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City Council to consider amendments to design review proposals

News Article
After receiving testimony on the Design Overlay Zone Amendments project to update and streamline the design review process, commissioners will discuss their amendments at a work session on May 26 at 2 pm.

After listening to dozens of people testify on May 12, City Council closed the public hearing on the Design Overlay Zone Amendments (DOZA) proposals but kept the record open for written testimony through May 14. More than 50 people spoke at the hearing, and over 200 pieces of written testimony were submitted through the city’s Map App.

Testimony on the joint recommendation of the Planning & Sustainability Commission (PSC) and Design Commission ranged from full support of the project to concerns about the proposals. Some themes among those who testified included:

  • Support for the use of objective design standards in lieu of design review to facilitate development applications for housing construction.
  • A desire for more sensitivity regarding affordable housing issues during design review process.
  • A concern that creating citywide standards and guidelines will further erode the character of individual neighborhoods and business districts.  
  • A desire for more transparency and local control over the review of projects, including the use of community-generated Main Street guidelines.
  • A desire to expand other mapping and regulatory tools such as the Centers Main Streets Overlay to ensure that neighborhood nodes such as those in Arbor Lodge do not lose ground floor retail.
  • Both opposition to and support for the PSC’s recommendation to raise the threshold from 55 to 75 ft for projects that could use point-based design standards instead of design review.

Over the next few weeks, City Council will consider amendments to the DOZA proposals. Commissioners will meet again to discuss them on May 26 at 2 pm. Testimony will not be taken at that time, but community members can watch the City Council meeting live. After commissioners discuss and perhaps refine the amendments, the Mayor may schedule another public hearing on only those amendments.  

About the project

The DOZA project is updating the tools and processes for Portland’s d-overlay and design review program, which apply to Portland’s highest density places. The DOZA proposals to amend the d-overlay were unanimously approved by both the Planning and Sustainability Commission and the Design Commission in Summer 2020. The Commissions spent more than seven months reviewing, hearing testimony about, and deliberating over changes.

Read more about the DOZA project, including the project values.For more information about Design Overlay Zones, view the d-overlay zone basics.


Phil Nameny

City Planner II, Planning and Sustainability