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CC2035 Work Session Recap: February 14, 2017, Planning and Sustainability Commission discussion

Commissioners covered FAR bonuses, bicycle parking, family housing and the view of Vista Bridge.

On February 14, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) worked though their Central City 2035 work session agenda, including:

  • FAR bonuses on surface parking lots (asked staff to return with a revised proposal).
  • Whether or not to consider bicycle parking a ground floor active use (decided that bike parking should be considered an active ground floor use but it should be limited to one quarter of the required active ground floor windows). 
  • Policies and actions to support family housing-related items (asked staff to amend an action to support schools). 
  • Revisited and affirmed their September 27, 2016, preliminary decision about the view of the Vista Street Bridge. 

You can watch the video of the work session is here.

Coming up

On February 28 staff will come back to the PSC with several items that were carried over from previous meetings, including the Broadway/Weidler Interchange Project that came out of the N/NE Quadrant Plan. Staff will also offer a number of other minor amendments for the PSC’s consideration. The link to the packet for the February 28 work session is here

On March 14 staff will bring forward amendments to the bonus and transfer code that are necessary to implement Council’s recently adopted Inclusionary Housing program and some changes that could be made to improve that program in the Central City. Keep an eye out for news about that work session on this blog.

The final planned PSC work session will be on April 11. Project staff expect to bring final amendments to the Commission. They will ask the PSC to take a final vote on the entire CC2035 Plan package and forward it on to City Council as a recommended draft.   

CC2035 Work Session Recap: Summary of January 24, 2017, Planning and Sustainability Commission discussion

Commissioners covered bird-safe design standards, eco roofs and a cost analysis of new and/or updated regulations for future development

On January 24, 2017, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) held a work session for the Central City 2035 Plan. Commissioners discussed bird-safe glazing, ecoroof regulations and the cumulative cost of new regulations on future development.

Bird safe glazing 

Research shows that up to 1 billion birds die every year in the United States from flying into windows. This is mainly due to the reflection of street trees and other vegetation onto glass, which creates a habitat “mirage.” Most birds are killed on impact when they collide with windows at full speed.  

In Portland, the surface area of buildings that poses the highest risk of strikes is the first 60 feet from the ground. Windows (or glazing) adjacent to an ecoroof and/or the river and areas near groups of trees also create high risk areas.

Seeking to reduce the number of bird fatalities, City Council directed Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff to establish bird-safe design standards in 2013. Based on public testimony, project staff worked with the bureaus of Development Services and Environmental Services to develop and modify new regulations to reduce the number of bird strikes.  

Revisions included:

  • Applying the standard across the entire Central City rather than only in areas with high tree canopy.
  • Applying a 30-percent glazing threshold for triggering the standard. This will capture predominately residential and commercial buildings with more glazed surface while exempting most traditional industrial development.
  • Creating an administrative rule to easily add to the list of available glazing options in the future.
  • Requiring special glazing on ground floor windows to help meet City goals for active ground floor use.  

PSC Action: Supported the proposed staff amendments.


Approximately 24 acres of ecoroofs have been installed on top of Portland buildings since the 1990s. Ecoroofs enhance the quality of urban life by providing multiple environmental, economic and human health benefits, including:

  • Reducing the costs of heating and cooling in a building throughout the year by insulating the building’s roof.
  • Improving air quality.
  • Reducing the heat island effect, thus keeping the Central City cooler.
  • Increasing urban green spaces for rest, recreation and beauty.
  • Providing urban habitat for birds and pollinators.
  • Protecting a roof’s membrane from sun exposure while increasing its functional life.
  • Managing stormwater in densely developed areas while also allowing more flexibility in building and site design.

Toronto is well known for its ecoroof requirements for new development, while other cities like Chicago and San Francisco have a mix of requirements and incentives.

The proposed standard for ecoroofs in Portland’s Central City applies to new development in the CX, EX, RX and IG1 zones and only to buildings larger than 20,000 square feet. The building’s roof top must be covered with at least 60-percent ecoroof with a few exemptions for solar panels, mechanical equipment and fire evacuation routes.

