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SALEM — The Oregon House on Thursday, April 13, voted unanimously to remove a looming deadline for Pendleton to submit a plan for an affordable housing pilot program already approved for Bend and Redmond.

House Bill 2127A would remove the June 30, 2023 deadline for the city to submit its plans. The only remaining deadline would be the expiration of the pilot program on Jan. 2, 2028.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Bobby Levy, R-Echo, was requested by the city of Pendleton at the suggestion of the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, testified in favor of the bill alongside Levy during a March 27 hearing of the House Committee on Agriculture, Land Use, Natural Resources, and Water.

“Time is the only obstacle standing in our way,” Hansell said at the hearing.

Pendleton City Planner George Cress also testified before the panel, telling lawmakers that a quarter of renters were “severely burdened” in the cost and availability of housing in the city.

The House committee approved the bill 9-0 with a “do pass” recommendation to the full House.

The Legislature voted in 2021 to add Pendleton to a state pilot program that allows cities to experiment with affordable housing projects beyond their urban growth boundaries. Advocates of the model say it could be applied elsewhere around the state in the future.

The 2021 legislation envisioned a project of up to 50 acres outside of Pendleton’s current development limits. 

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Bend was the first city to receive approval for a project outside of the UGB, which usually requires a longer, more rigorous review process. Redmond joined the program as the second project and if approved, Pendleton will be the third.

State and local planning officials have touted the program as a way to see if limited projects outside of city’s normal development footprint can ease the high price of housing in the state.

The original three projects were all approved by Gov. Kate Brown. Newly elected Gov. Tina Kotek has made speeding-up the construction of affordable housing a top priority of her administration.

Original Article: Source