Eugene Middle Housing Public Hearing on April 18, 2022

By Rob Zako
April 12, 2022

A collection of resources about Eugene’s proposed Middle Housing Code Amendments.

Eugene City Council Public Hearing


Monday, April 18, 2022, 7:30 p.m.

The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m., but you should be able to connect to the Zoom meeting by 7:15 p.m. As soon as you have successfully connected, RAISE YOUR HAND in order to get in the queue to speak. In the past, City staff have said that you must have raised your hand BEFORE 7:35 p.m. in order to sign up to speak.


  1. To join/watch the meeting via Zoom:
  2. To join/listen to the meeting from your phone:
    Webinar ID:  863 6147 5377
    Passcode: council9
  3. To read the meeting materials and watch via YouTube:
  4. To watch the meeting on TV:
    Comcast Channel 21


  1. Public Hearing: An Ordinance Amending Section 4.990 of the Eugene Code, 1971, Adding Penalty for the Willful Violation of Section 4.830 (Portion of Street Reserved for
    Vehicular Traffic) of that Code.
  2. Public Hearing: An Ordinance Adopting Middle Housing Code and Metro Plan


Sara McKinney, 541-682-8497,

About Middle Housing Code Amendments

Information from the City of Eugene on proposed Middle Housing Code Amendments and the public hearing on April 18, 2022.

The Middle Housing Code Amendments are heading to City Council for a public hearing April 18th at 7:30 p.m. The Code Amendments implement House Bill 2001, legislation that requires large cities in Oregon, including Eugene, to allow middle housing (duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, rowhouses, and cottage clusters) to be built in all neighborhoods. This legislation is intended to increase our housing supply and allow for more housing types of all shapes and sizes in more places. As part of the bill, the Land Conservation and Development Commission adopted two things:

  • A set of Minimum Standards that establish the minimum cities must do to comply with the bill. Generally, these standards are based on those that apply to single family dwellings in our R-1 zone.
  • Model Code that is an example of how to meet the Minimum Standards. In some cases, the Model Code meets the Minimum Standards and in others it goes beyond the Minimum Standards. Cities can choose to apply the Model Code, and if our code amendments are not in place by June 30th, the Model Code will directly apply in Eugene.

Our Choices

After 10 months of a robust and diverse public engagement processwe heard that our community wants to go beyond the minimum standards when doing so would result in: lower costs, smaller housing, Affordable (income-qualified) housing, transit-oriented development, and increased opportunities for homeownership. Although much of the proposed code meets the Minimum Standards and Model Code, there are parts that differ. Here’s what the Planning Commission’s proposal includes that differs from the State standards to better meet our community values and goals:

  • Smaller minimum lot sizes result in lower land costs and smaller dwelling units. Our economic feasibility analysis showed that this results in lower-cost housing that would be available to folks making right around our area median income. New single family housing is currently being sold or rented at rates double what can be afforded by folks making the area median income.
  • Lot size reductions if there are units smaller than 900 square feet and for income-qualified units available only to folks making less than 80% of area median income. This encourages smaller, lower-cost dwellings as well as income-qualified housingThere are no affordability incentives in the State Minimum Standards or Model Code.
  • Parking reductions for middle housing built within walking distance of frequent transit and for income-qualified units available only to folks making less than 80% of area median income. Parking can take up a lot of space on a lot that could be used to build housing. This allows property owners to decide how much parking they’d like to provide and gives them the option to provide less. The reduction does not prevent property owners from building parking.
  • Allowing detached plexes would allow for flexibility, encourage tree preservation, and allow for backyard development that would reduce displacement. It would also encourage homeownership opportunities since the code will allow people to own individual units of middle housing and the land beneath them.

For background information and more details about the proposed code, including a code summary, check out the Guide to the Planning Commission Recommendation.

We Want to Hear from You!

Public Hearings are an opportunity to share your voice and provide input. If you’d like to provide comment on the project; for things you support and things you’d like to see change, sign-up to provide spoken testimony at the City Council Public Hearing Monday April 18 at 7:30 p.m. Instructions and more information for how to provide live testimony will be posted on the project webpage ahead of the public hearing. Please log on to Zoom a few minutes early and raise you virtual hand as soon as you can! People wanting to speak must raise their hand to get in the queue by 7:35 p.m.

Spoken testimony is often limited to 3 minutes [or even just 2 minutes]. If you are unable or prefer not to provide spoken testimony, you can email your comments to any time before the public hearing. Those emails will be shared with the City Council as part of their meeting packet.

For the latest project information, engagement opportunities, and dates, visit the project webpageFacebookInstagram, and sign up for our Interested Parties List. If you have any questions about the project, contact Public Engagement Lead Sophie McGinley, Code Lead Jeff Gepper, or Project Manager Terri Harding.

