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Zoning Code updates to increase shelter availability for people experiencing homelessness moves through Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC)

With PSC recommendation, code update project goes to City Council for public hearing on November 2

After hearing public testimony on the Mass Shelters and Housing Zoning Code Update on September 13, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) held a work session on September 27 to discuss the proposal and make their recommendation to City Council.

The PSC recommendations provide more flexibility for the siting of mass shelters in zones where they are already allowed, including increasing the number of beds and reducing separation requirements between buildings. The new code also reduces parking requirements for some mass shelters and short-term housing.

The PSC recommended not to move forward with any permanent amendments affecting the process of design or historic review of affordable housing projects. This was based on a lack of case studies to determine the effectiveness of the current temporary measure as well as due to testimony received at the hearing. 

Read the Mass Shelters and Housing Zoning Code Update Recommended Draft.

City Council will hold a public hearing on November 2 to consider the PSC recommendation.

Portland City Council Hearing
Mass Shelters and Housing Zoning Code Update
November 2, 2016, 2:20 p.m.
City Hall Council Chambers 
1221 SW 4th Avenue

The public is also invited to testify in writing via:


U.S. Mail: Send to 1221 SW Fourth Avenue, Room 130, Portland, Oregon 97204

Written testimony must be received by the time of the hearing and must include your name and address. 

View the City Council hearing notice. 


In 2015, more than 4,300 Portlanders were placed in emergency shelters, and nearly 1,900 more were unable to find housing, even temporary housing. The code updates in this project respond to City Council’s direction to the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to “simplify regulations, remove regulatory obstacles and expedite processes for land use reviews and permits for affordable housing projects, mass shelters and short-term housing” (Resolution #37196, passed on March 9, 2016).

City introduces new tool to address affordable housing shortage

Planning and Sustainability, Housing bureaus collaborate on policies and regulations for new Inclusionary Housing Program

Last spring the State Legislature adopted SB 1533 that enabled local governments to require affordable housing units be included in new multi-family developments. Under the direction of Commissioner Dan Saltzman, the Portland Housing Bureau is undertaking a process to develop an Inclusionary Housing program that is expected to be adopted by the Portland City Council in December.

As part of this program, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has proposed changes to the Zoning Code that will require new development with 20 or more units to set aside up to 20 percent of the new units as affordable for households earning 80 percent of the median family income (MFI), which is about $58,650 for a family of four. As part of the program, developments will be eligible for density bonuses, fee waivers and tax abatements.  As an alternative, developers will be able to provide affordable units off site, but nearby, or pay a fee into an affordable housing fund.

Read the Inclusionary Housing Zoning Code Project Proposed Draft.

The public is invited to testify on the Proposed Draft at the upcoming Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) hearing.

Public Hearing: Inclusionary Housing Zoning Code Project Proposed Draft
Tuesday, Oct.  25, 2016, 4:00 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.

The PSC also invites testimony on this proposal through October 25, 2016, in writing:

  • By Email:
  • By U.S. Mail
    Planning and Sustainability Commission
    City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
    1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201
    Attn: Inclusionary Housing

Note: All testimony to the PSC is considered public record, and testifiers' name, address and any other information included in the testimony will be posted on the website.

Next steps

Following the PSC’s public hearing, the Commission will hold a work session on November 8, 2016, and vote on a recommendation for City Council to consider in December 2016. 


On February 10, 2016, through Resolution No. 37187, City Council asserted its intention to engage in a fair, deliberative, data-driven community discussion of enabling ordinances resulting from the removal of the preemption on inclusionary housing in the 2016 State Legislative Session.

Under the direction of Commissioner Dan Saltzman, the Portland Housing Bureau has introduced the recently formed Inclusionary Housing Program, which mandates the provision of affordable units in new multi-dwelling residential development through changes to the Zoning Code.

