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Transfer of Development Credits Program

Measure 49 allows counties to create a Transfer of Development Credits (TDC) program that would provide landowners with an opportunity to obtain value from Measure 49 (M49) dwelling authorizations without the cost of construction. Development rights may be transferred from farm, forest, or coastal lands to areas with existing residential development. Some transfers are eligible for bonus credits which provides an additional financial incentive for landowners.

A TDC program benefits landowners with M49 authorizations while preserving land for farming, forestry, and wildlife habitat. It also reduces development costs by allowing more dwellings in areas that have existing roads and utilities and are not prone to natural hazards.

To find Measure 49 properties with development rights, see the online Measure 49 Analyzer tool.

How does the TDC Program work?

A county must first adopt a local TDC ordinance before transfers can occur in that county. The ordinance will set criteria for eligible sending properties, receiving areas, and potential bonus credits. Landowners may then, on a voluntary basis, transfer their development interests in accordance with the local ordinance.

  • Sending Properties – The property that is giving up Measure 49 home site authorizations. To be eligible, sending properties must:
    • Have unused Measure 49 dwelling approvals;
    • Have legal access; and
    • Be zoned for resource use or be in an area designated as high priority for protection.
  • Receiving Areas – The area that is receiving the transferred Measure 49 development. A receiving area gets a smaller minimum parcel size than the current zoning allows, but no less than two acres. For example, a receiving area with a current minimum lot size of five or ten acres may be developed with two acre lots to receive TDC development. In addition, receiving areas:
    • May only be in existing Rural Residential exception zones or in substantially-developed pre-acknowledgment subdivisions in resource zones, based on a new type of reasons exception under OAR Division 4;
    • May consist of entire parcels or portions of parcels that meet the criteria in the TDC rules;
    • Must be chosen to avoid development on lands with important natural or cultural resource values or vulnerable to natural hazards and to minimize impacts to nearby farm and forest operations;
    • Should be attractive to developers and acceptable to the public.
  • Bonus Credits – Counties may choose to award bonus credits to encourage Measure 49 owners to transfer development from highly valued resource lands to areas zoned for residential development. Bonus credits may be awarded where property owners agree to protect the land through restrictive covenants or conservation easements. Possible conservation easement holders include land trusts, state agencies, soil and water conservation districts, counties, or similar public or not-for-profit conservation entities.

For more information, see the Step-by-Step Guide for Transfers of Measure 49 Dwelling Authorizations and Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 660, Division 29.

Resources for Counties

DLCD can help counties adopt a TDC system by providing technical assistance, data, and mapping. The TDC Step-by-Step process document explains the county and DLCD roles in converting, transferring, using, and tracking TDCs. Receiving areas may be designated by the county as part of ordinance development or may be designated as TDC applications are received. DLCD encourages counties to process development applications using TDCs through an administrative review process. Counties may partner with other local counties to allow credit transfers across county boundaries.

For more information, see the Step-by-Step Guide for Transfers of Measure 49 Dwelling Authorizations and Oregon Revised Statutes ORS 660-029-0000.

Please contact us if you want help with writing an ordinance, restrictive covenant, or anything else to get a TDC program going.

Opportunities for Conservation

When a conservation easement is required to enable a landowner to obtain bonus credits, a holder of that easement must be identified. The department encourages land trusts, soil and water conservation districts and other state agencies to consider acquiring and holding easements on Measure 49 properties, particularly larger properties of 20 acres and more. The department is willing to be a secondary holder of such easements. Income generated from the sale of TDCs could be used in a revolving fund to acquire conservation easements on additional Measure 49 properties.

Organizations that wish to help transfer development from valuable resource lands by acquiring conservation easements or purchasing TDCs, can use the Measure 49 Analyzer to find potential properties.

Other Resources


Hilary Foote
Farm/Forest Specialist
Phone: 503-881-9249

Sarah Marvin
Measure 49 Specialist
Phone: 503-559-1380