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Real Estate Revolution – The Missing Middle and Eugene’s Housing Shortage

Last Updated June 14, 2022

We’ve been talking (and talking, and talking) about how limited housing inventory is in our local markets right now. It’s easy to take for granted that this is just the way things are now, but there are members of our communities who are identifying and striving to enact creative solutions to our present housing crisis.

One such person is Dylan Lamar, a local architect and developer focused upon environmentally-sustainable and affordable housing projects. Dylan and Kip talk about Eugene’s housing shortage and how the city is planning to address Oregon’s SB 2001, a bill that provides new opportunities to construct missing middle housing on formerly single family-zoned lots. Dylan also talks about the projects that he’s working on, and how local community members can get involved.

Don’t miss it! As usual, we also have a weekly market update for you. Listen below or read on for a full transcript.

Voiceover: 0:04
The world is changing fast, and so are the local real estate markets. Don’t worry though, we’ve got you covered. Welcome to the Real Estate Revolution.

Kip Lohr: 0:13
Hey, welcome back to The Real Estate revolution. I am Kip Lohr, your host with LOHR Real Estate, and we have a great show for you. Today, we are going to be talking with Dylan Lamar of Cultivate, Inc. We are going to talk middle housing – the missing middle. And trust me, we’ll get to what that means later on in the show. But before we get started with our interview with Dylan, as always, we have our patented LOHR Real Estate weekly market report with Ryan Neal. So Ryan, why don’t you go ahead and take it away and let us know what’s gone on in the last week in real estate in both the Redmond and Bend area and Eugene/Springfield area.

Ryan Neal: 0:57
We’ll start like usual with the latest on 30 year fixed mortgage rates. So last week, we reported that local rates were all the way up in the mid 5% range. In other words, there’s been quite a dramatic jump just in a very short chunk of time. Well, that’s still just about where we’re at this week. As a financed buyer, that means that you have significantly less purchasing power than you would have just earlier in the year. Meanwhile, prices haven’t dropped in any of our local markets. We’ll go into that. But the long and short is that you’ll need to recalibrate. It’s important to get in touch with a local lender and have them run the numbers again, so you have a true sense of your purchasing power if you’re looking for a home right now. With that out of the way, the numbers are in for the first week and a half of April. So sale prices in Eugene are significantly higher than last month’s pending sales would have indicated. The median so far is all the way up to $510,000. So the implication there is that homes are selling for significantly more than their list price. And this obviously is because of bidding wars. So there’s another item that stands out from our recent data. Eugene’s inventory was increasing slowly but surely through March, but it’s taken another dive in April. As of today, there are only 103 active homes for sale in Eugene, and their median ask price is $515,000. So to make a long story short, all signs are pointing right now to Eugene’s market heating up. It’s not cooling down, in spite of headlines you might be reading that the housing market is experiencing that right now. Real estate is local. In Springfield, it’s basically the same situation. Inventory is down to just 44 active properties. Sale prices are up to just under $450,000 as a median, and the new listings that we’re seeing in April will have a median ask price of $467,000. So one thing to note is that higher end inventory is coming back on the market in Springfield after we had a real drought of that, a real shortage of that all throughout March. In Bend, inventory is continuing to rise somewhat. It’s far from a fire sale at this point and really more just in line with the usual seasonal trend where we see more homes coming onto the market in the spring. Pending sales are back up though to a median of $794,000. That indicates that the lower sale prices that we saw in March were probably just a short lived trend. That’s happening regardless of the mortgage rate increases we’re seeing. In Redmond, homes at the lower half of the market are continuing to be bought up, while new listings are trending toward the upper half of Redmond’s market. The overall inventory is up slightly in Redmond, though not nearly as much as it is in Bend, and what is available has a median ask of just under $650,000. So not too much below what we’re seeing in Bend. The picture, of course, is constantly changing. And that’s why we’re bringing you these updates every week. So stay tuned and keep on listening for the main part of our show just coming up.

Kip Lohr: 3:56
Welcome back to The Real Estate Revolution Podcast. I am your host with LOHR Real Estate, and it is time to get into the meat of the matter with our special guest in the house today, Dylan Lamar with Cultivate Inc. We are going to talk about middle housing. And I guess to start off, how are you

Dylan Lamar: 4:17
I’m doing pretty well. Good to be joining you doing? here in the studio.

Kip Lohr: 4:21
Yeah, so Dylan is a local to the Eugene area, an architect-developer specializing in energy efficient and affordable housing. Is that fair?

Dylan Lamar: 4:34
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Kip Lohr: 4:35
Okay. So why don’t you start out by just telling us a little bit about you and what you’re doing here in Eugene. Okay. Then we’ll kick into the topic.

