On Monday, the Cottage Grove City Council held its first vote on an ordinance making amendments to the city’s development code aimed at bringing the city into compliance with state legislation.
The ordinance passed unanimously, modifying regulations regarding duplex development and residential parking.
The Cottage Grove Development Code contains standards and requirements for housing in the city and has an impact on how much and what kind of housing is developed.
State mandates on changes to this code have irked some within the city and council, however councilors were generally approving of an alternative solution provided to them by staff.
During the Oregon Legislative Assembly’s 2019 session, lawmakers passed House Bill 2001, which mandated that cities with populations greater than 10,000 or within the Metro area are to allow duplexes in lands zoned for single-family dwellings.
The bill aimed to provide Oregonians with more housing choices, particularly in regards to affordable housing.
It also appropriated $3.5 million to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development to provide technical assistance to local governments in implementing “middle housing” regulations and to plan improvement of urban services supporting middle housing.
The law has necessitated changes to Cottage Grove’s Title 14 Development Code regulations regarding residential land uses and residential development standards.
While the City of Cottage Grove had already been or subsequently came into compliance with many of the bill’s requirements, some language — including city code regarding parking — remained to be addressed.
At issue Monday night was the sense that the legislation had been a case of state overreach in that it disallows local governments to make housing decisions based on what each has deemed fitting for their own particular urban growth boundary.
Residential parking, in particular, has been a point of contention.
In August last year, an Oregon Administrative Rule came into effect as a result of HB 2001, prohibiting cities the size of Cottage Grove from requiring more than a total of two off-street parking spaces for a duplex — or one parking space per dwelling unit.
The city, however, has an established minimum of two parking spaces per dwelling unit — or four per duplex.
Critics of the legislation on the council were concerned that, when complexes of a larger size are restricted to just one parking space per unit, parking issues will arise, particularly for rural residents with less access to public transportation.
An analysis of parking and middle housing by the Department of Land Conservation and Development last March concluded that while “there is a degree of truth behind the claim that many households have two cars … it is really contingent on tenure and household size.”
The analysis found that large and medium cities outside of the Metro seem to have similar or lower vehicle ownership rates to Metro cities, especially in comparison to affluent communities beyond suburban boundaries.
“For all cities, the majority of smaller and rental households have zero or one car,” stated the analysis, “and requirements for additional off-street parking create an additional cost that these house-holds have to bear with no benefit either to the household or community at large.”
The Cottage Grove City Council went through a work session prior to Monday night’s regular session, walking through the various sections of the code changes.
At this time, city staff made an alternate proposal for the section which relates to the minimum parking standard.
The proposal makes triplexes and quadruplexes treated the same as the city currently treats multi-family in the code, which is by housing unit size.
For instance, single-bedroom units require one parking space while two-bedroom units require two. In essence, the larger the unit, the more parking developers are required to include.
Councilors voted in favor of this alternative proposal.
A second reading of the ordinance will come before the council at its next meeting, scheduled for Feb. 8.
In other council news:
City Councilor Jake Boone announced his resignation, which will go into effect at midnight Feb. 4.
“I am doing this because I am intending to seek employment and that employment will preclude my continuing on the council,” he said. “So, I do want to say I think in the 10 years I’ve been here, I have served under three mayors and with roughly a dozen different city councilors and it has been an absolute privilege and a joy. … I can’t stress enough how lucky I have been to be on this council with these people who are able to consistently interact in a civil and productive way to get stuff done.”
Currently in the middle of this third term as a representative of Ward 1, Boone was first elected to the council seat in the 2010 election.
Others on the council praised Boone for his contribution to the community.
“You will be missed in this role,” said Councilor Mike Fleck. “I think that you will excel in your fu-ture employment, wherever that happens to be. And I wish you the best and thank you for your service.”
The position’s term expires Dec. 31, 2022, meaning a replacement will likely be sought to fill out the rest of the term.
Councilors voted unanimously to change the city’s system development charges (SDC) methodology by amending city code to incorporate meter size as well as fixture count as a factor in calculating water and sewer SDC fees.
The change is mean to maintain equity among city developments and encourage more large multi-unit residential housing.
The ordinance will take effect 30 days after adoption.
For the second time, the city has approved an applicant for the Multiple-Unit Property Tax Exemp-tion (MUPTE) Program.
The program was adopted as part of the Cottage Grove Municipal Code in December 2019 in order to increase the development of new multi-family housing in Cottage Grove.
The city granted the first use of the program to JDL Construction on behalf of Dave and Carol Rogers, whose iconic house at 1308 E. Main St. burned down in a fire in August 2019.
Estimates performed by city staff show that the city will be waiving approximately $37,000 to $39,000 over the 10-year period of the program.
At the completion of the 10-year period, the city is estimated to receive approximately $3,900 annually on the improvement area.
Safe Routes to School & Filllmore Stormwater
Councilors approved a change order for five extra work items totaling about $27,110 for the ongoing Safe Routes to School and Fillmore Stormwater Outfall Project.
Last month, staff explained to the council that the aggregate sum of the change orders for the project had exceeded 10 percent of the original bid, prompting the need for council to approve the items of extra work and authorize the creation of the change order.
Safe Routes to School is a nationwide effort to assist communities in identifying and reducing barriers and hazards to children walking or bicycling to and from school through infrastructure improvements and safety education.
In February of 2019, the Safe Routes to School project was estimated to cost $1,676,512. It is addressing key safety concerns on five routes to Cottage Grove schools.
The month prior, the city accepted a $1,272,143 grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) toward the project and is expected to be reimbursed for certain improvements such as Americans with Disabilities Act ramps and sidewalks.
The city will also be reimbursed for any extra work requested by residents, according to a staff report from Monday’s meeting.
Another reimbursement of $84,575 is expected from South Lane School District for allowing the district to tag onto the contract to pave its bus barn area.
The city’s financial grade report this week stated that additional money will need to be spent on the Safe Routes to School Project and will be closely monitored.
According to the ODOT grant agreement, the project must be completed within three years, giving the project a deadline of January 2022.
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