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Planning and Sustainability Commission discusses building height, parking code and Willamette River

Commissioners consider and make recommendations at work session for Central City 2035 Plan

On November 16, 2016, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) held its second work session on the Central City 2035 (CC2035) Plan Proposed Draft. Commissioners worked through a list of topics ranging from requested changes to maximum building heights to regulations for the Willamette River.

The following is a review of the PSC discussion and actions; read the meeting materials to see additional comments/requests.

1. BUILDING HEIGHT IN HISTORIC DISTRICTS

This topic was a continuation from the PSC’s first work session in September. 

Image courtesy of University of Oregon Libraries

East Portland/Grand Avenue Historic District

  • Background: In September, PSC asked staff to determine whether new development would still be able to take advantage of allowed building volumes (or “FAR”) if maximum heights were reduced as proposed.
  • Staff research concluded that base FAR could still be used within the proposed heights, but in some cases would be difficult to fully utilize all potential bonus FAR.

PSC Action: Supported the proposed reduced heights

2. HEIGHT LIMITS FOR NEW BUILDINGS IN THE REST OF THE CENTRAL CITY

The PSC received comments on maximum building heights throughout the Central City during their July and August 2016 hearings. 

RiverPlace area heights

  • Testimony: Consider increasing heights in this area to take advantage of potential redevelopment sites.
  • Staff proposed a more detailed set of height limits and a few areas where increased bonus height should be allowed to encourage denser, urban scale development and more active uses near the riverfront.

PSC Action: Supported the new height proposal. See the decision table and maps for more details.

West End heights

  • Testimony: Consider reducing height in the West End to 100 feet to create a greater step down from taller buildings in the Downtown core and a smaller-scale environment in the subdistrict.
  • Staff informed the PSC that this same topic was discussed during the West Quadrant planning process, and ultimately the West Quadrant Stakeholder Advisory Committee, PSC and City Council chose not to make large scale height reductions in the West End. As such, staff did not propose any changes at this time.

PSC Action: Supported retaining the maximum heights included in the Proposed Draft CC2035 Plan

Height along the eastern edge of the Lloyd District

  • Testimony: Lower allowed building heights between NE 15th and 16th Avenues and south of Weidler Street to 75 feet, creating a step down to the adjacent neighborhood.
  • Staff did not propose reducing heights because the requested step down would be to a lower height than is currently built and allowed on the east side of NE 16th Avenue outside the Central City.

PSC Action: Supported retaining the proposals in the Proposed Draft CC2035 Plan

Building shadows in the North and South Park Blocks

  • Background: The Zoning Code currently regulates the amount of shadow that new buildings on the west side of the South Park Blocks can cast onto the adjacent park. Specifically, new buildings that exceed 100 feet must show that the additional height won’t cast even more shade onto the park. The Proposed Draft CC2035 updates this requirement to match similar requirements elsewhere in the city and applies the requirement to the North and South Park Blocks.
  • Testimony: Consider a similar provision for new development on the east side of the Park Blocks to ensure that morning sunlight reaches the park.
  • Staff conducted a shadow analysis of buildings of different heights and massing on potential redevelopment sites on the east side of the Park Blocks. As a result, staff proposed adding the requirement to the east side of the Park Blocks and requiring a 12-foot step back with new development. This will reduce shadows and provide additional public realm for the future Green Loop.

PSC Action: Supported this proposalPark Blocks

Southeast 11th/12th Avenue height and zoning

  • Testimony: Allow more building height and/or rezone the blocks between SE Yamhill and SE Hawthorne Streets from IG to EX zoning. Near SE 11th and12th Avenues and Ankeny Street, reduce the allowed building height to 50 feet to reduce development pressure on Victorian-era homes.
  • Staff reviewed these comments and also the zoning and height proposals in the Recommended Draft Mixed Use Zones Project. They proposed rezoning four blocks from IG1 to EX and setting heights consistent with the surrounding areas.

PSC Action: Supported this amendment

3. PARKING REQUIREMENTS

  • Testimony: Lower parking maximums to help the city meet its goals for reducing single occupancy vehicle trips. Other testimony suggested requiring a minimum amount of parking.
  • Staff informed the PSC that parking ratios included in the Proposed Draft CC2035 Plan were developed through the Central City Parking Strategy Project — a public process that included a Stakeholder Advisory Committee. As such, staff did not propose to deviate from the recommendations.

PSC Action: Supported retaining the parking maximum ratios in the Proposed Draft and did not ask staff to establish parking minimums. PSC requested that staff develop an action in the Plan to monitor the maximum parking ratios in seven years to see if adjustments are needed.

4. WILLAMETTE RIVER TOPICS

People on a dock

Landscaping in the setback

  • Background: The Proposed Draft requires land within the river setback to be landscaped.
  • Testimony: Generally supportive of this requirement, but there were a few requests for improvements.
  • Staff proposed an amendment to exempt the Eastbank Crescent beach area from the requirement. They also clarified where plantings should occur where the riverbank has been previously treated with rip rap.