Public testimony asked for the regulation to be applied to smaller buildings, to cover more of the rooftop, and to allow more space for tenant amenities, like rooftop patios. Others were concerned about the cost of the regulation and asked the Commission to consider other types of roofs like white roofs or cool roofs.

PSC Action: The PSC supported the requirement in the Proposed Draft, but expanded the stated purpose to include managing stormwater, reducing urban heat island effects and improving air quality.

In addition, Commissioners requested further research to evaluate other types of green roofs, such as roof top gardens and landscaped areas, to see if these could meet the stormwater requirement. They also requested research on the use of ecoroofs on wood frame buildings.

Cost Analysis 
After the Central City 2035 hearings in summer 2016, the PSC requested an analysis of the cumulative cost that proposed new regulations could add to the price of new development so they could consider both the public benefits as well as their potential impact on the feasibility, scale and pace of development in the Central City. Portland Development Commission (PDC) and BPS contracted with EcoNorthwest (EcoNW) to analyze the impact of the following four new policies on future development:

  1. Changes to Parks System Development Charges (SDC)
  2. New Construction Excise Tax (CET)
  3. New Inclusionary Housing Program requirements (IHP)
  4. New green building requirements (including low carbon building registration, and standards for bird safe glazing and ecoroofs)

 Findings from the study indicated:

  • Parks and Recreation SCDs and the CET could add 0.97 and 0.01 percent, respectively, to development costs.
  • New inclusionary housing requirements could add up to 3 percent to development costs. However, the Housing Bureau would offer offsets for projects in the Central City, including a 10-year property tax exemption on all residential units (market rate and affordable). This would more than make up for the additional cost of IH requirements.
  • Green building requirements would make up approximately 1 percent of total project costs but could be 1.5 to 3.5-percent higher, if a project pursues full low-carbon building certification.

Staff indicated that while these additional project costs may have an impact, overall project feasibility is much more affected by construction costs, lease rates, land values and financial costs.

Next Meeting
The next PSC worksession will be on February 14, 2017. The agenda and materials are located here. More information about other work sessions is here

Central City 2035 Update: Preview of January 10 PSC Work Session on the Central City 2035 Plan

Commissioners to discuss street classifications and transportation projects; green building regulations; zoning and FAR requests; and Willamette River and environment amendments

On January 10, 2017, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC), will hold its third work session for the Central City 2035 (CC2035) Plan. The agenda includes:

  • Proposed street classifications and transportation projects
  • Green building items (ecoroofs, bird safe standards)
  • Specific zoning and FAR requests
  • Willamette River related amendments
  • And other miscellaneous amendments 

The meeting materials for these topics are available here and briefly introduced below. Check the PSC CC2035 work session overview for more information about future work sessions.


Proposed street classifications and transportation projects

SW 4th Avenue in Portland

The CC2035 Plan includes Central City-specific amendments to update the Transportation System Plan (TSP), the long-range plan guiding transportation investments in the city. The TSP provides transportation options for residents, employees, visitors and firms doing business in Portland, making it more convenient to walk, bike, take transit — and drive less — while meeting their daily needs.

At their January 10 meeting, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) staff will present  amendments to the Proposed Draft street classifications, transportation studies and transportation projects. A brief primer on each of these TSP elements is included below:

  • “Street classifications” describe what kinds of traffic and trips are expected on a street and what types of land uses the street should serve. Classifications can influence street design elements such as lane widths.
  • “Transportation studies” are intended to address issues that have a transportation component identified by the community or other entities.
  • The “transportation projects” are the City’s 20-year list of major transportation system improvements, including the general location and timing of implementation, the responsible agency and approximate cost. Projects may or may not have any funding “committed” to them, and many projects will require PBOT to undertake analyses before the design of any improvement.


