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New regulations suggested for future development in Mixed Use zones; Proposed Draft ready for review

Public invited to testify at the Planning and Sustainability Commission hearing on May 10

New construction in Portland’s mixed use centers and corridors has been on the rise since the economy turned around, and pent up demand for new housing and commercial development is being met by developers and builders.

While new construction is needed to accommodate Portland’s growing population, not all development has been welcomed by Portlanders. Community members near some of Portland’s developing centers and corridors (e.g., main streets like Division and Williams) have expressed concern about the size and scale of this new construction, as well as the transition to surrounding neighborhoods. Planners have heard that:

  • Rules for building should be easier to understand.
  • New mixed use/commercial buildings should fit in better with nearby neighborhoods and contribute to strong neighborhood business districts.
  • The Zoning Code should more effectively encourage new buildings to have public benefits like affordable housing.

In response, the City of Portland is revising the city’s Commercial zones to improve regulations for new mixed use development.

Read the Mixed Use Zones Proposed Draft; then testify to the PSC in writing or in person.


The Mixed Use Zones Proposed Draft reduces the number of zones applied to centers and corridors outside Portland’s Central City to four (instead of the current nine): three new Commercial/Mixed Use zones (CM1, CM2, CM3) that vary by the scale of development allowed, and one medium-scale Commercial Employment (CE) zone with a commercial and employment emphasis that is typically applied outside designated centers.

The new zones update development and design standards in a variety of ways to meet the goals of the City’s new Comprehensive Plan, respond to different development contexts, and address the needs and desires of a variety of community stakeholders. The new standards create incentives for new development that provide public benefits, such as affordable housing, and address other aspects of design.

Portlanders are invited to attend a public hearing, where the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) will hear oral testimony on the Proposed Draft.

Planning and Sustainability Commission Public Hearing

Mixed Use Zone Proposed Draft
Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 12:30 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Avenue, Room 2500A

Check the PSC Calendar one week prior to the scheduled hearing to confirm the date, time and location. Learn how to testify to the PSC; read Tips for Effective Testimony. A continued hearing is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday May 17, 2016, at 5 p.m. — location to be announced. 

The PSC also invites testimony on this proposal through May 10, 2016, in writing:

  • Via the Map App: Testify on specific proposals by location through the Map App.
  • By Email: 
    Email your comments with “Mixed Use Zones Testimony” in the Subject line to Be sure to include your full name and mailing address.
  • By U.S. Mail: 
    Attn: Mixed Use Zones testimony
    Planning and Sustainability Commission
    City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
    1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

How were these proposed new rules developed?

The Proposed Draft was developed over the past two years with feedback from the public, including a project advisory committee, as well as technical advisors. Early on, project staff hosted several neighborhood walks to learn what community members think about new development in their neighborhoods, and what could be improved from neighbors’ perspectives. Staff also talked to architects, developers, housing advocates and business people to understand their perspectives and needs.

The project process included multiple committee meetings with public comment opportunity, public workshops, open houses and information sessions, and meetings with other community-based groups. A Discussion Draft was released in fall 2015, and staff received hundreds of comments on the proposed code and map amendments. Open houses, information sessions and advisory committee meetings were advertised and open to the public. Background reports, concept reports, committee meeting notes, and other information was posted on the project website.

Next Steps

Following the public hearings in May, the PSC will hold work sessions in June and July to formulate its recommendation to City Council (remember to check the PSC calendar one week prior to the meeting to confirm). The project will then go before the Portland City Council for adoption.

BPS legislative priorities signed into law

Renewable electricity, community solar and inclusionary zoning

Earlier this month the Oregon legislature wrapped up its 2016 session. Three big priorities for BPS made it through both houses and have been signed into law:

  1. Renewable electricity
  2. Community solar
  3. Inclusionary zoning (IZ)

Last week Governor Kate Brown signed into law the Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act

The new Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act is a huge step toward achieving the goals of the Climate Action Plan, putting PGE and Pacific Power on track to meet the electricity supply targets for our 2030 and 2050 carbon-reduction goals. Under the new law, utilities will phase out coal-fired electricity to serve Oregon customers by 2035 and increase the share of new renewable resources like wind, solar and geothermal to 50 percent by 2040. (Currently, PGE and Pacific must achieve 25 percent new renewables by 2025.) 

The statute also directs the utilities to allow community solar programs, giving customers a way to participate in the ownership of off-site solar projects and receive credit on their electricity bill. The law also specifies that at least 10 percent of the overall community solar program capacity be provided to low-income customers.

