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Phone: 503-823-7700

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

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The latest news about Regulatory Improvement projects.


Draft code changes for accessory structures available for review

New rules proposed for the size, design and location of garages, ADUs, and other accessory structures

What do trellises, ADA ramps, air conditioning units and garages have in common? They’re all what’s called an “accessory structure” — or a smaller structure that’s an “accessory” to a house or residence. The City regulates their size, location and mass to minimize impacts on neighbors.

Through the Accessory Structures Zoning Code Update project, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is revising the City’s Zoning Code for accessory structures. It focuses on detached residential structures such as garages, storage sheds, home offices and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) as well as decks, trellises, ADA ramps and mechanical equipment. The new regulations will streamline regulations by emphasizing form (setbacks, height and bulk) over function (how the accessory structure is used) while continuing to address impacts on neighboring properties. 

The public is invited to review the Discussion Draft for the Accessory Structures Zoning Code Update.

The proposed amendments in the Discussion Draft will:

  • Expand the exemption that allows small one-story garages in side and rear setbacks to all detached covered accessory structures.
  • Set a building height maximum of 20 feet for all detached covered structures.
  • Require all detached covered accessory structures over 15 feet in height to meet revised compatibility standards.

The project focuses on detached accessory structures in residential zones, but code amendments are proposed within all the base zones as well as the accessory dwelling unit chapter in the Zoning Code.

The Accessory Structures Zoning Code Update Discussion Draft contains the staff proposal for code amendments and corresponding commentary.

A two-page summary provides a brief overview of the project and code changes, as well as a timeline for the review and hearing process.

Learn more at an open house

Project staff will hold an open house on July 9 from 5:30 - 8 p.m. to answer questions about the Discussion Draft. The open house will be in the Development Services Building, 1900 SW 4th Ave, Room 2500B (2nd floor).

Staff will also be making short presentations at neighborhood district coalition offices; check the Meetings and Events calendar for more information. 

Public comments on the Discussion Draft will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Friday, July 24, 2015.

Next Steps

Staff will consider public comments on the Discussion Draft when developing the Proposed Draft. The Proposed Draft will be presented to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) later in the summer, with an anticipated public hearing date in September. After hearing public testimony, the PSC will forward a recommendation to City Council for consideration and additional public review before final adoption.

Please check the Meetings and Events calendar for details on upcoming events.

RICAP 7 Proposed Draft Released

A wide range of minor Zoning Code amendments are headed to the Planning and Sustainability Commission for a public hearing on April 28

BPS staff have released the Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Package 7 (RICAP 7): Proposed Draft in preparation for the upcoming Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) public hearing on April 28, 2015.

This draft contains proposed amendments for 42 wide ranging topics, from clarifying existing limitations on the size of certain land uses (such as retail establishments in an industrial area) to specifying the maximum amount of time between when an applicant meets with the neighborhood for a project like a land division or condominium project, and when they submit their application. Many of the items clarify existing regulations, make minor fixes for code consistency, or restructure existing regulations such as converting the long list of design review thresholds into a table.

This Proposed Draft updates the public Discussion Draft, which as released in January. The Proposed Draft includes staff consideration of the comments received over a seven-week outreach period. This feedback was helpful in identifying areas of the code or commentary that some found to be confusing or that needed additional refinement to avoid unintended outcomes.

PSC Hearing Details
Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission – Public Hearing
Tuesday, April 28, 2014, 3 p.m.**
1900 SW 4th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Room 2500A

** Please check the PSC calendar approximately one week before the hearing for a more specific time and additional details.

View the agenda: www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/psc
View the Proposed Draft: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/524658
For detailed instructions on submitting testimony: www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/383906

Ladd’s Addition Historic Guidelines

The requested update to the Ladd’s Addition Historic District guidelines would address inconsistencies between tree species in the required street tree planting plan as well as tree species that are prohibited because they are considered nuisance species in the Portland Plant List. Staff is not advancing proposed amendments at this time, as additional work is still need to develop a suitable replacement street tree list and update procedure.

Staff will be briefing the Urban Forestry Commission on the status of the Ladd’s Addition Historic Guideline update on April 16 at 8:30 a.m. in the Lovejoy Room at City Hall (1221 SW 4th Avenue). There will be no public testimony at this briefing, but the public is welcome attend.

On April 27 at 1:30 p.m., the Historic Landmarks Commission will hold a public hearing to consider staff’s recommendation to not amend the guidelines until additional work has been completed. The Landmarks Commission hearing will be in the same location as the Planning and Sustainability Commission’s hearing (1900 SW 4th Avenue, Room 2500A).


