Recent Legislative Changes to Land Use Law that May Affect Your Property

Recent Legislative Changes to Land Use Law that May Affect Your Property

The Oregon Legislature made few revisions to land use law during its 2001 session. However, there were some significant changes expanding the uses on land zoned Exclusive Farm Use (EFU), including granting more leniency in allowing the division of land within a farm or forest zone. The Legislature also changed the way cities gather buildable land inventory that may affect zone change or comprehensive plan amendment requests, and amended the procedure for hearings after appeal of a land use decision by changing the evidence and testimony allowed in a public hearing. These changes are more fully detailed below.


  • A secondary dwelling for relatives who assist with farm operations is a conditional use in the EFU zone, subject to criteria. The legislature has now expanded the list of persons who qualify as a “relative” to include such persons as step-relatives, nieces, nephews and first cousins.
  • Parks and playgrounds in the EFU zone no longer need to be owned by a government or non-profit organization as long as the park or playground is for residents of the local rural community.
  • Guest ranches continue to be a use allowed in the EFU zone. This allowed use was set to sunset, but the bill extends the allowance to December of 2005.
  • Farmworker housing will be easier to site in the EFU zone. It now may be allowed as a dwelling “customarily provided in conjunction with farm use.” In addition, there is now just one definition of farmworker housing.


  • An additional exception to the minimum 80 acre parcel size for forest land or farm/forest land has been created. In order to take advantage of this new exception and divide forest or farm land, the following requirements must be met: At least two dwellings must have lawfully existed prior to November 4, 1993; each dwelling must comply with the criteria for a replacement dwelling; at least one dwelling has to be located on each parcel created; all but one lot or parcel that is created must be between two and five acres; and the landowner must record a deed restriction prohibiting further division.
  • Up to two non-farm parcels less than the 80 acre minimum may be approved under new criteria. Previously, a landowner was not allowed to create even one parcel under the minimum parcel size.


  • Local governments must now determine housing capacity of buildable lands. Previously, cities that were required to undergo periodic review of their comprehensive plan would inventory buildable land within the urban growth boundary without evaluating the character of that land. This would result in a city having a 20 year inventory of “buildable” land without actually having land that could accommodate housing needs for the next 20 years. This change ensures that the housing inventory is commensurate with the housing need.


  • A party to an appeal of a land use decision made without a hearing may now raise all the issues that they could have raised if a hearing were afforded to them before the decision. The party is not limited to those issues raised on appeal. This new provision gives a party to a land use decision made without a hearing the opportunity to raise issues they otherwise were not able to prior to the decision being made.

These are only a sampling of the land use changes from the 2001 legislative session but they are some of the more significant amendments and additions to the statutes. We would be happy to answer any questions regarding these changes.