Tomorrow night at 6:00 PM, the Planning Commission will host a virtual meeting to listen to the people of Hillsboro, Oregon, regarding sweeping changes that are about to happen not only here in Hillsboro but Statewide. The “Housing Hillsboro” project has been quietly moving ahead.
We just read 1,300 pages of new codes and code amendments. These new regulations are sweeping and are mostly required by the State of Oregon to spur new infill housing. There is no doubt that the Urban Growth Boundaries have failed our people in terms of supplying affordable market-rate housing. Yes, we were able to corral urban sprawl over the last 40 years, but Hillsboro’s economic successes have left us in a 20-year housing shortage. We could build for decades if we had the land and never catch up. But we don’t. The Housing Hillsboro project has been in the works for a year, and the City must adopt rules to fairly allow “Middle Housing” in most neighborhoods by July 1st.
If you own property or a house in town, this could be something that adds to your wealth and to your housing options. Imagine adding a duplex or two townhomes, or even a cut cluster of cottages to your backyard. If you are like a lot of people and renting, this may be your chance to find a small cottage, a new townhome, or even a part of an older home that has been converted to a 4-Plex that you can buy part of.
These new rules are hated by Nimbys and loved by housing advocates. Is the sky falling in your neighborhood? The statistics say NO! Portland has had flexible rules for a long time, and less than 1% of the total lots have even applied for Middle Housing options. As Hillsboro adopts rules that it is required by law to adopt, don’t fear. Changes will happen slowly, and nothing will likely look much different.
The City Planning staff has done an amazing job of adopting these new rules. You can not imagine how much work this has taken to review and alter almost 1,300 pages of the Community Development code with complex language and clauses. It is a wonder anyone can do it. But the Hillsboro Planning staff, led by Colin Cooper, has done just that. Tomorrow night at the Hillsboro Planning Commission meeting, the City Planning staff has requested the adoption of these new rules. And if you own land or have been interested in this topic, you need to be there. A final vote has been asked for but additional time to give more people a chance to speak is possible if enough people come out to be involved in the process. The Herald attempts to give residents the information they need to be involved. All you have to do is log into the zoom and say your piece, and ask your questions.
In a twist, the Hillsboro Planning commission has added Emergency Shelters to the new codes for occupancy by people who are in low-income categories or suffering from homelessness. These homes will be allowed in almost every section of the City. Available to anyone who is struggling for a home and who has an average income of 60% or less of the area median income, Emergency shelters will be allowed from Jackson School and Fishback Creek in the North to the Elm-lined streets of Old Orenco. – See the entire code right here. The Herald agrees that everyone needs a home, and we see the wisdom and the benefit of that. But the lack of actual one to one public engagement is concerning. We suggest any of you who are concerned or excited or anywhere in between log in tomorrow to have your say.
Here is all the meeting info for the hearing tomorrow night:
Meeting information for tomorrow night: https://hillsboro-oregon.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Org=Cal&Id=675
Webinar ID: 862 7797 1388
Phone: 1-253-215-8782 or 1-301-715-8592
Here is a little more about what is being done:
Other things to note: All Homes built in Hillsboro will now be subject to design standards – this is a new wrinkle!
MAKE SURE TO SUBMIT YOUR WRITTEN REQUEST
TO SUBMIT Written Testimony: Email email@example.com before 8:00 am on Tuesday, April 12th to provide written testimony. The agenda packet will be updated after 8:00 am with the testimony received via email.
TO OFFER ORAL TESTIMONY AT THE HEARING: You can pre-register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 503-681-6153.