Housing Numbers

Roofers work on a home under construction in the Desert Sky Estates in 2019 in southwest Hermiston.

Housing developers will have to adjust to new rules and new prices after the Hermiston City Council adopted several housing-related changes during their Monday, June 14, meeting.

Under mandate from a new statewide housing law, the city had to change its zoning rules to allow duplexes in all residential zones, including those that previously only allowed single-family dwellings. Under House Bill 2001, cities must also treat duplexes and single-family homes the same, requiring Hermiston to amend several chapters of its code of ordinances.

“For the record, the planning commission wanted to make sure that they got it into the record that they very much want to express dissatisfaction with the process taken by the state legislature in mandating these changes — that they represent a change to local land use rules without, really, any local input from the city, and (they) request that future legislative amendments be more considerate of the local character and not one size fits all,” City Planner Clint Spencer said.

One of the more notable changes is that duplexes will now be allowed on smaller lot sizes, matching the 5,000 square feet previously reserved for individual houses. Both single-family and two-family dwellings will be required to provide two parking spaces, and both types of dwellings will now trigger development requirements for public improvements, such as sidewalks.

In a separate action, the city council approved new fees for the building department, raising them 17-33%.

City Manager Byron Smith said the city is required to adopt building permit fees matching the state of Oregon’s established fee schedule, in order to use a free building permit program from the state. If the city doesn’t use that program, he said, purchase of a different system typically costs about $35,000.

Smith said some of the fees on the updated schedule had not been updated for 20 years. In one example, a building permit for a project worth more than $100,000 would go from $592.15 to $612.90 plus $3.25 for each additional $1,000. Various electrical and plumbing permits increased as well.

In the same ordinance, the council also established a refundable $100 cleaning deposit for reservations of the Hermiston Public Library’s program space.

On Monday the city council added new appendices to its comprehensive plan, as required by House Bill 2003.

The city’s planning department worked with Angelo Planning to study housing needs in Hermiston. According to Spencer, the city currently has 5,047 acres of unconstrained residential land and 346 acres that have constraints that would make them unlikely to develop in the future. Of the city’s residential land supply, about half of it is developed or already committed for future development, leaving 2,562 acres available for future residential development.

Spencer said those acres could theoretically support 18,075 more housing units in Hermiston, but planners estimate Hermiston will only need 2,030 additional housing units by 2040, with about 38% of those being rentals.

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