Portland is at a crossroads. Unlike some cities, Portland still has choices within reach to become a more equitable, affordable place to live for families of all incomes. One set of choices will strengthen the ability of all to live, work, and play throughout Portland, with increased access to reliable transportation and open spaces. Another set of choices will squeeze those of middle and low incomes out of the city and increase homelessness, with disproportionate impact on people of color, immigrants and refugees, and the elderly, taking them away from employment centers, transportation options, and their communities.
Key decisions being made in 2016-2018 will help determine Portland’s housing availability and affordability for a generation to come, such as:
- Revisions to Portland’s comprehensive plan and zoning maps, which determine where Portland will allow all kinds of housing developments for the next 20+ years.
- A major zoning code update for Portland’s neighborhoods, potentially allowing more diverse housing options, increasing flexibility, and reducing needless demolitions.
- A complete re-write of mixed-use zoning regulations impacting housing and business uses in centers and corridors, including implementation of the city’s new Inclusionary Housing program.
- A revision of Portland’s Transportation System Plan, covering public transit priorities, bicycle/pedestrian routes, neighborhood parking plans, and capital project planning priorities.
- Adoption and implementation of comprehensive plan policies, regulations, and investments to prevent and mitigate involuntary displacement from neighborhoods.
Portland for Everyone is a growing coalition of individuals, affordable housing advocates, community-based, transportation, and environmental organizations, neighborhoods, and local businesses, who advocate for abundant, diverse, and affordable housing options. Together, we urge Portland City Council to make inclusive and equitable planning and land use policy decisions that will expand housing choices and availability to better meet the needs of ALL our residents.
Here are some of the projects currently underway, that Portland for Everyone makes sure the full community is aware of and ready to comment on:
Residential Infill Project
The Residential Infill Project will decide what kinds of housing are allowed to be built in Portland’s residential neighborhoods (areas zoned R2.5-R20). The zoning reform project is considering strategies to address the scale and design of new construction, homes on narrow lots, and “middle” housing options, like duplexes, triplexes, and cottage clusters. Portland for Everyone also summarized the latest version of the proposal here on our blog.
Better Housing By Design
Portland is also revising it’s development and design standards for multi-dwelling zones (R3, R2, R1 and RH) outside the Central City. These medium- to high-density residential zones provide opportunities for new housing to meet the needs of a growing Portland. The housing types allowed in these areas range from duplexes and townhouses to large apartment buildings.
We expect both the Residential Infill Project an Better Housing by Design to be considered before the Planning & Sustainability Commission in April-June 2018, and before Portland City Council in November-December, 2018.
Other Key Planning & Housing Projects
We have also submitted testimony to Council and other decision-makers on more important projects that could have a big impact on Portland’s housing. Here is some of our testimony on other projects (many of which help implement Portland’s Comprehensive Plan Update):
Design Overlay Zone Assessment project letter
Central City 2035 plan letter
Parking Minimums in Multi-Use and Commercial Zones letter
In March of 2016, the Oregon Legislature passed a law that, for the first time, allows cities to use inclusionary zoning as a tool to provide more affordable housing. Housing Land Advocates has a great summary of inclusionary zoning, here. The City of Portland then developed a plan that will require developers to build affordable housing units in predetermined areas of the City.
Portland for Everyone’s main work on this project has been to support coalition members and other partners who led the work advocating for a strong Inclusionary Housing policy, and to continue to report on project implementation & updates. Here is our coalition’s letter in support of a strong new Inclusionary Housing policy.