In response, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has proposed a set of new regulations to ensure the City complies with the Inclusionary Housing Program and SB1533. The Inclusionary Housing Zoning Code Project Proposed Draft requires that new construction of more than 20 units include a share of affordable units. The developer may also pay a fee in lieu of constructing affordable units, which will go into an affordable housing fund.

The Inclusionary Housing program is expected to be adopted by the Portland City Council in December, and is one of several tools available to the city to address the shortage of affordable housing.

For more information, visit the Inclusionary Housing Program website and/or the Inclusionary Housing Zoning Code Project page.


Recap: October 6 City Council Hearing on Recommended Early Implementation Package

Height/floor area ratio and transportation-related topics dominate first public hearing

Last Thursday, October 6, 2016, City Council held a public hearing on the Comprehensive Plan Recommended Early Implementation Package. More than 75 Portlanders signed up to testify, but due to unrelated events at City Hall, Council was able to hear testimony from roughly 45 people before running out of time.

What did people talk about at the hearing?

Public Hearing on Comprehensive Plan Implementation begins at approximately 1:39:20.

While testimony provided on October 6 addressed a variety of topics, there were some common themes, such as:

  • Parking minimums in mixed use/commercial zones outside of the Central City.
  • Floor area ratio (FAR) of properties zoned RH in Northwest Portland.
  • Drive-through facilities.

Next steps

This Thursday, October 13, 2016, at 2 p.m., City Council will hold another public hearing on the proposal. Portlanders may sign up to testify in front of Council Chambers starting at 1 p.m. However, please note that priority will be given to those who signed up to testify on October 6 and were unable to do so.

City Council Public Hearing
Recommended Early Implementation Package
Thursday, October 13, 2016, 2 p.m.
City Hall Council Chambers
1221 SW 4th Avenue

Please check the Auditor’s website for more information and to confirm details. People interested in providing testimony may begin signing up one hour before the hearing but may only sign up for one person at a time. Testimony is limited to two minutes per person.

Other ways to testify

City Council will continue to accept written testimony on the Early Implementation Package until at least October 13. Learn how to provide testimony by visiting the How to Provide Feedback page.

Building height in historic districts and view corridors the focus of Planning and Sustainability Commission work session on the Central City 2035 Plan

Read a summary of the September 27 PSC discussion; then review agenda for next work session about height in other areas of the Central City, parking and the Willamette River

On September 27, 2016, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) held the first of several work sessions on the Central City 2035 (CC2035) Plan Proposed Draft. At that meeting they discussed appropriate heights in historic districts and how some of the Central City’s iconic views should be protected.

Height limits for new buildings in historic districts

Proposed new regulations include reductions to allowed building heights in historic districts to ensure new development is compatible with the character of older structures. The Proposed Draft also removes the option to achieve bonus height in all historic districts in the Central City. 

Here’s a breakdown of the PSC decisions. 

Height in west side historic districts

  • Generally, public comments supported reducing heights in New Chinatown/Japantown and NW 13th Avenue historic districts.

PSC Action: In response to testimony, the PSC supported the proposed recommendations to reduce heights, with a small amendment to allow an additional 25 feet of height in the NW 13th Avenue Historic District south of Hoyt Street.

The historic Weatherly Building

East Portland/Grand Ave Historic District

  • Public comments were mixed about the Central Eastside’s East Portland/Grand Ave Historic District, where current height limits of up to 275 feet could be reduced by 75-115 feet.
  • The PSC expressed concern that the reduced heights might not allow property owners to make full use of the development potential of their land (measured in floor area ratio, or FAR).

PSC Action: The PSC asked staff to return with more information about whether the same amount of floor area (FAR) of buildings allowed today could be built with reduced heights.

Protecting the scenic views of the Central City

The CC2035 Proposed Draft includes an update of the decades-old regulations to protect scenic resources in the Central City. The draft includes proposals to adjust building height limits to maintain some views. Staff are also proposing to add new height limits to protect a few new views. The PSC discussed the three views that attracted the most testimony.

