Since 2002, Portlanders have been helping to refine the City’s Zoning Code through a process called the Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Program. More recently, these efforts have taken form through Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Packages — or RICAPs, for short. Now on its seventh workplan, the program will release a RICAP 7 Discussion Draft report in January 2015.
The Planning and Sustainability Commission approved the RICAP 7 workplan on August 26, 2014. Since then, the Code Development Team has been evaluating a list of 45 regulatory improvement requests from the public. These cover minor clarifications in code language and technical code corrections as well as slight changes to existing policies.
The minor policy changes include more efficient processes for modifying design review approvals, restricting concurrent submittals of pre-application requests with land use applications, clarifying the definition of household living uses in group living situations, evaluating height measurement methodologies, and clarifying the Ladd's Addition District Street Tree Guidelines.
How the code amendments are selected
Staff researches the regulatory improvement requests by looking at prior ordinances and code commentary as well as state and federal legal requirements and mandates. The project team also looks at examples from comparable cities, then constructs conceptual code amendments for consideration. These concepts are vetted with planners responsible for implementing the regulations (typically within the Bureau of Development Services) and refined to ensure the amendment will be feasible and effective.
Once the code amendment concepts are developed, additional commentary is added to provide rationale and intent for the proposed change. This commentary helps both the public and others who review the proposed changes to better understand the nature and impact of the change. Commentary in the code also informs later code amendment project research. The code amendments and commentary are then assembled into the Discussion Draft for more widespread review and input.
As with RICAP 6, the public will have roughly two months to review and comment on the proposed changes in RICAP 7. This input will then be incorporated into a formal Proposed Draft, which will be presented at a public hearing to the Planning and Sustainability Commission in April 2015.
So stay tuned for the Discussion Draft release in January and opportunities to provide your feedback. And for more information, visit the project website.