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ADU Bill Could Impact Rural Deschutes County

BEND, OR -- Under current state law, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), sometimes called "granny flats" or "tiny homes," are not allowed on rural properties. But, that would change under a bill currently being discussed in Salem. "It would allow a second home on parcels of two acres or larger in the rural county – Rural Residential parcels. So, not EFU [Exclusive Farm Use], but MUA-10 [Multi-Use Agricultural] and Rural Residential-style parcels," Deschutes County Commissioner Tony DeBone tells KBND News. He and the other Commissioners are closely watching the progress of Senate Bill 88, "It would help the housing crisis; would help rural landowners that could have an opportunity to put a second dwelling on it, either for rental or for family members. So, there are lots of reasons it would work in Deschutes County, even."

DeBone is concerned how, or if, lawmakers will limit ADUs in Wildfire Hazard Zones, "If ‘Wildfire Hazard Zone’ is defined as somewhere that’s forested and has a history of wildfire, it might disqualify most or all of Deschutes County." Central Oregon LandWatch opposes the bill, saying it could put a strain on rural infrastructure and doesn't get residents close to services. They support ADUs inside Urban Growth Boundaries. DeBone says it's time to think beyond the UGB, "It’s the vision of statewide land use from way back in the day ‘put the people in an Urban Growth Boundary and farm in the rural county.’ But, there are places around the state - and Deschutes County, specifically – we were parcelized before all that went in. As in, land was subdivided in the ‘50s, ‘60s and 70s. It is kind of a rural residential feeling in some areas in Deschutes County, so it’s a good fit."

The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources advanced the bill during a Tuesday work session, sending it to Ways and Means for consideration.

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