Housing Land Advocates (HLA) recently filed an appeal in the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) against the City of Happy Valley in opposition to a comprehensive plan amendment and zone change. The application requested a downzone from multi-family to a single-family residential zone and approval of a 31-lot subdivision. The substantive issue in the case is whether the City made adequate Goal 10 findings related to the availability of land for affordable housing with the City (no such findings were made by the Planning Commission). The City of Happy Valley filed a Motion to Dismiss claiming that HLA did not exhaust its local appeal remedies prior to filing the appeal. However, HLA had submitted a detailed letter explaining that no local appeal was required for a comprehensive plan amendment because state law requires the local governing body – in this case the City Council – to make a final decision. HLA declined the City’s offer to pay a $1000 appeal fee and $2500 deposit for the City’s attorney’s fees to appeal the Planning Commission’s decision to the City Council. The City Council did not respond to HLA’s letter and the LUBA appeal followed.
The City of Bend is in dire need of more housing at all income levels, particularly affordable housing. In a November 2015 presentation to the Housing Land Advocates, Jim Long, the City’s Affordable Housing Manager, reported that the housing market is so tight in Bend that he receives calls from hospitals looking for homes for new doctors, in addition to the low income population his office is meant to serve. Despite the demand for affordable housing, the case of Kine v. City of Bend (LUBA No. 2015-068, December 24, 2015) represents how difficult it is to increase the supply within city limits.
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