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Planning Commission to consider proposals to streamline land divisions, increase housing production

News Article
Community members can testify on the Land Division Code Update Project in writing via the Map App or in person at a public hearing on Tuesday, March 26 at 5 p.m.

As part of the City of Portland’s effort to increase new housing production, the Land Division Code Update Project will streamline the process of applying for a residential land division. The Proposed Draft, developed by BPS planning staff, includes three major proposals, along with a number of minor corrections and clarifications to the City’s land division regulations. 

The Planning Commission will consider the Land Division Code Update Project proposals at a hearing on Tuesday, March 26 at 5 p.m. Prior to the hearing, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff will present an overview of the proposals to the commissioners.

Meeting Portland’s housing needs

The  rules governing how larger properties can be subdivided into smaller lots for purchase were last overhauled in 2002, when they were incorporated into the zoning code. Since then, minor changes have been made to address specific issues. This proposal is the first comprehensive update to the land division rules since they were added to the zoning code more than 20 years ago. 

At that time, more large properties were scattered throughout the city, generating more applications for larger subdivisions. Now, however, most land division applications are for smaller properties, which can only be divided into two or three lots. The proposed changes better calibrate the rules for these smaller land division sites.

This project also improves the application process with clear and objective development standards. These standards offer an alternative to “discretionary review,” which allows for greater flexibility in how a requirement can be met. But clear and objective standards provide greater certainty in what meets a requirement. For example, a setback requirement of 10 ft is clear and not subject to interpretation, while a regulation that requires “adequate distance from property lines to protect privacy” relies on the decisionmaker’s subjective analysis of compliance. 

Another important element of the proposal is an update to the potential landslide hazard area risk map with recent data from the state Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. This new data will help staff more accurately identify when additional geotechnical engineering studies are required with a land division application. The studies are important for determining the extent of landslide risk and how to design a subdivision to reduce it. 

Tell the Planning Commission what you think

Community members are invited to review the Land Division Code Update Proposed Draft and testify in writing or in person to the Planning Commission, which will consider public testimony before forwarding their recommendation to City Council.

The public hearing on Tue, March 26 at 5 p.m.will be a hybrid format, with options to participate either in person or virtually using a computer, mobile device or telephone. You must sign up to testify in advance.

Register to testify

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the hearing. The deadline to sign up for the hearing is Mon., March 25 at 5 p.m. Individuals have three minutes to testify, unless stated otherwise at the hearing.

Submit written testimony

We strongly encourage electronic written testimony. Written testimony must be received by the end of the hearing on March 26 and must include your name and address.

Use the Map App

Testify in writing via the Map App

Testifying in the Map App is as easy as sending an email.

U.S. Mail

Portland Planning Commission
Land Division Code Update
1810 SW 5th Ave, Suite 710
Portland, OR 97201

What happens next?

After the public hearing, the Planning Commission will consider all written and oral testimony on this proposal and vote on the proposals in May. The Planning Commission will then forward their recommendation to City Council for consideration and additional public review and comment. A City Council hearing date is yet to be determined.