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Phone: 503-823-7300


1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

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Zoning Code Amendments to Improve the City’s Historic Land Use Review Process

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City of Portland, Bureau of Development Services


April 30, 2013

Contact: Tim Heron, Bureau of Development Services, 503.823.7726

On March 6, 2013 Portland’s City Council unanimously voted to adopt Portland Zoning Code amendments that will improve the City’s historic land use review process and create a quicker, easier-to-understand and more predictable review process for minor home improvement projects in historic and conservation districts. These Zoning Code amendments go into effect on May 1, 2013.

In Portland’s nationally recognized historic districts most exterior work on buildings, as well as new construction, is subject to a historic land use review process. Both property owners and historic preservation advocates have expressed concerns that the land use review process for minor exterior changes to homes are time-consuming and costly. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability developed new Zoning Code language to address these issues in collaboration with the Bureau of Development Services (BDS), which will administer and enforce the new regulations.

Paul Scarlett, BDS Director, stated, “This was a great interactive process between the community and the city that resulted in a more streamlined Zoning Code that is a faster and more affordable land use process.  It will allow for BDS to implement the code in a more efficient and effective manner”. 

Community members and representatives of the Historic Landmarks (HLC) and Planning and Sustainability (PSC) Commissions also expressed support for the amendment package.

The new handout, Historic Resource Review Information for the Homeowners gives a summary of the new Zoning Code changes. See additional handouts for Historic Resources.


The following major amendments were approved to the Portland Zoning Code and will go into effect May 1, 2013: 

  1. New Historic Resources Definitions – Clarify terminology related to historic resources regulations, including the terms “repair,” “maintenance” and “replacement.” 
  2. Amended Historic Review Triggers/Exemptions – Determine the appropriate level of review in historic and conservation districts for the following:
       a. minor alterations to structures;
       b. alterations on non-street facing facades. 
  3. New Faster Review Process with a Lower Fee – A new land use review procedure with a shorter timeline, no local appeal and a lower fee was created.  The new procedure type, called a Type 1 for small scale proposals less than 150 SF in residential zones, carries a substantially lower fee of $250. 

City of Portland Publishes Real Cost and Feasibility Data for Implementing Energy Efficient Measures in New Home Construction

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City of Portland, Bureau of Development Services



May 2, 2013

Contact: Ross Caron, Bureau of Development Services 503.823.4268

(Portland, OR) Today, the City ofPortland announced that the findings of the Portland Energy Efficient Home Pilot (PEEHP) have been published in four project case studies, available on the Bureau of Development Service’s web site. The case studies summarize real cost and feasibility data for constructing energy efficient single and multi-family houses.

The PEEHP, a public/private partnership administrated by the City ofPortland, was a competitive grant program established to support energy efficient home construction. The PEEHP leveraged $113,000 in grant funds to facilitate residential builders to use energy saving measures in 14 new homes.

"The Portland Energy Efficient Home Pilot has shown that significant home energy savings can be achieved with construction methods that are not cost prohibitive." said BDS Director Paul Scarlett. "The PEEHP program is a great example of public and private organizations pooling resources to answer the concerns of the customers we share."

The PEEHP is a model of collaboration among City, industry, and utility partners to respond to concerns about proposed green building policy in the City ofPortland. The program was sponsored by the City ofPortland’s Bureau of Development Services, Energy Trust of Oregon, Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland, the National Association of Home Builders, as well as utility companies, including NW Natural, Pacific Power, and Portland General Electric.

“The PEEHP program was a great partnership that showed how a City and industry can work together to better understand and encourage desired outcomes, rather than creating mandates that the market might not be able to support.” –Dave Nielsen, CEO, Home Builders Assoc. of MetropolitanPortland

The PEEHP case studies provide a reference to help inform future residential construction projects including records of costs associated with constructing energy efficient homes and those instances of added complexity related to implementing energy efficiency measures. 

For more information about the PEEHP program visit:


City Expands Business Hours for New Single Family Residential Application Submittals

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City of Portland, Bureau of Development Services


May 13, 2013

Contact: Kareen Perkins, Bureau of Development Services 503.823.3622

Effective May 14th, the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) will increase the business hours for customers to submit applications for New Single Family Residences, ADUs and other select One and Two Family permit application types. BDS will expand the hours to submit applications from 4 hours a week to 24 hours a week. The new hours for these permit types will be Tuesday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Screening requirements to ensure applications are complete will remain unchanged and the new timeframes for submittal will be strictly applied.

BDS Director, Paul L. Scarlett said, “I’m excited to allow for additional hours for New Single Family Residential Application submittals. The additional time will make it more convenient for our customers and reflect that construction and development in Portland is on the rise.”

Before you visit us downtown or to learn more about this increase in service please review the complete details of this change in our New Single Family Dwelling Application Submittal Hours Service Level Update and NSFR Application Packet online.

Customers can also drop off NSFR application at Permitting Services, located on the 2nd Floor of the 1900 SWFourthBuilding. Hours are 8:00 am to 2:00 pm Tuesday through Friday.


To learn more about the Bureau of Development Services please visit us online at


Bureau of Development Services Expands Permit Center Business Hours For All Services

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City of Portland, Bureau of Development Services


July 2, 2013

Contact: Kareen Perkins, Bureau of Development Services 503.823.3622

Effective July 9, 2013, the Bureau of Development Services’ (BDS) Permit Center will be expanding its hours of operation to add two additional full days for permit activities. For the past year, Tuesdays have been the one full day per week for the review and issuance of building permits. The other times that were available to customers to apply for permits were in the mornings on Wednesdays through Fridays. The recovery in the economy has allowed BDS to hire additional staff making it possible to now add Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. as full days for applying for building permits.

On Fridays, permit related work remains the focus from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., with general questions being addressed after 12:00 p.m. The Permit Center will remain closed on Mondays. The increase in hours from one to three full days per week will provide customers with more options to visit the Permit Center, apply for building permits and conduct business.

Another change in the Permit Center that will also take effect on July 9th is the addition of a new “Questions Only” Box. This new routing system will allow staff to meet with customers throughout the day who only have general questions, as opposed to being available mainly in the afternoons, as was the case for the past four years. 

Director, Paul L. Scarlett said “I am very pleased to offer extended hours in the Permit Center for permit application and issuance. This change, along with increased capacity to respond to general questions, are major improvements in the bureau’s operations that will benefit all our customers.”

Commissioner Amanda Fritz has been in charge of BDS since June 4, 2013. She said, “The bureau is committed to achieving the necessary balance between providing appropriate service levels while remaining cost effective for all the programs supported by BDS.”

To learn more about this change or other programs or services, please visit the bureau’s website at




October 1 Deadline for Work in the Balch Creek and Forest Park Subdistricts

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City of Portland, Bureau of Development Services

As we head into the rainy season, ground-disturbing work on all properties located in the Balch Creek and Forest Park Subdistricts of the Northwest Hills Plan District must end. Exposed earth must be covered and stabilized by October 1. 


All construction activity, including sewer, water and utility trenching which exposes soil to stormwater is prohibited between October 1 and April 30. Call the Planning & Zoning section the Bureau of Development Services, 503-823-7526 with questions.


Projects in other areas of the City must comply with Title 10 Erosion Control Regulations. In most cases, construction activity may continue, but wet weather erosion control measures are required and temporary ground cover must be provided on exposed soils between October 1 and April 30.


If your construction team would benefit from some additional erosion control training or a refresher course, check with these or other training providers: