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Summary Meeting Notes: July 12, 2012 Residential Development PEG

July 12, 2012 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

1900 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, 7th Floor - Conference Room 7A

Attendees: Matt Davis, John Gibbon, Anyeley Hallova, Gabe Headrick, Rodney Jennings, Gordon Jones, Rod Merrick, Stanley Penkin, Samuel Rodriguez, Emily Sandy, Eli Spevak, Irma Valdez, Justin Wood;Barry Manning, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) staff lead, BPS staff: Joan Frederiksen, Deborah Stein, Matt Wickstrom; Deb Meihoff, facilitator

View the original agenda, including materials, for this meeting.

Welcome, overview, announcements 

Presenter: Deb Meihoff, facilitator;Barry Manning, BPS staff

Summary: Review meeting objectives and flow; project or process updates

  • August and September work plan topics will be switched
  • August meeting will be in same location - 1900 SW 4th
  • An important outcome of the Portland Plan is the charge to view our work through an equity lens. The PEG needs to consider the benefits and burdens of outcomes when considering policy language




PEG Reflections, notes 

PEG members requested the notes capture a few additional details:

  • With regard to the connection between health and residential locations, particular attention needs to be paid to air quality and noise impacts with having higher density residential located next to major transportation corridors. Consider greater setbacks from busy streets or building this type of housing near parks and green spaces.
  • The current policy structure is not consistently supporting the type, scale, and location of new residential development that is desirable and meeting the needs of future generations.
  • The R5 and other less intense single-dwelling zones have “exceptions” that may encourage demolition of existing housing, and development of incompatible structures that affect both livability and housing costs.


  • Is there a way for PEG members to share comments or ideas online - not necessarily via email, but some sort of online comment log?
  • PEG members to send additional comments to be appended to the June meeting notes


Policy Topic Presentation 1: Design and compatibility of single and multi-dwelling development 

Presenter: Joan Frederiksen, BPS

Summary: Staff presentation on scale and compatibility of infill development in single-family areas and of multi-family infill in areas that are currently, predominately single-family, but are zoned to transition to predominately multi-family areas of the future. Issues of scale / mass include lot coverage, height, setbacks, length of walls.

Meeting presentation:

Group Discussion on Policy Topic 1

Summary:  Following the presentation, PEG members participated in an exercise of modifying potential policies (existing and new) and then engaged in a discussion.

Questions and summary of PEG discussion:

Should policy language include provisions for the “Five Portland’s” concept from the Portland Plan? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach?

  • Treating different parts of the City differently is generally a good idea
  • At the policy level, it seems like a good approach, but there are concerns with how it is handled in implementation
  • Adding on another layer of regulations/ complexity might be too complicated in implementation and may create greater potential for conflicting policies
  • ‘Five’ will not be detailed enough to respond to different neighborhoods with different characteristics
  • Many of Portland’s residential neighborhoods are so varied in design and style that it will be difficult to set  ‘compatibility’ standards, even with the Five Portland’s approach - compatibility will need to be clearly defined for this to work
  • FivePortland’s does not necessarily ensure that issues of scale and mass will be addressed differently than today
  • May be difficult to address compatibility in terms of setbacks, scale/coverage, and height – other factors to consider
  • Need to be extremely cautious that this approach is not counter to ensuring equity throughout the city

What should the expectations be for areas in transition, from predominately single-family development to predominately multi-family or higher density development in the future?

  • There should be clear and consistent communication to existing and potential residents about the changing nature of development in the area
  • We expect the city to grow, in part, by filling in the transition areas
  • The issues of compatibility generally come down to design in these areas
  • What happens at the ground level of new buildings is key to compatibly fitting in during the transition
  • Need to consider policy that supports a variety of multifamily development forms (e.g. splitting up existing structures into apartments like those found inIrvingtonand other neighborhoods with large, older houses; or new development of multiple units in structures that look like single-family homes from the exterior)

Meeting handout


Policy Topic Presentation 2: Design quality and compatibility in design and conservation districts 

Presenter: Matt Wickstrom, BPS

Summary: Staff presentation on overlay districts, general locations, and design review process (two-track system: Community Design Standards/clear and objective, and Design Review with Design Guidelines/discretionary). Community Design Standards are the primary focus of the policy work.  Generally, the design standards were written to respond to early 20th Century architecture, have not kept date with new building materials, and are producing development that is similar to areas outside of overlay districts.

Meeting presentation:

Group Discussion on Policy Topic 2 

Summary:  Following the presentation, PEG members participated in an exercise of modifying potential policies (existing and new) and then engaged in a discussion.

Questions and summary of PEG discussion:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of applying the Five Portland’s approach to design and conservation districts?

If we were to make design character statements or Community Design Standards stronger, what are the advantages and disadvantages?

  • A single set of standards applied throughout the city is not working. Need to be more responsive to the context.
  • However, there is concern about the layering effect of putting the Five Portland’s approach on top of overlay areas. Which regulations would supersede which? Are both necessary or could the conservation district be replaced by standards that respond to the Five Portland’s?
  • Need to balance prescriptiveness of standards and the desire to eliminate risk of bad design. Too prescriptive and developers can’t get good designs built, accommodating growth.  Not prescriptive enough and the compatibility suffers.
  • To the greatest extent possible, developers will avoid the 2nd track - design review - so the Community Design Standards need to change to address design issues. Can’t rely on design guidelines and design review.

Meeting handout


  • At the PEG members request, staff to report back on laws regarding conservation districts.


Public Comment 

  • Linda Nettekoven, community member, shared her neighborhood experiences.  Generally, neighbors are frustrated by development that comes as a surprise, because residents do not always know what is allowed or required next door / in their neighborhoods. The real estate community could be a key player in communications for areas expected to transition to denser development.
  • Jim Brown, community member, addressed the PEG and shared example photos of infill development from his neighborhood that appears to be incompatible with the existing development.  There are many different housing styles inAlamedaand they largely fit together because they were all generally built in the same period, 1920s. Some neighborhoods are varied, others are not - it makes the work of the PEG more difficult. Light and air access are going to suffer as density increases. Neighbors are always going to struggle with change in established neighborhoods.


For more information, please contact either Barry Manning Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-7965 or or Deb Meihoff, Facilitator at 503-358-3404 or