Navigating our Land Use System

“Citizen Involvement” is Goal 1 in Oregon’s statewide land use system. Goal 1 requires that citizens be involved in all phases of the land-use process, from creating comprehensive plans to drafting zoning regulations to applying the code to specific development applications, and sometimes even to enforcement by taking an unlawful local decision to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). Good planning doesn’t just allow citizen involvement, it requires it. Nobody knows our county better than you, the people who live here. Planning is the deliberate process of looking into the future, predicting how many people are expected to live in our community and identifying where they will live, work, and play and how our resource land will be managed. Planning allows us to design the future we want to see.

But the land use system can be confusing to many people who want to have a voice in planning our community. At HRVRC, one of our most important jobs is helping the public understand and navigate the land use system in an effective way. We encourage you to use us as a resource when you are concerned about a proposed development or want to advocate on any land use issues from bike lanes to affordable housing.

Contact: Heather Staten, Executive Director, heather@hrvrc.org or 541-490-5225.

There are also some great online resources to help you get started:

Citizens Guide to Land Use Planning is a great primer on the basics of participating in land use decisions. It is written by the City of Corvallis but the basic concepts and legal processes are exactly the same here in Hood River. 

Putting The People in Planning from Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development, this is a “how to” manual about public participation in land use planning. A great resource for planners and local officials to help implement Oregon’s Statewide Planning Goal One and explain Goal One to non-planners.

Citizens Guide to Land Use Appeals from 1000 Friends of Oregon gives good information for those who are considering appealing a local decision by the Hood River City Council or Hood River County Board of Commissioners to Oregon’s Land Use Board of Appeals. (Please note that this guide is being updated and is not completely current).

Our local planning departments realize that land use regulations and processes can be confusing. They are very helpful and a great resource to answer questions about our local codes. Hood River County processes all applications in the unincorporated parts of the county, the City of Hood River and City of Cascade Locks process all applications within their city limits. At these links you can find our local Comprehensive Plans, zoning maps and ordinances, schedules for Planning Commission meetings, office hours and contact information for planners. 

Hood River County Department of Community Development

City of Hood River Planning Department

City of Cascade Locks Planning