Dylan Lamar: 4:44
Yeah, yeah. So I was in Portland – started out in architecture up there for about eight years with Green Hammer, doing sustainable design and construction, energy efficiency consulting for other architects kind of nationwide, and about three or four years ago, moved back down to Eugene to really focus more on affordability, housing, affordability, just seeing kind of the disconnect between what gets built as sustainable architecture and who can afford to live and sustainable architecture. Really, that disconnect was/is pretty real. And so I’ve kind of decided to set out on being a developer in order to develop the kind of projects I wanted to design, because there just weren’t. As an architect, you’re beholden to whatever client comes to your door to hire you. And so the people weren’t coming, asking me to design what I wanted to design. So I kind of selfishly I was like, well, I’m gonna just gonna figure out how to do this then.

Kip Lohr: 5:43
And so you’ve been in Eugene now for how long?

Dylan Lamar: 5:46
It’s been four, maybe five years now. Yeah.

Kip Lohr: 5:50
And you just finished not that long ago, one of your first projects since you’ve been here?

Dylan Lamar: 5:54
Yeah. My first substantial development. That’s the C street Co-op we finished last fall in Springfield. And we’ll definitely get into that a little later. Yeah, middle housing, the middle housing – we’re

Kip Lohr: 6:03
All right. So today, we are going to dive into this mystical, magical mystery of middle housing or the missing middle. You know, for those of you out there that don’t know what the missing middle or middle housing is, talking about it with Oregon’s new law that’s coming into effect here this summer. It’s going to allow everything between duplexes up to four-plexes townhouses and cottage clusters on pretty much every residential lot in the city. This is happening statewide, in all cities of any size statewide, and each city is kind of implementing a minimum standard of middle housing allowances. That’s, again – that’s really legalizing forms of housing we used to develop by right but were made illegal through the decades, kind of starting in the 20s. So give us a little bit of that history, so some context on why we’re kind of where we are today, as far as the zoning laws that we have had traditionally up until recently, and how that’s affected the, kind of that middle of the housing milieu.

Dylan Lamar: 7:16
Totally. Yeah, starting in the 20s. And increasingly, up to the 50s. We – basically our housing zoning laws started to make illegal things like duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, townhouses and such, and have really cut out all the middle housing types. And so, we created a very segregated zoning system where you have single-family detached and low-density housing on one end of the spectrum, and that’s the bulk of the land area of our community. It’s what we commonly feel are suburbs, right. And then, at the other end of the spectrum is medium and high-density residential, which is typically apartment buildings. And, you know, there’s – that’s a whole rich topic in itself. But some of the important things to mention are that it was very intentionally segregated to keep typically white affluent people in the nicer neighborhoods and everyone else, and the higher density housing, typically more in less desirable areas. The other important impact, especially when it comes to climate change, is it meant you needed a car to get anywhere. We never – there’s no historic example of low density, single family housing anywhere in the world prior to this period. And it really was only allowed because of automobile transportation. So part of the conundrum now as we as we figure out how to reduce our carbon emissions is, how do we support a low density housing fabric without burning gasoline to get everywhere, right?

Kip Lohr: 8:47
And so these these laws essentially encouraged the use of cars to get around and discouraged certain members of the population from having homeownership, right. Or, if they had homeownership, they were in these more multifamily – some of the missing middle, because we, you know, there were duplexes and triplexes and quadplexes. That kind of popped up, but obviously not in a large enough amount to make much of a difference. But this kind of segregation has got us to the place where it’s created inaffordability for a large chunk of the folks actually, regardless of color. At this point, you know, it’s not –

Dylan Lamar: 9:31
And that’s – the really interesting part of it is that historically, it was very intentionally unaffordable to the bottom half, but we kind of are tripping over our shoelaces in terms of, now even relatively well-to-do white folks are being priced out. And so it’s becoming – it’s always been a crisis. It’s just not been one that that we necessarily had the political will to address, right, and now we do because so many people are feeling it. You know, the other thing to mention is that the racial wealth gap is greater now than it was in the 1960s. As a result of people of color not having homeownership access over the past, you know, 50-plus years, that means, you know, generational wealth has not accumulated for them the way it has for most white families. So that’s kind of the history of the zoning situation. But now we’re in this place of, because of the urban growth boundary and combined with the low-density housing laws that basically suppress housing from being built, you’ve got a supply-and-demand crunch like we’ve never seen before. And that’s just driving housing prices through the roof. So the affordability index of what an average family can afford relative to what the average home price is, is just dramatically diverging. And that’s in the last couple of decades, yeah, and –

Kip Lohr: 10:52
It’s – there’s always been a disparity there. And if you look at the track of the lines, there’s always been this gap between the two. They’re not in alignment ever. But just, I would say, in the last four or five years we’ve seen a just a dramatic increase in prices because of the lack of inventory, you know, the law of supply and demand. And so, like you’re saying, you know, the state of Oregon is trying to address some of this mandated on the state level. You know, it came out with the Senate bill requiring easier terms for people who were interested in doing that, and then the Senate bill that’s allowing this middle housing to be able to have a foothold. And so today, what we’re really talking about is like, what does that really mean for this community? Like, what is the state saying that the city of Eugene, or all of the cities that have, you know, certain populations are now required to do, and how you think we’re going to see this get implemented here in a way that isn’t scary for people who are going to have resistance? So, you know, I mean, it’s normal to be afraid of change, scared that the quality, the ambiance of your neighborhood is going to be negatively impacted. And I think that, you know, we can show today that maybe it’s not as scary as it sounds.

