Major Updates To The Portland’s Housing-related Zoning Rules

New housing-related zoning code changes in Portland recently went into effect, vastly expanding opportunities for the City, private and nonprofit developers to increase the supply of housing in the area.

Over the past year, Portland City Council approved the Design Overlay Zone Amendments (DOZA) project, the Shelter to Housing Continuum (S2HC) project, and the Residential Infill Project (RP). Each project includes significant changes to streamline reviews, enhance the built environment, provide for more inclusive neighborhoods, and better address the needs of our City’s houseless population. Highlights of these changes include:

Design Overlay Zones Amendment Project — Adopted on June 30, 2021, DOZA updates and improves the City’s design review process and regulatory tools. The changes will allow more multi-family housing and mixed-use projects to go directly to the permit process, saving time and money. It also provides flexibility and variety to the design standards to give architects and builders more options for meeting design requirements.

Residential Infill Project — City Council adopted RIP, including the deeper affordability bonus and the historic resource demolition disincentive amendments, on August 12, 2020. Considered a landmark zoning reform, RIP will open Portland’s residential neighborhoods to more — and less expensive — housing types for current and future Portlanders. Most changes — including rezones, new overlay zones, increased options for housing, and limits on building scale — go into effect on Aug. 1, 2021. The adopted ordinance and supporting documents are available on the project website.

Shelter to Housing Continuum — City Council adopted the S2HC zoning code amendment package on April 28, 2021. The approved code changes expand where homeless shelters are allowed, add a new shelter format (outdoor shelters), and allow group living more broadly, as well as limited occupancy of an RV or tiny house on wheels. The shelter-related elements of the package went into effect immediately upon adoption. The group living and RV/tiny house on wheels elements took effect on August 1. The adopted ordinance and supporting documents, exhibits, and findings are available on the project website.

Building permit applications submitted prior to August 1 will be subject to the zoning code currently in effect – not the provisions of the new rules. Applications submitted after August 1 will need to meet the new rules and may take advantage of new allowances and review thresholds. The Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) is now accepting inquiries related to the zoning code changes.

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