Green buildings and ecoroofs

Multnomah County Ecoroof

Portland has been a national leader in designing buildings that reduce impacts on the natural environment — both in their construction and their operation. The CC2035 Plan requires developers of new buildings over 50,000 square feet to register for green building certification and submit a checklist of potential green building features as a part of the building review process. By requiring registration, the City seeks to increase the share of new construction that pursues full certification (full certification is not required at this time).

One green building technology that has gained national acceptance by the construction industry is the “green roof” or “ecoroof.” These roofs include soil and plants that help a building handle its stormwater during rainy seasons and reduce the costs of heating and cooling the building throughout the year by insulating the building’s roof. The CC2035 Plan requires new buildings over 20,000 square feet in size to include ecoroofs.

Finally, in 2013 City Council directed staff to establish bird-safe design standards with the goal of reducing the number of bird fatalities due to window strikes. Since the publication of the Proposed Draft on June 20, which included a bird-safe design standard for the Central City, staff have worked with experts to refine the proposal and will present an update to the PSC at their meeting on January 10.

Specific zoning and floor area ratio (FAR) requests

zoning graphic

At the July and August PSC hearings, some community groups and property owners advocated for specific changes to the zoning and FAR in the Central City. The zoning requests typically centered around areas such as Providence Park or the Central Eastside riverfront or — in a few cases — focused on specific properties. The FAR requests are primarily requests for increases along the transit mall and station areas. Staff will walk the PSC through these zoning and FAR requests and discuss any potential adjustments to the CC2035 Plan.


Willamette River amendments

Dragon boats on Willamette River

The CC2035 Plan includes a number of proposed changes to how the Zoning Code regulates the Willamette Riverfront. First covered at the PSC’s November 16 work session, this topic will continue in January.


What’s up next?

The PSC will hold their fourth work session on January 24. The agenda will be posted once it is finalized.

Please check the PSC calendar to confirm dates, times and other details prior to the event. You can also view the work session on the BPS YouTube channel.

For more information about the work sessions, please visit the PSC work sessions and hearing page.

Planning and Sustainability Commission discusses building height, parking code and Willamette River

Commissioners consider and make recommendations at work session for Central City 2035 Plan

On November 16, 2016, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) held its second work session on the Central City 2035 (CC2035) Plan Proposed Draft. Commissioners worked through a list of topics ranging from requested changes to maximum building heights to regulations for the Willamette River.

The following is a review of the PSC discussion and actions; read the meeting materials to see additional comments/requests.


This topic was a continuation from the PSC’s first work session in September. 

Image courtesy of University of Oregon Libraries

East Portland/Grand Avenue Historic District

  • Background: In September, PSC asked staff to determine whether new development would still be able to take advantage of allowed building volumes (or “FAR”) if maximum heights were reduced as proposed.
  • Staff research concluded that base FAR could still be used within the proposed heights, but in some cases would be difficult to fully utilize all potential bonus FAR.

PSC Action: Supported the proposed reduced heights


The PSC received comments on maximum building heights throughout the Central City during their July and August 2016 hearings. 

RiverPlace area heights

  • Testimony: Consider increasing heights in this area to take advantage of potential redevelopment sites.
  • Staff proposed a more detailed set of height limits and a few areas where increased bonus height should be allowed to encourage denser, urban scale development and more active uses near the riverfront.

PSC Action: Supported the new height proposal. See the decision table and maps for more details.

West End heights

  • Testimony: Consider reducing height in the West End to 100 feet to create a greater step down from taller buildings in the Downtown core and a smaller-scale environment in the subdistrict.
  • Staff informed the PSC that this same topic was discussed during the West Quadrant planning process, and ultimately the West Quadrant Stakeholder Advisory Committee, PSC and City Council chose not to make large scale height reductions in the West End. As such, staff did not propose any changes at this time.

PSC Action: Supported retaining the maximum heights included in the Proposed Draft CC2035 Plan

Height along the eastern edge of the Lloyd District

  • Testimony: Lower allowed building heights between NE 15th and 16th Avenues and south of Weidler Street to 75 feet, creating a step down to the adjacent neighborhood.
  • Staff did not propose reducing heights because the requested step down would be to a lower height than is currently built and allowed on the east side of NE 16th Avenue outside the Central City.

