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City Council hears lots of public testimony on the Residential Infill Project

News Article
A crowd holding signs at a hearing in City Hall
At recent public hearings, 140 Portlanders shared their feedback on proposals to expand housing opportunities in Portland’s single-family zones.

After two days of public hearings last week and more than 140 people testifying, City Council closed oral and written testimony on the Residential Infill Project Recommended Draft on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. Now Commissioners will consider amendments to the proposals to expand housing options in Portland’s residential neighborhoods.

Over the course of six hours, community members testified largely in support of the proposals to allow more housing types in single-dwelling zones. Testifiers noted, however, concerns about displacement and neighborhood character as well as impacts on the environment and infrastructure. But the majority of those speaking said that expanding housing opportunities in single-family neighborhoods was necessary to keep up with population growth, address climate change, and more equitably meet the housing needs of Portlanders now and in the future.

Added benefit: Compliance with HB2001

The RIP proposals also get the City of Portland in nearly full compliance with the recently passed HB2001, a statewide initiative to increase the allowed number of units on single-dwelling lots to four. As a representative of the state Department of Land Conversation of Development testified, “DLCD encourages the City of Portland to move forward on RIP, as it’s closely aligned with HB2001. Portland would be a leader in the nation.”

Other testifiers included representatives for and members of Verde, Sunrise PDX, Portland Neighbors Welcome, Community Alliance of Tenants; neighborhood associations and land use committees, educators, realtors, developers, and affordable housing providers; parents with children, people with ADUs, people without housing and the previously houseless, students, older adults and more.

Commissioners weighed in

At the end of the hearing, Council members shared their views about the project. Commissioner Fritz expressed her concerns about parking, sewer capacity and other infrastructure issues, as well as environmental impacts. Commissioner Eudaly spoke to the racist legacy of exclusionary zoning as well redlining, urban renewal, and transportation projects that displaced communities of color. She encouraged her colleagues to prioritize anti-displacement measures along with RIP. Commissioner Hardesty spoke to the plight of minimum wage workers and the working class and said that, “Your income should not determine your zip code.” Finally, the Mayor acknowledged the stories and perspectives that community members brought to the hearings.

“A lot of people want to see themselves as part of their community. And they don’t because there isn’t enough housing diversity,” he said. “… This is a long term vision, and most of us won’t see the change that it would allow. But the longer we wait to implement this, the more exclusive – not inclusive – our city will be.”

Next steps

City Council will hold a work session on amendments to the RIP proposals on Weds., Jan. 29 at 2 pm. The initial set of potential amendments is available for review, but public testimony will not be taken at the work session. Additional amendments will be posted online as they are written, so stay tuned.

Watch the hearings