Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

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

More Contact Info

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.

Not all apartment buildings are created equal. Some include attractive features and design qualities; others leave a lot to be desired.

As Portland grows and more housing is required, our community will see more multifamily construction, such as apartment complexes, fourplexes, courtyard apartments and other types of multi-dwelling buildings being built.

So how can we ensure that these new housing units are more “user-friendly” — more like home? With outdoor spaces for play and gardening; more trees, sidewalks and pathways; and improved design standards for front and side setbacks, garages and height transitions?  

The Better Housing by Design (BHD) project has been working with residents, builders, designers and other stakeholders to figure out how to make new development in multi-dwelling zones healthier, safer, more comfortable and inviting.

Concept report sets the table
Over the course of several months, the BHD project team has developed a set of concepts that address these issues. These 18 concepts are the subject of the Better Housing by Design Concept Report. They address improvements to open space, building design and scale, development bonuses, Eastern Portland development standards, and street connections in multi-dwelling zones.

More open spaces: For instance, one concept would require that multifamily development on large sites include shared outdoor areas, like courtyards, to provide space for children’s play areas or gardening. Currently, these kinds of spaces are not required in the Zoning Code.


Photo: By combining individual outdoor requirements (currently 48 sq ft/unit), more shared outdoor space (basketball courts, playgrounds, garden plots, etc.) would be available for recreation and trees.

 

 

New types of streets: Another concept proposes a new type of narrow street (similar to the one shown in the picture below) that will make it easier to provide street connections on small sites.

Photo: By making allowances in the Zoning Code for alternatives to full-width streets, more (smaller) streets will create much-needed connections between large blocks in places like East Portland.

Setting the bar higher
New multifamily development plays an important role in providing more housing for our growing population. But Portland’s Zoning Code can set the bar higher so more people can enjoy these homes in neighborhoods that foster a sense of community and support healthy living.  

Read and comment on the Concept Report
Read the report and find out how the Zoning Code can help create better housing by design.

Then tell us what you think. Comments to staff are due by August 7. Your feedback will help staff develop the changes to the Zoning Code rules.

What’s next?
Project staff will develop draft code language that will be included in a “Discussion Draft” to be released in the fall. Comments on that draft will be reviewed by staff, who will then prepare a “Proposed Draft” to submit to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) sometime in the winter of 2018. The PSC will hold a hearing so the public can testify about the Proposed Draft. The PSC will then make decisions about how to change the draft before submitting it to City Council in the form of a “Recommended Draft.”

For more information about the Better Housing by Design project, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/betterhousing or contact Project Manager Bill Cunningham at bill.cunningham@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-4203.

New concepts for improving Portland’s multi-family housing ready for public review

Better Housing by Design project shared draft concepts at two open houses; now you can look at them online.

Last week, staff from the Better Housing by Design project shared draft concepts for improving housing design and development in Portland’s multi-family neighborhoods.  

At two open houses, Portlanders could view concepts that addressed key issues in multi-dwelling zones:

  • Open space for residents
  • Building scale and transitions
  • Development bonuses
  • Scale-based zoning
  • The Connected Centers Plan project for the Jade District and Rosewood neighborhood.

About 75 people attended the two workshops to learn more about and offer feedback on the draft concepts.

Missed the open houses and want to learn more? No worries. Now you can review the presentation and the information boards from the open houses.

Comments welcome

You can submit comments to staff about the draft concepts by June 12. Email betterhousing@portlandoregon.gov or call Project Manager Bill Cunningham at 503-823-4203. Feedback will be reviewed as staff finalize the Concept Report, which will be released at the beginning of July.

What’s next?

After the code Concept Report is released in July, Portlanders can provide comments to staff, who will consider the feedback as they develop draft code language. This will become a Proposed Draft for the Planning and Sustainability Commission to consider sometime in the fall of 2017.

For more information about the Better Housing by Design project, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/betterhousing or contact Project Manager Bill Cunningham at bill.cunningham@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-4203.

Making multi-family housing work better for Portland residents

Better Housing by Design project will share concepts and solicit community feedback at June open houses.

As Portland grows and more people need places to live, the demand for more housing will continue to increase. Greater numbers of people will be living in apartment buildings and other higher density residential units, such as fourplexes, townhouses and rowhouses in Portland’s multi-dwelling zones throughout the city.

But not all multi-dwelling development is created equal. Some apartment complexes, for instance, have very little open space for children to play and people to gather outside. Accessibility may be difficult for people with disabilities or older adults. And safe and convenient connections to local destinations may be nonexistent.  

This conceptual drawing shows what new code concepts for open space and accessibility requirements would look like.  

