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Hazard Related Ordinances
Douglas County
Douglas County Grant Project - SB 12 Rapidly Moving Landslides (Debris Flows)
In November 1999, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) awarded a grant to Douglas County to develop a draft model ordinance to help local governments implement Oregon Senate Bill 12. For more information on Oregon Senate Bill 12, see Statutory Background.
The draft model ordinance produced by Douglas County proposes the application of a rapidly moving landslide overlay zone to lands identified by the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) as being within a "further review area." For more information, see Mapping and Technical Resources.
For proposed development on properties subject to the landslide overlay, the ordinance suggests either that a geotechnical report be required of the applicant, or that a site assessment be performed to determine whether or not a geotechnical report will be necessary. The ordinance also addresses transfer of development rights (TDR) and standards for mitigation, geotechnical reports, and site assessments.

(See also HB 3375  (pdf) — This bill contains recent changes to the original SB 12 Legislation)
Model Landslide Hazards Ordinance
The draft model landslide hazards ordinance developed by Douglas County is based on existing ordinances from jurisdictions that have addressed development in other hazard-prone areas, such as floodplains. The draft model ordinance provides a two-step process in which owners of property identified as being in a "further review area" must complete and fund a site assessment prepared by a licensed professional. Such an assessment would be required before a community accepts an application for a development permit. The results of the site assessment would suggest one of two things – either that the property is not in an area with potential for rapidly moving landslides and that no more analysis is required, or that a more detailed analysis (i.e., a geotechnical report) is necessary.
Model Implementation Documents
Douglas County also prepared a set of model documents intended to help local governments implement Senate Bill 12. Included among these documents are:
  • A "recognition covenant" for property owners to sign acknowledging that their property is in an area with the potential for "rapidly moving" landslides;
  • A covenant waiving a property owner's ability to bring a suit against adjacent landowners when the property owner has built in a "further review area" that has also been developed; and
  • A site assessment form certifying that a geotechnical assessment has been completed for a property being reviewed.
Model Transfer of Development Rights Program
Douglas County conducted a review of existing TDR programs in and outside of Oregon, and presented its findings to DLCD. Douglas County has also developed a model TDR program (pdf). Deschutes County has also implemented a TDC program (pdf).
Use of Local Tax Maps to Identify "Further Review" Study Areas
Utilizing geographic information system (GIS) software, Douglas County developed a procedure that combines ODF Debris-Flow Hazard maps with local tax lot maps and other information to identify "clusters" of sites that should be studied in more detail as part of DOGAMI's effort to identify and map "further review areas". These "further review area" maps should enable local governments to better determine whether or not mitigation or site development standards apply to a particular property. Such a determination will likely involve the use of geographic information system (GIS) software, allowing local governments to overlay DOGAMI "further review area" data onto their local tax lot data. Douglas County's report is available (pdf).

Marion County
Marion County Geologically Hazardous Areas Overlay Zone Ordinance
In 1998, Marion County, the City of Salem, and DOGAMI partnered together on a unique project and received approximately $200,000 in grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to conduct a landslide hazard study and develop a model hillside development ordinance. Additionally, DOGAMI was able to use the project to document the process for developing regulations to address geologic hazards in Oregon, resulting in a technical reference manual that can be used by other jurisdictions. The joint landslide hazard project was funded through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program available to the State following the severe storm events and flooding in 1996 and 1997 which contributed to landslide activities throughout the State. The City and County utilized this grant to study landslide hazards in specific project areas, which resulted in the mapping and development of landslide hazard ordinances for each jurisdiction.
The landslide hazard study was a coordinated two-year project involving staff from the participating jurisdictions and utilized a project management team to carry out the work program. A Landslide Hazard Advisory Committee (LHAC) comprised of individuals representing various community interests and including engineers and geologists, provided policy guidance for the project and assistance in development of the slide hazard regulations. The project study areas were inventoried to identify the nature and causes for landslide problems with the areas characterized into different categories of landslide hazard susceptibility (low, moderate, and high categories) with recommendations for different mitigation measures and levels of further study on a site-by-site basis. The study was developed from existing data, field reconnaissance, and interpretation of aerial photos, digital elevation models, and groundwater data.
From November 1998 through January 2000, the project staff and the LHAC worked together to review landslide hazard issues, hillside development and other hazard ordinances from jurisdictions around the country. They developed a framework for landslide hazard regulations and draft landslide hazard ordinance provisions that were reviewed and refined by the LHAC, Oregon State Board of Geologic Examiners, members of the State Board of Engineering and Land Survey, and the staff of various city and county departments.
