SALEM — Rural areas could see an increase in properties with second homes under a bill approved Tuesday by a key Senate panel.

Senate Bill 88 would authorize a county to allow a property owner in a rural residential zone to construct one accessory dwelling unit, known as an ADU.

The bill was approved by the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources by a 3-1 vote Tuesday.

Current Oregon land use law does not allow the construction of an accessory dwelling unit on land zoned for either exclusive farm use or rural residential use. In Bend, they are allowed on residentially zoned parcels with one single-family home, town home or manufactured home.

The bill is supported by Deschutes County commissioners.

Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, a committee member, was the lone “no” vote. He said he may support the bill when it gets to the floor of the Senate, but said he still had unanswered questions about the overall impact of the bill.

The bill now goes to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, the Legislature’s budgeting committee. It has to make the stop because the bill requires the Department of Consumer and Business Services to provide wildfire maps to assess the danger of additional building in specific rural areas.

Funding would have to be approved for the department to pay the Oregon State University Department of Forestry to research and draw the maps. If approved in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, the bill would advance to a vote on the Senate floor.

The bill was amended Tuesday to strengthen the ability of counties to limit the use of accessory dwelling units as short-term vacation rentals. Counties were also allowed to impose additional restrictions on construction of garages and outbuildings that support the new dwelling.

The only new testimony submitted on Tuesday was a written statement from Deschutes County resident ­Richard Miron in support of the bill.

“I live in Deschutes county near Bend and believe SB 88 could be a valuable step in alleviating the housing shortage we are experiencing in our area,” Miron wrote.

He suggested that the bill allow counties more leeway in deciding the size and placement of second dwellings.

“Many rural properties already have an existing second dwelling such as a barn,” Miron wrote. “In many cases these second dwellings could be renovated to provide a permitted livable space at a lower cost than a new structure. Also not having to build a new structure might alleviate objections some have with this bill not preserving farm land.”

— Reporter: 541-540-2750, gwarner@bendbulletin.com

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