The community solar provisions are especially exciting for BPS, which has been pushing for better community solar options for years and specifically for attention to how solar connects to low-income residents.

SB 1533 allows local mandatory Inclusionary zoning programs for buildings with 20 or more units

Governor Brown also signed SB 1533, which lifts the state preemption of the ability of Portland and other cities to have a mandatory inclusionary zoning program. Under mandatory inclusionary zoning (IZ), new residential development is required to include a certain number of affordable units.

The Portland Housing Bureau and Commissioner Saltzman’s office will be leading a public process to design the IZ program.  BPS will work closely with them and with a consultant team that will be doing the research and analysis necessary to design a workable program.  The program will require changes to the zoning code and these changes will be the responsibility of BPS. The development of the IZ code and administrative rules is likely an 18-month process.

Together, these three achievements made this legislative session one of the most significant in years and gives us new tools and new opportunities to do our work.

Oregonians will soon be able to share energy from the sun

Oregon’s new clean electricity law includes provision for community-shared solar energy.

Community solar is coming to Oregon! The landmark clean electricity bill (Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act) that Governor Kate Brown signed into law on March 11 includes enabling legislation for community-shared solar energy.This is a big step forward for clean energy and social equity. Community-shared solar expands access to clean energy for more Oregonians. Community solar means that renters and other folks who don’t own their rooftops or who live in tree-shaded neighborhoods now have a way to buy in and support local renewable energy development at a fraction of the cost.

community solarThe City of Portland has been at the forefront of innovation in community solar in Oregon. We have been experimenting with different ways to accomplish carbon emission reductions and social equity goals through community solar pilot projects since 2011.

Solar Forward was one such effort in 2013. With grant funds from the Oregon Community Foundation and generous contributions from leaders in the business community, like Umpqua Bank, Portfolio 21, Wells Fargo, SolarWorld and PDC, the pilot resulted in three 10-kilowatt solar electric systems (30 kilowatts total) installed on these important community buildings:

  • Southwest Community Center (owned by Portland Parks and Recreation)
  • Oliver P. Lent Elementary School (owned by Portland Public Schools)
  • Ortiz Center futsal court (owned by Hacienda Community Development Corporation)

Experience gained from our leadership in this area helped the City of Portland inform the development of state public policy that eventually led to the legislation adopted earlier this month.

While the rules still need to be written for the new community solar program, we are investigating every opportunity for the City to host potential community solar projects. City staff stand ready and prepared to help the state craft a program that serves all Portlanders, with an emphasis on low-income communities and communities of color.

Follow our progress at

Find farm-fresh food on the BPS website

Fifty Community Supported Agriculture farms, 200 neighborhood CSA drop-off points, and two dozen farmers markets are ripe for the picking on the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s food website.

The City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s sustainable food website features two maps to connect you to local farmers, ranchers, and fisherman. Discover the best of Oregon’s bounty at over 50 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and two dozen neighborhood farmers markets. 
farmers market shopper

CSA farms sell shares — or memberships — to households who typically receive weekly boxes of seasonal vegetables delivered to their neighborhood. Many CSAs also provide a wide variety of additional food, including fruit, eggs, dairy, fish, meat and poultry.

CSA members enjoy the convenience of fresh food delivered to their neighborhood and try new produce varieties that are grown for our region. CSA participants directly support the local economy, help protect farmland, and connect with local farms and farmers.

BPS has tracked the growth of CSA farms that deliver to Portland since 2008. Over the past eight seasons, farms have flourished from 19 to 50, shares have grown from 2,000 to 6,000, and sales have sprouted from $1.1 to $2.6 million. 

To find your perfect CSA match, consult BPS’s interactive map for farm information and locations of over 200 drop-off sites.

Want to pick your own produce? Portland farmers markets can be found all over town, almost every day of the week. And farmers markets are more than peas and cukes. You can talk to friendly folks who produce your food, visit with your neighbors, taste delicious prepared food, and learn culinary skills at cooking demonstrations. And don’t forget, almost all the markets accept SNAP benefits and many have matching-dollar programs. Find all the farmers market facts you’ll need on the farmers market map at

City Council-proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments available for review

Commissioners to hold public hearings on final amendments to the draft 2035 Comp Plan on April 14 and 20

In July 2015 the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) recommended a new 2035 Comprehensive Plan to City Council. This is the most significant update of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan since the original plan was adopted in 1980.

The PSC made its recommendation after considering a 2014 staff proposal, and more than 4,000 public comments over the course of a year. That staff recommendation was based on an earlier 2013 working draft, produced in collaboration with eight advisory committees in 2012 and 2013.

