Gov. Kotek’s housing bill passes senate, could pass house next week

SALEM, Ore.– Governor Tina Kotek’s housing package passed the senate Thursday and is on its way to the house.

Locals who contributed to the package say its a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go.

Housing experts said making more land available to build homes will be one of the most effective parts of this housing package.

But there are plenty of other issues that will need to be addressed in the future, to fix Oregon’s housing crisis.

Tim Alvarez owns a construction company in Medford.

He’s also the president of the Oregon Home Builders Association, which worked with Governor Kotek on this housing package.

Alvarez said, “actually working across the aisle and actually doing something that’s best for Oregonians is a big deal and it’s a really neat thing.”

Governor Kotek’s housing package passed the state senate this week and Representative Pam Marsh tells us she expects it to pass the house soon as well.

The package includes plenty of changes in land use laws, allowing cities to expand their urban growth boundaries, which many expect will make it easier and cheaper to build housing.

Alvarez said, “there’s also a part where you’ll be able to swap out un-buildable land that’s already in the UGB with buildable land that’s outside the UGB, which is a really big deal because that means if you bring in 50 acres or 100 acres, you’ll actually have that many acres worth of buildable land.”

He said taking away some regulations around land use will be helpful, but he also wants the state government to look at de-regulating the permit process for building homes in the future.

Alvarez said, “there’s a need for permits, there’s a need for building inspectors, but the average house in Oregon, north of 30% is regulatory costs. So if you build a $1 million house, $300,000 is a lot of money.”

Former Medford City Councilor Daniel Bunn also worked with Governor Kotek as part of her Housing Production Advisory Council.

Kotek’s plan aims to average 36,000 new housing units per year over the next 10 years.

Bunn said his work on the council included finding ways to impact housing production immediately.

“The important thing to note is this is not a one and done thing. This is the short session,” Bunn said, “there is a much broader suite of things that need to be addressed and I expect that the governor and her staff will be pushing for that in the long legislative session next year.”

Bunn said their plan addresses what they could realistically accomplish in a short session.

He said having an infrastructure support fund to help builders with the cost of roads, sewers and other utilities will help housing production right away.

But Bunn agrees with Alvarez that there are more issues with the regulatory process that need to be addressed in the future, among other problems.

“We have a shortage in our workforce, especially when it comes to skilled labor trades,” Bunn said, “electricians, plumbers, people that can hang drywall, there’s just not enough of them. And that’s a longer-term fix for our state.”

Bunn said he’s not sure if he will be involved in another housing advisory council in the future.

But Governor Kotek did tell him that she’s interested in having members stay involved in future projects.

© 2024 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
Skip to content