Oregon Becomes First State to Ban Single-Family Zoning

August 12, 2019

Oregon has become the first state in the nation to require cities with a population of more than 10,000 to permit duplexes in neighborhoods that were once zoned for single-family zoning—or only one home per lot.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed four bills into law last week that set out to address the state’s housing shortages. “This session, we committed to significant investments that will help every Oregon family have a warm, safe, and dry place to call home,” Brown said in a statement. “No one single solution will address our housing crisis, and this legislation tackles the whole spectrum of issues, from homelessness to stable rental housing to increasing homeownership.” Oregon has also passed recent legislation to restrict rent increases and prohibit no-cause evictions.

The move to nix single-family zoning in a statewide effort follows on the heels of similar efforts in other cities nationwide. In late 2018, Minneapolis become the first major U.S. city to do so. Cities and state lawmakers are looking for solutions to address housing affordability and housing shortage woes across the country.

But ending single-family zoning has been met with resistance among some residents who are concerned about the change in character to their neighborhoods. “I’m opposed to this bill because it can have negative effects on established neighborhoods without mandating affordability,” says Stewart Wershow, a resident in Corvallis, Ore., and president of his neighborhood association. He told OregonLive.com that he’s concerned denser housing in traditional single-family neighborhoods could ruin the area’s appeal and add traffic, noise, and strain on city services.

Oregon Nixes Single-Family-Only Zoning in Cities Over 10K,” Courthouse News Service (Aug. 8, 2019) and “Oregonians Worry New Zoning Law May Change Neighborhoods,” Oregonlive.com (July 22, 2019)