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About the DOZA project

Purpose, background, timeline, and contact information for the DOZA project.
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Project purpose

The design of places matters because people experience their built environment daily. Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan reaffirms the City’s commitment to grow up — not out. To do so, our city will see larger and denser development than the built environment today.

Over the next 20 years, 60% of projected housing units will be built in Portland’s highest capacity centers and corridors, like Lents, Hollywood, Gateway, and the Central City. These populated areas are zoned with design overlay or d overlay. That’s why the City of Portland is updating its d-overlay zone to ensure that new development meets the needs of current and future residents.

The Design Overlay Zone Amendments (DOZA) project is updating the tools and processes for Portland’s d-overlay and design review program, and we want to share the latest drafts of changes recommended by the Planning and Sustainability Commission and the Design Commission.

Project values

The DOZA proposal restructures the processes and tools for Portland’s design overlay zone and design review program to ensure they move us toward the future described in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan and Climate Action Plan.

This proposal advances the following value statements:

  • The design of places is important because people experience their built environment every day .
  • The principles of design can be discussed in everyday language.
  • Good design does not have to be expensive and people living in affordable housing should benefit from quality, well-designed places.
  • Portland’s densest places should not exclusively promote Western European architecture but instead encourage designs that are inclusive, focusing on how its architecture and site planning can provide comfort, safety and dignity to residents, workers, and visitors.
  • Design priorities in Portland are expressed through three tenets: build on context, contribute to public realm, and promote quality and resilience.
    • Build on context: The design of new development should expand and amplify the character and identity of a place and its community, rather than diminish it.
    • Contribute to public realm: Design should consider the human experience from the public realm and throughout the site, not just how a building looks from the street. 
    • Promote quality and resilience: Buildings should be designed to last beyond today’s users and needs, to ensure that future generations will retain and adapt them.

Project background and timeline

Graphic depicting timeline: Discussion draft in Feb 2019, Proposed Draft in Sept 2019, Recommended Draft in Nov 2020, Adopted in Spring 2021.


In 2016, the Bureaus of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) and Development Services (BDS) hired a consultant team to assess the City’s design overlay zone (d-overlay). The result was the Design Overlay Zone Assessment, which included a set of findings and recommendations to improve the process and tools that implement the d-overlay. City Council voted to accept the report in April 2017. Staff began work on the DOZA Discussion Draft, released in February 2019.

Discussion Draft

Between February and May 2019, staff conducted a total of 61 open houses, meetings, focus groups, and briefings to introduce the proposed legislation in the Discussion Draft to the public. Overall, staff received approximately 1,100 comments from 97 different participants, including individuals; bureaus, agencies, and commissions; organizations and advocacy groups; and neighborhood groups.

Proposed Draft

In September 2019, staff released the DOZA Proposed Draft. A special joint hearing of the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) and the Design Commission was held on October 22, following a joint briefing on October 5. Testimony was submitted to the City’s Map App testimony program and in person at the hearing. At the conclusion of the public hearing, the two Commissions held the record open for additional written testimony until November 15 and began their deliberations. In total, the city received 168 distinct pieces of testimony.

In August 2020, after providing amendments to each of the Volumes, both Commissions unanimously approved the DOZA proposals.

Recommended Draft

The Recommended Draft was released in November 2020. The next step is for the City Council hearings to take place. View the DOZA project homepage for the latest information.

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