In June 2001, the Marion County Planning Division presented to the Marion County Board of Commissioners a draft ordinance to implement the provisions of a newly created Geologically Hazardous Areas Overlay Zone. The ordinance is similar to that adopted by the City of Salem, with point values assigned to particular development activities on certain properties that combine to exhibit a specified level of landslide risk. Depending on the level of risk, the applicant for a proposed development activity may be required to submit a geological assessment and/or a geotechnical report. (See the county’s Geologically Hazardous Areas Overlay Zone).

City of Salem
City of Salem Landslide Hazard Ordinance
In November 2000, the City of Salem adopted a landslide hazards ordinance that was developed in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Oregon Emergency Management Office, and DOGAMI, and serves as a model for addressing landslide hazards in urban areas. The ordinance was the first of its kind in Oregon. Salem's Landslides Hazards Ordinance takes a comprehensive approach to identifying areas subject to landslides, examining not only risks due to slope (as most landslide ordinances do), but also risks due to water-induced slides and earthquake-induced slides. See Salem's Community Development website.
The ordinance is based on landslide hazard maps produced by DOGAMI and provided to the City of Salem in both hard copy and GIS data layers. Building plans and development applications are evaluated based upon a point system that combines the landslide risk exhibited by the subject property (a function of soil types, slopes, underlying geological conditions, etc.) with the intensity of the proposed use. For example, a subdivision application receives a higher point value than a building permit application for a single-family dwelling.
For combined point values that represent Low Landslide Risk, no additional requirements are placed on the applicant beyond those otherwise associated with the development application. For applications with combined point values that exhibit Moderate Landslide Risk, the applicant is required to submit a geological assessment performed by a Certified Engineering Geologist that examines the soil and geological conditions of the site to determine if mitigation strategies will need to be employed to ensure safe development. A geotechnical report must be submitted by an applicant when a geological assessment finds that mitigation is necessary or when development applications exhibit High Landslide Risk. These reports must be prepared by a Geotechnical Engineer and contain, among other things, information regarding the adequacy of the proposed development from an engineering standpoint, conclusions regarding the effect of geologic conditions on the proposed development, and any recommended design and building features necessary to mitigate landslide hazard risks.
All incoming building plans and land use applications are screened by City staff using landslide hazard maps and GIS data to determine the level of landslide risk exhibited by the proposed activity and subject property. For those cases where it is determined that a proposed development activity will require a geological assessment and/or geotechnical report, City staff notifies and works with the applicant to ensure that the necessary steps are taken to minimize the risk to persons and property posed by landslides. Ideally, geological assessments and/or geotechnical reports will be performed at the subdivision level, where a developer can submit one report for the entire subdivision, instead of individual reports for each lot within a subdivision after it has been approved. This can reduce the amount of money spent by the developer and the amount of time spent by City staff processing and reviewing the reports. Marion County has adopted a similar landslide hazard ordinance.
Additional Resources
While the City of Salem Landslide Hazards Ordinance may work well for larger, urban areas, it may not be as appropriate for smaller, rural areas. This section provides a list of additional resources that may be helpful for smaller cities (coastal cities, in particular) in the development of ordinances and regulations to plan for and mitigate natural hazards.
  • Chronic Coastal Natural Hazards Model Overlay Zone
This document is a model ordinance (pdf) for regulating development in hazardous coastal areas. The model ordinance contains provisions to identify potentially hazardous coastal areas, specifies a methodology to assess the potential risks to life and property those hazards may pose, and reduces potential risks by requiring proper mitigation.
  • Littoral Cell Management Planning along the Oregon Coast
This document provides coastal planners and policy-makers with a structured system for assessing chronic hazard alleviation needs. Littoral Cell Management Planning (pdf) encourages assessment of coastal hazards at the scale of individual littoral cells or subcells. This improves consistency in the quality of hazard assessment when it is carried out on an area-wide scale, increases the effectiveness of hazard alleviation, minimizes potential for adverse impacts, and makes decision making more timely.
  • Appraisal of Chronic Hazard Alleviation Techniques is a PDF document
(See http://www.oregon.gov/LCD/HAZ/docs/landslides/achatx.pdf)  that is designed to serve as a guide that can be used by decision-makers at all levels to assess chronic coastal natural hazard alleviation options. This is an excellent tool for choosing the best hazard mitigation technique based on long-term vs. short-term scenarios and specifically looking at hazard avoidance options, options for wave attack, options for mass wasting, and indirect approaches to hazard mitigation.
  • Planning for Natural Hazards: Oregon Technical Resource Guide
    This document is designed to help local governments strengthen the natural hazards element of their comprehensive land use plans. The Guide provides information on how to identify, plan, and implement programs to address floods, landslides, wildfires, seismic, and coastal hazards. It is designed to be a useful tool for city clerks, planners, emergency managers, planning commissioners, elected officials, and residents. It provides information for communities to help implement both regulatory and non-regulatory programs to minimize the impact of natural hazards.