Dylan Lamar: 12:14
Yeah, totally. So, we’re – in Eugene, the Planning Commission, which is the committee that advises the City Council on all things related to land use planning, has published a set of their recommendations to the City Council about how they recommend that the middle housing laws be implemented. And the really cool thing about that process is that for the first time in Eugene’s history, the advisory panel that advises the planning commission – this is a multi year process that’s been in the works up to now. So it’s not something that happened without much thinking. Quite the contrary, a number of – I forget exactly, I want to say it was over 20 people are on this advisory panel. And for the first time ever, this is not just your retired white homeowners showing up voluntarily to to give their two cents to basically make sure their neighborhood stays the way it’s always been. It’s – actually the city got a grant from the state, and they were actually able to do a lottery selection process to bring together a demographically representative advisory panel. So the people on the advisory panel are not your typical city committee. It’s younger folks. It’s people of color, as well as the more usual suspects. And it’s pretty cool. If you Google “Eugene middle housing,” you can see a few video interviews, kind of testimonials with some of the panels. Yeah, it’s pretty neat, because, you know, there’s some young 20-somethings that are like, “I have never been involved in the city process at all. But I got this interesting letter and you know, I’m hurting to pay my rent. And so I thought about maybe getting involved in this.” So it’s it’s a beautiful example of democracy at work. So all that is to say, what’s embodied in the planning commission recommendations now is a very diverse set of voices. That’s unusual. And what the planning commission recommendations overall have done – well, let me back up. So the state law basically sets a minimum floor and says, everybody has to do allow this minimum set of things, and those minimums are things like fourplexes on most lots and a duplex on every lot is allowed. Cottage clusters and townhouses are allowed on most lots depending on their size. Depending on things like parking requirements, they’ve made some minimums – for example, with a fourplex, you can’t require more than one off street parking spot per dwelling unit, right? You can require less – you can choose to require less, but you can’t require more than that. And in general, the tack they’ve taken, which I think is really smart, is anything that you allow a single family house to do, you have to allow middle housing types to do. At minimum, so not discriminating against this new middle housing legislation by saying “We’re going to create rules that will discourage this.” Because, you know, it’s really easy to write a little, we call them “poison pills,” you know, “Oh, you can build that fourplex, but you’re gonna need two off street parking spots per unit.” And that’s gonna basically kill the deal. So anything you allow a single family or require a single family, you have to do the same for middle housing. So the planning commission basically has a pretty modest criteria. My recommendations – I would say, they have done this, the very minimum on many things, such as setback requirements are the same as they are for single-family, 10 feet from the street, five feet from the side lot lines. Your buildings has to be set back that far. Sorry if I use industry jargon.

Kip Lohr: 15:50
You know, people will follow.

Dylan Lamar: 15:52
Just with height, total building height, they allow a pretty modest additional five feet for middle housing types. That’s not really a big deal. It’ll be hard to squeeze in an additional floor with only five feet. But it will allow for more flexibility to deal with, you know, sites that are on a slope and that kind of thing. The other important ones to mention are again, they’ve done mostly the state’s, you know, kind of the minimum bar, but with parking, they did a really important one where they require the state minimum, unless you’re doing smaller and more affordable housing units. And this has been the general case with all of their recommendations. Anywhere they’ve deviated from the state minimums, they’ve done so because they want to see smaller and more affordable housing units. And to be clear, we’re talking about the recommendations that came through this committee.

Kip Lohr: 16:48
For Eugene. Exactly, yeah. And we’re talking about the delineation between the state saying, “Look, thse are the minimum requirements that you have to allow for. If you want to be more generous and more inclusive of these types of developments, you can go nuts on that front. I want to make it easier, we’re totally happy that you make it easier.” So what you’re saying is that when it comes to parking, they’re actually encouraging this higher density development by not requiring the same parking requirements that you would for a single family?

Dylan Lamar: 17:23
If you’re doing smaller and more affordable housing, yeah. If you’re doing, you know, more conventional luxury, higher end stuff, you need the same amount of parking as the state minimum, which was just about one one space per unit.

Kip Lohr: 17:36
But this is a deliberate attempt to create more affordable housing in a meaningful way.

Dylan Lamar: 17:42
One other area where off street parking requirements are waived is near transit corridors. So again – and this is a look at, again, reducing our carbon emissions. Do we need to provide off street parking when there’s easy transit? It’s a kind of a chicken and egg thing today. You would say, well, yeah, actually, I don’t want to take the bus. But if we’re ever going to make bus service efficient and actually functional for most people, you’ve got to get people using the bus.

