HRVRC Organizes to Support Inclusionary Zoning Legislation

Karli Petrovic

As the Oregon Senate considers the bill to repeal the ban on inclusionary zoning—a housing tool that helps local jurisdictions provide affordable housing options in their communities—it’s important to celebrate the 34-25 vote in the House of Representatives and the groups that helped the bill pass. One of these groups was the Hood River Valley Residents’ Committee. HRVRC, a 1000 Friends of Oregon affiliate group, was particularly effective in organizing and getting the city council to pass a resolution in support of HB 2564. HRVRC executive director Heather Staten led the charge. She says the bill hit the legislature at the perfect time for Hood River.

“Hood River is in the middle of doing a Housing Needs Analysis and Residential Buildable Lands Inventory. These assessments look at the next 20 years and make sure the city has enough housing and buildable lands to accommodate people of all income levels," says Staten, who represents HRVRC on Hood River’s Technical Advisory Committee.

“We knew that affordable housing would be one of the things the city would struggle with,” Staten continues. “In my research about how cities address this issue, inclusionary zoning kept popping up as a tool that could help. The research showed inclusionary zoning works, but it doesn’t work in Oregon because it’s not allowed here.”

That’s when Staten reached out to 1000 Friends policy director Mary Kyle McCurdy to see how she could help pass HB 2564. McCurdy’s advice? Encourage the city to advocate for repealing the ban on inclusionary zoning. Luckily, the new Hood River city council was comprised of politicians who ran on platforms promising to fight for an equitable and affordable city. Staten began meeting with the mayor and city councilors to have conversations about inclusionary zoning. With McCurdy’s help, Staten passed whitepapers and other technical data to local elected officials. She also began drafting the language for a resolution in support of HB 2564. With everything in hand, Staten made it easy for councilors to say yes.

“Cities like to make their own decisions,” she says. “The statewide ban prevents them from doing that. Many cities may decide they don’t want to use the inclusionary zoning tool, and for those that do, it will look different everywhere, but it should be a tool that’s available for cities. There shouldn’t be a statewide ban.”