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Accept the Portland Design Commission 2022 State of the City Design Report


Attached is the Annual Report of the Portland Design Commission State of the City Design Report for 2022.  This fulfills the Portland Zoning Code requirement for the Commission’s actions and accomplishments for each calendar year (33.710.060 E.)

The Design Commission is a particularly active volunteer Commission, meeting 29 times in 2022.  The Design Commission also represents a diverse spectrum of Portlanders with four of its seven members [57%] identifying as Black Indigenous People of Color. 

Current Issues before Council today:

Over the past year, the Commission processed Land Use cases, Design Advice Requests (a form of early assistance to customers) and briefings on significant matters including visits from the Albina Vision Trust for Rose Quarter planning , ODOT for the Interstate 5 redesign at the Rose Quarter, PBOT for Electrical Transformers in the Right of Way, PBOT for Vertical Infrastructure in the Right of Way (concealed “small cell” 5g & 4g antennas within street light poles), TriMet for Division Street Bus Rapid Transit, and PBOT for the Interstate Bridge Replacement Project.

The premise of this 2022 State of the City Design Report is: How and Why Design Review Matters in Portland Now.  The Design Commission will present an overview of how Design Review has influenced the very fabric of our pedestrian-oriented City for the past 40 years; we have built a walkable, vibrant, diverse and easily accessible Central City that is admired by the world for its planning and design innovation.  Design Commission will explain how the application of Design Review’s three tenets: 1. Context, 2. Public Realm, and 3. Quality & Resilience were applied to the 2022 Portland Design Commission’s Design Excellence Award winner for a housing development in the Lents Neighborhood.  Lastly, the Commission will explain how the Design Commission can support the revitalization of downtown and suggest tool changes like rewriting the Central City Fundamental Design Guidelines.

Led by the new Design Commission Chair, Brian McCarter, all Design Commissioners will be participating in the presentation in their respective areas of expertise.  I look forward to hearing more from Brian and all Commissioners at their presentation and hearing your comments and questions.

Background, from 33.710.050:


The Design Commission provides leadership and expertise on urban design and architecture and advances the purpose of the Design overlay zone.

The Design Commission consists of seven members, none of whom may hold public elective office.  The Commission must include a representative of the Regional Arts and Culture Council, one person representing the public at-large, and Five members experienced in either urban planning, design, architecture, landscape architecture, natural resource management, sustainable building practices, engineering, financing, construction or management of buildings, or land development. No more than two members may be appointed from any one of these areas of expertise.  The Regional Arts and Culture Council member is nominated by the Regional Arts and Culture Council chair and approved by the Mayor.  The other members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.

The Design Commission meets at least once a month and as necessary to act on reviews assigned to them by this Title 33.  Meetings are conducted in accordance with adopted rules of procedure.  Four members constitute a quorum at a meeting.  The election of officers takes place at the first meeting of each calendar year.

The Design Commission may divide its membership into special subcommittees which are authorized to act on behalf of the Commission for an assigned purpose. Three members of the Commission constitute a quorum on such subcommittees. Subcommittee actions require the affirmative vote of at least three members.

Powers and duties:

The Design Commission has all of the powers and duties which are assigned to it by Title 33 or by City Council.  The Commission powers and duties include:

  1. Reviewing major developments within design districts, except those projects involving or located within the following:
    1. Historic Districts;
    2. Conservation Districts;
    3. Historic Landmarks; and
    4. Conservation Landmarks.
  2. Recommending the establishment, amendment, or removal of the Design overlay zone and design districts to the Planning and Sustainability Commission;
  3. Recommending design guidelines for adoption by City Council except for guidelines for Historic Districts and Conservation Districts;
  4. Reviewing other land use requests assigned to the Design Commission; and
  5. Providing advice on design matters to the Hearings Officer, Planning and Sustainability Commission, Historic Landmarks Commission, Portland Development Commission, City Council, and other City Bureaus or public agencies when necessary or requested.

The following exhibits are included:

Exhibit A: Annual Portland Design Commission 2022 State of the City Design Report.
Exhibit B: A document tracking 2022 meetings and Design Commission-related work for the year.

Impact Statement

Purpose of Proposed Legislation and Background Information

The report is required by Portland City Code [Title 33] to fulfill the Annual Report requirement for its actions and accomplishments for each fiscal year.

Financial and Budgetary Impacts

The report is required by Portland City Code [Title 33] to fulfill the Annual Report requirement for its actions and accomplishments for each fiscal year, so no revenue or budgetary impacts will be incurred.

Community Impacts and Community Involvement

  • The annual report was discussed at Portland Design Commission briefings which were open to the public-at-large and to those with various professional backgrounds.
  • As this annual report was vetted in public meetings, public involvement helped shape the report.

Agenda Items

222 Time Certain in March 15, 2023 Council Agenda


Motion to accept the report: Moved by Rubio and seconded by Ryan.
  • Commissioner Carmen Rubio Yea
  • Commissioner Dan Ryan Yea
  • Commissioner Rene Gonzalez Yea
  • Commissioner Mingus Mapps Absent
  • Mayor Ted Wheeler Yea

Requested Agenda Type

Time Certain

Date and Time Information

Requested Council Date
Requested Start Time
2:00 pm
Time Requested
1 hour
Confirmed Time Certain