A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

New rules for city planning: Climate, equity

Written March 29th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

Albany has annexed this area off Lochner Road for a residential subdivision. The state is working on new rules to include climate change and fairness in land use decisions.

As if Oregon’s land use regulations were not complicated enough, the state is working on additional rules in order to slow climate change and be fair to “priority populations” such as racial and other minorities.

In line with Governor Brown’s executive order 20-04 issued a year ago, the state Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) is launching a “rulemaking.” It wants “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve equitable outcomes for priority populations.”

Priority populations include African-American and indigenous people as well as other people of color, undocumented immigrants, people with disabilities, single parents, the poor, youth, seniors, and others.

Among other things, the new rulemaking is intended to reduce emissions from cars and trucks, promote more tree canopy to sequester carbon dioxide and provide healthier air, lessen the likelihood of gentrification from public or private investment, provide more “equitable transportation choices,” and lead to “adequate housing with access to employment, education, and culturally appropriate food, goods, services, recreational and cultural opportunities, and social spaces.”

All this is spelled out in an “equitable outcomes statement” from the DLCD describing the rulemaking project.

Carrying out these rules once they are in place will cost something. “Achieving these more equitable process (sic) and outcomes will require allocation of significant resources at the state and local level,” according the DLCD statement. “Increased investment in communities of priority populations is a required step.”

You might wonder how this program will change the mostly mundane but time-consuming process of getting a land use decision in places like Albany.

Could the city still simply annex a piece of undeveloped land that meets the criteria for annexation so that a developer can build a bunch of houses? Or would the planning staff first have to document the effect on priority populations? Would there be a standard to be met regarding “culturally appropriate food”? Would the city or the applicant have to prove that the action leads to an “equitable outcome”?

We’ll know the answer once these new rules come out. (hh)


18 responses to “New rules for city planning: Climate, equity”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    Racial equity by not treating people equal because of their race. Can you see why there will never be racial equity with that approach? It’s THAT SIMPLE!

  2. John Klock says:

    I agree with the governor. The city of Albany needs to do what you say: “promote more tree canopy to sequester and provide healthier air.” So, why is the city not enforcing its code to stop cutting oak trees. These methuselah will be sequestering carbon long after we are gone. These patriarchs are the last vestige of original habitat in the Willamette Valley.

  3. John Hartman says:

    The pointed resistance demonstrated by the author’s alleged worry about a new regulatory effort proves the existence of White Male Privilege. If the author weren’t privileged already, then this set piece of objections would not exist. Given the author’s deep concern and opposition to this new regime, it appears White Male Privilege still has legs in Linn County. No surprise!

    • Nathaniel Johnson says:

      There’s definitely a history of land use decisions benefitting whoever is already at the top, typically white males… But opposing more regulations doesn’t make Hasso a racist. Over regulation is the reason for the original problem. The cities and HOAs made rules that prevented a few people from making the kind of housing that marginalized groups needed at the time. Maybe the best way to help people is to help people, and not to pass even more rules that apply to everyone, and make it slower and more expensive to create new housing. Remove 90% of land use rules and it gets easier to help whoever currently needs it… In a free society, even 5% of non-racists could have built low income housing, sold homes to minorities, and otherwise greatly mitigated the bad effects of some of these historical attitudes. Unfortunately, we had a system where 51% of the people could make rules that tied the hands of 100% of the people…

  4. Albany YIMBY says:

    I can explain that a little bit Hasso:

    One thing that your learn about how American cities were developed is that marginalized groups, particularly African American, were consistently excluded from the opportunities to build equity, by making them non-suitable to receive loans backed or insured by the federal government. Therefore, those soldiers that came back from WWII and were able to afford building or buying a house were all white.

    All those black folks that helped fighting the Nazis and the Japanese working in factories in places like Oakland, Portland or Seattle were unable to buy houses in the best parts of town, and were forced to live in ghettos, many times close to unhealthy facilities such as water treatment plants, chemical plants, or other factories.

    In many cases, when a black family wanted to buy a house in a white neighborhood, a mob would appear, or they would put illegal clauses in the contract that would forbid the buyer from reselling to black people.

    All this is well explained in the book “The Color of Law”. I highly recommend it.

    So, now, we know that Albany does not have a very large black population, but the same trend can be observed in how we treat collectives like working class people, or Latinos in our city. it seems that for every inclusive project our civilization is going to collapse…

    By enforcing and defending single-family zoning and parking minimum requirements (that increases the cost of construction) or by opposing every project that would increase density and allow for marginalized groups to have access to cheaper rent, better housing or to build equity, these citizens are reproducing the same behaviors that kept African-Americans during the 40s, 50s and 60s out of the ability to thrive.

