Middle Housing in Wilsonville Project

Published 15:40 - 02/04/2021 Updated 11:00 - 04/07/2021

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Part of what makes Wilsonville a desirable community is its history of thoughtful and innovative residential planning.

As the City embarks upon an update of its residential code to comply with Oregon House Bill 2001, we are again taking a thoughtful approach to also answer the question: ‘how can our regulations serve as a catalyst for an array of housing types that meet pressing current and future needs?’

In finding our answer, we must address the past and consider the future while also enhancing the look, feel, and function of our neighborhoods.

Why are we motivated to do this work?

Part of what makes Wilsonville a desirable community is its history of thoughtful and innovative residential planning.

As the City embarks upon an update of its residential code to comply with Oregon House Bill 2001, we are again taking a thoughtful approach to also answer the question: ‘how can our regulations serve as a catalyst for an array of housing types that meet pressing current and future needs?’

In finding our answer, we must address the past and consider the future while also enhancing the look, feel, and function of our neighborhoods.

Why are we motivated to do this work?

Increasing Housing Costs. Many who chose to live in Wilsonville even 5-10 years ago may not make the same choice today due to cost. Rent and home prices have increased at a much greater rate than incomes, pushing some of our friends and neighbors out of Wilsonville. Nearly 1 in 4 families spend more than a third of their income on housing, and the number is climbing. Many kids growing up in Wilsonville are not likely to be able to afford to live here as adults.

Changing Households. Household compositions are changing, and the trend is accelerating. Future housing inventory must match the community’s needs, which may include housing for smaller, young households and more seniors living with their adult children.

Addressing Systemic Injustices. Housing rules and regulations have historically been powerful tools of racial exclusion. How the City’s housing rules and regulations have been (or could be) tools of racial exclusion must be carefully examined.

The Growth of “Middle Housing”?

Middle Housing – which consists of housing of all types that land between detached single-family homes and apartment complexes – help address these concerns.

State law defines middle housing to include duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, townhouses, and cottage clusters. Some middle housing types include a few units on one lot (duplex, triplex) while others feature homes on separate lots that share a common wall (townhouses). Though middle housing is already present in many Wilsonville neighborhoods, the demand is higher than the supply.

We invite community members to join the conversation with questions, comments and ideas throughout our public process. Help us identify solutions that effectively address our current challenges.

Middle Housing in Wilsonville Project FAQ's

Middle Housing in Wilsonville Project FAQ's

The Q&A below is intended to help community members become more familiar with what Middle Housing is, what this project does, and what the potential outcomes could be in Wilsonville.

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    What is HB 2001 ?

    6 months ago

    Passed by the Oregon legislature in 2019, House Bill 2001 requires cities to conform to new requirements to support the growth of Middle Housing, which includes duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, rowhouses, and cottage clusters (4+ smaller detached houses surrounding a shared courtyard). It requires zoning regulations to not exclude middle housing from areas zoned for detached single-family homes.

    One of the State’s intentions with the passage of HB2001 is to provide more attainable housing options for more Oregonians.  Additionally, the bill acknowledges that single-family zoning has historically been used as a tool to exclude communities of color, and revises zoning processes to support more inclusive communities.

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    What is the intent of these changes?

    6 months ago

    The changes intend to be a thoughtful approach to answer the question: ‘how can our regulations serve as a catalyst for an array of housing types that meet pressing current and future needs?’

     In finding the answer, we must address the past and consider the future while also enhancing the look, feel, and function of our neighborhoods.

     Specific motivations for the changes include:

    •  Increasing Housing Costs. Many who chose to live in Wilsonville even 5-10 years ago may not make the same choice today due to cost. Rent and home prices have increased at a much greater rate than incomes, pushing some of our friends and neighbors out of Wilsonville. Nearly 1 in 4 families spend more than a third of their income on housing, and the number is climbing. Many kids growing up in Wilsonville are not likely to be able to afford to live here as adults.
    •  Changing Households. Household compositions are changing, and the trend is accelerating. Future housing inventory must match the community’s needs, which may include housing for smaller, young households and more seniors living with their adult children.
    •  Addressing Systemic Injustices. Housing rules and regulations have historically been powerful tools of racial exclusion. How the City’s housing rules and regulations have been (or could be) tools of racial exclusion must be carefully examined.
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    Does Middle Housing already exist in Wilsonville?

