A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Albany drops ‘family’ from city codes

Written October 17th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Houses like these in the Takena Estates subdivision used to be called “single-family houses.” A code change calls them “single dwellings.”

For some reason, the word “family” has become a bad word in connection with housing and zoning, at least in the eyes of the Oregon legislature and the governor.

As a result, the Albany planning division is going through the procedure required to scratch the word “family” from the city’s comprehensive plan and development code.

In 2021, the legislature passed and the governor signed House Bill 2583. The final version is only one sentence long. With references to definitions in other statutes omitted, it says:

“A maximum occupancy limit may not be established or enforced by any local government … for any residential dwelling unit … if the restriction is based on the familial or nonfamilial  relationships among occupants.”

According to committee testimony by the sponsor, Democrat Rep. Julie Fahey of Eugene, the idea was to kill any local regulations preventing homeowners from renting rooms to friends or others.

This has prompted the Albany Community Development Department to work up a package of amendments to sections of the comprehensive plan and developmment code.

The package would amend four chapters and three appendices of the comp plan “to remove the term ‘family’ from all references to the type of residential dwellings and residential zoning designations in accordance with House Bill 2583.”

In addition the package would take “family” out of the development code where dwellings are mentioned, also in line with the new law.

The city has scheduled a public hearing on these changes before the planning commission for Oct. 17. After that, the council will have a hearing on Nov. 9, when it can enact the changes.

Instead of “single-family dwellings” or “multiple-family dwellings,” the revised language will refer to “single dwellings” or “multiple dwellings.”

When I asked him about this, city planning manager David Martineau told me this code change “still allows reasonable regulation of occupancy through other objective means, such as safety based square footage or bedroom limitations as are found in places like building and fire codes, state law and HUD standards.”

Eliminating “family” from city code language is not a simple matter. Besides public notices for two public hearings plus the staff and volunteer time required to hold the hearings themselves, it took some hapless city employees time to root out countless mentions of “family” in the text of two thick documents and then to compile a staff report that ended up totaling 221 pages.

“Family” is a flexible concept, and I’m not aware that Albany or any other local government has ever prevented anyone from renting an extra bedroom to someone unrelated.

Legislators might want to be more careful and avoid passing laws that create a lot of needless work somewhere down the line. (hh)

23 responses to “Albany drops ‘family’ from city codes”

  1. Katherine says:

    I agree why call it family. Anyone is able to purchase these properties. They are single units but they are open to the best offer and about 20-25% of the time they are sold to investors. Many times for cash. They buy them in order to produce passive income.
    It’s not a cultural thing. It’s just a fact.

    • thomas earl cordier says:

      You are mistaken Katherine. The dem controlled legislature/exec imposed these woke terms trying to change how we live. It is a cultural thing. Fits right in with all the other language distortion mandates. Mandates cost money and are generally a waste of effort.
      City staff could be reduced by 20% w/o rewriting existing docs.

      • Leroy says:

        Well said sir

      • Gordon L. Shadle says:

        I continue to be frustrated by Hasso’s arbitrary standards when it comes to publishing personal attacks.

        Bob’s attack on Tom reflects a kind of moral failure, but more accurately it reflects an intellectual failure on the part of Bob.

        Bob is clearly unable to persuade, so he defaults to personal attack mode.

        And Hasso looks the other way again and again, except when an “undesirable” commenter criticizes one of Hasso’s favored people or issue.

        Then, the censor’s hatchet falls quickly.

        On second thought the publishing standard being applied here is probably not arbitrary, but an intentional bias.

        I used to expect more from this blog. Not anymore.

      • Royce says:

        I agree totally

  2. MarK says:

    Makes you wonder how we ever prospered before “political correctness” and “wokeness. So far it’s just brought division.

    • Colorblind Justice says:

      Agreed, and I’ll even go out on a limb and say that the English language is just fine as it is – regardless of whether someone’s feelings get hurt. It’s called the First Amendment, folks, and it’s at the top of the Bill of Rights for a very good reason!

