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Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

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

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PSC News: September 13, 2016 Meeting Recap

Mass Shelters and Housing Zoning Code Update — hearing/recommendation; Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Code Changes — hearing


  • Mass Shelters and Housing Zoning Code Update — hearing / recommendation
  • Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Code Changes — hearing

Meeting files

An archive of meeting minutes and documents of all Planning and Sustainability Commission meetings are available at

Swimming Beach Study analyzes five potential sites for river access in the Central City

Results indicate the Hawthorne Bowl is most suitable for swimmers of all ages and abilities

At the center of the city, the Willamette River is the heart of Portland. And as improvements to the City’s wastewater and stormwater systems have made the Willamette much cleaner, people want better access to the shore and into the river. Groups of fitness swimmers can be spotted crossing the river on summer mornings, but easy access into the water is limited — especially for the casual swimmer or children.

To determine the feasibility of creating a family-friendly beach that’s safe for all skill levels in the Central City, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and Portland Parks and Recreation led development of the Draft Central City Potential Swimming Beaches Study. A consultant team (including an avid Willamette River swimmer) assessed the suitability of five sites for future beaches. Four are on the west bank and one is on the east bank of the river:

  1. The Zidell property in South Waterfront
  2. “Poetry at the Beach” beneath the Marquam Bridge
  3. Hawthorne Bowl in Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park
  4. Eastbank Crescent south of the Hawthorne Bridge
  5. McCormick Pier north of the Steel Bridge

Based on characteristics of successful river beaches in other Pacific Northwest cities, evaluation criteria were identified focusing on public safety (gentle slopes into the river and ease of access) as well as desirable beach attributes, such as good sun exposure.

After scoring each site against the criteria, the evaluation team identified the Hawthorne Bowl as the site with the most favorable conditions for a new public beach. 

Read the August 16, 2016, story about the study in the Portland Tribune

The final study will be sent to the Portland City Council for their consideration in early October along with design ideas for the Eastbank Crescent, one of the sites assessed in the study. The study will guide city decisions about funding and developing beach access in the Central City.

For more information, visit the project website or call Lori Grant at 503-823-7849. 

RICAP 8 Discussion Draft is now available for public review and comment

Code improvements address land divisions, property line adjustments, trees, removal of Historic Resource Inventory listings and more

Portland’s Zoning Code is anything but static. Public input, new land use plans and policies, and code updates ensure that the City’s regulations meet the needs of current and future residents.

A new package of code amendments is now ready for public review and comment. The regulatory improvement code amendment package (RICAP) 8 Discussion Draft contains 49 items that are being evaluated for possible regulatory improvement. The scope of RICAP 8 was shaped by community requests submitted via the Regulatory Improvement Request (RIR) Database and/or identified by City staff as needing resolution.

Read the Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Project (RICAP) 8 Discussion Draft

Summary of Potential Amendments

Many of the items in the RICAP 8 Discussion Draft reflect simple code corrections or clarifications to ensure that regulations are implemented consistently with the original policy intent. Ten 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.

Highlights include:

  • Creation of a 120-day delay for the removal of ranked structures from the Historic Resource Inventory.
  • Clarification of how water features, like drainageways and wetlands, should be defined and protected in land divisions.
  • Reduction of the ability to create lot lines in land divisions and property line adjustments that are not straight.
  • Increase in flexibility for some loading standards on local service streets.
  • Clarification on how tree protection requirements apply when a portion of the root protection zone extends onto an adjacent property or right-of-way.
  • Increase in the allowable fine for unlawful damage or removal of a Heritage Tree on private property.
  • Addition of authority for the City to levy liens and utilize other mechanisms for unpaid fees tied to tree code violations.

The comment period for the Discussion Draft ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, October 14, 2016.

Please submit comments by mail to 1900 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201, Attn: RICAP 8; by FAX: 503-823-7800; or by email

Next Steps

Staff will consider comments on the Discussion Draft to create a Proposed Draft, which will be presented to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) at a public hearing in December 2016. The PSC will consider public testimony and then forward a recommendation to City Council for consideration and additional public review before final adoption next year.


Regulatory improvement code amendment packages are intended to continually update and improve City building and land use regulations. RICAPs address technical matters and clarifications or refine existing adopted policy, typically in a one-year revolving work plan. 

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