PSC Action: Accepted staff’s proposed amendments

Swimming in the river

  • Testimony: The City should establish guidelines and provide the public with information about safe swimming in the river. The City should also ensure that there is no net loss in public access.
  • Staff proposed a new Central Citywide action for Volume 5 of the CC2035 Plan to expand opportunities for safe swimming while addressing potential conflicts with natural resource protection.

PSC Action: Supported this new action

Retail in the open space zone

  • This item was deferred to a January PSC work session. Staff is working with Parks and Recreation staff on a recommendation.

PSC Action: None at this time

5. MISCELLANEOUS CODE AND MAP AMENDMENTS − PART I

Based on comments received from the Bureau of Development Services, staff proposed a small number of amendments to Volume 2A1 of the CC2035 Plan. These did not result in significant discussions with the PSC, but they can be reviewed in the decision packet.

PSC Action: Supported most of the proposal but asked staff to come back to discuss ground floor windows and ground floor active uses.


Watch the second work session and read the decision packets.


WHAT’S ON THE AGENDA FOR THE JANUARY WORK SESSIONS?

An updated list of expected work session topics and meeting dates can be found here.

PSC Work Session 3 on CC2035 Plan
Tuesday, January 10, 2017, afternoon meeting
1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500A

PSC Work Session 4 on CC2035 Plan
Tuesday, January 24, 2017, evening meeting
1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500A

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

Electric Vehicle Strategy Draft now available; City Council public hearing scheduled for December 14

The Draft 2017 Electric Vehicle Strategy is an update to Portland's first electric vehicle strategy.

Portland's first electric vehicle strategy, Electric Vehicles: The Portland Way was developed in 2010 to prepare for the launch of the first widely available electric passenger vehicles. The electric vehicle market landscape has changed significantly over the past six years. The Draft 2017 Electric Vehicle Strategy is an updated version that establishes the City's current electric vehicle-related priorities and identifies the actions the City will take before the end of 2020 to further the electrification of the transportation sector. The Draft 2017 EV Strategy is scheduled to be considered by Council on Wednesday, December 14.

Read the 2017 Draft Electric Vehicle Strategy.

City Council Public Hearing(s):

The public is invited to testify on the Draft Electric Vehicle Strategy at the upcoming City Council hearing.

December 14, 9:45 a.m. (time certain)
Public hearing

All public hearings will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Avenue. Meetings will be broadcast live at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/28258.

How do I testify at City Council?

You may testify in person by signing up when you arrive. Check the Council agenda prior to the hearing to confirm the item is still scheduled.

You may also testify on the Recommended Draft in writing:

Via U.S. Mail: 1221 SW Fourth Ave. Room 130, Portland, Oregon 97204

Via email: CCTestimony@portlandoregon.gov.

Note: Written testimony must be received by the end of the hearing(s) and must include your name and address. All testimony to City Council is considered public record, and testifiers' name, address and any other information included in the testimony will be posted on the website.

Next steps

At the end of the public hearing, City Council will vote on a resolution to adopt the 2017 Draft Electric Vehicle Strategy.

Inclusionary Housing Recommended Draft now available; City Council public hearing scheduled for December 8

City Council will consider adopting an Inclusionary Housing Program as one of the many tools to increase Portland’s affordable housing supply.

City Council will consider a recommendation from the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) to amend the Zoning Code and the Housing Code to implement an Inclusionary Housing program. A work session is scheduled for November 29, followed by a public hearing on December 8.

The Inclusionary Housing zoning code changes create a new mandate for the production of affordable housing. New development with more than 20 units in one building will be required to have a share or portion that is affordable as defined by proposed regulations.

Specifically, the program requires residential development projects to provide housing affordable to households below 80 percent of median family income (MFI) with an alternative option for projects that choose to produce housing for households at 60 percent MFI and below.

The proposed amendments set the percent of all units in a development that must be affordable to meet the terms of the program. Referred to as the “inclusion rate” that must be provided in one of the following ways:

  • On-site. Providing at least 20 percent of the units are affordable to those earning no more than 80 percent MFI, or at least 10 percent of the units are affordable to those earning no more than 60 percent MFI; or
  • Off-site. Either construct new units or dedicate existing units.  If constructing new units, either provide 20% of the total units at 60% MFI, or 10% of the total units at 30% MFI. If dedicating existing units, either provide 25% of the total units at 60% MFI, or 15% of the total units at 30% MFI; or
  • The applicant pays a fee-in-lieu of providing affordable units.

The other zoning code amendments change the base zones of the Central City and Gateway Plan Districts to develop a base Floor Area Ratio (FAR) and bonus FAR to offset some of the cost of compliance with the IH program. The proposed amendments also eliminate the parking minimums for residential development projects close to transit.  The other parts of the Inclusionary Housing Program will be implemented through amendments to Title 30, the Housing Code. These provisions include the incentive packages offered to offset the costs to development and a fee schedule for the in-lieu fee option.

If approved by City Council, all new multi-family or mixed use development with more than 20 units will be subject to these requirements effective as of February 1, 2017.

For more information, read the Inclusionary Housing Zoning Code Project Recommended Draft

City Council Briefing and Public Hearing(s):

The public is invited to testify on the Recommended Draft at the upcoming City Council hearing.

