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Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Fax: 503-823-7800

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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Members wanted for Planning and Sustainability Commission

BPS E-News, March 2014

The Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) includes 11 volunteer members with expertise in a range of areas. As a group, they balance a variety of City goals. We are currently seeking a member to fill a vacant position on the Commission.

The PSC has specific responsibility for the stewardship, development and maintenance of the City's Comprehensive Plan, Climate Action Plan and Zoning Code. Their recommendations to City Council on Portland’s long-range goals, policies and programs for land use, planning and sustainability aim to create a more prosperous, educated, healthy, resilient and equitable city.

The work of the PSC is to:

  • Advise City Council and City bureaus on social, economic and environmental issues as well as long-range development in Portland; and on the development and maintenance of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and implementation measures.
  • Ensure sustainability principles and practices and equity considerations are integrated into policy, planning and development decisions.
  • Advise City Council, as well as City bureaus and other agencies, on projects and proposals that significantly affect the city.

More information about the PSC.

Application Process

As the Zoning Code requires, the membership of the PSC “should include broad representation of Portland’s community and reflect the dynamic nature of this changing city.” To balance and diversify the current composition of the PSC, at this time we are especially interested in adding a member who has experience and knowledge about innovative urban solutions, new technologies, community building, affordable housing, green building or efforts to make Portland a thriving, livable city for all.

Typical time commitment for PSC members includes two 3-hour monthly meetings, reading/preparation time prior to each meeting, as well as possible additional time on sub-committees. Because this appointment will fill a position that is mid-term, this position will have approximately nine months of service at the initial confirmation, with the option for the Commissioner to serve an additional two 4-year terms.

To indicate your interest in serving on the Planning and Sustainability Commission, applicants must complete an application form and return it to the City's Office of Neighborhood Involvement at 1120 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland OR 97204.

The PSC values diversity and encourages everyone who is interested in this position to apply. Applications for those who apply that are not selected will be kept on file for two years for consideration when a position is again open or vacated.

Portland Housing Bureau announces assistance to create affordable homes

BPS E-News, March 2014

PHB TeamThe Portland Housing Bureau (PHB) strives to solve the unmet housing needs of the people of Portland. One way they do this is by offering programs to promote the creation of affordable homes. PHB is currently inviting applications for the Multiple-Unit Limited Tax Exemption (MULTE) Program.

MULTE Program projects receive a 10-year tax exemption on structural improvements to the property as long as program requirements are met.  Requirements include at least 20 percent of units rented to households earning no more than 60 to 80 percent of median family income, depending on the area. The MULTE Program offsets developers’ operational costs while creating affordable units in market rate projects.

“Housing prices are rapidly increasing and we want to ensure that all Portlanders can afford a place to live. This is a valuable tool to keep Portland affordable for hardworking families,” said Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

MULTE awards are made using a competitive selection process. PHB selects recipients based on their commitment to providing public benefits with their projects. This includes affordability, accessibility features for seniors and people with disabilities, partnerships with organizations reaching vulnerable or disadvantaged communities and minority contracting goals.

PHB anticipates additional tax exemption availability within the current application cycle. We welcome inquiries for both the current MULTE application and upcoming cycle, available in the early spring of 2014. Developers with prospective projects should contact Dory Van Bockel, LTE Program Coordinator, at or 503-823-4469. Information on the MULTE program is available at

Media Contact: Jaymee Cuti, Portland Housing Bureau, 503-823-3239,

Small homes go big: Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) development soars in Portland

BPS E-News, March 2014

aduSmall housing such as accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are experiencing a dramatic increase in Portland. A new animated video, “Accessory Dwelling Units — Take the First Step” is only the latest collaboration by the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the Oregon State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Metro, and space-efficient housing advocates to harness the momentum and success of ADU development in Portland and share the story with others.  ADUs are additional separate living units on single-family lots and are commonly referred to as granny flats, mother-in-law suites, or backyard cottages. The growth of these types of units now comprise almost a quarter of all new single-dwelling residential permit applications in Portland. Last year alone, the City of Portland received almost six times the number of ADU permit applications than the average number of applications received during the 2000-2009 time period. As it currently stands, there are around 800 completed ADUs in Portland, with more in the pipeline.

This dramatic increase is likely the result of several changes the City of Portland made in 2010 in hopes of facilitating additional development of ADUs.  First, the City waived System Development Charges (SDCs) for a three-year period.  This temporary waiver saved homeowners up to $11,000 in costs when obtaining permits for their ADU.  Second, the City raised the maximum size allowance for ADUs from 33 percent of the living area of the primary unit to 75 percent, but kept a cap of 800 SF for the ADU regardless of primary unit size.  Prior to 2010, about 30 ADUs were built annually in Portland. Recent data from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability show almost 200 ADU permit applications in 2013.  The consistent annual increase in ADU construction since the 2010 waiver prompted City Council to extend the SDC waiver through June 2016. 

adu kitchenThe benefits of ADUs go beyond housing and lifestyle flexibility, affordability, and infill strategy.  In a 2010 report, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality compared the environmental benefits of various green building practices and found that surprisingly, reducing the size of a house was the most effective way to reduce both the energy and material-related greenhouse gas impacts of a house.  Recognizing the significant environmental benefits of space-efficient housing such as ADUs, Oregon DEQ, Metro, and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability have recently supported several initiatives to increase understanding and awareness of ADUs.

In 2012, Oregon DEQ, Metro, and others hired Portland State University’s Survey Research Lab to conduct a survey of ADU owners in Portland, Eugene, and Ashland to learn more about how ADUs were designed, developed, and occupied.  The results of the comprehensive survey helped inform the recently-released video as well as the development of numerous case studies of ADU homeowners.  Additionally, Oregon DEQ, Metro, and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability are co-sponsoring Portland’s first Accessory Dwelling Unit tour on Sunday June 1, 2014. More information about the upcoming tour and these and other ADU initiatives can be found on

PSC News: March 11, 2014 meeting recap and documents

Stormwater Overview — briefing; Comprehensive Plan Update - Working Draft Part 2 "What We Heard" Report — briefing; Inner Powell Outer Division Project — briefing


  • Stormwater Overview — briefing
  • Comprehensive Plan Update - Working Draft Part 2 "What We Heard" Report — briefing
  • Inner Powell Outer Division Project — briefing

Meeting files

 ** If you receive an error message, click the icon to the right of "Contained Records" to open the document listing.

An archive of meeting minutes, documents and audio recordings of all Planning and Sustainability Commission meetings are available at

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Considers Public Input to Prepare the RICAP 6 Proposed Draft

Short term rentals tops the list of public comments

After six weeks of outreach including many meetings and conversations with neighborhood associations and community groups as well as an open house, the public comment period for the Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Package 6 (RICAP 6) - Discussion Draft was closed on February 21. The project team is currently reviewing all of the comments as they develop the Proposed Draft.

The bulk of the comments received were related to the regulatory changes for short term rentals. Staff are preparing a summary of these comments, which will be available with the release of the Proposed Draft. Other comments fell outside of the scope of the issues being considered under RICAP 6; they may be considered as part of the Comprehensive Plan Update or entered into our Regulatory Improvement database for consideration in future code amendment projects.

The RICAP 6 Proposed Draft will be released by March 21 and posted on the project website. This is staff's proposal to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC), which will hold a public hearing on the proposal on April 22 at 6 p.m. Public testimony will be accepted. Prior to the hearing, staff will brief the PSC about short term rentals at their April 8 meeting. You can find more information about the hearings process on the PSC's webpage.

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