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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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About the Residential Infill Project

Updating the rules for new construction in residential neighborhoods

The idea of expanding the types of housing available in residential neighborhoods is nothing new. Some of Portland’s best-known neighborhoods offer a wide variety of housing types, including duplexes, triplexes, and townhomes mixed in amongst single dwelling homes.

Over the past few decades, City rules for types of housing in residential neighborhoods have become more flexible by allowing accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and duplexes on corners. The rule changes the City has been studying over the past two years build on these early ideas to meet today’s greater housing needs.

Over the past two years, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has engaged Portlanders in the development of the proposed changes to our residential zoning rules through online surveys, open houses, public hearings, and e-mail updates, resulting in more than 15,000 comments and responses.

As part of our public engagement efforts, project staff convened a Stakeholder Advisory Committee comprised of community members, architects, developers and other affected Portlanders. Over the course of 18 months, they discussed issues and opportunities, ultimately helping to form a Concept Report that was presented to City Council. Council held public hearings and, with some amendments, approved the Concept Report in December of 2016.

Staff began developing the Zoning Code and map amendments needed to make the Council’s concepts rules for residential neighborhoods. In October of 2017 a Discussion Draft  was published and the public had a 2-month window of opportunity to comment on the proposals. Comments received informed the proposals in the Proposed Draft. that will go before the Planning and Sustainability Commission for public hearings, discussions and deliberations before they vote to recommend the plan to the City Council.

Project timeline


Smaller houses, more choices

The rule changes would address concerns about rising housing costs and large new structures in three significant ways:

  1. Requiring smaller houses that better fit existing neighborhoods.
  2. Creating more housing choices for people’s changing needs.
  3. Establishing clear and fair rules for narrow lot development.

One piece of the larger housing affordability puzzle

It’s important to recognize that updating the residential zoning code is part of a larger effort to address housing affordability in Portland. Expanding the kinds of housing choices that are available in our residential neighborhoods is an important step to give more people the opportunity to live close to schools, parks, and jobs at a variety of price points. But it’s only one part of a larger, coordinated effort to address the city’s housing crisis.

The good news is, City and regional leaders are addressing the housing crisis on many other fronts, including:

  • A $258 million affordable housing bond passed on the November 2016 ballot that will create 1,300 newly affordable homes over the next several years.
  • Newly created revenue streams for affordable housing, such as the construction excise tax and the accessory short-term rental fund.
  • Affordable housing incentives for multi-family housing projects through the MULTE program.
  • A collaborative effort to address homelessness through the Joint Office of Homeless Services by connecting thousands of people with housing, employment, health and emergency services.
  • An inclusionary housing program that requires affordable housing units in new multi-family residential development and provides additional incentives for creating affordable housing units.
  • New tenant protections, including relocation costs for no-cause evictions or large rent increases.