Zoning Changes Would Just Help The Rich

Paul Conte suggests in his Viewpoint column “Housing the Rich” (EW 8/12) that proposed residential zone changes “would quadruple or more the allowable density and dwellings per lot throughout Eugene’s neighborhoods.”

As Conte correctly observes, such a radical upzoning is “a boon” to predatory investors who will demolish the most affordable rentals to redevelop properties as high-rent apartments. 

Many areas of Eugene would then be subject to gentrification, and rentals taken out of Eugene’s affordable housing inventory due to demolition and rising rents. The staff’s strategy of laissez-faire “free market” based upzoning would provide benefit only to developers rather than producing housing that’s affordable to lower income households. We can see the proof in the explosive development and displacement in Portland and Seattle over the last several years.

Conte’s analysis reflects the obvious — that economic disparities, not current zoning regulations, exclude people from housing choices in many neighborhoods. Perhaps Eugene planners should reconsider that a “one plan for all neighborhoods” is not the way to go.

I fully support establishing equitable housing with inclusionary zoning measures and by incorporating, as Conte suggests, “expert recommendations to develop multiple, context-based plans for smaller sub areas” that would protect lower income households. Let’s base city zoning on evidence, not zealous and misguided attacks on single-family neighborhoods.

Deborah Noble