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Planning and Sustainability

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

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.

503-823-7700: Traducción o interpretación | Chuyển Ngữ hoặc Phiên Dịch | 翻译或传译 | Turjumida ama Fasiraadda | Письменный или устный перевод | Traducere sau Interpretare | Письмовий або усний переклад | 翻訳または通訳 | ການແປພາສາ ຫຼື ການອະທິບາຍ |الترجمة التحريرية أو الشفهية |