PSC Action: Supported retaining the proposals in the Proposed Draft CC2035 Plan

Building shadows in the North and South Park Blocks

  • Background: The Zoning Code currently regulates the amount of shadow that new buildings on the west side of the South Park Blocks can cast onto the adjacent park. Specifically, new buildings that exceed 100 feet must show that the additional height won’t cast even more shade onto the park. The Proposed Draft CC2035 updates this requirement to match similar requirements elsewhere in the city and applies the requirement to the North and South Park Blocks.
  • Testimony: Consider a similar provision for new development on the east side of the Park Blocks to ensure that morning sunlight reaches the park.
  • Staff conducted a shadow analysis of buildings of different heights and massing on potential redevelopment sites on the east side of the Park Blocks. As a result, staff proposed adding the requirement to the east side of the Park Blocks and requiring a 12-foot step back with new development. This will reduce shadows and provide additional public realm for the future Green Loop.

PSC Action: Supported this proposalPark Blocks

Southeast 11th/12th Avenue height and zoning

  • Testimony: Allow more building height and/or rezone the blocks between SE Yamhill and SE Hawthorne Streets from IG to EX zoning. Near SE 11th and12th Avenues and Ankeny Street, reduce the allowed building height to 50 feet to reduce development pressure on Victorian-era homes.
  • Staff reviewed these comments and also the zoning and height proposals in the Recommended Draft Mixed Use Zones Project. They proposed rezoning four blocks from IG1 to EX and setting heights consistent with the surrounding areas.

PSC Action: Supported this amendment


  • Testimony: Lower parking maximums to help the city meet its goals for reducing single occupancy vehicle trips. Other testimony suggested requiring a minimum amount of parking.
  • Staff informed the PSC that parking ratios included in the Proposed Draft CC2035 Plan were developed through the Central City Parking Strategy Project — a public process that included a Stakeholder Advisory Committee. As such, staff did not propose to deviate from the recommendations.

PSC Action: Supported retaining the parking maximum ratios in the Proposed Draft and did not ask staff to establish parking minimums. PSC requested that staff develop an action in the Plan to monitor the maximum parking ratios in seven years to see if adjustments are needed.


People on a dock

Landscaping in the setback

  • Background: The Proposed Draft requires land within the river setback to be landscaped.
  • Testimony: Generally supportive of this requirement, but there were a few requests for improvements.
  • Staff proposed an amendment to exempt the Eastbank Crescent beach area from the requirement. They also clarified where plantings should occur where the riverbank has been previously treated with rip rap.

PSC Action: Accepted staff’s proposed amendments

Swimming in the river

  • Testimony: The City should establish guidelines and provide the public with information about safe swimming in the river. The City should also ensure that there is no net loss in public access.
  • Staff proposed a new Central Citywide action for Volume 5 of the CC2035 Plan to expand opportunities for safe swimming while addressing potential conflicts with natural resource protection.

PSC Action: Supported this new action

Retail in the open space zone

  • This item was deferred to a January PSC work session. Staff is working with Parks and Recreation staff on a recommendation.

PSC Action: None at this time


Based on comments received from the Bureau of Development Services, staff proposed a small number of amendments to Volume 2A1 of the CC2035 Plan. These did not result in significant discussions with the PSC, but they can be reviewed in the decision packet.

PSC Action: Supported most of the proposal but asked staff to come back to discuss ground floor windows and ground floor active uses.

Watch the second work session and read the decision packets.


An updated list of expected work session topics and meeting dates can be found here.

PSC Work Session 3 on CC2035 Plan
Tuesday, January 10, 2017, afternoon meeting
1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500A

PSC Work Session 4 on CC2035 Plan
Tuesday, January 24, 2017, evening meeting
1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500A

 Please check the PSC calendar to confirm time and location prior to each work session.