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Residential Infill Stakeholder Advisory Committee discusses alternative housing options that would promote middle housing types

The Residential Infill Project (RIP) is developing regulatory concepts that address the scale of new housing and remodels as well as appropriate types and locations for alternative housing options in single-dwelling zones.

Alternative housing options support middle housing
At their April 5 meeting, the RIP Advisory Committee (SAC) discussed alternative housing options that would promote relatively smaller, less expensive residential units in portions of select single-dwelling zones. This type of housing – typically in the form of duplexes, tri- and fourplexes, garden apartments, and cottage clusters – is referred to as “middle housing”; housing types between single-family homes and multi-family apartments. Middle housing accommodates a greater diversity of household sizes, incomes and ages, and serves the changing needs of households over time.

City Council amendment
The Residential Infill  SAC discussion corresponds with a City Council amendment to the Comprehensive Plan Update that encourages the production of more middle housing in Portland. The amendment (#P45 on page 22 of the amendment report) would add the following language to Chapter 5, Housing of the Portland Comprehensive Plan:

Enable and encourage development of middle housing. This includes multi-unit or clustered residential buildings that provide relatively smaller, less expensive units; more units; and a scale transition between the core of the mixed use center and surrounding single family areas. Apply zoning that would allow this within a quarter mile of designated centers, where appropriate, and within the Inner Ring around the Central City.

In the amendment report, staff noted that policy support for middle housing in general is already part of the Recommended Draft Comp Plan forwarded by the Planning and Sustainability Commission to the City Council. However, this additional new policy takes the concept further; it reflects greater understanding from the Comp Plan process about the need for and benefits of middle housing. It also acknowledges that middle housing is particularly valuable for meeting equity and affordability goals, when located in high opportunity areas such as centers.

Staff also noted that implementation of this policy will entail extensive consultation with the public on the form, amount and location of middle housing appropriate to meet Comprehensive Plan goals. 

Public hearings on Comp Plan amendments
City Council has scheduled public hearings on April 14 and 20 to hear testimony on all their amendments to the Recommended Comprehensive Plan, including this middle housing amendment. Read more about the Comp Plan amendments.

Next steps and public input for Residential Infill Project
Project staff are preparing for public review of the Residential Infill Project’s regulatory concepts this summer. Outreach events have not been finalized, but they will include a series of open houses throughout the city, targeted outreach to stakeholders who were not well represented in our previous public outreach survey, as well as providing information to other interested groups.

If your group/organization is interested in learning more about this project, please contact Julia Gisler (see below) to discuss ways to engage your group. Staff may be available to attend a meeting or share information about the project in other ways.

For more information about the Residential Infill Project visit the project website at or contact Julia Gisler at 503-823-7624 or