    6 months ago

    Yes. Examples of Middle Housing developed under existing zoning rules include: many single-family homes in Charbonneau and Villebois that share a common wall, duplexes along Metolius Lane, Montebello Drive, and Serene Drive, row houses in Villebois, and a cottage cluster development on Fir Avenue in Old Town.

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    Since we already support Middle Housing, what is changing?

    6 months ago

    House Bill 2001 includes changes to streamline the process developers must complete to build Middle Housing. According to the bill, Middle Housing review must be the same as that for single-family homes. While most of Wilsonville's residential areas zoning areas have long allowed middle housing, the approval process for most middle housing has required more process than single-family homes. Additionally, the bill exempts some middle housing from current density requirements.

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    What is Project Timeline Overview?

    6 months ago


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    Can private agreements/restrictions like CC&R’s restrict Middle Housing?

    6 months ago

    The new State law prohibits new private deed restrictions/agreement (such as CC&R’s) from restricting Middle Housing, but does not appear to apply retroactively. Existing neighborhoods with active HOA’s generally have CC&R’s that could restrict Middle Housing development. Because the City is not involved in the enforcement of CC&R’s, an appropriate legal expert should be consulted to verify the applicability/enforceability of any private restrictions. After adoption of the updated Middle Housing zoning rules, the City would permit Middle Housing according to the City code. It would be up to a developer/property owner to verify any private restrictions, and up to an HOA or other private party to enforce.

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    How is new zoning affecting density?

    6 months ago

    The new state law removes much of Wilsonville’s ability to limit “actual density” of “Middle Housing” through zoning rules but does allow reasonable control of “perceived density”.

    Most people perceive density by the look and feel of a neighborhood, considerate of the bulk or size of buildings and the separation among them. In terms of “perceived” density, the State law allows cities to adopt reasonable standards controlling the look and feel of Middle Housing. This includes regulating such things as setbacks and bulk of buildings as well as architecture. These rules comprise “siting and design standards” and by law, they cannot be different than rules that apply to detached single-family homes. Also, siting and design standards cannot substantially increase the cost of development or otherwise restrict Middle Housing. Upcoming community outreach is focusing on these siting and design standards to ensure future Middle Housing integrates into existing and planned neighborhoods.

    In terms of mathematical (actual) density, HB2001 is requiring middle housing types (with the exceptions of row houses) to be exempt from density limitations. Row houses are permitted to be up to four times the otherwise maximum density, or up to 25 units per acre. Gradually, over an extended period of time, the new regulations do have the potential to increase actual density in existing neighborhoods where private covenants (CC&R’s) do not prevent or restrict additional units. Greater density is likely in future neighborhoods not yet planned or developed.

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    How will I know if Middle Housing is being built in my neighborhood?

    6 months ago

    The new State law allows Middle Housing to proceed with the same review process in place for detached single-family homes; generally, the only requirement is a building permit.

    Currently, many Middle Housing types -- including triplexes (3-units), quadplexes (4-units), and cottage clusters (4 or more detached units around a shared courtyard) -- require notice to neighbors and a public hearing where neighbors can provide feedback on the design and other components. These public processes have been used by some neighbors to fight and exclude Middle Housing. 

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    Does increased Middle Housing mean more cars parked in neighborhoods and/or more availability of parking?

    6 months ago

    Wilsonville’s existing rules generally require at least one parking space per housing unit. The new State law requires that Wilsonville maintain this ratio for Middle Housing units.

    The City can consider the implementation of regulations to help ensure garages or driveways are used for parking, and not storage or other uses, in order to reduce the demand for street parking and shared spaces. The City cannot increase the required parking.

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    Where Can I learn more?

    6 months ago