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Phone: 503-823-7300

TTY : 503-823-6868

1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR 97201

Nonconforming Review

Nonconforming Situation and Determination of Legal Nonconforming Status Reviews: Nonconforming situations are created when the application of a specific zone to a site changes, or when a zoning regulation changes. As part of the change, existing uses, density, or development might no longer be allowed. The intent of the change is to guide future uses and developments at a particular site in a new direction consistent with City policy, and, eventually, to bring them into conformance. Regulations addressing the various types of nonconforming situations are contained within Chapter 33.258 - Nonconforming Situations, of the Portland Zoning Code.

Nonconforming Situation review approved a change from wholesale sales to office use in a residential zone.Nonconforming Situation Review: The nonconforming situation review provides a method to review and limit nonconforming situations when changes to those situations are proposed. Most commonly, a nonconforming situation review is required when changes or expansions to a nonconforming use are proposed within a residential zone. In general, the approval criteria for this review seek to ensure that the changes proposed will not increase potential detrimental impacts to the neighborhood, and that the project is consistent with the desired character of the surrounding area. The relevant approval criteria are in Portland Zoning Code Section 33.258.080.

Determination of Legal Nonconforming Status Review: A Determination of Legal Nonconforming Status Review is a process to determine if a use or site has legal nonconforming situation rights. In addition, it will determine what the current legal use is, based on the use categories in Chapter 33.920.

Nonconforming situations are uses or developments that do not comply with the current zoning code. A specific site may be nonconforming because it contains either a nonconforming use, development, residential density, or any combination of these. Nonconforming situation regulations apply only to those nonconforming situations which were allowed when established or which were approved through a land use review. Additionally, they must have been maintained over time. These situations have legal nonconforming status. Nonconforming situations which were not allowed when established or have not been maintained over time have no legal right to continue (often referred to as “grandfather rights”) and must be removed.

In order to determine if a nonconforming situation is legal, the applicant must show that the situation was allowed when established and has been maintained over time. Without documentation of the legality of a nonconforming situation, the continuation, reestablishment, or change to the situation may not be allowed.

There are two ways in which to document the legality of a nonconforming situation. If an applicant is able to provide information from a “standard” list of evidence, it may be possible to verify the grandfather rights through a zoning confirmation letter. Where the applicant cannot provide standard evidence, a determination of legal nonconforming status review is necessary. This review will determine if a situation has legal nonconforming situation rights. In addition, it will determine what the current legal use is, based on the use categories in Chapter 33.920. The relevant approval criteria are in Portland Zoning Code Section 33.258.075.


Nonconforming Situation Reviews and Determination of Legal Nonconforming Status Reviews are processed through the Type II procedure.

  • Pre-Application Conference - Optional unless it is a specific requirement of a review.
  • Completeness - Staff notifies applicant of any missing information or materials within 14 days of submittal.
  • Public Notice - Upon receipt of a complete application, public notice is mailed to all property owners within 150 feet and to the recognized organizations within 400 feet of the site. At least 21 days are allowed for public comment.
  • Decision - Made administratively by staff within 28 days after the application is determined to be complete.
  • Appeal - To the Hearings Officer.




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