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MUZ Project focuses on mixed use areas

Can you walk from your home to a grocery store or eatery? 

That’s one simple measure of a convenient walkable neighborhood. These days, more Portlanders want to live in neighborhoods with convenient services, a variety of housing choices and good transit options that offer connections to jobs.

Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan aims to ensure that as the city grows, more residents and businesses will be able to locate in these types of healthy connected neighborhoods. The City’s long-range plan for population and employment growth proposes to focus development and investments in housing, businesses and services in mixed use “centers” and “corridors” throughout the city (see other stories in this issue). This approach will both accommodate future growth and advance goals for creating more convenient, walkable neighborhoods.

But not all centers and corridors are alike, and residents, business owners, designers and developers have been looking for clarity, change and consistency in the code.

Early implementation for Comprehensive Plan

The Mixed Use Zones Project, which got underway in early 2014 and is partially funded by a Metro Construction Excise Tax (CET) grant, will develop new mixed use zoning designations to help implement Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan. The project will revise the City’s Commercial (CX, CG, CS, CM, CO1/2, CN1/2) and Central Employment (EX) zones that are applied outside of the Central City.

The objective is to refine these zones so they can better support thriving business districts and accommodate more households and businesses. The project will also address issues that arise with newer intensive mixed use forms, such as building mass and bulk, design and context, transitions and step-downs to adjacent residential areas, and active ground floor uses in key centers.

Process and participation

The MUZ Project is advised by a 28-member group of community and small business representatives from across Portland, as well as development and design professionals. The project team has solicited feedback from residents and businesses through community “walkabouts” in seven neighborhoods last spring. Staff also held “Designer, Developer and Small Business Roundtables” with technical experts in mixed use development, architecture/design, affordable housing and neighborhood small business.

Upcoming public workshop previews code concepts and more

Soon Portlanders will be able to preview code concepts and issues being addressed at a Code Concepts Public Workshop, tentatively scheduled for early late October/early November. Please visit the website (www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/mixeduse) for exact date, time and location. Additional public workshops are planned for the December/January and spring 2015. So stay tuned!