Kip Lohr: 18:10
When you say near transit corridor, what sort of proximity to bus stops? I’m assuming that’s what we’re talking about is, how close to a bus stop?

Dylan Lamar: 18:19
Yeah, I forget exactly. I want to say it’s a quarter mile. Okay. It’s about a 15 minute walk. Wow.

Kip Lohr: 18:25
I mean, that’s generous. Most places in the in the city limits are probably within a 15 minute walk to a bus stop.

Dylan Lamar: 18:33
Totally. It’s quite a lot of area. But the thing to remember is this is a legally-required parking space. It does not mean that what a developer is going to build is not going to have parking if it’s not required, because the developers will deliver what the market demands generally.

Kip Lohr: 18:50
Right. But when we talk about your C Street development that you finished last year, this is a great example of density, where you couldn’t have built what you did if the parking requirements were making you have a parking spot for each unit.

Dylan Lamar: 19:06
Yeah, what off-street parking requirements do is really pit cars against against people and housing in a really nasty way, getting roofs over our heads. A car parking space costs in the neighborhood of $10,000 to develop and so, when you tack that on, not only are you losing the land area, potentially cutting down trees for that land, but you’re also tacking on a pretty hefty price tag to the cost of the housing. So that’s the parking one. Basically they’re waiving parking requirements. If you’re doing small – that’s less than 900 square foot footprint housing – affordable housing, and/or you’re nowhere near the transit line. The design standards – they have some kind of some minimum design standards. They’ve kept those same estate requirements. Lot coverage is another one where they made a modest additional allowance for middle housing where on your typical single-family lot, you’re allowed to develop 50% of your lot area with building or impervious area. With this middle housing, they’re going to allow an additional 25% lot coverage. And that really makes sense, because most lots have a house already on them. And so if you want to see more housing on that lat, you kind of need to allow a little more lot coverage to do that. That’s the bulk of it. It’s really pretty simple – the same setbacks apply, we’ve got a little more height allowed, the parking may or may not be required, depending on what kind of housing you develop. And again, if it’s smaller, more affordable housing, we’re going to waive that requirement. And the lot coverage has increased slightly. Anything else, also the lot size – so minimum lot size is kind of a tool to – historically, it’s been a tool to exclude. But these days, it’s it’s essentially a de facto way of balancing density. They are allowing slightly more density. Again, if you are doing smaller housing or affordable housing, it’s not dramatic, it’s around a 25% bonus. That’s not huge. A couple other things I might mention that people are often interested in are tree preservation. The tree preservation requirements that apply to single-family housing will also apply to middle housing. Those requirements in Eugene right now are not terribly stringent. But that’s also because most homeowners don’t want the city telling them what they can and can’t do with their property. And the other thing I would say is that we have to balance our requirements for tree protections against the need for housing. And that’s not an easy equation. And it’s not one that’s easily addressed. I think through just a law, it’s something you kind of have to ticket on a case by case basis. And certainly, I think we should not be using tree preservation as a weapon against housing, which is how I would say many folks in our community would like to see tree protection laws used. In historic districts, all the same historic requirements that apply to single family housing will apply to middle housing.

Kip Lohr: 22:00
But they are still allowing those types of developments in these historic districts. They just have to comply with whatever the the historic district regulations are?

Dylan Lamar: 22:11
Yeah, yeah, that’s right.

Kip Lohr: 22:13
To me, that’s extraordinary, you know, that they’ve even gone into that. Because, you know, there could be an argument made that by changing around the density within these historic districts, you’re changing the historic district. So yeah, that’s cool.

Dylan Lamar: 22:28
I’m interested to see how that – I haven’t yet worked on a project in a historic district to see how that’s going to be interpreted. But I know, for example, having worked on a historic property in Portland, we could do an ADU, but we couldn’t make it visible from the street. So it does have a pretty dramatic impact on, actually, what you can build.

Kip Lohr: 22:48
Yeah, but already the city of Eugene has older duplexes that started out as these two- story kind of like, turn of the century homes, you know, 1905 homes that were porch-out-front, and they get converted into a duplex. You know, now you’ve got two front doors instead of one front door, but the structure actually looks, you know, pretty much original, and you just have now a duplex. So I think that there’s a lot of opportunity for those types of developments within the city limits here. That would be cool.