Improving housing through better design

In response, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability launched the Better Housing by Design (BHD) project to improve the design of new multi-family development for current and future residents. While the project covers all multi-dwelling zones (R3, R2, R1 and RH) outside the Central City, BHD pays closer attention to neighborhoods in East Portland, where a large number of families live in multi-family housing, and the area lacks good street connectivity and access to outdoor spaces. 

Project staff have been meeting with community members to discuss development issues and potential solutions. These discussions have informed staff’s work on a range of concepts for improving multi-dwelling design and development outcomes, including concepts for Zoning Code regulations that would:

  • Strengthen requirements for outdoor spaces, including shared spaces on large sites for play areas and gardening.
  • Promote pedestrian-friendly streets by encouraging street-oriented buildings with fewer front garages.
  • Encourage a range of housing options in medium-density zones, such as fourplexes, courtyard apartments and compact apartment buildings.
  • Change existing development bonuses to prioritize affordable housing.
  • Provide new approaches for street and pedestrian connections in areas that need them, such as East Portland.

Learn more and talk to project staff at June open houses
Project staff will share these and other draft code concepts at two open houses in June. Interested community members are invited to learn about and provide input on these concepts. The information presented at the two events will be the same, so there’s no need to attend both. Feedback collected at these events will be reviewed as staff finalize the Concept Report, which will be released at the end of June.

Code Concept Open Houses

Thursday, June 1, 2017, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. (presentation and Q & A at 6 p.m.)
1900 SW 4th Ave, 7th floor

Saturday, June 3, 2017, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. (presentation and Q & A at 10:30 a.m.)
Portland Community College SE Campus
2305 SE 82nd and Division, Portland, OR 97216
Community Hall Annex (in rear of campus)

What’s next?
Staff will release the final Code Concept Report in Summer 2017, when Portlanders will be able to provide comments on the document. After that, staff will develop draft code language to submit to the Planning and Sustainability Commission sometime in the Fall of 2017.

For more information about the Better Housing by Design project, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/betterhousing or contact Project Manager Bill Cunningham at bill.cunningham@portlandoregon.gov or 503-823-4203.

Help! New multi-family housing design in Portland needs your input

Learn more about the Better Housing by Design project, and share your feedback with the project team in April and May.

As Portland grows, more people will be living in apartment buildings of varying sizes, fourplexes, townhouses and rowhouses. These medium-to-high density housing types are allowed in multi-dwelling zones throughout the city. But too often the design of these buildings doesn’t meet residents’ needs.

The BHD project will update the Zoning Code to improve building design and development as well as foster housing that will:

  • Help meet Portland’s diverse housing needs, including housing that is affordable to lower income households and units designed for people of all ages and abilities.
  • Include open space and green elements that support healthy living for residents.
  • Be designed and scaled to fit in with neighborhood characteristics in middle-density zones.
  • Use new approaches to create street and pedestrian connections in areas where they don’t exist or are insufficient.

We need you!

There are still more opportunities to engage with the issues in the concept development stage of the Better Housing by Design project. We want to hear from Portlanders all over the city, especially those who live in multi-dwelling zones.

So you can …

What’s Next?

Staff will release a Code Concept Report in Summer 2017, and you will be able to provide your comments on that document to staff. After that, staff will develop draft code language to submit to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (expected Fall 2017).

Better Housing by Design project working to improve multifamily housing in East Portland

Community members invited to learn more and share feedback on ideas to create more open space, better housing design and improved street connections.

For years, people in East Portland have wanted improvements to the design of apartments and other multifamily housing in East Portland.

apartment parkingWhile new housing helps meet the community’s need for housing, the design of multifamily development has not always met expectations. Some buildings have no outdoor space for residents — leaving parking lots as the only place for children to play — and little space for trees.

Also, few housing developments have provided new street or pedestrian connections, making it harder for residents to walk to nearby destinations, such as schools, parks, shops and transit stops.

The City of Portland has started the Better Housing by Design project to address these issues in East Portland and other multifamily areas in Portland. City planners are working with community advocates and other Portlanders to improve the design of new multifamily development to better meet the needs of current and future residents.

shared open spaceAt a February 25th workshop, planners heard some great ideas and feedback from the public at PCC Southeast. You can see the materials and ideas that were shared at the meeting here.    

A series of Stakeholder Working Group meetings are being held through May to discuss design issues and code concepts in detail. The first meeting was held on March 7 in Gateway and focused on East Portland design and development issues. Popular ideas for multifamily development in East Portland included: shared outdoor areas for play areas, gardening and gatherings; preserving Douglas Firs and other large trees; saving the interior areas of blocks for more open and green space; and creating more opportunities for small businesses along major traffic corridors.

You can learn about these and other concepts — and contribute your own ideas — at upcoming events near you. Learn more here or visit the project website.