Planning staff gets frequent inquiries from people interested in building homes, secondary homes, or using their homes to supplement their income by renting out all or a portion of it.  Staff has developed an infographic that talks about some of the popular alternative housing types and what we can/can’t approve:


Rural planning in Oregon differs from urban housing in that, with the exception of farm labor housing, most zones prohibit multi-family dwellings.  One of the reasons for this is to keep low densities consistent rural infrastructure and facilities, including roads, water services, sanitation, and employment.

As you will see from the infographic, some of the difficulty in permitting certain types of alternative dwelling units/housing types comes with partner agencies’ standards and reviews.  All structures over 200 sqft typically have to be approved through land use and building services.  This means structures have to adhere to two different types of standards.

Land use is primarily concerned with a building’s footprint and that footprint’s relationship to other features within the property and adjacent properties.  This is why most planning applications require a site plan.

Building services/codes review structural and building features including plumbing, electrical, and manufactured or built standards.  In Wasco County, this review is done by the State Building Codes Division.

A key part of a planner’s job is to serve as a technical expert in helping the public navigate through the land use planning process and regulations.  We are happy to answer specific questions you may have about housing standards for your property. Visit our current planning page to learn more.

Staff has also prepared a whitepaper to review some of the challenges with tiny homes in rural Wasco County: Wasco County Tiny Homes Whitepaper.

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