Dylan Lamar: 23:18
Totally, totally. Yeah. I think there’ll be some interesting work for house flippers to transition to the world of going in and converting a big house into a fourplex or something. And then, one other point I didn’t mention which is a really important when it comes to home ownership is allowing the subdivision of lots. So that’s a huge one, actually. It’s huge. So this is a second state law that came down that said, if you are allowed to develop, for example, a fourplex on a property, you must be allowed to divide that property into four lots so that each home can be on its own lot. And even if they’re attached, you can still have a unit. You can have a landlocked backyard lot. It’s got to have an access easement to the street, but it doesn’t have to have necessarily parking to it. And that’s huge. Because, as you know, the conventional single-family mortgage is king in terms of the world of financing. It’s the best financing you can get, and it’s it’s heavily subsidized by a whole industry, has been for decades. So it’s important that middle housing owners be able to use that financing and the state definitely saw that and made that part of their plan.

Kip Lohr: 24:34
It provides an opportunity for, theoretically, like let’s just take a quadplex. For instance, you know, you develop a quadplex. Traditionally, that would be only available to a single owner, right. So if the single owner went through the development and didn’t want to live in one of the units, then this thing would have to be basically a rental, all four units. And by allowing each of these four units to have their own – be on their own lot and be able to be financed individually, yeah, maybe two of the four are rentals or maybe three or the four are rentals, but it still opens up that opportunity as a single-family unit. I mean, there’s a lot of single family home homes that are rentals. But, there’s also the opportunity for it to be owner occupied. I think moving forward, as far as creating affordability, that’s huge.

Dylan Lamar: 25:24
Yeah, totally. You know, it’s, it makes me think of another important point, that we don’t really have any developers of fourplexes in our building industry anymore. They might have existed 50 years ago, but these days, you know, housing developers are polarized, just the way our zoning has been, you’ve got your single family developers, and you’ve got our big apartment developers, right. So it’s going to take some time for developers to figure out how to move into this new territory. And I think a lot of people get worried that we’re just going to start seeing this overnight transformation of our neighborhoods to the point that it’s going to be unrecognizable or something. And that’s just not the case. You know, again, the same height limitations are going to apply that have always been in effect with a small addition of five feet, a little bit more lot coverage, but we’re talking about housing that’s often going to be smaller than than a garage for an RV that somebody might build in their backyard. And the developers that are going to develop that are not readily at hand, the builders that are going to build it are not readily at hand, all that stuff’s gonna take some time to find its way through this new, opened-up territory.

Kip Lohr: 26:35
Yeah, and I think one thing – it was really interesting when we were talking about this before we started the show today, this point that you made where the density, i.e. the number of people that are living don’t necessarily equal some huge structure. Like, I keep on coming back to your C Street, which we will talk about. Don’t worry, we’ll talk about C Street in Springfield here in a minute. But, you know, that development started out as a single-family home. And you added what would have been maybe called an ADU and allowed for six units, correct?

Dylan Lamar: 27:10
Yeah. Six suites. Yeah, that classic example of the large McMansion that could

Kip Lohr: 27:12
Yeah, six suites. So, you know, but it is not some huge structure. You drive by that, and it really maintains the character of the neighborhood in my opinion, and like you were -your example of the big-box McMansion that is 4000 square feet that a single family is going to live in, you could easily turn that into a quadplex as far as the same area in you know, the same-size structure. So the same structure, just more density. It’s not that scary, folks. And like you’re saying, Dylan, it’s going to take a while for these developments to actually, you know, make sense, and for people be a fourplex, that’s four times the density, which sounds scary. to even have the imagination to do some of the things that you’re doing already. You know, if you get up and wave a flag, and say “We’re quadrupling the density of our city.” Yeah, but it might actually look exactly the same. It just means you’ve got four times as many families that are able to live there. That’s right. And hopefully more affordability. Because we’re – you know, the crux of the matter right now is that in most markets right now, and I kind of use the caveat of “In places that people want to live.” You know, the hot markets are hot, because people want to live there. And those markets are hot also, because there’s higher demand than there is supply. And, you know, that was another thing we were talking about earlier. Is this crazy supply and demand in the just in the state of Oregon, this disparity where you’re saying like 30,000 units, is that what we need to build? Yeah, yeah. 30,000 to 40,000 units per year is what Oregon statewide needs to develop over the next two decades to catch up with kind of the backlog of missing housing over the next two decades. Or 300,000 houses.

Dylan Lamar: 29:08
Yeah, 584,000 houses is what we need in the next 20 years. statewide. We really need housing. We need any and all housing. We especially need smaller housing, because we have smaller households. That’s the important thing to understand. 50 years ago, the average house size was three-plus people, but now we’re having less kids per family. We’re at just over two – an average household size of two people. We don’t need five- bedroom homes anymore. We don’t need large lot homes anymore. Many people don’t want them. The AARP is a huge endorser of this kind of legislation because they see there’s not only a huge need for starter homes among young professionals, there’s also a huge need for downsizers that are just not there. They want to stay in their neighborhood. So we really need lots of added housing diversity.

Kip Lohr: 30:05
Hallelujah. I agree. Yeah. So, listen, I think it’s time to talk about C St.

Dylan Lamar: 30:10
All right, let’s do it.

