News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Legislature passes bill helping wildfire survivors rebuild

By Stephen Floyd

A bill making it easier for disaster survivors to rebuild manufactured homes has passed the state legislature and is awaiting a signature by Gov. Kate Brown.

HB 4064 received final senate and house approval March 3 with most of its proposed policies intact, though limitations on mobile home park fees were removed. As of Wednesday, it was still among bills waiting for Brown to sign into law, and if approved would take effect immediately.

A response to wildfires

HB 4064 was introduced by Rep. Pam Marsh (D-Ashland) in direct response to devastating wildfires in 2020 that destroyed more than 1,000 manufactured homes statewide, including in the Santiam Canyon. Many have struggled to rebuild amid challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, increases in home-building costs, and local restrictions on where and how manufactured homes can be sited.

Rebuilding was also limited by the low-income or fixed-income status of many manufactured home residents. Because the bill gives these residents more rebuilding options, it received strong support from housing advocates such as the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing, Oregon Housing and Community Services, Oregon Community and Shelter Assistance Corp.

Smoothing out obstacles

Marsh’s bill made the process of siting a manufactured home closer to planning and constructing a stick-built house. 

The approved bill would allow manufactured and prefabricated homes to be sited on any land within an urban growth boundary zoned single-family residential, while local jurisdictions would not be allowed to impose any building standards on mobile homes that would not also apply to a stick-build house on the same property.

The bill would also allow recipients of state disaster recovery loans to rebuild their manufactured home in a different location, provided they receive a waiver from the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department. The new site could be in any location as long as the property is either owned by or in the process of being purchased by the loan recipient, or in a registered manufactured dwelling park.

The approved bill did not include an initial proposal for limits on fees and non-home improvements that are required by some manufactured home parks.

Despite broad support, the bill did receive opposition from residents concerned about limits on local government and the impact low-income housing may have on property values. 

Legislators who voted against the bill included local Senator Fred Girod (R-Molalla), who was joined by 14 Republican colleagues who expressed concerns about government overreach, though the bill received largely bi-partisan approval in both chambers.

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