Overview of the Zoning Code

Learn more about zoning regulations, the hierarchy of regulations, zoning code administration and land use services. Property owners can find information about the two options for required upgrades to nonconforming development. Get a nonconforming situation application online.
On this page

The Portland Zoning Code (Title 33) is intended to implement Portland’s Comprehensive (or long-range) Plan and related land use plans in a manner that protects the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Portland. The boundaries of the base zones, overlay zones and plan districts are shown on the official zoning maps of the City of Portland. The maps also show the location of historical landmarks, special street setbacks, and existing and planned public recreational trails.

Zoning regulations

There are several types of zoning regulations that may affect a property. You will need to research all of these regulations to determine what is allowed on your property.

  • Base Zones - All properties within the City of Portland have a base zone. There are residential zones, commercial zones, and employment and industrial zones.
  • Overlay Zones - Some properties have overlay zones that consist of regulations that address specific subjects in particular areas in the City. For example, the design overlay ‘d’ is applied to areas where design and neighborhood character are of special concern.
  • Plan Districts - Some areas of the City are located within plan districts that may have additional regulations that can impact a project.
  • Additional use and development regulations- Some uses and development types have additional regulations that apply. For example, school uses or parking lots have additional regulations that apply.

Hierarchy of regulations

In general, an area with base zoning, overlay zoning or an area in a plan district is subject to all of the regulations of each. Where a land division is requested, the land division regulations also must be met.

When the regulations conflict, unless specifically indicated otherwise, the following rules apply:

  • Plan district regulations supercede regulations in overlay zones, base zones and land division series of chapters.
  • Overlay zone regulations supercede regulations in base zones and land division series of chapters
  • Plan districts and overlay zones regulations also supercede conflicting regulations for a specific use or development stated in the additional use and development regulations series of chapters.
  • The regulations in the additional use and development regulations series of chapters supercede regulations in the land division series of chapters
  • When regulations at the same level conflict, those that are more specific to the situation apply

For more information on the hierarchy of the zoning code, view Chapter 33.700, Administration and Enforcement

Zoning code administration

Land Use Services administers the Portland Zoning Code (Title 33 of the City Code). The zoning code includes regulations proposed by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and adopted by City Council through a public legislative process.

The Portland Zoning Code is administered in the City of Portland and in some unincorporated areas of Multnomah County. The zoning code is designed to implement City, regional, state and some federal regulations.

Historic zoning and land division codes from past years can be found here.

Apply for a zoning permit

Before starting any project, please call and leave a message with the Planning and Zoning hotline at (503) 823-7526. Your message should include your name, the property address, your basic questions, and a call-back number for us to reach you. 

A Planner will return your call and help you determine the following: 

  • What types of plans you will need to submit with your zoning permit application

  • If there are any specific requirements

  • If the project requires a land use review before it may proceed

Planning and Zoning staff will help you understand the permit process and figure out next steps. 

Land use services

  • Provides planning and zoning assistance to homeowners, neighbors, developers, designers, contractors and interested citizens
  • Reviews permits to ensure that all applicable zoning code standards and regulations are met
  • Processes land use reviews, which involve judgement and discretion in determining compliance with approval criteria

Important forms and applications for nonconforming situations and nonconforming upgrades

Still need help?

If you have questions after reviewing the information on this page, please schedule a free 15-minute appointment with a city planner or set up an Early Assistance meeting for a deeper discussion.