OREGON SMART GROWTH
The lead-in to the 2021 session was intense: three special sessions and 11 emergency board meetings throughout 2020, the last of which was mere days before the state of the six-month session. Nearly 2,400 bills were introduced for the 2021 session and 683 passed.
With policy makers focused on pandemic response and economic and wildfire recovery, OSG secured passage of four of its top five priority policies and defeated several bills that would have had negative impacts on the feasibility of walkable, livable development:
2021 Legislative Session
OSG ‘s vertical housing development zone (VHDZ) bill (SB 141) removes the uncertainly for developers using this tax exemption program to increase housing over commercial development/redevelopment by tying the exemption to the actual amount of housing built, without rounding down to a fully equalized floor of housing (as currently happens.)
OSG participated in a 2020 SDC work group with the request for a comprehensive study of SDCs. HB 3040 Is the resulting legislation requiring Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) to study system development charges and their impact on housing development feasibility. The results of the study will inform potential revisions to state system development charge statutes.
The 2021 session achieved record-breaking appropriations for affordable housing development and preservation. The general obligation bond bill (HB 5055) contains $500 million in bonding for LIFT affordable housing, including 20% to build affordable homes for purchase, and $50 million for permanent supportive housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities in Article XI-Q General Obligation bonds. The bill also authorizes pass-through authority of $1.3 billion in bonding for housing from state and federal funds. OSG supported this significant investment in affordable housing development to increase affordable housing supply and decrease pressure on the costs of housing.
Throughout the pandemic, OSG pushed for policies that stabilized businesses and housing without onerous burdens on owners, including providing grants or tax credits for 100% of forgiveness for residential rent in arrears. OSG strongly backed SB 330, which would have provided a tax credit over five years for all forgiven rent. When SB 278 was proposed to provide a 60-day moratorium for any renter with pending applications for rent assistance as of July 1 through Feb. 28, 2022, OSG pushed for protections for owners. The bill was expanded to require OHCS to give rent owed to property owner if rental assistance is denied or a renter has not produced the owed rent within 60 days, and it provides 100% coverage to owners from the Landlord Compensation Fund (not just 80% as was the case earlier.) The final bill passed with support from the leadership of both parties and chambers.
Frustratingly, HB 2558, OSG’s More Housing Near Transit bill, failed to gain the votes to move out of committee. OSG and 1000 Friends of Oregon developed this bill to require local governments to allow three-story multifamily development within one-eighth mile of fixed guideway corridor stops in areas that permit housing within a UGB. The bill was strongly opposed by several local government and transit organizations.
In the legislative process, it is as important to keep bad things from happening as it is to push for good things.
OSG blocked efforts to disconnect Oregon tax code from the Opportunity Zone program. HB 2428 would have disconnected Oregon from the federal program by limiting the basis adjustment to 50% at Year 10. OSG, working with OEDA, ensured the bill did not have even a hearing.
OSG opposed requiring owners of multifamily rental housing to offer right of first refusal to tenants who form tenant committees (HB 3263.)
Last, we made the call just before session not to have an additional bill introduced for OSG regarding condo defect liability. Given the issues before the legislature, this would not have been a priority for our legislative champions…but would have been for the trial attorneys that oppose the bill. However, the drafting has been done so a bill is ready for future sessions, should it become a priority for OSG.