establishment of new programs, making applications, etc. and until those details come out, it may not be fully clear how it will be implemented or when anyone will see funding,” Bilotta said in an email.

To keep in line with outlines provided by Oregon’s Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities program, the city recently finished updating its mixed use zones laws, according to Bilotta. The new bills may require some cities like Corvallis to do things a little bit differently, but not much different than what is already allowed.

The main impact of CFEC has already occurred when the state required the city to remove off-street parking requirements, so you will likely see more projects designed to use on-street parking spaces or be vehicle free in the near future,” Bilotta said. “This will be a big adjustment for the community to get used to particularly in areas that were established in the post-World War Two suburban housing pattern that was more vehicle dependent.”

Jackson Rheuden, an ecological engineering major at Oregon State University and leader of the environmental activist group Sunrise Corvallis, said he believes that SB1530 seems positive, but that he has mixed feelings about SB1537 and that much of the good that could come from the bill is reliant on its execution.

Rheuden said the land that will be given to Corvallis for housing projects  is much smaller than people might think, in comparison to the size of Corvallis and Oregon itself.

“The area of land we would be getting is only about the size of the Vatican,” Rheuden said. 

Rheuden also expressed that giving more land could threaten Senate Bill 10, which requires Oregon cities and counties to adopt comprehensive land use plans and could lead to unnecessary expansion into forests. 

Rheuden added that the Oregon government needs to focus less on moving out and more on changing the way it requires cities and counties to build houses. He believes a more efficient way to build housing would be to build fewer single family homes and to stop building them so far away from everything.

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