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Proposals call for Portland’s centers to support people-friendly design

A sidewalk, with modern buildings on the right
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Portlanders invited to testify on new rules meant to improve the design of buildings, public spaces and more; Design Overlay Zone Amendments (DOZA) Project heads to Planning and Sustainability and Design commissions.

Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan reaffirms the City’s commitment to grow up — not out. To do so, many of our existing centers and corridors will see larger and denser development than the built environment today. Over the next 20 years, these more populated areas will continue transforming into even more vibrant urban places as they accommodate 80% of projected housing units in the city.

Portland’s official Zoning Map includes many “overlays.” These are areas that are identified for special rules that protect environmentally sensitive areas, historic buildings, residents from aircraft noise and more. Overlays also identify areas that we want to have special features, such as greenways, light rail station areas – and good building design.  

Portland’s highest-capacity centers and corridors are zoned with a design overlay zone, which promotes people-oriented design in places where 60% of projected housing units will be built by 2035. These areas are designated with a ‘d’ overlay on Portland’s zoning maps.

Updating the ‘d’ to meet the needs of people – now and in the future

The Design Overlay Zone Amendments proposal (DOZA) strives to make Portland’s centers and corridors better designed places – for people.

DOZA restructures the processes and tools for Portland’s design overlay zone and Design Review Program to ensure they move us toward the future described in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan and Climate Action Plan.

The DOZA project:

  • Updates the purpose statement of design overlay to clarify the following goals:
    • Respond to context.
    • Contribute to the public realm.
    • Promote quality and resilience.
  • Removes the design overlay from single-dwelling zoned properties.
  • Establishes review thresholds based on the size and scale of the project (rather than?).
  • Improves the design review process.
  • Creates new approval criteria for design review and new design standards.

Review the proposals and tell us what you think

The DOZA Proposed Draft includes four volumes:

  • Volume 1: Staff Report
  • Volume 2: Zoning Code and Map Amendments
  • Volume 3: Portland Citywide Design Guidelines
  • Volume 4: Appendices

You’re invited to review the proposals and testify to the Planning and Sustainability Commission and the Design Commission.

1) Testify directly to the commissions at a joint public hearing

Tuesday, October 22 at 5 p.m. 1900 SW 4th, Room 2500A  Portland, Oregon 97201

2) Via the Map App

Open the Map App

3) Via U.S. Mail

Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission Design Overlay Zone Amendments 1900 SW 4th, Suite 7100  Portland, Oregon 97201

Next steps

After the PSC and Design Commission hear public testimony and the “record is closed” (no more testimony – written or oral – is accepted), the two commissions will hold work sessions to discuss the testimony and develop any amendments they want to make to the proposals before they vote on their recommendations to the City Council. Council is expected to hold public hearings on the Recommended Draft next spring.