As previewed in an earlier post, October’s AIA-SWO chapter meeting featured a presentation led by Patricia Thomas, AIA, of the City of Eugene’s Planning & Development Department on the subjects of Opportunity Siting (OS) and Infill Compatibility Standards (ICS). These become natural points of discussion as Oregon’s metropolitan communities engage in debates regarding the impact of the urban growth boundaries upon the ability to develop affordable housing. The City of Eugene is being proactive by inviting citizens to participate in this discussion and help develop a planning process for finding specific sites that can feasibly accommodate high density residential development.
The OS task team, represented at our chapter meeting by Santa Clara resident Ann Vaughn, includes representatives from the development, real estate, construction, architecture and other design professions. The team also includes a representative from the Housing Policy Board, a transportation planner from LTD and an affordable housing planner. The group was formed from interested community members identified through public outreach and by the Eugene Planning Commission.
The OS task team identified ten tenets for Opportunity Siting:
- Help preserve and enhance existing neighborhoods.
- Proactively direct the pressure of development to appropriate sites.
- Identify process mechanisms for compatible urban growth.
- Support the urban growth boundary, limit urban sprawl and preserve farmland and rural parkland.
- Promote sustainable growth and conserve energy by: a) creating walkable neighborhoods near transit corridors; and b) reducing dependency on automobiles
- Support existing neighborhood schools by providing sufficient family homes nearby.
- Capitalize on city investment by building within existing infrastructure.
- Allow people to stay in their neighborhoods as their housing needs change throughout their lives.
- Encourage the creation of housing in proximity to neighborhood amenities including open space.
- Provide housing choice to a broader spectrum of the community by siting housing near jobs.
The ICS task team, represented at our meeting by developer Gordon Anslow of Anslow & DeGeneault Signature Homes, is comprised of representatives from each of the nineteen City-acknowledged neighborhood associations, has in turn adopted a project goals statement:
Create and adopt land use code standards and processes that:
- Prevent residential infill that would significantly threaten or diminish the stability, quality, positive character, livability or natural resources of residential neighborhoods; and
- Encourage residential infill that would enhance the stability, quality, positive character, livability or natural resources of residential neighborhoods; and
- Allow for increased density, a variety of housing types, affordable housing, and mixed-use development; and
- Improve the appearance of buildings and landscapes.
As our population ages and families get smaller, people will demand different types of housing. Outmoded zoning codes are an impediment to creative, new types of housing, often prohibiting solutions such as townhomes and smaller attached and detached single family homes. The City of Eugene’s efforts to adhere to the tenets of Opportunity Siting and the Infill Compatibility Standards will potentially help developers meet the demand for these housing types while at the same time relieving pressures to expand the Eugene Urban Growth Boundary.