The Dalles City Council approved municipal code and comprehensive plan changes to allow more and larger accessory dwelling units following a public hearing Oct. 28. Provisions were also made to allow duplexes in all residential zones and for “cottage clusters.”

The amendments are to provide more housing options in the city, identified in a recent housing needs assessment as “severely rent burdened” due to insufficient affordable housing options. Severe rent burden is defined as paying more than 50 percent of one’s income on rent.

The changes will also ensure city land use code is consistent with statewide goals, rules and statutes and reduce barriers to development of specific housing types which are already allowed and supported by the city and the state, according to the staff report.

The Dalles is the first city in Oregon to allow duplexes in any residential zone, as required by Oregon House Bill 2001, noted Riley Marcus, associate planner with the city, who with senior planner Dawn Hert presented the proposed changes to the council.

The amendments to the city’s land use and development ordinance were presented in two phases. City staff had previously recommended deferring some of the changes in the first phase until related, ongoing litigation against the city had been resolved, but “given the continuing nature of the litigation and the need to bring the development code into compliance with new state housing legislation” staff determined there was a need to move the proposed amendments forward.

The first phase, formulated in 2017, included provisions relating to accessory dwellings, including removal of owner-occupancy requirements, allowing for larger accessory units and adjusting some parking requirements.

 Minimum lot and site areas in high and medium density zones were amended, as were provisions concerning neighborhood compatibility and design standards.

Requirements regarding owner occupancy of the home or accessory dwelling were also removed from the city’s requirements.

The second phase, formulated more recently, includes provisions to establish clear and objective standards for certain state requirements, enhanced design standards in place of provisions related to “neighborhood compatibility,” provisions allowing duplexes in all residential zones where single-family dwellings are permitted.

A provision was also added to allow for “cottage clusters,” small groups of detached homes clustered around a central outdoor common space.

Both phases were approved following public hearings by The Dalles Planning Commission.

Bob McNary, a resident of The Dalles, expressed concern regarding the lack of outdoor space for children in high-density development.

“What do we do for the children, in high-density areas? I worry about those children having a place to play,” he said.

The ordinance was approved by the council unanimously, and will go into effect Dec. 4.

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