New land use planning rules begin to address gaps from the past

Last month, The Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) finalized the adoption of the Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities rules.

These transportation and land use rules, while not completely transformative, have real potential to help communities shape their growth in ways that support thriving communities, reduce dependence on cars and greenhouse gas emissions, and provide more affordable housing options. The rules also aim to address equity by directing transportation, housing, and planning investments and policy to serve everyone in Oregon, particularly those from under-resourced and under-served communities. 

Oregon’s original land use plans were widely heralded for reducing urban sprawl and conserving farmland and natural areas. But it’s been a long time since those laws were passed and there is a need to update our land use planning systems to do more. Urban growth boundaries are good at reducing sprawl, but we must also make sure that the communities inside the urban growth boundaries are equitable and climate-friendly. 

When implemented, these rules will:

  • Increase development capacity in climate-friendly locations, including city centers, town centers, and transit corridors, where housing, jobs, and services are located close together, making it easier to meet daily needs with less driving:
  • Improve facilities for walking, bicycling, carpooling, and transit so people can get where they need to go without depending on privately owned vehicles;
  • Manage parking to avoid over-building parking, which uses land needed for housing and services, increases housing costs, and pushes housing and services further apart, making it harder to get around without a vehicle;
  • Refocus transportation planning to provide a broader range of equitable and climate-friendly transportation options.

LCDC, which oversees the Department of Land Conservation and Development, began the Climate-Friendly and Equitable Communities (CFEC) Rulemaking in September 2020 in response to Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-04 to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from land use and transportation. Oregon Environmental Council worked with a statewide coalition of organizations, led by 1000 Friends of Oregon and Central Oregon LandWatch, to advocate for the strongest possible CFEC rules. This coalition will track the implementation of these rules, and look for ways to support jurisdictions to move them forward as quickly and boldly as possible. We will also be identifying administrative and legislative opportunities to fill in some of the missing pieces of the rules, such as stronger accountability for meeting the requirements and clearer application of the requirements to specific transportation projects, rather than at the overall, long-term level.

Adults and children gardening together on the rooftop illustration. Urban community garden.

 

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