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Portland, Oregon

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Updates to neighborhood contact code requirements revised by PSC, heading to City Council

On the heels of the newly adopted 2035 Comprehensive Plan, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability created the Neighborhood Contact Code Update Project. This project is intended to make information more available to more people more consistently about new large buildings in their neighborhoods.

On August 14, 2018, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) deliberated on proposed changes to the current Neighborhood Contact zoning code requirements. These draft rules are intended to help people learn about new development where they live, work and visit. Watch the PSC discussion on our YouTube channel (conversation starts at 9:10).

What are the changes?

The current code generally requires that developers of some new projects send a certified letter to the relevant neighborhood association. The letter is required to offer an informational meeting to the neighborhood group.

The proposed changes would require that developers for projects:

Adding more than 10,000 square feet

  • Post a sign onsite with a summary of the project and contact information for the developer.
  • Send an informational email to NA, district coalition, business association and school district by email.

 

Adding more than 25,000 square feet

In addition to the sign and email described above, hold a public informational meeting. The project developer, not the neighborhood association, is responsible for ensuring the meeting takes place.

The proposal includes other changes, including allowing the applicant to contact the neighborhood association, district coalition, business association and school district by email or mail instead of certified mail.

Public testimony

The PSC heard from seven people during a public hearing earlier in the summer and received 29 pieces of written testimony.

Testifiers made the case for changes to the proposed zoning code amendments, which the Commission considered in developing revisions to the document. Testifiers shared their experiences with neighborhood contact meetings, their preferences for information availability and what they thought should be changed in the proposal.

Testifiers’ desired changes were sometimes conflicting: Some testifiers argued that the triggers for notice should be increased or decreased; others that neighborhood associations should retain control of the meetings – or not.

The written and verbal testimony can be reviewed in the Testimony Reader.

PSC action and next steps

After reviewing the testimony and discussing the proposals, the PSC presented their proposals to change the zoning code amendments. Commissioner Chris Smith proposed more detail to the requirements for meeting logistics. He also proposed a requirement that the Bureau of Development Services provide online access to neighborhood contact information provided by developers. The Commission also approved staff amendments and a proposal by Commissioner Michelle Rudd to revise references to “the community” to “members of the community.”

The document will be revised by staff to incorporate the amendments and released to City Council as the “Recommended Draft.” City Council will review the proposal and hear public testimony in the fall or winter, followed by a vote to adopt the changes to the zoning code.

Questions? Learn more