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City Council votes to adopt Better Housing by Design


Plans Examiner Newsletter


On March 1, 2020 the new regulations approved through the Better Housing by Design project will take effect. The previous multi-dwelling zoning on the zoning map (R3, R2, R1, and RH) will be changed to new designations (RM1, RM2, RM3, RM4) as part of this project. The code regulations within the multi-dwelling zones are also changing. A major change is the regulating of development intensity by floor area rather than by dwelling units.

The Better Housing by Design amendments will:

  • Expand housing options by providing more flexibility for numbers of units, with new incentives for affordable housing. City Council added a new bonus option for ownership housing and expanded affordable housing parking exemptions in both the multi-dwelling and mixed-use zones.
  • Address needs for residential outdoor space with new requirements for outdoor areas in higher density zones and common areas for large sites. Council exempted indoor common areas from building floor area limits, which means no net loss of space for residential units.
  • Ensure new development contributes to pedestrian-friendly streets and relates to the context of the neighborhood.
  • Provide development standards specific to East Portland and help create needed street connections, in partnership with the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Connected Centers Street Plan.
  • Change the Zoning Map and higher density zoning in historic districts to balance historic preservations goals with incentives for affordable housing. Amendments allow for development bonuses, primarily for affordable housing, to be used in historic districts in both the multi-dwelling and mixed-use zones. To discourage demolition of older buildings, Council added limitations to bonuses on sites where historic buildings have been demolished.

The details of the code and map amendments adopted by City Council are now available online.