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Improving the Zoning Code, one small project at a time

City Council approved most of the code amendments in RICAP 6 on June 11, and those updated regulations are already in effect.

Council spent additional time deliberating on and refining the proposed rules for accessory short-term rentals. Following a work session and two subsequent hearings, Council unanimously adopted the new rules for Airbnb-type overnight rentals. The new regulations will allow Portland residents to rent one to two bedrooms in a single-dwelling unit, such as a house or duplex, to overnight guests. A low-cost permit and streamlined system will make it possible — and now legal — for Portlanders who want to take advantage of this new type of home business.

These new short-term rental rules will go into effect on August 29. The Bureau of Development Services website will soon offer more information about the process and how to sign up for a permit. 

Such rentals, however, are not allowed in multi-dwelling structures, such as apartments and condos. Mayor Charlie Hales convened a task force of multi-family, affordable housing, renter and design/build stakeholders to assess the impact of including these types of dwellings on housing affordability and availability in a tight rental market. Council will consider their findings and recommendations later this year.

RICAP 7 to address 44 more items

With RICAP 6 completed, the bureau can turn its attention to a proposed work plan for RICAP 7, which includes seven minor policy items and 37 technical corrections and clarifications. As with previous RICAPs, the items are diverse and touch various sections of the City’s Zoning Code, such as:

  • Processes for minor changes following design review approval.
  • Restricting concurrent pre-application with land use submittals.
  • Clarifying the definition of household living uses as related to disabled individuals.
  • Evaluating height measurement methodology.
  • Clarifying the Ladd’s Addition District Street Tree Guidelines. 

The Planning and Sustainability Commission will review the RICAP 7 work plan at their public hearing at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 26.

Accessory structures to be addressed through a separate regulatory improvement “midcap” project

Concurrently, the Code Development Team will tackle issues related to accessory structures, including distinctions between the regulations that cover garages, sheds, guest houses and accessory dwelling units. This “midcap” project (i.e., larger than RICAP, but smaller than a large-scale project) is slated to take up to 18 months, which gives staff more time to solicit stakeholder input and involvement. It will also examine the distinctions between regulations in residential and non-residential zones, and the requirements for “attached” versus “detached” accessory structures. The scope and detailed timeline for this project are still being finalized. Sign up to stay informed about RICAP7 and the Accessory Structure Midcap.