Oregon Needs More Than Tiny Homes

By John A. Charles, Jr.

The 35-day session of the Oregon Legislature opened last week, and a hearing was held on the Governor’s top priority, Senate Bill 1537. Her goal is to increase the supply of housing.

Unfortunately, this goal is undercut by Oregon’s Urban Growth Boundaries, which are designed to limit urban growth. Under SB 1537, cities will be allowed to add tiny amounts of new land inside the boundary, but only if the proposed development meets stringent criteria.

In the Portland region, new neighborhoods will have to have at least 17 housing units per acre. That means most residents will be living in apartments.

The majority of Oregonians aspire to live in single family homes with a yard. Providing a housing solution that most people don’t want is not a solution.

There is no policy reason for density mandates. Oregon is 98% open space and 2% developed. More than half the state is owned by the federal government, and those lands will remain open space. There is plenty of room for the kind of low-density housing that most people prefer.

Oregon’s Urban Growth Boundaries have essentially created land cartels run by the government. The effect of any cartel is to make commodities both scarce and expensive. That certainly describes Oregon housing, and SB 1537 doesn’t solve the problem.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

Click here for PDF version

Share Post

Comments 2

  1. Avatar for Bob Zybach

    Bob Zybach

    1:59 am - March 1, 2024

    Oregon needs housing, as evidenced by all of the people living in tents and on sidewalks these days. Meantime, we have sawmills shutting down, millions of acres of dead standing trees waiting to burn again, and millions of young men streaming illegally across our southern border, supposedly looking for work. This is all new and it isn’t good.

    There is a lot of work to be done, making our forests safe again for both people and wildlife, rebuilding our ruined rural infrastructures, building homes for the homeless, and assimilating these thousands of new non-English-speaking Oregonians. The needed work produces taxes, rather than spending or avoiding them as we do now. Because they are here illegally, most of these new immigrants are not being assimilated and far too many are reduced to living and working in modern-day slave labor camps, conducting illegal activities, or working for cash “under the table” in order to get by.

    We know how to fix this. Earlier generations taught us. We need to resume active management of our public forests and put an end to these needless wildfires; we need to heavily fine or even jail anyone hiring illegal workers; we need to provide a path to citizenship for every immigrant with a job — and there are a lot of construction, sawmill, trucking, and forestry jobs that need to be done. Then people can buy a house, pay rent, pay taxes, and become assimilated rather than being taken advantage of, or living on a sidewalk. In my opinion.

  2. Avatar for Nina


    9:30 pm - March 14, 2024

    Perhaps housing such as duplexes with lower costs to purchase, also more cooperative housing units with lower rents, or with possibiites for purchase, prices such as $200,000 each, very simply, but not like trailers, or RV’s perhaps more manufactured little cottages could be wonderful living spaces for couples, or one child families. Why aren’t the burnt trees being cut down, they are a fire hazard, and at the same time can be turned into lumber for cottages. More trees need to be replanted in burn areas to absorb greenhouse gasses.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related News