What is a Driveway?
A driveway is a paved or gravel way for vehicular traffic extending from the roadway to the adjacent property line(s) for the purpose of providing access to legal parking as provided under PCC 33.266 (the zoning code). The Bureau of Development Services determines if a driveway leads to legal parking.
What are Portland’s Driveway Standards?
The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation has multiple rules which impact the design of driveways. These include
An overview of the changes that went into effect 1-1-2022 is available in the document below.
Some of the driveway standards are linked to the Transportation System Plan Classification for the right-of-way being accessed. Please visit the TSP Classifications Map App to find classification information. You may turn different layers on and off using the layer list, which looks like three pieces of paper stacked on top of one another.
When do the driveway standards apply?
The standards of 17.28.110 and TRN 10.40 always apply to any driveway accessed from a City of Portland right-of-way.
In the case of right-of-way managed by another jurisdiction (i.e.; ODOT, Washington County, Multnomah County, Gresham), the applicant must also contact that jurisdiction for specific driveway requirements.
Do I need a permit to install or change a driveway?
In Portland, installing or changing a driveway always requires a permit. If the driveway will access an alley, a gravel street, or a right-of-way which is not currently passable, a permit is still required.
Installing or changing a driveway commonly requires permits issued by Bureau of Development Services and reviewed by other City bureaus in addition to a PBOT permit. A PBOT issued permit for driveway construction only covers the portion of the driveway in the right-of-way. An additional permit issued by the Bureau of Development Services is needed for any driveway construction on private property. If the project will include paving, stormwater management may be triggered requiring review by the Bureau of Environmental Services. If a street tree must be removed to install the driveway, a permit is also needed from Urban Forestry. Permits issued by the City can be obtained together online via the Development Hub. Please note: During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Development Services Center is closed for in-person services. All applications are currently being made on-line.
Other agencies may also need to permit the work depending on the scope of the project. For example, if a utility pole needs to be relocated to accommodate the driveway, you will need to contact the utility provider who owns the pole.
Example of a project that only needs a PBOT permit
An existing house has a driveway which leads to a parking space. The sidewalk in front of the house is in poor condition. The property owner would like to replace the sidewalk and intends to rebuild the driveway approach at the same time. The property owner is not changing anything about the driveway on private property (ie. past the sidewalk). All work will happen only in the public right-of-way.
Examples of projects that need both a PBOT permit AND a permit issued by Bureau of Development Services
Example 1: Installing a new driveway where one does not currently exist.
Example 2: Replacing an existing driveway by totally removing it and building a new one, even if it is in the same location.
Example 2: An existing house has a driveway, but it is narrow and does not have any covered space to park a vehicle . The property owner would like to build a new carport and make the driveway wide enough to park two vehicles side-by-side. The owner would like the driveway to be wider than it currently is all the way from the new carport to the point where the driveway touches the street. This will mean construction is proposed in the public right-of-way and on private property.
Example of a project that does NOT need a PBOT permit but does need a permit issued by the Bureau of Development Services
An existing house has a driveway, but it is not very long. There is room to get additional driveway length beside the existing house. The property owner would like to add pavement to end of the existing driveway on their private property only. There will be no work done where the driveway crosses the sidewalk or connects to the street.
What kind of permit do I need from PBOT?
PBOT issues two main types of permits for driveway construction. These are called Minor Improvement Permits and Public Works Permits. The type of permit you need will depend on the scope of work of your project. Please visit the Sidewalk and Frontage Improvements page to see a chart outlining what permit is needed based on what types of improvements are being proposed.
If your project is installing or modifying a driveway on a roadway which is currently passable and involves no other work in the right-of-way, it is likely you will need only a Minor Improvement Permit.
If your project includes both a driveway and sidewalk improvements, the permit type will depend on multiple factors including the length of the sidewalk improvement and whether or not you must install ADA compliant corner ramps.
If your project is installing or modifying a driveway on a right-of-way which is not passable, you will likely need a public works permit in order make the right-of-way passable. For example, property abuts a platted right-of-way, but the street improvement currently ends before it gets to the subject property. You will need to remove trees, grade the land, and pave a roadway to get access to the property. A public works permit is triggered. This will require review by PBOT as well as other City service bureaus including a review of stormwater management by Bureau of Environmental Services.
Why do I have to change my existing driveway?
PBOT places high importance on safety and movement of pedestrians and bicyclists. Vision Zero is PBOT’s commitment to providing a safe transportation system by reducing traffic conflicts. Because a driveway requires a vehicle to cross over sidewalks, bike lanes, and transit lanes, it is a source of conflict, raising concerns for safety. Many existing driveways in the City of Portland do not comply with the current requirements of 17.28.110 or TRN 10.40.
Whether you are seeking a land use action or applying for a building permit, PBOT may require changes to any driveway that does not meet the current standards. This can include the need to close or relocate an existing driveway, even if that will have implications for the way the site operates. The project does not have to meet thresholds requiring public improvements in order to trigger changes to a driveway.
Commercial Example: A commercial property has two existing driveways. One driveway is on a local service street and the other is on a Neighborhood Collector. A building permit application shows a remodel the building on the site, but the owner was not planning on changing the driveways. The permit valuation is low, and there will no increase in trips to/from the site. The triggers for public improvement requirements are not met. PBOT may still ask that the driveway onto the Neighborhood Collector be closed, as the current requirements of TRN 10.40 allow access only from the lower classified street. This may mean the site loses access to an existing parking area or has to substantially reconfigure the parking area due to the loss of an access point. Re-configuring the parking area may trigger zoning requirements related to new parking areas.
Residential Example: A single family home has a driveway that backs out onto a Neighborhood Collector. A building permit application shows an addition onto the house. The current requirements of TRN 10.40 require all driveways accessing a roadway with a traffic classification of Neighborhood Collector or higher be built to allow forward motion ingress and egress. This means the car must be moving in a forward motion when coming onto the property and moving in a forward motion when leaving the property. Backing out is not allowed. PBOT may ask that the driveway be closed or an on-site turn around be built to allow vehicles to enter and exit the site without backing out. This may trigger zoning requirements or Bureau of Environmental Services stormwater management requirements related to new or modified paving.
Can I apply for an exception to the driveway standards?
Please visit PBOT’s Driveway Design Exception page for more information on how to apply for an exception to the driveway standards.
What if the street I want to access is not a City of Portland street?
PBOT issues permits for work in the right-of-way controlled by the City of Portland. If the right-of-way being accessed is an Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) facility, a permit must be obtained from ODOT. Click here for a link to a map of ODOT facilities within the City of Portland. For more information on ODOT requirements, please visit the ODOT Access Management Page.
For some properties outside the City Limits, the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services is the permitting authority. In these cases, if the right-of-way being accessed is a Multnomah County facility, the permit for work in the right-of-way must be obtained from Multnomah County. If you are unsure if the property is inside the City Limits or in unincorporated Multnomah County, please visit the City of Portland Zoning App. Search for the address. When the results come back, check the information in the line labeled “Jurisdiction.” If you are still unsure how to proceed, please visit the Development Services Center or give us a call at 503-823-7002. For more information on Multnomah County’s requirements, please visit the Multnomah County Right-of-Way Permits page.