Kip Lohr: 30:12
So, I mean, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this missing middle housing, you did an amazing project in Springfield last year, which was, you know, this is your passion project. This is why you came to Eugene, and this was kind of like a pilot project. And I think it has not gotten enough press. So let’s talk, because this is exactly addressing these issues of this middle housing. So, tell us

Dylan Lamar: 30:38
Yeah. And I think it’s a good case study of the about it.

Kip Lohr: 30:39
Yeah, for sure. Well, I mean, you’re you’re blazing kind of development we might start to see – I hope we start see – with the middle housing laws. So John Fischer, a local infamous character in our community – he used to be the weatherman. I love walking down the street with him because every other person waves to him like they know him. It took me a while – I didn’t at first know he used to be the weatherman, because I’m not from here, you know? And he explained it. But he had a he had a double wide lot and not far from downtown Springfield. It was 90 feet wide, and that allowed – it just barely allowed it to be subdivided. In fact, if it had been a quarter inch less wide when the surveyor actually did his subdivision, we wouldn’t have been able to develop it, which is – fortunately, I didn’t know that till after we’d paid the $15,000 to do it. It can be a risky game. new trails.

Dylan Lamar: 31:37
So I haven’t eaten dirt yet. So we subdivided the lot, a six month process. I was not prepared for that – a lot of money. But we got it – from that we were able to put the existing three bedroom home on its own lot. And then we carved out a new basically blank slate. It had nothing on it, barely – I think a dying tree and lilac bush. But it was otherwise flat, a perfect south-facing property, had alley access. So we were able to do – again, this is pre-middle housing legislation. So all the laws would allow us to do at the time were a house and an adu. Fortunately, Springfield had waived system development charges, which are bigger fees, to use for ADUs. Yeah. So that definitely helped out.

Kip Lohr: 32:29
And that was actually because of the Senate bill that was, you know, requiring more permissible-

Dylan Lamar: 32:36
Yeah, were required by law statewide. This predates the middle housing legislation. And then again, an example of a community deciding to go further – unlike Eugene, Springfield waived SDC fees for ADUs, because they want to see more of them. So we said – you know, I was partnered with Square One villages a local housing nonprofit, on this, and we kind of looked at it and said, we need to find a pathway here to do more affordable housing that is pushing the bounds of what we’re currently seeing, right, because we’re just not doing enough. And so what we did is – well, a common-sense way people save money in their housing is by sharing housing, right? Well, why don’t we just design the housing to be shared?

Kip Lohr: 33:23
In a way where people could have more autonomy over their living situation, rather than just a bunch of traditional bedrooms, where you’re sharing one bathroom with each other and having to share the kitchen and whatnot?

Dylan Lamar: 33:35
Exactly, yeah. So essentially, we carved the housing into – in the house, we have four private suites, and in the ADU, we have two. They’re basically like a luxury suite in a hotel with a little kitchenette bar. And the city didn’t allow us to do an oven, because that essentially triggers a full kitchen, which wouldn’t be allowed. But so we did that. And, you know, about half of the homeowners who are there now miss the oven and about half don’t. So that was pretty interesting to see. Yeah. But basically, in terms of the cost, it was pretty tremendous. One, we were able to develop it as a housing cooperative, so that each of those six suites is owner-occupied, each of the residents is a part-owner of the entire property. And then Square One maintains land ownership as a land trust to ensure that the housing remains permanently affordable. And when I say “affordable,” I mean affordable. The housing units cost $10,000 in total purchase price, and the total monthly payments, utilities, maintenance, everything, is $790 a month for a one bedroom suite. That’s pretty tremendous. And we did that for about half the development cost of a typical affordable housing development and for only 10% of the subsidy. So, you know, a big part of that is that we didn’t have to purchase a commercial property to develop a multifamily building on. That’s a limited plot.

Kip Lohr: 35:04
You got to go with residential code instead of commercial code.

Dylan Lamar: 35:07
Exactly. Yeah.

Kip Lohr: 35:09
Residential materials versus some commercial, and sprinkler systems and all that stuff. It all adds up.

Dylan Lamar: 35:15
Yeah. So it’s a really great case study of how you can make inherently affordable housing when you keep it simple, and you let that kind of housing exist, just like you let regular single family housing get built.

Kip Lohr: 35:31
Yeah. It’s pretty exciting. And so I guess some of the questions that I would have with it is, how did you overcome the parking situation since clearly this is prior to some of the newer legislation? And how are, so far, folks doing? I mean, it’s been since November of last year, right?

Dylan Lamar: 35:51

Kip Lohr: 35:52
September. So how – you know, I’m sure you’ve checked in on how everybody’s doing?

Dylan Lamar: 35:59
was really, really nice to connect with everybody. So far, everybody seems to really love their unit. They’re small, you know, they’re one-bedroom micro suites, they’re 384 square feet each. So it’s about as small as you can possibly make a one bedroom space with a full bathroom.

