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Middle Housing: More Details



Oregon’s House Bill (HB) 2001 was approved in 2019 to encourage development of middle housing, which can provide more housing options, including size, type and price in more locations. 

Local governments must allow:
Duplex Icon 2021
On all lots or parcels that allow a single detached house
Triplex Icon 2021
  • In areas where single detached houses are allowed.

  • Limits on middle housing are allowed in goal-protected areas (significant natural resources or floodplains) and in master planned communities.

  • Rules allow us to set minimum lot sizes.

Quadplex Icon 2021
Cottage Cluster Icon 2021
Cottage cluster
Townhouses Icon 2021

The law affects all Oregon cities with more than 10,000 people and all cities and counties inside Metro. Residential areas inside the urban growth boundary that already allow single-detached houses now must also allow middle housing. (See table)

Washington County already allows middle housing, but not much has been built. We will need to make changes to meet HB 2001 requirements. For example:

  • Our middle housing approval process must be more like that for  a detached house. 
  • Only townhouses can be limited by units per acre. 
  • We must also allow more types of middle housing in more residential land use districts.   

Land in Washington County is divided into land use districts that have different regulations for uses and development. This includes types of houses, building heights, building setbacks and more.

Under HB 2001, we must allow all five middle housing types in these residential land use districts: 

  • R-5, R-6, R-9, R-15, R-24, R-25+
  • R-6 NB, R-9 NB and R-15 NB
  • TO: R9-12, TO: R12-18, TO: R18-24 

Use Metro Map or Intermap to see which addresses are part of land use districts included in HB 2001. 


How we can make changes?

Where new middle housing
standards will apply
Middle Housing map

Click to enlarge 

A set of rules were adopted by the state to guide implementation of HB 2001. Those rules outline the required changes to our processes and codes. We can:

  • Develop our regulations using the state-provided rules
  • Use the Model Code, a set of ready-made regulations
  • Use parts of each approach

If we don’t create our own standards by June 30, 2022, we must use the Model Code.

We will make recommendations after completing our research, consulting with the state Department of Land Conservation and Development and gathering public feedback. This process involves public hearings before the Planning Commission, which will make recommendations to the Board of Commissioners. The Board will make the final decisions.

We expect results will meet or exceed HB 2001 requirements to best meet the County’s needs. 

New middle housing draft regulations

Changes to County regulations to allow more middle housing in Washington County are being made through Ordinance Nos. 885 and 886. The changes: 

  • Define types of middle housing – duplexes, triplexes, quadplexes, cottage clusters and townhouses 
  • Allow more middle housing in all urban residential neighborhoods, usually through Type I approval process
  • Add lot and building dimension standards 
  • Limit the number of units and/or density by housing type
  • Add middle housing siting and design standards and related updates for single-detached dwellings
  • Limit middle housing to duplexes in flood plain or water-related natural resource areas 
  • Require one off-street parking space per middle housing unit
  • Require sidewalk and minimum road right-of-way for single-detached houses and middle housing 
  • Make other minor changes for clarity and consistency 

Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions 

Some properties may be included in private Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) that allow single-detached homes but do not allow middle housing. Under HB 2001, CC&Rs created on or after Aug. 8, 2019, that prohibit middle house are void or unenforceable. 

CC&Rs created before that date are not affected. To find out if a property has CC&Rs, check with a title company, Realtor, recording office documents or review the title. Washington County does not monitor, track or enforce CC&Rs or other private agreements. 

What do you think?

Housing affects all of us. Our middle housing plan is focused on equity, diversity and inclusion. Please consider taking part in this process. We want to hear from people of all ages, incomes, abilities, races, ethnicities, orientations, household sizes and personal or professional housing experiences and needs.

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