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The City of Portland, Oregon

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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Bill Cunningham, Project Manager


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Better Housing by Design

  • Did you receive a notice in the mail? Learn more about this notice, what it means, and what you can do.

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

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

  • Prefer to talk to a real person? Call the helpline at 503-823-0195. Call us with your questions, 9 - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday.

  • Tell PSC what you think about these proposals! Testify online through the Map App.

  • 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

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.


News and Updates View all »

  1. May 25

    Better Housing by Design testimony (written) deadline extended to Monday, June 25 at 5 p.m.

    Testify to the Planning and Sustainability Commission on proposed new rules to improve higher density living in person or in writing.

  2. May 4

    Better Housing by Design aims to make apartment living better in Portland

    Learn about proposals to improve the livability of apartments and other higher density buildings, then testify to the Planning and Sustainability Commission.

  3. May 4

    Have you received a City of Portland notice in the mail?

    Here’s what it means and what you can do.

  4. Jan 23

    Better Housing by Design draft Zoning Code amendments now available for review

    Portlanders invited to review the BHD Discussion Draft and send comments to staff by March 19.

  5. Jul 5

    Ideas for improving multifamily development released

    Better Housing by Design Concept Report addresses open space, building design and scale, street connections and more; comment to staff by August 7.