    Not only that, but having diverse housing options, and a more dense city would allow for our children to access the housing market, for some elderly folks to retire in an ADU close to family while selling their house, for the city to get more property tax without increasing the physical footprint of the city and for current residents to have their properties to grow in value, because unlike many believe, increasing density does not affect property values negatively, more the opposite.


    • centrist says:

      I don’t need any links to agree with what you say. Observed the activity and its consequences.
      A few of my Irish ancestors were able to “pass” as Scots by a slight name change and becoming Presbyterian or Episcopalian. Skin color isn’t as easy

      • Bill Kapaun says:

        Nice for you to actually point out that Caucasians are also discriminated against. In many places, poor people are treated like trash no matter what their skin color. Parents with 1/2 brain encourage their children to strive to do better. Those without sit back & beg/whine.

        • centrist says:

          My ancestors weren’t considered Caucasian, much less human. That prejudice continues.
          There’s a line in Blazing Saddles that comes to mind : We’ll take your (deleted) and your (deleted), but not your Irish.

  5. thomas earl cordier says:

    Our Constitution assures equality of opportunity. This old White guy will never endorse equal outcomes. Every group over time has faced biases –to the whiners get off your couch and work hard even when times are tough. There are hundreds of thousands of minorities who have done that and enlarged their opportunities with success. Legislation was passed 50 years ago to correct racial housing biases–not legal now but must be vigilant. I hope HH will not print derogatory comments about me personally that are sure to come

    • Bob Woods says:

      220+ years of existence of the United States has clearly proved that “equality of opportunity” overwhelmingly applied only to whites, and mostly only to white Christian men.

      The history is clear. Don’t think so? Ask some of our local tribes as a start.

    • Ray Kopczynski says:

      Some basic education may be in order…
      I strongly encourage folks to watch the Netflix documentary about the 14th amendment: “Amend – the Fight for America”: https://www.netflix.com/title/80219054

      • thomas earl cordier says:

        Suggest book “Slanted” by acclaimed investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          Was the documentary about the 14th amendment “slanted?” Of course it was! Considering its history — it absolutely should be so! (Can you point me to a *single* factually-incorrect item in the documentary?)

          Here’s more basic education for you…
          The PBS American Experience documentary: “The Blinding of Isaac Woodard” in 1946 and how it led to Thurgood Marshall and the Brown v. Board of Education” 1954 *unanimous* SCOTUS ruling…

          • thomas earl cordier says:

            I suggested the book by Attkisson because it reveals how the woke folks are distorting all the gains our society has made over the 70 years. Ray the tone of your suggesting I am in need of a basic education wrt civil rights smacks of a “ruling class” “smarter than you”
            attitude. I am not cowed by your inferences, I am disgusted by them. I already viewed the PBS docs you refer to–found them to be credible and informative history. Much has changed in our Country in those last 70 years for the better. The cancel culture distortions, equity, BLM and Antifa seeks to destroy the positive advancements by violence. MLK is credited for being peaceful. He’s being ignored today

  6. Abe Cee says:

    Albany needs to decide what type of town they really want to be/have. Do they want to have a dense, more urban environment or a more open, suburban/rural environment.
    Urban: denser housing, narrower roads, fewer roads, pedestrian/bike friendly by design, integrated businesses/shops with housing areas, infill of existing neighborhoods
    Suburban: larger single family home lots, roads wide enough for at least 3 cars (parking each side, one driving in the middle), more roads to get to outlying neighborhoods, less pedestrian/bike friendly (intermingled with car traffic), shopping complexes/centers, limited to no infill

    There are good and bad points to each of these and each person’s life experiences likely tips them in favor of one over the other. The problem with forced/mandated diversity is it goes against capitalist ideas of economics – supply and demand. If the demand for a certain type of housing was sufficient, then developers would be providing it without being legislated to do so.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      The problem is that zoning itself dramatically affects supply and demand by banning everything but single-family homes in the majority of the city’s surface.

      So, in this case, exclusionary zoning is against capitalism.

  7. Anon says:

    Cause and effect will be the opposite of what they hope to accomplish. At some point this Country decided that families owning their own home was a good idea.
    These new requirements will drive up costs, only making it harder for young people of all ancestry to realize the American dream.

    • Albany YIMBY says:

      Will you point out what’s the mechanism in which increasing housing offer will increase its cost?

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