Staff will start the process by providing a briefing to City Council on the Recommended Draft. Council will then hold a public hearing, followed by a vote to adopt the code changes.

November 29, 9:00 a.m. (time certain)
Briefing (no public testimony)

December 8, 2:00 p.m. (time certain)       
Public hearing

All public hearings will be held in Council Chambers at City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Avenue. Meetings will be broadcast live at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/28258.

How do I testify at City Council?
You may testify in person by signing up when you arrive. Check the Council agenda prior to the hearing to confirm the item is still scheduled.

You may also testify on the Recommended Draft in writing:

Via U.S. Mail: 1221 SW Fourth Ave. Room 130, Portland, Oregon 97204

Via emailCCTestimony@portlandoregon.gov.

Note: Written testimony must be received by the end of the hearing(s) and must include your name and address. All testimony to City Council is considered public record, and testifiers' name, address and any other information included in the testimony will be posted on the website.

Next steps

After the briefing and public hearing, City Council will vote to adopt the new regulations. Changes to the Zoning Code are anticipated to become effective on February 1, 2017.

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

 

Portland Design Commission reviews preliminary report for Design Overlay Zone Assessment (DOZA) Project

Consultant’s research affirms community support for thoughtful building design but says d-overlay system needs improvement

In May of this year, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, in collaboration with the Bureau of Development Services, hired consultant Walker Macy to lead an independent and comprehensive review of the City’s design (d) overlay zone, including the design review process, tools and results.

By August the consultant team had published the results of their analysis of Portland’s regulations and processes for the d-overlay and how they fit together. They also looked at best practices from other cities, including discretionary design review and the application of nondiscretionary design standards.

Last week, the Walker Macy team shared an Interim Report on the Design Overlay Zone Assessment (DOZA) during a briefing with the Portland Design Commission. The report outlines their findings, based on a review of peer cities, interviews with stakeholders, a public questionnaire and evaluations of example projects. The report also offers preliminary recommendations for improving the processes and tools that implement the d-overlay in the city of Portland. 

What did the consultants learn about design review in Portland?

The consultant team found strong community support for thoughtful design and that Portland is recognized as a national model for creating a livable urban environment through design. However, the current d-overlay system could be improved to make the process more efficient and better align the regulatory tools with today’s design objectives. 

Commercial/mixed use buildings

What are the recommendations for improvement?

Walker Macy made several preliminary recommendations for improving the design review process, including the following:

  • Adjust thresholds for different types of design review to best serve projects at all scales.
  • Update Community Design Standards and Community Design Guidelines to better sync with each other.
  • Reduce the Design Commission’s workload by making the process more efficient.  

 

At the briefing, the Design Commission engaged in a robust discussion about the report, expressing support for recommendations such as those to consolidate and update the tools and offering the consultants directions for further investigation. Commissioners identified the need to incorporate community voices into the design review process as well as balance the goals of ensuring design quality with serving applicants effectively. 

Next Steps

The DOZA team will release a detailed set of recommendations in early 2017. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in during an open house tentatively planned for February 2017.

 The consultant team will then refine and produce a final report of findings and recommendations and present their work to Design Commission, Planning and Sustainability Commission and City Council in spring 2017.

For more information about the Design Overlay Zone Assessment visit our website at www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/DOZA or contact Lora Lillard at 503-823-7721 or lora.lillard@portlandoregon.gov

How Portlanders can make the most of holiday food scraps

The holiday season often brings more food, festivities and the potential for increased waste. This year, include the food by making sure your holiday food scraps and leftovers end up in the green Portland Composts! roll cart.

turkey

Try a few of these simple tips to help make curbside composting easy during the holiday season.

In the kitchen: Store your kitchen compost pail next to your prep area so it’s handy during food preparation. Keep your pail tidy by lining it with newspaper, a paper bag or an approved compostable liner. You can also wrap up food scraps in a piece of newspaper before placing them in your kitchen pail.

Creative uses for Thanksgiving leftovers provides a better option for food you purchased and prepared for others.

To get the most from your bird, make stock with the bones before you compost it. It's easier than you think. By adding water, carrots, onions, celery and perhaps some favorite herbs and spices or even white wine, you can create flavorful stock to freeze for future winter cooking.

Enjoy your leftovers (many holiday foods taste better the second day), make a turkey sandwich, a casserole or get creative with your own concoction!

And when you’ve gotten everything out of your meal, add the turkey bones and any other food left to your green compost roll cart. 

On your pickup day: Set your green compost roll cart on the curb every week, even if it’s not full.  Before you empty your kitchen pail into your green roll cart, try placing a few sheets of newspaper, a paper bag or a pizza box on the bottom of the roll cart to absorb moisture. Even better, you can layer your food with some leaves or yard debris to absorb moisture and odors.

Find more ways to save money and waste less food this holiday at Resourceful PDX.

Is it food? It's compostable!
Get a detailed list of what goes in the green compost roll cart.

Have a question for our Curbside Hotline Operator?
Submit your question online or call 503-823-7202.