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Phase 1 of the Design Overlay Zoning Assessment project is complete

Staff and consultant research reports now available online, including best practices from other cities

The Design Overlay Zoning Amendment (DOZA) project has reached the end of Phase 1. The DOZA team is now sharing the results of a Research Report that outlines the City’s current tools and processes to carry out Portland’s design overlay zone (d-overlay). The report includes:

  • A brief history of the d-overlay and its relationship to the Comprehensive Plan and Central City Plan.
  • Maps ­­of current and proposed d-overlay zones
  • A summary of Zoning Code, design guidelines and the processes that implement the d-overlay.

As part of this research, several helpful links have been compiled in one place, where you can learn more about design standards and guidelines, review procedures and fee schedules.

Peer Cities Report

To augment the staff research report, project consultant Walker Macy was asked to research and compile a Peer Cities Report, which documents several approaches to discretionary and nondiscretionary design review from other U.S. cities. The purpose of this research is to learn from other jurisdictions and share how they have used design-related tools and processes to achieve planning goals and desired outcomes.

The purpose of the DOZA project is to evaluate and improve the design review process. For more information, please visit 

Public invited to share feedback on how well the design overlay zone works and what they’d like to see improved

Online questionnaire allows public to give feedback on design review for new buildings in the design overlay.

Portland’s Zoning Code includes several overlay zones to address specific issues, such as historic resource preservation and environmental protection. The design overlay zone promotes the conservation, enhancement and continued vitality of areas with special scenic, architectural or cultural value.

dozaAs part of the Design Overlay Zone Assessment (DOZA) project, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is assessing the tools and processes that carry out the d-overlay.

Tell City planners what you think
The DOZA project team is seeking input from stakeholders, including neighborhood residents, architects, developers, affordable housing advocates and other interested groups. Please take a few minutes to complete the online questionnaire and tell us how the d-overlay affects new building design and how you feel engaged in the process.

Share the questionnaire
Share the link to the questionnaire, which will be available until September 9th, 2016, at 5 p.m., with your friends, colleagues, neighbors and others interested in the city’s d-overlay. Questionnaire results will be used to inform recommendations for improving the d-overlay and incorporated into the consultant team’s final report.

Design Review
Design review involves a two-track system, which offers architects and developers a choice to ensure that certain types of development will enhance the recognized special design values of a site or area:

  1. Discretionary design review by staff or the Design Commission.
  2. Compliance with the non-discretionary Community Design Standards.

The deliverable for this project is a set of recommendations to improve the standards and tools used for d-overlay zones as well as how the d-overlay is administered. Seattle-based Walker Macy is leading the consultant team in an independent, comprehensive assessment of the process, guidelines and standards, and results of the d-overlay zone.  

For more information about the Design Overlay Zone Assessment visit our website at or contact Lora Lillard at 503-823-7721 or

Meet the Consultant Team for the Portland Design Overlay Zone Assessment

Walker Macy will lead the consultant team for conducting an independent and comprehensive assessment of the City of Portland’s design overlay zone.

On May 4, City Council authorized a contract with Walker Macy for urban planning, urban design and facilitation services to inform the direction the City should take in expanding the Design Overlay Zone and improving the tools and process for its implementation. With this authorization, work on the Design Overlay Zone Assessment (DOZA) can now begin!

Walker Macy will lead a combined team that includes Angelo Planning Group and Pyatok Architects. Angelo Planning Group has a deep understanding of the City’s regulatory process and standards. Pyatok Architects has designed urban infill and mixed use projects throughout the West Coast and is nationally known for bringing social considerations into building designs that reflect individual neighborhoods and their populations. In addition, two firms will serve as advisors to the core team. Leland Consulting Group will provide advice regarding the relationship between design standards and development economics and Alan Weinstein, a land use attorney, will advise on in creating defensible regulations that also ensure public benefit.

More about the Consultant Team:

Walker Macy
Landscape Architecture and Urban Design

Walker Macy is a 35-person planning, urban design, and landscape architecture firm founded in 1976 with a practice throughout the western states. The firm’s award-winning planning, landscape architecture, and urban design projects have become places of enduring significance for communities. These parks have ranged from highly active places programmed for civic events, to intimate, serene nature parks that serve as oases of green space for the community.


PYATOK was founded 32 years ago to serve the nonprofit affordable housing sector throughout the Bay Area. Drawing upon their housing experience, they expanded to include market rate, senior housing, student housing, and mixed-use developments in regions throughout California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona and Hawaii. Today, PYATOK has designed roughly 35,000 dwelling units in scores of developments. Their practice has evolved to helping communities and organizations build higher density urban environments that are both more sustainable and equitable. PYATOK has been through a variety of design review processes in communities around the west and in this project, can bring an architectural perspective to the assessment of changes to Portland’s Design Overlay Zone, bringing to bear many experiences outside of Portland that may provide additional perspective.

Leland Consulting Group
Economics and Real Estate Strategy

Leland Consulting Group's work in more than 200 communities across the country has helped shape long term plans and build the projects that immediately improve residents’ quality of life: thriving downtowns, bustling shopping districts, inviting neighborhoods, and productive employment centers. As urban strategists, their role is to keep the big picture in sight, while providing deep expertise in the strategic, market, financial, and economic elements that make projects possible.

Angelo Planning Group
Land Use Planning

Angelo Planning Group (APG) provides clients with flexible and creative professional planning capabilities by focusing on the unique needs of our clients. Specializing in complex land use, transportation, and project management issues in the Pacific Northwest, APG offers a thoughtful approach and a high level of technical expertise. APG staff is adept at, and widely recognized for, balancing project objectives with community needs in order to achieve successful solutions. Most of the planners in our firm have public sector backgrounds, and our experience working on both sides of the planning counter provides valuable insights for our clients. In this project, APG will assist with research and assessment of codes and standards in the project study areas.

Alan C. Weinstein
Land Use Attorney

Alan Weinstein, President of Alan C. Weinstein, Inc., is a nationally-recognized expert on land-use planning and planning law. With over thirty years of practice experience, he has worked as a planning consultant, attorney, and expert witness in settings that include: preparing comprehensive (and district) plans and implementing regulations, research design and project management, and state/federal court litigation at both the trial and appellate levels. He served as Chair of the Planning & Law Division of the American Planning Association (APA) from 1990 to 1992 and for 25 years was one of the national experts in planning law who served as Reporters for APA's monthly publication, Planning & Environmental Law, until it ceased publication in 2015.