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Summary Meeting Notes: September 13, 2012 Residential Development and Compatibility PEG

September 13, 2012 from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

PEG Attendees: Matt Davis, Tamara DeRidder, John Gibbon, Michael Hayes, Rodney Jennings, Erica Palmer, Emily Sandy, Eli Spevak, Justin Wood

Staff/Presenters: Deb Meihoff, Communitas, Barry Manning (BPS PEG lead), Chris Scarzello (BPS staff-presenter), Radcliffe Dacany (BPS staff-presenter), Amy Gilroy (OPHI presenter), Steve White (OPHI presenter)

Other Attendees: Jim Brown, David Sweet, Ashe Urban; Sara Schooley (PBOT); BPS staff: Phil Nameny, Debbie Bischoff, Matt Wickstrom, Bill Cunningham, Joan Fredrickson, Lora Lillard, Deborah Stein

Make-up Meeting - September 25, 2012: A meeting was held on September 25 for PEG members who could not attend the regularly-scheduled meeting.  The meeting did not include the demographics presentation by Mr. Dacany or presentations by Ms. Gilroy or Mr. White of OPHI.  The summary of the discussion at this meeting is incorporated herein.  In attendance at the make-up session: Anyeley Hallova, Gabe Headrick, Gordon Jones, James McGrath, Rod Merrick, Stanley Penkin, Irma Valdez; Barry Manning (BPS PEG lead); Chris Scarzello (BPS staff-presenter)

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

Key Points 

  • Meeting focused on policy options for addressing site planning for multi-dwelling development on large/irregular lots (site layout, outdoor areas, connectivity, etc.) and building form for multi-dwelling development.
  • Provisions that require pedestrian or bicycle connections through large development sites is ideal, but must be designed and located in a way that balances the benefits to the community, addresses development site limitations, and minimizes safety concerns.
  • Consider policy adjustments that treat building forms the same no matter the zone (i.e. all single family development has the same set of standards, whether in a low-density or moderate-density zone).
  • Development standards should be clear and promote the types of neighborhoods and housing that is desired. The discretionary process is not frequently used and so may not be the most effective way to accomplish community goals.

Welcome, overview, announcements 

  • The Bureau is still working on a discussion board for PEG members.  Members stressed the importance of such a forum, especially to help identify other discussion topics.

PEG Process Updates and Feedback 

  • Barry Manning provided an update of the Comprehensive Plan update timeline.

Presentation:  Portland Demographics
Presenter: Radcliffe Dacany, BPS Staff
Note:  this presentation was not shown at the make-up meeting

Summary: Overview of demographic data and maps illustrating city and regional trends in race, ethnicity, income, poverty. PEG members requested additional information about Portland’s demographics to assist them in considering equity in their policy discussions. Specific requests, if data is readily available from Portland Plan background documents or other sources:

  • Distribution map of home ownership v rental (tenure) by population and land use, if available
  • Any information that cross-tabulates tenure with income, race/ethnicity, etc.
  • If available, something that shows or tells how much of the multi family-zoned areas are developed in the multi family form now versus single family detached form

Meeting presentation: 

Policy Topic Presentation 1:  Site planning for multi-dwelling development on large/irregular lots:  site layout, outdoor areas, orientation, connectivity, etc.
Presenter: Chris Scarzello, BPS;  Amy Gilroy,Steve White, Oregon Public Health Institute

Summary: Staff and guest presentations of policy; affordability, connectivity, health, equity, and other key issues and community concerns

Meeting handouts and presentation:

Policy Topic Presentation 2: Building form for multi-dwelling development 
Presenter: Chris Scarzello, BPS

Summary: Staff presentation of policy, key issues and community concerns

Meeting handouts and presentation:

Group Discussion on Policy Topics 
Facilitator: Deb Meihoff 

Summary of PEG discussion:

Site planning and features:

  • There is a need for a larger framework for development in places like outer east that site planning on a project-by-project basis does not fully address.
  • A standards approach to development is still preferred, although some discretion may be needed on a case-by-case basis.  Guidelines used in discretionary reviews should have clear performance objectives.  Development standards such as setbacks, on-site landscaping and other features need to be reexamined. 
  • Set a framework for desired development; consider a menu approach to desired on-site features
  • Consider incentives for lot consolidation and improved site planning
  • Public investments in key infrastructure framework (streets, parks, etc.) are necessary for some areas (eastPortland) and will make it easier for development community to respond to other desired sit and design features.
  • Adding development requirements for larger outdoor areas needs to be carefully considered and should not be used to substitute for public parks.

Connectivity through residential developments:

  • Consider whether or not there are residential site planning and connectivity solutions to be found in policies for large-scale commercial development.
  • Connections through sites can be either land consumptive or create perceptions of ‘safety’ issues and, therefore, developers tend to shy away from providing the connections.  If designed and placed properly, with CEPTD principles, bicycle and pedestrian connections can benefit the development and surrounding neighborhood.
  • Requiring connections during the development phase are more easily accommodated in a subdivision process than through permitting. Need to consider how policy can or should address expectations of internal neighborhood connections. This may be less of an issue at the policy level than an implementation issue.
  • “Shadow-platting” un- or under-developed areas may be a good tool to help document expectations of future public connections, but it is hard to memorialize.

Building form in multi-family areas

  • Consider policy that leads to addressing standards by building form, rather than by zone.  For instance, single-family buildings, no matter what zone they are being developed, must adhere to the same set of development standards.
  • Existing non-conforming development policy and economics encourage non-conforming development to continue - this makes it more difficult to address form, density or infrastructure issues in areas that are already partly built out.
  • Detached single family form in multi-family zones should be discouraged in some settrings. There are better multi-family design examples to achieve the look and compatibility of single-family while also achieving density and affordability (ex: New Columbia development forms). Disallowing detached single family development in multi-family areas can be an important tool for a ‘built-up’ city.
  • Form type is less important than meeting the density / growth expectations.
  • Focus density expectations on areas that are likely to build up given proximity to urban amenities and infrastructure.
  • Consider policy options to address potential shortage of attached housing over time, given demographic projections. Disallowing single-family in multi-family areas may be one approach to ensuring land availability in the future.
  • Need to hold high development standards for multi-family, as with single family, but must also balance issue of affordability. Re-visit policies regarding outdoor area requirements for multi-family to ensure it is adequate, but that the provision isn’t so large that other community and resident benefits are sacrificed.

Public Comment 

  • Need to break up long blocks for better pedestrian connections, but must also consider potential safety issues is designed or located poorly. Connectivity can be achieved in many ways - look at the Alameda staircases. Development standards need to be clear (not variable and no exceptions), especially so that property owners know what the requirements are and are not. Considerations need to also include review of density bonuses and issues of solar access. Balancing all of the elements will be critical to success.

Next Steps

  • Staff to complete development of a web-based system for PEG members to easily share ideas outside of meetings.
  • Staff to provide additional demographic information to PEG members, as requested, to assist with understanding equity considerations
  • Staff Discussion Draft of policies will be released for public review and comment in November/December, followed by public workshops and engagement events after the first of the year.
  • November meeting will cover policy discussion regarding density expectations in single-family zones and infrastructure and urban amenities to support multi-family development outside of centers and corridors.  Staff will also review the discussion draft of policies and solicit ideas for topics that should be covered at future PEG meetings.


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