Download the chapters of the Resource Guide (in pdf format) by clicking on the appropriate link below. Some of these files are quite large. If you have trouble downloading or printing a file, please contact Ann Beier for a print or CD copy.
Introduction - Letter from the Director of the Department of Land Conservation and Development (626Kb)
Chapter 1 - Comprehensive Plan Review (1151 Kb)
Chapter 2 - Key Elements of a Comprehensive Plan (2331 Kb)
Chapter 3 - Legal Issues Guide (1751 Kb)
Chapter 4 - Flood Technical Resource Guide (2523 Kb)
Chapter 5 - Landslide Technical Resource Guide (1557 Kb)
Chapter 6 - Coastal Technical Resource Guide (2110 Kb)
Chapter 7 - Wildfire Technical Resource Guide (4983 Kb)
Chapter 8 - Seismic Technical Resource Guide (434 Kb)
Appendix A - Relevant Statewide Goals (cover page) (25 Kb)
Goal 2 (166 Kb)
Goal 7 (54 Kb)
Goal 17 (227 Kb)
Goal 18 (152 Kb)
Appendix B - Contacts (34 Kb)
Appendix C - Tools (55 Kb)  
The Resource Guide was prepared with assistance of the Community Planning Workshop at the University of Oregon.

Deschutes County
Transfer of Development Rights Programs
While Senate Bill 12 requires local governments to regulate development in areas subject to rapidly moving landslides, governments are also limited in their ability to restrict and/or prohibit development in such areas. However, Senate Bill 12 does provide local governments with an innovative option for helping shift development away from areas that exhibit higher landslide risks. This option is known as transferable development rights (TDRs), or transferable development credits (TDCs).
TDRs are used to help shift development away from some problem areas, such as those with high probably for rapidly moving landslides to other safer areas. Senate Bill 12 restricts the areas where development can be transferred, in a manner consistent with other state laws. For example, development would typically not be shifted to lands zoned for exclusive farm or forest use. In November 1999, DLCD awarded a grant to Douglas County to develop a model TDR program consistent with the provisions of Senate Bill 12.
Deschutes County's TDC Program
As of December 2000, Douglas County had determined that TDRs had not been implemented by any community in Oregon, except for the fact that Deschutes County was in the process of developing a TDC program in an effort to address concerns about ground water quality, wildlife habitat, and transportation and public facilities near the community of La Pine.
While Deschutes County's TDC program was not designed to shift development away from areas subject to landslides, it nevertheless serves as an example of how TDRs could be used by local governments attempting to implement the requirements of Senate Bill 12. South Deschutes County has experienced significant residential development on subdivision lots created in the1960s and1970s, before Oregon's statewide land use laws were in existence. The population in the area is widely dispersed and the lots are without services such as sewer, water, and paved roads. Because the area has a high water table, over time, groundwater in the area became increasingly polluted. In an effort to address these problems, the County decided to create a new neighborhood in an area that was more appropriate for residential development and that could be provided with public services.
Working in conjunction with private landowners and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the County rezoned nearly 600 acres of land to allow mixed residential uses. The new neighborhood created on this land will have fire hydrants and paved streets, and will be served by a sewer and water system. Unlike most residential lots, it will take more than just subdivision approval and building permits to develop in this neighborhood. The County will also require developers to purchase and submit TDCs, which involve the transfer of the former right to development from one parcel of land to another or from a "sending site" to a "receiving site."
In this case, the new 600-acre neighborhood will be the receiving site because a transferable development credit or TDC will be required in order to build residential buildings in this neighborhood The old subdivision lots from the 60s and 70s that formerly could develop but no longer can retain rights for development (in the form of TDCs) to be used to develop the new neighborhood. Therefore, anyone wishing to build in the new neighborhood will need to purchase sufficient TDCs from owners of vacant lots in the old subdivisions willing to sell their TDCs. Such exchanges will enable developers to build on lots in the new neighborhood, and will result in the placement of a "restrictive covenant" on the old subdivision properties from which the TDCs were sold. This covenant will restrict development on the property to a narrow set of specified uses that are considered to be more compatible with the carrying capacity and character of the area.
The success of this program hinges on, among other things, the willingness of developers to buy TDCs instead of choosing to develop in other areas of the county where purchase TDCs are not required and the willingness of existing property owners to sell their TDCs instead of holding them hoping for the area’s problems to be resolved so they can build on the particular subdivision they own. For more information, click on this link to the Deschutes County's TDC Program .
Lessons from Deschutes County
Deschutes County's TDC Program can possibly serve as a model for other communities in the implementation of Senate Bill 12. Specifically, local jurisdictions with areas subject to rapidly moving landslides can explore the possibility of setting up a TDR/TDC program to help direct new development away from high-risk areas to locations not threatened by natural hazards. This approach may not prove feasible for all communities, but is worth considering. For more information on developing and implementing a TDR program, contact DLCD.