The City of Portland is taking a fresh look at the rules affecting development in single-dwelling neighborhoods. These rules are found in the City’s zoning codes, which define residential development standards for different areas of the city. BPS has developed a draft proposal that would update Portland’s zoning codes relating to single-dwelling neighborhoods to best serve the needs of current and future residents while proactively planning for growth.

Zoning 101

Zoning defines the way land can be used and developed. Zoning maps specify areas where residential, industrial, recreational and commercial activities can occur. Housing can be developed in Portland’s commercial zones, as well as within two types of residential zones: single-dwelling and multi-dwelling. Single-dwelling zones generally allow one house per lot; multi-dwelling zones allow one or more units per lot. Nearly 45 percent of Portland’s land area is zoned for single-dwelling development, while only 10 percent is zoned for multi-dwelling development. Zoning allowances also regulate the dimensional requirements for lots and buildings and the number of allowed units.

Zoning mapClick to enlarge

R5 zones

R5 is the most common single-dwelling zone, comprising almost half of Portland’s single-dwelling area. In R5 zones, one residential lot is allowed for every 5,000 square feet of site area. Exceptions allow for other uses, including home-based businesses, short term rentals and schools, as well as for additional housing units, such as one accessory dwelling unit (ADU) per house and duplexes on corner lots.

Centers and Corridors

According to Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan, most new residential and business growth will be:

  1. In mixed-use zones along Corridors (like Interstate and Barbur) and in Centers (like Hollywood and Lents)
  2. Within Inner Ring neighborhoods adjacent to downtown (like Buckman and Brooklyn)
  3. Within the Central City (downtown)

The new Comprehensive Plan’s Centers and Corridors growth concept is illustrated in the Urban Design Framework.

The new Comprehensive Plan finds that accommodating growth in and around Centers and Corridors will:

  • increase access to the benefits of healthy neighborhoods
  • increase equity through more housing options
  • improve the market for local-serving businesses
  • reduce the need to drive and associated transportation costs
  • increase use of and access to transit
  • protect air and water quality and reduce carbon emissions

Download the Residential Infill Project draft proposal booklet.