Adobe Stock/Josemaria Toscano

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, state legislators in Oregon are considering a bill that would require denser housing in single-family neighborhoods around the state. The proposed law is designed to ease a housing crunch but it faces opposition from critics concerned with livability issues. A lot of people “might be able to afford to buy a detached single-family home,” said Rep. Julie Fahey, D-Eugene. “The prices of those starter homes are rising further and further out of reach. So to have duplexes, to have townhomes, those sort of things … is really important.”

The idea of rezoning single-family neighborhoods to allow more multi-family options has taken hold in increasingly crowded cities around Oregon and the rest of the country. But it’s also been accompanied by strong opposition. In California, where average home prices top a million dollars in some cities, legislative attempts to require steep density on transit corridors have so far been stalled.

Northeast Portland resident Elizabeth Deal was among several neighborhood activists who trooped down to a legislative hearing on the bill last week to argue against the measure. “I believe in numerous types of housing,” said Deal, but she added that “this bill is a blatant land grab to allow developers to outbid families who want their starter homes so they can build their own wealth.”

Deal and other critics argued that developers are most likely to buy up the cheapest houses in a neighborhood and put in more expensive homes — even if those new homes happen to be duplexes or other kinds of attached housing.

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