After receiving the PSC recommendation, City Council held five public hearings ― on November 19, December 3 and December 10, 2015, and January 7 and 13, 2016. Council received more than 2,500 comments via email, letters, verbal testimony and an online Map App.

In February 2016, each Commissioner submitted potential amendments they wanted to discuss.

Amendment Report and Map App

The policy language and map amendments that are under consideration by City Council are now available for public review. They can be viewed in the Amendment Report prepared by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), and in the Map App – Land Use Layer. There also are a number of minor technical amendments, which are identified in the report.

The amendments in this report have not yet been adopted by Council.

Amending the final Comprehensive Plan requires a vote by City Council following public hearings. The Mayor or other Commissioner must make a motion to introduce the amendment — after considering public testimony. Then another Commissioner must second that motion, and the amendment must receive at least three votes (a majority of the five-member City Council).

Public Hearings on City Council-sponsored Amendments to the draft 2035 Comp Plan

April 14, 2016, 6 p.m.
Portland Building Auditorium (2nd floor)
1120 SW 5th Avenue
Portland, OR 97204

April 20, 2016, 2 p.m.
Council Chambers
1221 SW 4th Avenue
Portland, OR 97204

Time and date subject to change. Check our Comp Plan calendar for specific dates and additional information.  

Amendment “Themes”

Council-proposed amendments cover a wide variety of topics. A few notable themes include:

Middle Housing
The PSC-recommended Plan included policy support for more housing choices to accommodate greater diversity of family sizes, incomes and ages, as well as the changing needs of households over time. The Recommended Plan also directs most new housing growth to the Central City and to other mixed use centers and corridors.

Commissioners Novick and Saltzman have introduced amendments that take this a step further, putting greater emphasis on the “middle” scale of housing. This “missing middle” concept, coined by urban planner Daniel Parolek, includes multi-unit or clustered residential buildings that provide relatively smaller, less expensive units (think the older two-story courtyard apartment buildings in Buckman and Irvington, or fourplexes). This type of housing also creates a transition between the scale of four- and five-story mixed use apartment buildings (e.g., Division and Williams) and surrounding single-family areas. Increasing this type of housing will help bridge the gap between apartment living and entering the housing market; for example, it may help families who have outgrown apartments or millennials to buy their first home. See Chapter 5: Housing of the draft 2035 Comp Plan and pages 52-53 of the Scenarios Report

Through these amendments, City Council could direct BPS to consider future zoning changes within a quarter mile of designated centers, where appropriate, and within the close-in neighborhoods around the Central City. However, these potential changes would not occur for several more years, after additional public discussion to refine the idea.

Commissioner Novick wrote about this concept in a recent blog post called “Bringing affordability back to Portland’s neighborhoods”

The Portland Tribune also focused on the topic

Historic preservation
Mayor Charlie Hales introduced amendments to strengthen historic preservation policies. These amendments follow a recent decision to reinvigorate the BPS historic preservation program to better protect Portland’s historic resources. This policy could lead to new incentives and stronger regulations. See Chapter 4: Design and Development

Public Involvement
Commissioner Fritz offered a variety of amendments to clarify and strengthen public involvement policies as well as affirm the ongoing role of Neighborhood Associations. See Chapter 2: Community Involvement

Age-friendly City
Commissioner Fish has asked for additional policy to reinforce Portland’s goals to become a more age-friendly city. These amendments are in the Public Facilities and Transportation chapters of the plan. See Chapters 8 and 9, respectively

Employment land
Several Commissioners have offered amendments to better balance the need for employment land with other goals in the Comp Plan. These include amendments that adjust the amount of land zoned for employment at the Riverside and Broadmoor golf courses, as well as adjustments to the balance of Mixed Use and Employment zoning in Parkrose. See the Land Use Map

Next Steps & Public Hearings

City Council has scheduled public hearings on April 14 and 20 to hear public testimony about these potential amendments. Commissioners are tentatively scheduled to vote on these amendments on April 28. These dates are subject to change. Check the BPS website for specific dates and additional information.

What is the Comprehensive Plan?

Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan guides how and where land is developed as well as where infrastructure projects are built to prepare for and respond to population and job growth. All cities and counties in Oregon are required to have a Comprehensive Plan. Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan addresses future development and describes how and when community members will be involved in land use decisions. It helps coordinate policies and actions across City bureaus as well as with regional and state agencies.

The Comprehensive Plan includes five elements that work together:

  • Vision and Guiding Principles  
  • Goals and Policies
  • Comprehensive Plan Map
  • List of Significant Projects
  • Transportation policies, classifications and street plans