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Summary of Proposals

Two people standing in middle of a building courtyard with many strands of string lights overhead
The DOZA proposal is organized into five topic areas: Purpose, Map, Thresholds, Process, and Tools.
On this page

This page provides a high-level overview of the proposals. 

For a detailed summary of the proposals, view Volume 1 Staff Report:

For all code proposals (1-4 and 5b, below), view Volume 2 Code and Map Amendments:

For the Portland Citywide Design Guidelines (5a, below), view Volume 3:

1. Purpose

What is the purpose of the Design overlay zone?

Revise the purpose statement for the Design overlay zone to reflect the goals and policies in the new Comprehensive Plan, including the three tenets of design: build on context, contribute to public realm, and promote quality and long-term resilience.

33.420.010 Purpose

The Design overlay zone ensures that Portland is both a city designed for people and a city in harmony with nature. The Design overlay zone supports the city’s evolution within current and emerging centers of civic life. The overlay promotes design excellence in the built environment through the application of additional design standards and design guidelines that:

  • Build on context by enhancing the distinctive physical, natural, historic and cultural qualities of the location while accommodating growth and change;
  • Contribute to a public realm that encourages social interaction and fosters inclusivity in people’s daily experience; and
  • Promotes quality and long-term resilience in the face of changing demographics, climate and economy.

2. Map

What is changing in the design overlay map?

Remove the Design overlay zone from single-dwelling-zoned properties except for the Terwilliger Design District. This includes areas in and around Sellwood-Moreland, Hillsdale, Macadam, Floyd Light Middle School and North Prescott.

Map of Portland showing areas of existing overlay zone and proposed changes.
Concept map of existing overlay zones and proposed changes in Portland.

View a detailed concept map of the proposed changes in Volume 1 of the Recommended Draft:

3. Thresholds

How will the thresholds be enacted?

a. Establish review thresholds based on the size and scale of a project, with the goal of aligning the level of review with the project’s level of impact on the community. Require a higher level of review for larger projects and a lower level of review (or exemption) for smaller projects and alterations.

Flowchart for exempt versus non-exempt development proposals.
Zoning code sections and proposed revisions: 33.420.045 Items Exempt From This Chapter - describes which development proposals do not need to follow the design overlay regulations. 33.420.050 Design Standards - describes which development proposals may not use the Design Standards. 33.825.025 Review Procedures - describes the development proposal size thresholds for Type I, II, and III land use reviews (based on size of development).

b. Expand the list of projects that are exempt or subject to a lower level of review in the Central City Plan District. Expand the number of small projects and alterations that use a Type II and Type I review procedure and exempt certain smaller alterations.

c. Allow smaller projects in the Gateway Plan District to use design standards. Allow projects under 35 feet high to use design plan check (design standards) as an alternative to a design review.

Explore more detailed thresholds for areas inside and outside of the Central City:

4. Process

How is Design Review changing?

The public listens during a hearing at the Design Commission and awaits to give testimony.
The public listens during a hearing at the Design Commission and awaits to give testimony.

a. Limit the number of design advice requests in design review and historic resource review processes.

b. Update the Design Commission membership to require an expert in natural resources and an expert in sustainable building practices. Clarify the remaining membership to allow landscape architects, architects and urban planners as industry experts and clarify that the public-at-large member is independent of these industries.

c. Make administrative improvements to the efficiency and transparency of the design review process.

d. Clarify that the design review process cannot require a reduction of proposed floor area ratio (FAR) or height of the project, if they are allowed within the zone, except in limited cases.

e. Clarify that mitigation may be required to lessen the impacts of modifications.

5. Tools

What are the tools used to evaluate projects in the Design overlay zone?

a. Portland Citywide Design Guidelines – Create new approval criteria for design review for areas outside the Central City. Use the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan and the three tenets of design (context; public realm; and quality and resilience) as a framework.

b. Design Standards – Create new objective standards for areas in the Design overlay zone (d-overlay) outside Central City that sync with the new Portland Citywide Design Guidelines. Use the goals and policies of the Comprehensive Plan and the three tenets of design (context; public realm; and quality and resilience) as a framework.

Read more about the new tools.