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.
Over the last two years, I have been speaking locally and around the country about affordable housing. My focus has been on the exploration of affirmatively furthering fair housing and disparate impact, through analysis of case law development. One of the themes that has become clear is the need to look at housing as part of our infrastructure. The way to plan for equitable neighborhoods is to plan for affordable housing in neighborhoods with access to good schools, grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables, quality public transit, and job opportunities.
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