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Planning and Sustainability

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Phone: 503-823-7700

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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 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

Better Housing by Design project to improve multi-family housing design and increase street, bike and pedestrian connections in higher density areas

Community members invited to February 25 workshop at PCC Southeast to share ideas about how to make multi-family housing and neighborhoods more livable.

It’s no secret that Portland is growing — and will continue to grow as the nation’s population increases and more people move to thriving urban areas. And as Portland grows, more people will be living in multi-family housing in and around bustling centers and corridors — in places like apartments, condominiums, courtyard housing, row houses, townhouses and more.

Updating Portland’s multi-dwelling zones
A large portion of this new housing will be located in Portland’s multi-dwelling zones. So with more people living in compact housing, we need to update the rules to ensure new apartments and other higher density housing better meet the needs of current and future residents.

Multi-family housing development in and around centers and corridors allows more people to live close to commercial services and transit. However, some developments lack features that support healthy, active living for their residents, like play areas for children or sidewalks that lead to transit stops.

The new Better Housing by Design (BHD) project will address this need by revising the rules for medium- and high-density zones (R3, R2, R1 and RH) in neighborhoods outside Portland’s Central City.

Meeting City goals for healthy, connected neighborhoods
Many City goals and policies encourage better housing development that provides quality living environments connected to schools, shopping and transit. The Better Housing by Design project will build on these goals and policies as well as public input from past projects. The result will be a new set of implementation tools, such as Zoning Code regulations and street connectivity approaches, including new street plans for the Jade District and Rosewood/Glenfair centers in Eastern Portland.

Addressing equity and housing
The Portland Plan and 2035 Comprehensive Plan direct the City to prioritize underserved communities in decision-making. Larger proportions of people of color, low-income households and renters live in multi-family housing compared to the general population. This project will address the needs of underserved Portlanders through better housing design, incentives for affordable housing and street connections.  

Better Housing by Design is one of several City projects that will update regulations to address the housing need. Other projects include the Residential Infill Project, focusing on the single-dwelling zones, and the Mixed Use Zones Project, which focused on the commercial/mixed use zones.

Learn more at a public workshop
The BHD team has spent the last few months researching and assessing what and where the problems are in Portland’s multi-dwelling zones. This work is summarized in the BHD Assessment Report. Now it’s time to share some of what we found and ask the community for feedback on how to improve the design of multi-family development through the Zoning Code.

Whether you live in, are neighbors of, or help create multi-family housing, we’re looking for your ideas about:

  • Open space and other elements that support healthy living for residents.
  • Design that integrates with neighborhood characteristics.
  • Incentives for affordable housing and accessible units.
  • Creation of new street and pedestrian connections in areas that lack them, such as East Portland, so that residents can safely and easily reach local destinations.

Join us at a public workshop where we’ll have several activities to familiarize you with these topics,  including a presentation with an interactive survey, small-group discussions and a visual voting board. Participants will be able to learn more about the project, process and timeline, and provide feedback on the project’s initial concepts.

Better Housing by Design Public Workshop
Saturday, February 25, 2017, 10 a.m. – noon (doors open at 9:45 a.m.)
Portland Community College Southeast, Community Hall Annex (see campus map)
SE Division Street and SE 82nd Avenue
TriMet: #4, #72

Interpretation available upon request (see below). Please call 503-823-7700 at least three business days before the event for requests. Childcare available, but must be arranged in advance (by February 21) by calling 503-823-7728.

Want to learn more? Have questions?
For more information about the project, please visit the project website – particularly a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs). There you’ll find answers to things like, “What problems is this project intended to solve?” Or “Who decided these are problems?” And “How can public input influence this project?

Visit or contact project manager, Bill Cunningham at or 503-823-4203.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is committed to providing meaningful access to this public workshop. For accommodations, modifications, translation, interpretation or other services, please contact 503-823-7700 or use City TTY 503-823-6868, or Oregon Relay Service 711 at least three business days in advance of the event.

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