The City of Portland requires zoning permits even when a building permit is not needed. Planning staff still needs to verify and approve how the site is used and developed. Construction must follow the current building and zoning code standards.
Click here for step-by-step instructions to submit a permit application request online or in-person.
When a zoning permit is required
- Building or installing a garage, carport or other accessory structure. This applies when it is less than or equal to 200 square feet in area and less than ten feet in height at the highest point. This is to confirm the location on the site complies with zoning code requirements.
- Creating a new or enlarged parking area or driveway, or paving a graveled parking area.
- Making improvements required as a condition of a land use review approval which doesn’t need a building permit. Land use reviews include adjustments, conditional uses, design review, etc.
- Making changes to exterior development, including site work such as constructing a patio or deck that is more than 30 inches above grade. Or clearing trees or installing landscaping in any zone with restrictions on development.
When a zoning permit is not required*
- Build a fence (not in the front setback) up to seven feet high
- Pave a walkway
- Build a patio or deck not more than 30 inches above grade
- Put up a shed or small detached accessory building. This applies when it is less than or equal to 200 square feet in area and less than 10 in height measured from the finish floor level to the average height of the roof (out of the required setbacks).
- Repave a driveway where no expansion has occurred
*Except in an environmental zone, the Johnson Creek Basin Plan District or in another special overlay zone or plan district where a zoning permit is required.
Apply for a zoning permit
If you have questions before starting a project, please call and leave a message with Planning and Zoning. 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.
Zoning permit application requirements
Read through the requirements for a zoning permit plan submittal here:
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).