Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

Better Housing by Design Project Overview

The Better Housing by Design project is revising development and design standards in Portland’s multi-dwelling residential zones (R3, R2, R1 and RH) outside the Central City. These middle- and higher density zones provide opportunities for new housing to meet the needs of current and future residents.

The project will update the Zoning Code and align with the 2035 Comprehensive Plan 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.

This project is reviewing code on a city-wide basis, but also includes a special focus on East Portland to foster positive new development that responds to the area’s distinct characteristics and the needs of residents. Project staff will coordinate with the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Connected Centers Street Plan project, which is working on street plans for the Jade District and Rosewood/Glenfair centers.

Map of Portland's multi-dwelling zones

Why is this Important?

As Portland grows, more people will be living in multi-family housing in and around bustling centers and corridors. By 2035, up to 80 percent of the anticipated 120,000 new households will likely be in multi-family buildings and other compact housing types. A large portion of this new housing will be located in Portland’s multi-dwelling zones (see map above). 

So we need to change the rules to ensure new construction better meets the needs of current and future residents. Many City goals and policies encourage better development that provides quiality living environments, connected to schools, shopping and transit. This 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. 

Chart showing allocation of Portland's housing growth

Addressing Equity

The Portland Plan and 2035 Comprehensive Plan direct the City to prioritize under-served 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 under-served Portlanders through better housing design, incentives for affordable housing and street connections.  

Project Timeline

Four phase timeline from Fall 2016 to Fall 2018

For more InformationInformational handout on Better Housing by Design project
Contact Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff: