All building development in the city must comply with the Zoning Code, regardless of other codes and permit requirements. A zoning permit is a permit for development that does not require a building permit.
Zoning permits verify that development complies with the Portland Zoning Code (Title 33) and Tree Code (Title 11). These Titles have requirements such as environmental and design standards, window and garage requirements, tree removal, planting and preservation, building coverage, building height, and setbacks.
When a zoning permit is required
- Creating a new or enlarged parking area or driveway, or paving a graveled parking area.
- Making any improvement required to resolve a code compliance case or demonstrate zoning compliance when development does not require a building permit, such as tree planting to meet tree density prior to land use approval.
- Development that does not require a building permit but is required by a condition of a land use review approval, such as a historic resource review approval, design review approval, or an environmental review approval.
- Proposing development that does not require a building permit but requires zoning compliance within some Plan Districts or Overlay Zones—such as Environmental overlay zones.
- Example: building a patio or deck in the environmental zones.
When a zoning permit is optional
For work that does not require a building permit, is not required by a land use condition of approval or to show compliance with a land use requirement, and is not in an overlay zone or plan district that restricts or limits the development.
- Build a fence up to seven feet high in compliance with Zoning Code requirements for fences
- Pave a walkway
- Build a patio or deck not more than 30 inches above grade
- Put up a small detached accessory building (such as a shed, garage, or carport) that is smaller than one which requires a residential building permit.
- Note: These buildings will count toward the building coverage and floor area limits in every zone; whether or not they are large enough to require a building permit.
- Repave a driveway where no expansion is proposed
Get help from a city planner before starting a project
Please call General Inquiries at 503-823-7300.
If you leave a message please 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.
Apply for a zoning permit
To apply for a zoning permit, complete the application linked above.
Plans that are drawn to scale are required for a zoning permit.
Based on the scope of work proposed, the following plans may be required:
- site plan
- grading plan
- landscape and tree plan
- floor plans
- exterior elevations
Submit your completed permit application and plans online through Development Hub PDX (DevHub).
Quick instructions to get you started on DevHub:
- Choose "Building Permit" in the Request Type dropdown menu.
- Enter "Zoning Permit" in the Description of Work field.
Click here for step-by-step instructions to submit a permit application request online.
Plan review process
Zoning permits are required when a building permit is not needed, but where planning staff must approve how the site will be used. Construction must follow the current building and zoning code standards.
The Bureau of Development Services’ Compliance Services section generally inspects zoning permits.
Inspection requests: Call the Requests for Inspection and Inspection Results phone number for more information.
Concrete/asphalt: If the zoning permit construction includes pouring concrete or asphalt, please call for an inspection. This should happen once the forms are placed, but before you pour. This will allow the inspector to check the form placement against the approved plans.
Curb cuts: For any curb cut, call the City of Portland’s Bureau of Transportation Street Systems at (503) 823-7002. This is to request an inspection of your curb cut (after the forms are placed but before you pour the concrete).
Read through the requirements for a zoning permit plan submittal here:
Schedule a 15-minute appointment
If you have questions after reviewing the information on this page, please schedule a free 15-minute appointment with a city planner.