  3. Debra says:

    I can’t think of a reply that would cover my thoughts on the total waste of time and money on this bureaucratic frittering of our tax dollars. What ever happened to common sense?

  4. Adam says:

    This legislation and others like it are exactly why this lifelong moderate Democrat will NOT be voting for Kotek or any other Democrat this year. The pendulum has gone way too far left, folks, and based on the polls, many other Democrats think the same thing. It’s time for balance again in Salem.

    This is another example of political extremists in Salem (they exist on both sides) telling communities what they can and can’t do even though they don’t live there. Once they figure out how to get things done in Portland, they can offer up suggestions for the rest of us, but I won’t hold my breath.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      IMO, the best legislative session Oregon has had was when we were a 50/50 split between parties. It forced compromise, which has now become pretty much verboten to both parties. Just another reason I’ve been non-affiliated since 2006…

  5. TLH-ALB1 says:

    USHER IN THE LEAGUE OF OREGON CITIES GHETTOS … !! Hell, there’s not enough parking on the lousy city streets as there is…people just park multiple cars on the grass. SMH

  6. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Key words to focus on: city government’s “regulation of occupancy.”

    Every individual is sovereign over their own life and property. Individuals should not be forced to comply with governmental regulation, as long as that individual does no harm to any other individual.

    A property owner engaging in peaceful and honest “occupancy”, in whatever form, should be free to do so without governmental force entering the relationship.

    Freedom, folks. Advocate for freedom, not what city government wants to impose us.

  7. Bill Kapaun says:

    Will this allow welfare mothers to more easily let their parolee boyfriends live with them?

  8. Denny Cline says:

    This is what the woke has been after all along. The destruction of the traditional family. So now apartments just become the latest homeless camps, flop houses for drug users etc. All the while families look for a safe place to raise their kids. What a bunch of gutless commissioners.

  9. Mark says:

    It’s all about regulation. They will chip away and take away until they reach their objective. Taken right out of Hitlers play book.

  10. Keri says:

    What a total waste of time, energy and money

  11. David Ryder says:


  12. Mark T says:

    There is nothing bad about the word family, but using it to regulate housing is non-inclusive to those that don’t have a “Family”.

    • Cheryl P says:

      It NEVER regulated housing. Not once in almost 45 years have I ever had a problem securing housing…either as a single person, or with a roommate. And I have rented a two-bedroom as a single and two and three bedrooms with a roommate. NOBODY cared.

  13. Cheryl P says:

    What exactly is the purpose of removing ‘family’ since it has NEVER, EVER affected rental or sales?!? It has ALWAYS been about ‘occupancy”, the NUMBER of persons OCCUPYING the swelling. “Single-family” and “Multi-family” meant the style of housing. Single-family meant single house, multi-family meant duplex, tri-plex, condos, townhomes, apartment.


HH Today: A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley
Albany Albany City Council Albany council Albany downtown Albany Fire Department Albany housing Albany parks Albany Planning Commission Albany police Albany Post Office Albany Public Works Albany riverfront Albany schools Albany Station Albany streets Albany traffic Albany urban renewal apartments ARA Benton County bicycling bike lanes Bowman Park Bryant Park CARA climate change COVID-19 Cox Creek Cox Creek path Crocker Lane cumberland church cycling Dave Clark Path DEQ downtown Albany Edgewater Village Ellsworth Street bridge Highway 20 homeless housing Interstate 5 land use Linn County Millersburg Monteith Riverpark North Albany ODOT Oregon legislature Pacific Boulevard Pacific Power Portland & Western Queen Avenue Republic Services Riverside Drive Santiam Canal Scott Lepman Talking Water Gardens The Banks Tom Cordier Union Pacific urban renewal Water Avenue Waterfront Project Waverly Lake Willamette River

Copyright 2024. All Rights Reserved. Hasso Hering.
Website Serviced by Santiam Communications
Hasso Hering