View of Mt Hood from the Japanese Garden

  • Since the Japanese Garden was first established in the West Hills in 1971, trees have grown and hidden parts of the view of downtown.
  • The Proposed Draft does not call for re-establishing the entire historic view of downtown, but it does allow limited tree removal to preserve the view of Mt Hood.
  • Some commenters asked for the historic view to be restored by allowing trees to be removed.
  • Other commenters felt preserving the trees on the steep slope below the garden was more important than the view because the trees provide important functions like stormwater management and wildlife habitat.

PSC Action: Support the Proposed Draft. Do not restore the historic panoramic views of downtown. Allow limited tree removal to maintain the current view of Mt Hood.

Vista Bridge from SW Jefferson St. with rendering

View of Vista Bridge from Jefferson Street

  • The Proposed Draft designated Jefferson Street from the I-405 overpass west as a view street to the Vista Bridge. It also increased height limits along Jefferson from the existing 30–45 feet to 40–60 feet while still protecting the view.  
  • Some residents of Goose Hollow wanted to keep the existing height limits along Jefferson Street. Other commenters asked for heights to be increased to allow for redevelopment in the commercial corridor and suggested adding a new viewpoint closer to the bridge.  
  • As a result, staff recommended amending the Proposed Draft by adding a new viewpoint at Collins Circle, with actions to develop the viewpoint and improve pedestrian access. Jefferson Street would remain designated a view street, but heights would increase to 75 feet to support redevelopment. 

PSC Action: The PSC supported allowing more building height along Jefferson Street and creating a new viewpoint closer to the bridge.

View of Mt Hood from Salmon Springs

  • Today, there are five locations from the west side of the Willamette River with views of Mt Hood. New development in the Central Eastside could block these views if no height limits are put in place.
  • The Proposed Draft included height reductions to protect a view of Mt Hood from the Salmon Springs fountain in Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park. These height limits would significantly affect redevelopment within the view corridor.
  • Many comments asked the PSC to remove the height reductions due to the impact on property owners. Other testimony supported protecting this view because of its importance to tourism and because views of Mt Hood are iconic and part of Portland’s image.
  • As a result, staff recommended narrowing the view corridor to affect fewer properties.

PSC Action: The PSC gave this topic considerable thought and made the tough decision not to support staff’s proposal to maintain the view of Mt Hood from Salmon Springs by reducing building height in a narrower corridor.

  Watch the first work session and read the decision packets.

What’s on the agenda for November’s work session?

At the November 16 PSC work session, the Commission is expected to discuss:

  • Height limits in the East Portland Grand Ave Historic District (continued from September).
  • Other height requests (originally on the September agenda).
  • Parking code (originally on the September agenda).
  • River and environmental topics.

PSC Work Session on CC2035 Plan
Wednesday, November 16, 4 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500A

Please check the PSC calendar to confirm time and location prior to each work session.

Information about the October 13, 2016 2 p.m. Comprehensive Plan Implementation Package hearing

Portlanders invited to testify in writing or in person

Approximately 45 Portlanders testified at the Comprehensive Plan Early Implementation Package hearing on October 6 with City Council. An additional 30 people signed up, but Commissioners ran out of time before hearing their testimony.

People who signed up on October 6 but did not have an opportunity to speak will be called first to testify at another hearing on October 13. Others will be allowed to sign up, but there may be a wait of an hour or more while Council finishes hearing from those on the October 6 list. Sign-in sheets will be available in front of Council Chambers about an hour prior to the hearing, which begins at 2 p.m.

City Council Public Hearing
Recommended Early Implementation Package
Thursday, October 13, 2016, 2 p.m.
City Hall Council Chambers
1221 SW 4th Avenue

Other ways to testify

City Council will continue to accept written testimony on the Early Implementation Package until at least October 13. Learn how by visiting the How to Provide Feedback page.