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18% of Astoria homes are in a duplex, triplex or fourplex. Hood River: 14%. Grants Pass: 13%. Portland: 10%.

Why do smaller cities build so much middle housing?

Same reason big cities would if it were still generally legal there: it’s less expensive

This post was inspired by @OPBTOL's excellent report last week on Oregon's middle-housing legalization. opb.org/radio/programs…

In it, @samanthamatsu & @DaveMillerOPB paraphrase Albany Mayor Sharon Konopa as seeming to call middle housing a "Portland solution."

It isn't!
That's not to criticize OPB or even say Konopa is literally wrong, since the bill itself is coming from outside her city.

But it would *not* be correct to think that duplexes, triplexes & fourplexes are a "big city" idea being imposed on the rest of the state. Just the opposite.
I was surprised to learn, when I started looking into it, that middle housing is EVERYWHERE in Oregon.

2-4plexes are 7% of homes in OR statewide, of which 43% were built since 1980.

They're 7% of Oregon homes outside PDX metro, of which 45% were built since 1980.
Here's the link to the Census data on this, which requires a little simple crunching to get these figures. (It's not super pretty, sorry. Hopefully legible.) docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d…
Yeah, once I saw these figures, I realized it rang true. The first & second homes I rented were a fourplex & a triplex in small-town Iowa.
In small & mid-size cities, attached housing is a bedrock of affordable rentals.

In a smaller town, no location is so uniquely valuable that it's worth paying the higher rent required to build a five-story apartment building.

But split the land costs 2-4 ways? Sure! Why not?
The trouble is that, just as in bigger cities, some well-off people prefer not to live near poorer people. Mayor Konopa says as much in the OPB interview. :(
So, just as in bigger cities, small-city governments influenced by those well-off people draw maps that concentrate these lower-cost, mostly-rental homes into a few parts of town, leaving other parts as enclaves of relative privilege ... & starving the state of needed housing.
But many people in cities of all sizes have realized this is bad & foolish! On Friday I talked to Councilor Eleanor Ponomareff of Talent (pop 6,492, between Medford & Ashland).

Her town isn't actually required to legalize middle housing under House Bill 2001. She wants to anyway
"In small towns we are very sensitive to solutions coming from Portland. This is not one of them...

Our small city will benefit from this bill, in that larger towns in our area will be required to do their part to address the housing shortage."
That's the thing about state-level housing legislation like @TinaKotek's House Bill 2001: It acknowledges, in the best tradition of Oregon land use law, that cities are all in this together.

We all need to do our part to get enough homes built, or we'll *all* suffer.
That's my thread about 2-4plexes in smaller towns, & what all cities should learn from it. Thanks for reading. sightline.org/2019/05/20/the…
I was curious about how big a share of the housing market duplexes, triplexes & fourplexes are outside Oregon so I plugged in some semi-random cities. They're common!
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