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Living Smart Houses

Living Smart House Program Suspended

On June 30, 2011, the Living Smart House Program was suspended due to contract limitations. The City contracts allowing the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) to use Permit Ready Plan sets as part of the Living Smart House Program could not be extended. At this time, BDS does not have the resources to go back through the open and competitive process necessary to reestablish “Permit Ready” plan sets.

The Living Smart Program arose from growing neighborhood concerns about single-dwelling infill development on 25-foot wide lots. In 2003, after careful consideration, City Council voted to maintain the narrow lot housing option in the single-dwelling zones, but restricted construction to currently vacant lots and added design requirements. To help address concerns about the design of these houses, Commissioner Randy Leonard and the BDS initiated a design competition. One of the goals of the competition was to create the Portland Catalogue for Narrow House Designs, a catalogue of plans for Portland neighborhoods. The Portland Catalogue was published in November 2004 containing the winning house designs.

After the competition was finished, the City wanted to take Living Smart one step further by providing the public with affordable plan sets of well designed narrow lot houses. BDS contracted with two designers, who were both Jury and People’s Choice award winners, to prepare a set of house plans that would be available to the public.

To effect these changes, the City Council voted to support Zoning Code amendments exempting the two house designs from some development standards and approving the two house designs as “Permit Ready” houses. By providing exemptions, adjustments would be automatically granted for these two houses. The Zoning Code defines “permit ready” houses as those whose designs have been approved by City Council.

These house plans were well designed, met the purpose of the zoning regulations, and were appropriate for narrow lot development. While the program was active, between 2006 and 2011, a total of 13 Permit Ready building permits were issued. In addition, the narrow lot houses and the Living Smart Permit Ready Program has received notable attention from jurisdictions all around the world.


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