Kip Lohr: 36:28
You know, there’s tons of people, well, maybe not tons of people, there are people who are living in tiny homes that are smaller square footage than that as a unit. So, it’s still a fairly decent, habitable space when it comes to this micro housing.

Dylan Lamar: 36:43
And there are plenty of people who are sharing a bedroom and are living in a bedroom in a shared house, because that’s all they can afford. And so this is a step up from that in terms of privacy.

Kip Lohr: 36:51
Totally. So how did they finance those?

Dylan Lamar: 36:54
You asked about parking, I’ll just quickly mention – we’ve got a couple, really a two-space driveway in the front. And then we have alley access. So we have two parking spaces in the back. They ended up not using the alley parking so much. And they have ended up parking three cars in the driveway at the front, but they seem to make it work.

Kip Lohr: 37:15
And has the neighborhood embrace this development. Did you get much pushback from the neighbors?

Dylan Lamar: 37:20
You know, we’ve only heard from people that love it.

Kip Lohr: 37:20
Which is huge. People that love it just walk by it wave and smile. It’s the ones that aren’t happy about it that you usually hear from.

Dylan Lamar: 37:28
Yeah, it’s good. It really is in scale with the rest of the houses in the neighborhood. It’s only two stories. It’s well below that what you could have built in terms of the building height, it’s less lot coverage than you could have built. So in that way, it feels really good. It’s really in keeping with a single family neighborhood scale. And yet it’s – you know, by the numbers, 48 households per acre, which is easily, what, around four times the density limit of current, low density zoning, right. So again, four times the density, and it looks pretty much like any other house in the

Kip Lohr: 38:08
That’s amazing. So you have another development in neighborhood. Springfield that you’re going to get going on, your F Street development, and I know you’re still kind of working out – what you can use this with? Like, what direction are you going to go with that one? And what that’s going to look like?

Dylan Lamar: 38:30
As much as I’m able – I still don’t know a lot. I’m still in the kind of conceptual phase on that one. A big part of it is, we kind of put everything on pause to wait till the middle middle housing laws got passed.

Kip Lohr: 38:40
So that you could have some enjoy some of the loosening up of things.

Dylan Lamar: 38:46
Exactly, yeah, we’ve also been really – as with C Street, we’re actively in conversation with the city of Springfield planning staff, as well as Square One Villages to try and find that nexus between affordable housing and the kind of housing that Springfield wants to support, which, of course, is affordable housing. But, you know, for example, Springfield is holding on to their off street parking requirements a little tighter than Eugene is. So we’re having to work with that. I would say, you know, where I’m at – literally today what I was working on is, I’ve got about, you know, 12 options. One of the unfortunate parts about these new middle housing, zoning laws is it’s pretty complicated in terms of – you’ve got these four pathways to what you develop, whether you call it a fourplex or four townhouses, it means a different set of standards, even though the built form might be exactly the same. So you end up – you’ve got that side of the zoning, you’ve also got building codes, which look at things in a completely different way when it decides whether to apply residential building codes or commercial building codes.

Kip Lohr: 39:54
And so back to the quadplex versus the townhomes. With a quadplex, you’re getting commercial requirements. Whereas your individual townhomes that are single family units?

Dylan Lamar: 40:05
Yeah. So what this whole process has led me to realize is – and this might be the nugget to really share – is I’ve decided I’m going to host a building middle housing workshop. Because no one should have to go through the brain damage I’ve gone through.

Kip Lohr: 40:26
Not recreate the wheel. Dylan has created some of that. So, that’s great. So what – and that will be for potential other developers, right, for homeowners, for developers, for other architects?

Dylan Lamar: 40:39
Basically, anybody who is interested in in doing middle housing, I’d be up.

Kip Lohr: 40:44
When are you gonna do that?

Dylan Lamar: 40:45
As soon as I can put it together. Give me a month or two.

Kip Lohr: 40:50
Fair enough. Well, so – no, go ahead.

Dylan Lamar: 40:53
One more thing I want to mention is the really important middle housing testimony. A public hearing is happening this coming Monday.

Kip Lohr: 41:00
I was going to say, you know, I wanted to come full circle to talk about this forum. So go ahead.

Dylan Lamar: 41:10
Yeah. Sorry to interrupt. You looked like you had to wind it up.

Kip Lohr: 41:17
We needed to, you know, get back around the corner to this this last point here.

Dylan Lamar: 41:20
Yeah. So this is this is – again, this is the kind of the culmination of a more than two year process of Eugene deciding how they’re going to implement this new state law. And the big public hearing is this coming Monday, April 18, at 7:30pm. Via Zoom, people will have around a couple of minutes to testify. For folks who have never testified before, it’s a really low barrier to entry. Like, really, what the city really wants to hear is your perspective. And you don’t have to know all the laws, you don’t have to have your head deeply in the code to just to come to the show up and say, “Look, we need more housing.” Yeah, because there are a lot of people who show up who have entrenched views about how, you know, they’ve been living in their home for for 40 years, and they don’t want to see change. And, those people tend to mobilize, I would say more than the, you know, the young 20-somethings who are really being crushed by the housing crisis right now.

