Action Alerts – Better Housing by Design

By 5:00pm June 25, 2018:

The public comment deadline for the Proposed Draft of Better Housing by Design, the project covering reforms to Portland’s multi-dwelling (apartment) zones, has been extended! We now have 5:00pm on Monday June 25 to submit comments.

There are two ways to testify:

1.  ON JUNE 12, attend the Planning & Sustainability Commission hearing to testify in person (4:00pm, 2305 SE 82nd Avenue), or

2.  BEFORE 5:00PM ON MONDAY JUNE 25, submit testimony in writing:

  • Comment either on the project as a whole or on specific properties using the online Map App, or
  • Mail comment letters to:  Planning & Sustainability Commission  |  Residential Infill Testimony  |  1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100  |  Portland OR 97201

Coalition member organizations will finalize our feedback letter on the Proposed Draft soon. However, we think many of our main points will be very similar to those we shared in our Discussion Draft coalition feedback letterAs always, many coalition members will also submit their own additional comments focused on their area(s) of expertise. 

Help make sure that we’re adding enough homes, and adding homes at price-points that more Portlanders can afford.

So far, we believe the following changes are necessary to improve the proposal’s ability to meet these goals:

Summary of Key Recommendations:

  • Increase maximum Floor Area Ratios (FARs) and bonuses in RM1, RM2, and RM3 so that there is a discernible difference between standards currently being proposed for Portland’s neighborhood residential zones and denser multi-dwelling zones.
  • Increase minimum densities so that truly multi-dwelling developments will occur in the relatively little amount of space where these zones are mapped.
  • Increase height allowances in many zones to give greater flexibility across projects, including bonus utilization, layout, tree preservation, and other factors.
  • Reduce standard front setbacks to 0’ and side setbacks to 5’ across all multi-dwelling zones. If building code and window standards are still met, allow side setbacks to be reduced to 3’ in RM1 and RM2, and to 0’ in RM4 and RM4.
  • Reduce minimum requirements for sites 7,500 square feet or less, including landscaping.
  • Adjust open space requirements to yield more desirable building forms, site layouts, and more use-able shared spaces.
  • Consider where maximum heights, FAR limits and/or step-down requirements may unintentionally render affordable housing bonuses unusable, counter to the proposal’s intentions.
  • Ensure that affordable housing development is feasible in East Portland: Don’t layer on so many conditions in pursuit of perfect urban form that affordable housing development is stymied. Also, consider spending increased staff time, attention, and resources on how to encourage affordable housing development and beautiful urban form appropriate for East Portland over spending additional resources on Inner Ring neighborhoods.
  • Map more higher-density multi-dwelling zones along key corridors. There are a few places in particular where up-zoning would help implement the Comprehensive Plan.
  • Ensure that substantially more rental housing will be provided, not just for-sale.


We have until 5:00pm on Monday, June 25 to submit testimony on the Proposed Draft to the Planning & Sustainability Commission. To compare changes between current code  and this Proposed Draft, see this helpful development standard comparison summary  


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