Recommendations from Better Housing Together

Highlights: Support for Eugene’s Middle Housing Recommendation

  • Eugene has spent two years on public involvement and technical analysis to inform our custom Middle Housing Code. 
  • The Planning Commission Recommendation includes incentives for three things: 1) Affordable Housing, 2) smaller housing, and 3) transit-oriented housing. All incentives support *hard-to-achieve* outcomes that we aspire to in our climate-action and comprehensive plans. 
  • BEST PATH FORWARD: Eugene’s Recommendation is customized to local needs, informed by diverse community input, and responsive to state law. Eugene’s proposal was informed by the minimum standards and Model Code, but it accomplishes more than either with custom code to support Affordable Housing and climate-responsive housing.
  • EXCEEDS MINIMUMS: Like 8 other large Oregon cities, Eugene’s proposal exceeds the state minimum standards–in pursuit of increased affordability, more income-qualified housing, and better climate response. The local code is better if these are our goals. 
  • ADDRESSING MISINFORMATION: Many people in the community have been given misleading and inaccurate information about this work by just a few neighbors opposed to the project’s success. The few individuals leading this misinformation effort have opposed HB 2001 and neighborhood housing diversity for years. 
  • NO VACANCY: Rental vacancy is now 1.5% in Eugene–the worst on the West Coast. Even if people can afford to pursue homeownership, there are no options within reach. We need more housing. 
  • AGE-FRIENDLY: Middle Housing is supported by age-friendly advocates because it allows for household diversity in neighborhoods and provides smaller and more affordable housing options for empty-nesters to downsize into. 
  • SMART DEVELOPMENT: We need more affordable, small housing options with access to transit, parks, schools, and active transportation corridors. Middle housing is one part of that!
  • COMMUNITY NEEDS: Who needs Middle Housing? Smaller households, working families, single parents, younger and older households, lower-income households, families without kids, nontraditional families. WE need Middle Housing!
  • DETACHED UNITS: Allowing detached units is an anti-displacement strategy that allows the smallest increment of infill. It will also allow better siting with existing trees and sloped sites. A detached plex could be added to the backyard while an existing home stays at the front of the lot.
  • ACTION: Support Eugene’s Middle Housing Recommendation and make it effective immediately. 

Housing Needs + Equity

  • Single-family-only zoning is an expression of historic, racial, income-based discrimination. This doesn’t mean all people who live in single-family-only neighborhoods want that; indeed, many are ready to change it by supporting the Middle Housing Recommendations.
  • The Recommendation “removes key regulatory barriers that have excluded low-income people, Black people, immigrants, indigenous peoples, and other People of Color from affluent “white” neighborhoods, parks, and schools, and limited access to wealth, health, opportunity, and safety. The harms of these exclusionary regulations also increase historically marginalized communities’ climate-related risks.” (UO Law assessment of Recommendation)
  • Our country is 6.8 MILLION units short of the rental housing we need. This contributes to an untenable housing crisis. Our existing solutions do not meet our needs. That is part of why HB 2001 was passed in 2019.  (NLIHC GAP Report, HB 2001)
  • Middle Housing can do its part to help. New Middle Housing will primarily serve workforce incomes, though nonprofit partners will use the new regulations to reach households living on even slimmer budgets. Projects like the C Street Co-op are great examples of what’s possible.
  • Allowing smaller lots and detached plexes are both specific actions that support renters, anti-displacement efforts, and lower-income homeowners. (UO Law)
  • Sources: National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) GAP Report, Oregon Community Housing & Services (OHCS), UO Law Sustainable Land Use Project (2022), Cultivate, Inc. and SquareOne Villages.

Workforce + Local Businesses

  • Local wages are increasing, but at nowhere near the speed of home prices and rent.
  • The median household can afford a home price of $225,000-250,000. The median home price in Eugene in January 2022 was $451,000. 
  • Housing prices increased almost 20% last year alone. Home values have doubled in the last 10 years.
  • The unaffordability and unavailability of housing within Eugene undermines the stability and retention of our workforce. Many mid-income families are now commuting into Eugene.
  • EcoNorthwest studied the potential impact of the Middle Housing Code on housing price in 2021, as part of the Planning Commission’s technical analysis. 
  • Sharing the cost of land and incentivizing smaller units help with affordability. EcoNorthwest found that smaller lot sizes, greater allowable height, greater lot coverage, and allowing detached units—could all positively influence the price of Middle Housing.  
  • Analysis also showed that housing prices could be positively influenced through land use, and that it was possible to serve households at 74-91% AMI. Nonprofit developers are showing it’s possible to reach households at 60% AMI with permanently affordable homeownership via land trust.
  • Incentivizing small housing (900sf or smaller) was found to be the best way to positively influence broad affordability with new market-rate production—a primary objective guiding this work. 
  • Sources: ECONorthwest, OR Department of Employment, Zillow, American Community Survey 

Climate Action

  • Housing policy is climate policy.
  • How we build community has a significant impact on energy use—the amount of space and energy used per unit of housing, and how much energy is used to move through a community to meet your daily needs. 
  • “The single largest source of CO2 equivalent emissions from a single intervention is residential energy efficiency.” This is according to National Resource Defense Coalition and Oregon DEQ. (In Eugene, more than 90% of our land is zoned for residential use, so allowing that huge area to be more energy efficient has significant impact on CO2 emissions.)
  • Residential efficiency could account for as much as 550 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions reductions annually by 2050. According to the EPA, that’s equal to the electric power emissions of California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Virginia combined in 2016.
  • How to we accomplish residential efficiency? By building smaller, infill homes–what we call “Middle Housing,” which also happen to support affordability and sociability. 
  • In housing, “operating energy”–what we use to heat and cool spaces every day–is more than 80% of the home’s total energy use (including the embodied energy in construction). 
  • Why does small housing matter?  Home size is among most important determinants of environmental impact. It is far more influential than green construction certifications.
  • Put simply by Sightline: On a block with 18 lots, adding just one duplex, triplex and four-unit condo reduces that block’s carbon footprint by 20%. There are still 12 single-family homes and 1 duplex, 1 triplex and 1 quad. But just those changes to the fabric–which is how our neighborhoods used to be built–gets the block 90% of the way to our 2050 CO2 reduction goals. Without doing anything else! The only thing that’s changed is a few more people are living in smaller units, in structures that are essentially the same size as the neighboring home. 
  • Housing diversity is especially powerful when combined with walkable neighborhoods, access to public transit, and active transit corridors. 
  • Sources are NRDC, DEQ, EPA, City of Eugene, and Sightline Institute.

See also

Further reading

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