Kip Lohr: 42:20
So well, you know, when you’ve been priced out of the market, you’re actually not in the game, right? So you don’t necessarily have the same sort of impact, and it doesn’t even occur to you. So how do people find the pathway to be able to do that?

Dylan Lamar: 42:36
Totally. Just Google “Eugene middle housing,” and you’ll find the city’s put together a really great website that’s got all the information about the public hearing and how to testify. You can also send an email. If you can’t make that date, just send an email, they’ve got a form there. And they’ve also got the planning commission recommendations if you want to dive in and kind of understand the laws more intimately. But yeah, I really want to encourage folks to try and make their voice heard because we really need it.

Kip Lohr: 43:04
And they can email in, they don’t actually have to if they’re shy, and they don’t want to hop on the Zoom, they can email in there. And the actual Zoom testimony is limited to five minutes. Is that correct?

Unknown: 43:14
It’ll probably be around two minutes per person. Yeah, it’s bound to be a full crowd of people. And so it usually goes to, you know, 10pm.

Kip Lohr: 43:24
We went to one live back in the day. They can be a hoot. So, yeah, and how do folks who are interested in this – and if you’ve been listening to the program and you are interested in more information about maybe developing your property for a process like this, you want to reach out to Dylan Lamar, Cultivate, Inc. How do they get a hold of you?

Dylan Lamar: 43:49
So my website is And there’s a contact form there. You can reach out.

Kip Lohr: 43:57
Yeah, perfect. And if you can’t find him, you can always can find me and LOHR Real Estate. And so, I’ve gotta say, this was one of the more fun interviews that I’ve done since we started the podcast. Any parting thoughts you want to share with everybody?

Dylan Lamar: 44:12
I just appreciate you taking an interest in this. It’s always fun to – you know, I spend a lot of my time in a specialized world talking with people about how to influence public policy at this kind of higher level – not higher, but more specialized level. And it’s really fun to get down to brass tacks with people on the ground and talk about, like, how this is actually going to impact people’s lives.

Kip Lohr: 44:35
Well, you know, for most people who aren’t embedded in it, there’s this periphery of, like, semi-understanding of these concepts, and you can develop an opinion without actually really knowing what’s going on, and it impacts us all. You know, I mean, I’m as passionate about this as you in that our community is ready for, you know, kind of rolling up our sleeves and starting to address some of these issues. It’s because it filters through all of the socio economic groups and it transcends race. It’s really – it affects us all. So this is a global issue, and you are nose deep in it and absolutely an expert on the subject. So I think what would be really grea – I’m not going to put it, well, I’m going to put you on the spot a little bit. But, you know, we’ve been talking about Eugene today. And obviously we represent – you know, my company

Dylan Lamar: 45:24
We hope. The city council has yet to vote. The represents Bend as well. I might have you come back on and do a similar presentation. Because, you know, the thing that is interesting about this is each city really is carving their own path here. You know, the state says, “Okay, here’s your minimum, that you got to carve it out this way at bare minimum, and then the cities are kind of doing these different things. Like with the ADUs, it’s been two years – before the state mandated this, Bend started, you know, waving SDCs and, you know, the City of Bend made it so it incentivized people to create density through building ADUS, and we went from, like one or two permits a year in Bend to like 300 to 400 permits for ADU use. And so – and then you’ve got Eugene, which went completely the other direction with this ADU issue. Springfield was more in line with Bend, but, you know, wasn’t motivated until the state kind of had something to say. So it’s interesting to see how, you know, these different municipalities are – you know, in some ways, like Springfield was more permissive Council has completely thrown out the Planning Commission’s with ADU use, but now they’re giving you a little bit more of a pushback on parking, whereas the city of Eugene now has been less permissive with ADUs, but now they’re a little more permissive with the parking situation. So it’d be interesting to get – work before.

Kip Lohr: 46:51
Yeah. Okay. So anyway, I guess best case scenario, just understanding what some of these different communities are doing. And it’s kind of fun. But again, I want to thank you for being on the show today. And you are welcome back anytime.

Dylan Lamar: 47:04
I’d love to come back.

Kip Lohr: 47:05
Thanks so much. All right. Well, thanks for joining us today on The Real Estate Revolution podcast. As always, I’m Kip Lohr, your host with LOHR Real Estate. And we’re going to have another exciting show next week. So make sure you tune in. Thanks again.

Voiceover: 47:23
Thank you for joining the revolution. We are over and out until next week, when we’ll continue to fill you in on all that matters most in our local Bend and Eugene real estate scenes. See you next time on The Real Estate Revolution.

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