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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.

Interested in multi-family development in eastern Portland and other multi-dwelling zones?

Portlanders sought to help develop code concepts that improve housing in higher density areas.

The Better Housing by Design (BHD) project is working to improve new development of apartments, townhouses, fourplexes, courtyard housing and other types of housing in multi-dwelling zones. Along with community advocates and other Portlanders, city planners are considering ways of improving the design of new multi-family development to better meet the needs of people who live here now and in the future.

February workshop produced good ideas and feedback

We heard some great ideas and feedback at the Better Housing by Design workshop on February 25, when staff introduced the project at PCC Southeast. Now community members are invited to explore these ideas and provide more input at a series of working group meetings.

The first meeting on March 7 focused on Eastern Portland design/development issues and citywide amenity bonuses. Future meetings will focus on other topics that have citywide relevance. You can attend and participate in any of the meetings.

Stakeholder Working Group Meetings and Topics

These meetings will provide an opportunity for community members to discuss design issues and code concepts in detail. Discussions and ideas will contribute to a refined set of code concepts, alternative development options, and conceptual street plans to be presented at a public workshop on June 3, 2017.

March 7 (Tuesday), 6 – 8 p.m. | Eastern Portland Focus
9955 NE Glisan Street (Ride Connection Office)

Focus on East Portland design/development issues and citywide amenity bonuses

  • Eastern Portland design/development approaches
  • Corridor design and land use provisions (including allowances for limited commercial near LRT stations and along major corridors)
  • Amenity bonuses, including affordable housing and incentives for accessible housing

March 23 (Thursday), 6 – 8 p.m. | Citywide Topics
4815 NE 7th Avenue (Northeast Coalition of Neighborhood Office / King School)

Focus on outdoor spaces and building scale

  • Outdoor space requirements
  • Form-based approaches for regulating development
  • Step-down height adjacent to single-dwelling zoning

April 6 (Thursday), 6 – 8 p.m. Eastern Portland Focus – Jade District
8114 SE Division Street (Jade/APANO Multicultural Space)

Focus on street/pedestrian connectivity and Jade District street plan and development options

  • Street/pedestrian connectivity – general discussion
  • Street/pedestrian connections in Jade District
  • Alternative development options for Jade District

April 19 (Wednesday), 6 – 8 p.m.: Citywide Topics and Inner Neighborhoods Focus
4815 NE 7th Avenue (Northeast Coalition of Neighborhood Office / King School)

Focus on street frontage design and Inner Neighborhood development options

  • Front garage limitations and front entrance requirements
  • Front setbacks in higher density zones
  • Alternative development options for Inner Neighborhoods

May 3 (Wednesday), 6 – 8 p.m. Eastern Portland Focus – Rosewood/Glenfair
16126 SE Stark Street (Rosewood Initiative Space)

Focus on street connectivity approaches and Rosewood street plan and development options

  • Street/pedestrian connectivity – general discussion
  • Street/pedestrian connections in Rosewood
  • Alternative development options for Rosewood

If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP to 503-823-7728 or betterhousing@portlandoregon.gov. And check the project calendar to confirm date/time and other details. 

Public Workshop on Code Concepts
June 3 (Saturday), 10 a.m. – noon
Location: TBD

This workshop will be an opportunity to learn about and provide input on the compiled code concepts, alternative development options, and conceptual street plans that will have been refined during the stakeholder working group meetings.

For more information