Bend looks to make changes to 'cottage code'

Issues include setbacks, different density rules

Bend updating cottage code

BEND, Ore. - The city of Bend is looking to make changes to its cottage housing code, part of a continued effort to boost the housing supply and ease the affordable housing crunch.

Bend has had a cottage code in place since 2015, but now the city is working to make it more friendly to developers.

The cottage code pertains to homes that are built on a foundation, not tiny homes on wheels.

On Monday night, the Bend Planning Commission heard the feedback the city has received, and the potential changes that could come with that feedback, such as calculating density differently on lots with cottage homes.

Other focuses include how houses should be arranged, and how large cottages are allowed to be, among other changes.

Pauline Hardie, a senior planner with the city who has been working on this code, said the modifications could help create more opportunities for this type of development in Bend. You can read her memo to the planning commission here (PDF)

"Although it's been used, there's a lot of things that if there were changes to the setbacks, or the density was looked at just a bit different, that they could still do the cottage code developments, but they would get more units," Hardie said. "So it would make it easier to look at properties and probably make it pencil, because they can get more units on the property."

Hardie added the changes will be positive to the region, because having more housing options is beneficial.

The city is also looking at the way density is calculated for cottage homes. Because a cottage home right now is a home that is no larger than 1,100 square feet, it is smaller than the average home.

Hardie said the current code allows for four to 12 units per acre, depending on the zoning.

But after listening to feedback from developers, the city could look at how much square footage is on a given piece of land, instead of the number of units.

"So if you have four houses that are 400 square feet, you know, you only have 1,600 square feet on the ground, so you only count those as one dwelling unit, versus a 1,600-square-foot house that counts as one dwelling unit," Hardie said.

After getting feedback from the planning commission Monday night, Hardie said they will likely look over the changes one more time. Then the code will be reviewed by attorneys and architects and will go to a public hearing for input from the community.

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