Zoning is a question that comes up from time to time depending on what a Buyer’s or Property Owner’s goals are, so we thought it might be a good idea to do an overview about our local and State Zoning Regulations.
This is one of those important pieces of knowledge needed when purchasing property- it is a part of every buyer’s due diligence to take the time to understand how the perspective property is zoned and how that zoning affects the usage of the property.
Oregon’s Land Usage Regulations:
· 50 years ago Oregon Voters approved the framework for our current Land Usage Regulations. Oregon was one of the first in the nation to put together such a comprehensive framework and many other states have followed this system.
· The system now preserves vast areas of land for farm and forest production, protects habitat, conserves natural resources, and protects air and water, all while continuing to allow development of land for homes and businesses.
· This was implemented to protect natural areas in Oregon. Residents may use the law to limit urban sprawl by prohibiting subdivisions outside designated urban growth boundaries (UGB) around cities and towns.
· The foundation of statewide program for land use planning in Oregon is a set of 19 Statewide Land Use Planning Goals. The goals express the state's policies on land use and related topics, like citizen involvement, housing, and natural resources. These Planning Goals can be found online at Oregon.gov
· Most goals are accompanied by guidelines, which are suggestions about how a goal may be applied. These guidelines are not mandatory, but are fairly seriously followed.
· Oregon's statewide goals are achieved through local comprehensive planning.
· State law requires each city and county adopt a comprehensive plan and the zoning and land-division ordinances needed to put the plan into effect. These plans are submitted to the State.
· Local comprehensive plans must be consistent with the Statewide Planning Goals. Plans are reviewed for such consistency by the state's Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). When LCDC officially approves a local government's plan, the plan is said to be acknowledged. It then becomes the controlling document for land use in the area covered by that plan.
· Oregon's planning laws apply not only to local governments but also to special districts and state agencies. The laws strongly emphasize coordination -- keeping plans and programs consistent with each other, with the goals, as statutes are updated, and are acknowledged local plans.
· We highly recommend that our Buyer’s take the time to do this research to find out what the zoning on the property they are proposing to purchase is and what this means. This is an area that assumptions are not a good idea.
· A good place to bring questions is your local planning office, where a city planner or staff member can tell you where you can find out about proposed land use changes. Most planning offices will be able to see you in person at what is usually called the "planning desk", or take a phone call during office hours. Many cities offer updates via electronic newsletter, or may offer a specialized notification service for residents who are particularly interested in land use matters. A call or visit to your local planning office will answer many of those questions.
· While each city and county have their own approach, every Oregon city and county has a plan for public involvement as part of their local comprehensive plan (Goal 1 – Citizen Involvement). This means that no matter where you are in the state, the land use process should be open to the public and the public should have the ability to comment.
· There are many zoning codes that differ slightly from county to county throughout our state, but most are similar
o Standard types of zoning include familiar terms such as residential, commercial and industrial.
o R1 is Single-family dwelling excluding single-wide mobile homes; Duplex on a corner lot with each unit fronting on a separate street; Farm and forest use (provided no livestock or primary processing of forest products)
o R2 is Medium Density Residential Zoning District is to provide for medium density residential neighborhoods that permit all housing types and to protect these areas from incompatible uses
o R4 provides for primarily single-family residential neighborhoods on lands suitable for residential development with an allowed base density of four dwellings per gross acre.
o R-5 Single-Family Urban Residential zone provides for primarily single-family residential neighborhoods on lands suitable for residential development with an allowed base density of five dwellings per gross acre.
o RL The purpose of the Low Density Residential (RL) zone is to provide low density residential areas in the City that are appropriate for dwellings on individual lots, as well as other miscellaneous land uses compatible with a low density residential environment.
o EFU zoned lands allow even more diverse today than historically, with such businesses as agri-tourism, events such as weddings and gatherings, and rodeos. EFU lands can also be developed as destination resorts, mines, schools, B&Bs, golf courses, and a myriad other uses, even solar power and wind utilities.
o In EFU zones, dwellings are allowed in seven different circumstances, including primary farm dwellings, accessory farm dwellings, relative farm help dwellings, non-farm dwellings, lot-of- record dwellings, replacement dwellings and temporary hardship dwellings.
o Some EFU Zones like EFUTRB in Deschutes County may require a Conditional Use Permit(CUP) to build a residence on the property. A CUP is a type of contract between local government and a business or property owner that enables them to conduct operations that current zoning ordinances don't typically allow. In simpler terms, it creates an exception to the current land use rules.
· Closely related to Zoning is that concern over the past several years regarding an acute shortage of housing and affordability. Many have proposed successfully the allowance of Accessory Dwelling Units or ADUs on existing properties. This is one means of increasing housing without expanding the UGB. Many city lots do allow ADU’s but if you want to know if this is possible for your lot, then that is a question for your Local Planning Department.
· Rural properties have been prohibited from adding ADUs but on June 23, 2021, Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 391 into Oregon law. This law allows rural accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in rural residential zoned areas, subject to certain conditions.
· What the condition proposed was for a wildfire risk map be produced by the state’s Department of Forestry and Oregon State University. A map that was released in July, 2022, before being quickly retracted after statewide public outcry about the map’s accuracy.
· Without the map in place, counties have been unable to approve the regulations necessary to allow rural ADUs. Deschutes County had been in the process of making the necessary code changes to allow for them before putting a second public hearing on hold after the map was withdrawn.
· Currently the Department of Forestry does not have a timeline for creating an updated map. This is because they are watching for lawmakers which have proposals in place, to see what changes may be made. These proposed changed would allow for a map not to be necessary.
· Salem Lawmakers are currently considering legislation that could clear up the need for a map, not to circumvent this requirement but to all for ADU’s to be constructed in a manner that would have wildlife-hardened standards instead.
· The bill, sponsored by Sen. Tim Knopp, of Bend, has passed in the senate and is scheduled for a house committee hearing.
· If the Oregon House eventually approves the bill, then this would allow for approximately 7300 rural properties eligible for an ADU, in Deschutes alone. Of course this depends on the specific regulations the county sets in place.