After completing the first step, Research Information Needed for Your Permit, the next step is to getting a permit is to learn more about zoning regulations.
“Zoning,” regulations are a set of rules about development that are adopted by the City of Portland’s City Council with input from neighbors, interested groups, and many other citizens. The Zoning regulations for Portland are contained in City Title 33, also called the, “Zoning Code.” In addition, another City Code (Title 11: Trees) contains rules that control tree preservation and planting requirements on private property, which can sometimes have a large impact on the development of property.
Those two City codes control what kinds of activities and development can occur on most property. The Land Use Services group in the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) makes sure development projects comply with City Title 33 Planning and Zoning and City Title 11 (Trees). Land Use Services does this by reviewing development proposals against these codes in building permit approval processes and in processes called, “Land Use Reviews.”
Planning and zoning: base zones, overlay zones and plan districts
You can find the zoning of a property on Portland Maps.
Zoning regulations affect all new construction, as well as most changes to development that already exists. Zoning rules also apply to property line changes and most site activity including some tree cutting and landscaping.
All properties in the City of Portland have a “base zone.” A base zone explains what types of uses and activities can occur on a property. Base zones also explain the rules for how big development can be, where it can be located on properties, and many other things. For example, properties with a base zone designation that starts with the letter, “R” can be used mainly for residential uses with some exceptions. Commercial uses (businesses) are mainly located in base zones that start with the letter, “C,” or sometimes, “E or I.” Find more information on the Base Zones webpage.
Standards to follow
Some properties may also have additional standards you must follow:
- Overlay zones
- Plan Districts
- Historic & Conservation Districts
- Rules for Historic Landmark buildings
- If the rules for development in all the levels of zoning above are followed, most development projects only need a permit issued by BDS before construction can begin. However, some sites and projects will need a Land Use Review. A Land Use Review is a detailed evaluation of requirements that are called, “Approval Criteria.”
Types of land use reviews
There are six types of land use reviews: Type I, Ix, II, IIx, III and IV.
Type I, Ix, II, and IIx reviews are made by Development Services, who evaluate the proposal against the Approval Criteria. Type III and IV reviews involve a public hearing before the decision is made. In these reviews, Development Services evaluate the proposal against approval criteria and make recommendation to decision-makers in a public hearing where neighbors and interested parties are allowed to attend and comment.
More information can be found here:
Land use review process review time
The length of time necessary for each land use review will vary depending on the procedure type. Incomplete applications will lengthen the review time. In general, a land use review will take from 2 to 6 months.
Getting answers to your questions about Zoning and Land Use Reviews
For general questions, contact the Zoning Information Line. You can also set up an appointment to speak with Land Use Services staff.
There are different types of Early Assistance Zoning available to help you get more detailed advice about the Zoning and Tree Code allowances on your property. Those options are listed on the Early Assistance webpage.
If the property is in unincorporated Multnomah County (not in City of Portland) the City of Portland’s Zoning and Tree Code regulations may apply. The City administers City zoning to many unincorporated properties through an agreement between the two governments. However, there are some areas, like Sauvie Island, where the City does not apply our Zoning requirements. To find out what Zoning requirements apply, you can contact Multnomah County.
When you are ready to submit a Land Use Review Application, you can find out how to do that on this webpage.
Next steps to getting a permit or land use review in the City of Portland
You might also want to Research Information Needed for Your Permit, read Contractor License Requirements, Find a Contractor, learn Who Can Cancel a Permit?, read about Permitting and Other Bureaus or Report a Problem.