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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

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Better Housing by Design

  • The Map App highlights the proposed changes to zoning and more. Search for a property and review the proposed changes.

  • Looking for a summary of the proposed changes? Download this 8-page document summarizing the changes put forth for public testimony.

  • Interested in what others are saying? Read and watch public testimony online.

The Better Housing by Design project is revising development and design standards in Portland’s multi-dwelling zones (R3, R2, R1 and RH) outside the Central City. The types of housing allowed in these areas include apartment buildings of varying sizes, fourplexes, townhouses and rowhouses.

These medium- to high-density residential zones provide opportunities for new housing to better meet the needs of a growing Portland.

By updating the rules that shape new development of apartments and other higher density residential buildings, we can create more housing options for households of all ages, incomes and sizes. The proposed new rules also ensure that new development is healthier, more livable and better connected to streets and neighborhood amenities.

This project includes a focus on East Portland, fostering better new development that reflects the area’s distinct characteristics and residents' needs. The project is being coordinated with the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Connected Centers Street Plan, which is focusing on new approaches for creating street connections in East Portland.

Major topics addressed by the project’s code proposals include:

  • Diverse housing options and affordability to meet diverse housing needs.
  • Outdoor spaces and green elements to support human and environmental health.
  • Building design and scale that contributes to pedestrian-friendly streets and relates to context.
  • East Portland standards and street connections that respond to the area’s distinct characteristics and needs.

Current and proposed Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Designation Names

Current Com Plan Name Current Zone New Comp Plan Name & Abbreviation New Zone
Multi-Dwelling – 3,000
Multi-Dwelling – 2,000
Multi-Dwelling – Neighborhood (MD-N) RM1 (Residential Multi-Dwelling 1)
Multi-Dwelling – 1,000 R1 Multi-Dwelling – Corridor (MD-C) RM2 (Residential Multi-Dwelling 2)
High-Density Multi-Dwelling RH Multi-Dwelling – Urban Center (MD-U) RM3 (Residential Multi-Dwelling 3)
RM4 (Residential Multi-Dwelling 4)
Central Residential RX Central Residential (RX) RX (Central Residential)
  1. Comprehensive Plan designations, such as "Multi-Dwelling – Neighborhood," represent the long-term intended use for properties.
  2. Zoning designations, such as "RM1," include specific rules for the type of development and the size of features of buildings that are allowed on a property. The multi-dwelling zones are intended for a wide variety of residential development, including multi-family buildings.

Summary of the proposed multi-dwelling zones

Comparison of current and proposed development standards

Mejores viviendas a través del diseño

Note: This is not the Residential Infill Project, which focuses on the lower density single-dwelling residential zones.

Visit the About the Project page to learn more.

Four phase timeline from Fall 2016 to Fall 2018

News and Updates View all »

  1. May 23

    Better Housing by Design Proposals Move Forward

    Planning and Sustainability Commission votes unanimously to recommend new rules to improve development in Portland’s multi-dwelling zones.

  2. Jan 31

    Balancing housing opportunity and compatibility in the Alphabet and King’s Hill historic districts

    Planners are seeking community input on potential zoning changes to balance affordable housing incentives with neighborhood compatibility in historic districts.

  3. Sep 6

    Planning and Sustainability Commission begins work sessions on proposed new rules for Portland’s multi-dwelling zones

    Commissioners will consider public testimony on proposed guidelines for new apartments, townhomes and other multi-family housing as they prepare their recommendations to City Council.

  4. Jun 19

    Portlanders tell the Planning and Sustainability Commission what they think about Better Housing by Design proposals for higher density housing

    More than 30 people testified at a June 12 public hearing; written testimony on proposals to improve the design and livability of multi-dwelling housing accepted until 5 p.m., Monday, June 25.

  5. Jun 7

    Public hearing on new rules for multi-family housing on June 12 at PCC Southeast

    The Planning and Sustainability Commission wants to hear from you! Testify in person or in writing about proposals to make apartment living safer and healthier.