Clear & Objective Housing Approval Criteria Update

  1. Background
  2. How will we get there?
  3. Working Groups
  4. Links
  5. Testimony and Materials

As part of the Envision Eugene urban growth boundary (UGB) process, in 2015, City Council provided direction on housing by initiating several projects. These included establishing a baseline UGB, establishing urban reserves, growth monitoring and updating the City’s needed housing (clear and objective) regulations. Related to the City’s needed housing regulations, the Council specifically directed the following action:


  • Update the City’s procedures and approval criteria for needed housing applications (applications to develop housing in areas identified for housing in the City’s BLI and HNA). 
  • Target for City consideration of proposed updates: within 1 year of State acknowledgement of the baseline UGB. 

The Clear & Objective Update was formally kicked-off in 2018 and involved extensive public outreach and engagement. This process resulted in adoption of a set of amendments in 2021, which have been remanded back to the City on a single issue. The City is currently working to address this remand and a City Council Public Hearing was held on October 17, 2022. Action was taken by City Council  on November 30, 2022.

Why Update Our Clear & Objective Approval Criteria?

Multiple factors contribute to the need to update the City’s existing land use application approval criteria and procedures for housing developments. As identified during the Envision Eugene process, Eugene will need to accommodate approximately 15,000 new homes within our urban growth boundary (UGB) by 2032. We will need to find a way to efficiently accommodate this growth while preserving the community’s values regarding livability, public health and safety, and natural resource protection.

Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 197.307(4) requires that local governments adopt and apply clear and objective standards, conditions, and procedures regulating the development of “needed housing.” This is to ensure that communities do not use discretionary or subjective criteria to deny housing projects. The clear and objective standards, conditions, and procedures can’t discourage housing through unreasonable cost or delay. This includes development standards such as setbacks and building height that apply to housing at the time of building permit, as well as land use application criteria that apply to partitions, subdivisions, site reviews, conditional use permits and planned unit developments that will provide housing.

Cities that have a clear and objective land use application approval path can also adopt alternative or “discretionary” approval criteria. Developers may elect the alternative path to allow greater flexibility in housing development proposals. Eugene’s land use code provides two approval paths: a clear and object path and a discretionary path. 

HsUnderConstr_webOur clear and objective land use application approval criteria have not been updated since 2002. Existing approval criteria are perceived by some as barriers to providing the housing our community needs, and others believe they do not do enough to address our community’s values regarding livability, public health and safety, and natural resource protection.

Several legal challenges, through appeals of land use decisions, have tested the clear and objective nature of our approval criteria. Addressing concerns about development criteria through appeals is costly and creates uncertainty during the development process. If criteria are removed through the legal process, our community has no ability to address the underlying issues. 

Our existing clear and objective approval criteria need to be reevaluated and updated to meet these goals: 

  • accommodate growth on lands available within our current UGB
  • continue to provide a clear and objective path to land use approval for all housing as required by State law
  • guide future development in a way that reflects our community’s values

Contact Us

Planning Division

Jeff Gepper

Senior Planner 

99 W. 10th Avenue

Eugene, OR 97401

Ph: 541-682-5282


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