Learn About the RICAP 7 Draft Code Amendment Package at Open House on Tuesday Evening, February 10

Community event features draft updates to design review exemptions and processes, neighborhood contact requirements, shed roof heights, floor area use clarification and more

The City of Portland continually updates and improves building and land use regulations through regulatory improvement code amendment packages (RICAP). The latest package (RICAP 7) includes 45 items for regulatory improvement consideration, including refinements to design review exemptions and review processes for changes to approved designs, neighborhood contact requirements, shed roof heights, floor area use and more.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Code Development Team will hold an open house on Feb. 10, 2015, 5 ― 7 p.m., to present information and answer questions about the RICAP 7 Discussion DraftThe open house will be in the Development Services Building, 1900 SW 4th Ave, Room 7A (7th floor).

Open House

RICAP 7 Discussion Draft
Tuesday, February 10, 5 ― 7 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Ave., Rm 7A (7th floor)

Read the Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Project (RICAP) 7 Discussion Draft

Portlanders are invited to share their feedback on the Discussion Draft with staff at the open house. Comments on the 45 items can also be submitted by mail to 1900 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201, Attn: RICAP 7; FAX: 503-823-7800; or email

Next Steps
The comment period for the Discussion Draft ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015. Staff will then incorporate those comments into a Proposed Draft, which will be presented to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) at a public hearing in the spring. The PSC will consider public testimony and then forward a recommendation to City Council for consideration and additional public review before final adoption.

For more information about RICAP 7 and the Discussion Draft, please visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/ricap.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is committed to providing equal access to information and hearings. If you need special accommodation, interpretation or translation, please call 503-823-7700, the TTY at 503-823-6868 or the Oregon Relay Service at 1-800-735-2900 within 48 hours prior to the event.

City Council Approves Short-term Rentals in Multi-dwelling Structures

New regulations will allow Portlanders to rent up to two bedrooms in their apartment or condominium

On Jan. 14, 2015, the Portland City Council adopted new regulations that will allow a resident to rent up to two bedrooms in their apartment or condominium to overnight guests through the Accessory Short-Term Rental (ASTR) permit process. Currently, this rule applies only to houses, duplexes and accessory dwelling units.

The number of short-term rentals allowed in a multi-dwelling building is limited to one unit or up to 25 percent of all units, whichever is greater. The rules for ASTRs in multi-dwelling structures are similar to those already in effect for single dwellings:

  • The short-term rental must be accessory to household living.
  • The property owner, if not the resident, must approve.
  • Basic safety measures must be met.
  • Required notice must be sent to surrounding residents.

For more information, read the approved Mayor’s Recommended Draft.

The new regulations became effective on Feb. 13, 2015. Prior to the effective date, the Bureau of Development Services will update the Accessory Short-Term Rental permit application to include multi-dwelling structures. The two-year permit fee is $100.

Visit the Bureau of Development Services Accessory Short-Term Rental website.

RICAP 7 Discussion Draft is now available for review and comment; Portlanders invited to open house to learn more

Code amendments would address design review, neighborhood contact requirements, shed roof heights, floor area use clarification and more

Regulatory improvement code amendment packages (RICAP) are intended to continually update and improve City building and land use regulations. RICAPs address technical matters and clarifications or refinement of existing adopted policy in typically a one-year revolving work plan. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) is now working on the seventh package of code amendments, and a discussion draft is available for Portlanders to review.

The new RICAP 7 Discussion Draft contains 45 items that are being evaluated for possible regulatory improvement, per community requests submitted via the Regulatory Improvement Request (RIR) Database. Comments from the public on the Discussion Draft are welcome through Feb. 27, 2015.

Open House                                                                                             

Project staff will hold an open house on Feb. 10, 2015, from 5 – 7 p.m. to answer questions about the RICAP 7 Discussion Draft. The open house will be in the Development Services Building, 1900 SW 4thAve, Room 7A (7th floor). Staff will also be reviewing the Discussion Draft with the neighborhood coalitions; check the project calendar for more information.

Read the Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Project (RICAP) 7 Discussion Draft

Summary of Potential Amendments

Many of the items in the Discussion Draft reflect simple code corrections or clarifications to ensure that regulations are implemented consistent with the original policy intent. Three items resulted in no proposed amendment after Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff researched and analyzed the issue. The remaining items include either minor policy or more substantive changes to:

  • Allow for small changes to approved Type III Design Review cases to be processed through a Type II review.
  • Specify that required pre-application conferences must be held prior to submitting the land use application.
  • Establish a one-year time limit for the neighborhood contact requirement.
  • Clarify how to measure the area occupied by land uses that are limited in size by particular zones.
  • Clarify how to measure the height for shed roof structures.
  • Allow fences in the commercial zone buffer overlay setback for sites with residential development.
  • Allow a conditional use review to establish alternative minimum and maximum parking standards.
  • Reorganize the definitions chapter to arrange items alphabetically.

Comments on the 45 items can be submitted by mail to 1900 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201, Attn: RICAP 7; FAX: 503-823-7800; or email

The comment period for the Discussion Draft ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015.

Next Steps

Staff will incorporate comments received on the Discussion Draft into a Proposed Draft, which will be presented to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) at a public hearing in the spring. The PSC will consider public testimony and then forward a recommendation to City Council for consideration and additional public review before final adoption.