About the Housing Regulatory Relief Project

Multifamily housing under construction
The Housing Regulatory Relief Project creates temporary waivers and permanent changes to zoning regulations to provide regulatory relief in the building of housing projects. It addresses several issues identified in the housing production survey conducted by the Bureau of Development Services.

Project summary and background

The Housing Regulatory Relief Project aims to increase housing production by providing regulatory relief for developers and builders of apartments and mixed-use development. The project creates both temporary waivers and permanent changes to zoning regulations. The project addresses many of the zoning code issues identified in a housing production survey conducted by the Portland Bureau of Development Services in early 2023. The survey sought input on policies to reconsider that increase housing production. Additional amendments address issues raised by city staff.

Project scope

The Housing Regulatory Relief Project includes a set of zoning code amendments that temporarily waive or reduce some zoning code standards, along with more permanent amendments that clarify the zoning regulations. The temporary waivers and reductions would last 5 years. And unless otherwise stated, the temporary waivers and reductions apply to development that includes residential units. There are currently 15 amendments that are grouped into four categories. (Note: The proposed suspension of the bird-safe grazing requirement was removed by the Planning Commission in their recommendation.):

Development standards

  1. Bicycle parking: Temporarily reduce the number of bike parking spaces for dwelling units in apartment buildings/mixed-use development and remove some standards for “in-unit” bike parking spaces.
  2. Ground floor active uses: Temporarily waive ground floor active-use requirements in the Main Street overlay zones and within the Central City and other plan districts, where applicable.
  3. Nonconforming upgrades: Temporarily waive nonconforming upgrade requirements for housing projects and make permanent amendments to clarify some expired standards.
  4. Loading standards: Temporarily reduce the number of loading spaces required for larger residential projects.

Design rules

  1. Facade articulation: Temporarily waive facade articulation standards in the commercial/mixed use zones.
  2. Ground floor active height and window standards: Temporarily waive dimensional ground floor space requirements and additional window requirements in overlay zones and plan districts. Clarify existing development standards for future implementation.
  3. Security gates and lighting: Temporarily exempt security gates and lighting from the design overlay chapter.

Central City

  1. Major remodels: Temporarily waive many of the standards that apply to major remodels, including Central City requirements and other upgrades.
  2. Ecoroofs: Temporarily allow solar panels as a replacement to ecoroof requirements in the Central City plan district.
  3. Central City master plans: Update and simplify the master plan amendment process.

Process improvement

  1. On-street parking impacts: Permanently remove references to on-street parking impacts as a part of the transportation impacts approval criteria in all land use review criteria, not just housing.
  2. Neighborhood contact: Temporarily remove neighborhood meeting requirement of the neighborhood contact for projects with residential uses. Permanently reduce the types of neighborhood contact standards from three to two options.
  3. Design review procedure type for housing: Temporarily reduce the procedure types for design reviews of projects that include residential uses.
  4. Land use review expiration dates: Permanently extend the effective dates for all land use reviews, not just housing, from 3 to 5 years to allow more time for building permits to be submitted and approved.
  5. Land division allowance for attached housing. Permanently add a new type of density for attached houses at the same density as a duplex to enable conventional land divisions.

Project timeline

Summer 2023: Develop draft code amendments

September 2023: Release Proposed Draft

October 24, 2023: Planning Commission hearing

January 10, 2024: City Council hearing and decision

March 1, 2024: Code amendments effective


Phil Nameny

City Planner II, Planning and Sustainability

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