Overview of how to determine what street and sidewalk improvements will be triggered as part of a development proposal. Improvement requirements can be triggered by Land Use Reviews or Building Permits.
There are two triggers in Title 17 for when public right-of-way (ROW) improvements are required.
Per 17.88.020, alterations which increase the number of occupants of a site are required to provide a standard full width improvement, including sidewalks and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant curb ramps at corners and mid-block crossings. This may require property dedication to allow the full width improvement to be constructed. PBOT determines increases in the number of occupants based on trip generation data from the Institute of Transportation Engineers Trip Generation Manual.
If the project does not result in an increase in trips, but the project is a “significant alteration” as defined in 17.88.010.C, then frontage improvements are required as close to City standard as possible within the existing right-of-way. “Significant Alteration” is defined as, "changes to property that are 35 percent or greater than the assessed value of all improvements on the site. Mandatory improvements for fire, life safety, and accessibility do not count toward the threshold.” The assessed value of improvements is determined by the County Assessor and can be found at www.portlandmaps.com Search by the property address, then click on "Assessor Detail." Scroll down, and the assessment history will show a value under the heading "Improvements." Building permit valuation is set by the Bureau of Development Services during permit review. If the permit valuation as established by Bureau of Development Services is 35% or more of the assessed value of improvements on the site, the Significant Alteration threshold is met.
Please note Driveways are not considered a public right-of-way improvement. Driveways are regulated under 17.28.110. PBOT may require changes to a driveway that does not comply with the current requirements of 17.28.110 even if the project does not trigger either threshold. This can include the need to close or relocate an existing driveway even if that will have implications for the way the site operates.
Are there exceptions to the triggers for when right-of-way (ROW) improvements are required?
Yes. There are situations in which public improvements are not needed, even if one or both of the triggers are met.
- Sites where the right-of-way is currently built to full City standards need no further improvements
- Sites which qualify for TRN 1.22- Infill Development on Streets with an Existing Sidewalk Corridor
- Sites which qualify for payment of the Local Transportation Infrastructure Charge (LTIC) as an alternative to constructing improvements. Please note dedication may still be required on sites which are LTIC eligible.
- Sites with a currently valid, approved Public Works Alternative Review decision.
If further improvements are not needed but your development project will destroy or damage existing public improvements, your project will need to replace those existing improvements. Replacing existing improvements will trigger the need for either a Public Works Permit or a Minor Improvement Permit, depending on the scope of work. Guidance regarding what projects require which permit type can be found here.
My development project will trigger public improvements. How do I determine what those improvements will be?
This is a very complex question. The best way to get an answer you can rely on is to apply for early assistance. This is a voluntary step in the development process which does take time and cost money. It is also the way to get written guidance which evaluates not only the PBOT requirements, but how those requirement interact with the regulations of other bureaus such as the Bureau of Environmental Services (which manages stormwater), Urban Forestry (which manages street trees), the Bureau of Development Services (which implements the Zoning Code), and the Water Bureau (which manages the public water system). Public improvement requirements can be substantial. While early assistance is voluntary, is is highly recommended in the following situations:
- Your site is on a street which is not paved and the project is anything other than an alteration to an existing single dwelling or duplex
- Your site is on a street which does not have a curb and the project is anything other than an alteration to an existing single dwelling or duplex
- Your project will establish a new commercial use. This includes changes of use in existing buildings.
- Your project will increase the number of dwelling units on a site and is not an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU).
- Your project triggers the need for a land use review as determined by the Bureau of Development Services
The following documents are used together to determine the public improvement width and configuration required for a specific frontage. Many of these documents reference street classifications such as Local Service or City Walkway. All of the classifications which are applied to a right-of-way may be accessed at the Transportation System Plan Website.
Please also refer to our Standard Sidewalk Corridors page for general guidance on sidewalk corridor requirements.
This document provides a range of design information and practices that support public street design through the land use and building permit process. This document can be superseded by a Streetscape or Area Plan.
The purpose of the Pedestrian Design Guide is to integrate a wide range of design criteria and practices into a coherent set of standards that will, over time, promote an environment conducive to walking. This document can be superseded by a Streetscape or Area Plan.
These are area specific documents which may determine the overall width or configuration of right-of-way improvements. They can also require design elements other than standard elements such as brick sidewalks or ornamental lighting. The maps showing the areas affected by these plans can be accessed at the Transportation System Plan Website.
Driveway construction code and exceptions request form.
A charge on new infill development occurring on a local service traffic street without a curb (i.e. unimproved or under-improved) in single-dwelling residential zones. The payment of LTIC exempts the property from the requirements of PCC 17.88.020.B to make frontage improvements built to the City’s adopted standard.
If all of the requirements of TRN 1.22 are met, the existing sidewalk configuration will be accepted as the standard sidewalk configuration for the block length.
Process for proposing to build something other than the standard required cross section for a frontage improvement.