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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — A new law that takes effect July 1 has sparked debate in Eugene over smaller dwellings on existing home lots.

The law will require most Oregon cities and counties to allow at least one dwelling unit for each detached home in areas zoned for single-family structures, “subject to reasonable local regulations relating to siting and design,” The Register-Guard reported .

The battle over so-called accessory dwelling units pits homeowners against affordable-housing advocates.

Affordable-housing advocates view the smaller homes and additions to existing homes as a way to provide lower-cost dwellings in a city that is struggling with fast-rising rents and home prices. Eugene city planners also like the idea of putting additional dwellings on existing lots as a way to provide more housing within the city’s existing boundaries.

But neighborhood associations worry about the effects of squeezing more homes in established neighborhoods. There are concerns that fitting more homes into neighborhoods would result in a loss of privacy and increased problems with traffic and parking.

Eugene city councilors agreed in January to a proposal by city planners to split the requirements under the law into two phases, with phase one centered on the areas of town where the additional structures could be built. The second phase would focus on the siting of the structures on residential lots and their design regulations.

It’s unknown when the phase two work will begin. The work will be wrapped into a broader project the city is undertaking to examine ways to make housing more affordable in Eugene.

The debate is sure to get more raucous as city leaders review and consider changes to the regulations surrounding accessory dwellings — even as their recent decisions are being challenged.


Information from: The Register-Guard,