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Good News and Bad News on Re-Zoning Bills

There is good news and bad news on the flurry of state re-zoning bills that could affect Laurelhurst.

Good news first. HB2558 would have rezoned the north part of Laurelhurst within 1/8 mile of the MAX station (parts of NE Senate, Wasco, Hassalo, Multnomah) for up to 5 story apartment buildings. Regrettably, our own Senator Dembrow was among the sponsors. This bill did not make it out of committee by the April 13 deadline and thus “should” be dead for this session, absent any procedural tricks. Among the organizations opposing this bill and/or testifying about its defects were Restore Oregon, the Architectural Heritage Center, the Portland Coalition for Historic Resources; the League of Oregon Cities and the cities of Eugene, Springfield and Hillsboro; and transit districts in Lane County and Eugene-Springfield. Among the organizations supporting the bill was 1000 Friends of Oregon. Our own city of Portland was conspicuously silent.

HB2558 would have rezoned every residential lot in the red circle

to 3 to 5 story apartment buildings.

Some more good news. Two lot-splitting bills, HB2283 and HB2656, seem to also have died in committee.

Bad news. The main lot-splitting bill, SB458, appears on its way to passage. This bill forces cities to allow lots to be subdivided into as many micro-lots as there are units permitted. In Portland, that means any residential lot could potentially be split into four or six tiny lots, as small as 833 sf each - or potentially even smaller. There are pros and cons to micro-lots depending on location, infrastructure, and street access, but opponents of this bill argued – in vain – that those local judgments should be made by local governments with input from local communities, not imposed as a "one size fits all" edict from Salem.

More bad news. HB2488 appears on its way to passage. This bill will allow Oregon’s fundamental statewide planning goals – from citizen involvement (Goal 1) to environmental protection (Goal 6), and from natural and historic resources (Goal 5) to recreational needs (Goal 8) – to be changed with just a single public hearing. In a time when ordinary Oregonians’ opportunity for public input into the State Legislature’s work has been mostly reduced to logging into a grainy video call, a “single public hearing” is, many feel, hardly respecting Goal 1.

You can read more about these bills on page 5 of the LNA March newsletter, available at


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