At least 90 people testified Tuesday night at a final public hearing on a draft proposal that would pave the way for big changes to dozens of Portland neighborhoods.
Since 2015, Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission has worked to develop new policies that would allow more people to fit into existing neighborhoods. It’s called the “Residential Infill Project.”
The proposal is complicated and riddled with caveats, but ultimately, it would change zoning rules in about 60 percent of Portland’s single-family home neighborhoods.
The city would further limit square footage of new homes based on lot sizes. Triplexes would be allowed on corner lots, duplexes would be allowed anywhere, and homeowners would be allowed to add up to two accessory dwelling units (ADU) to their property.
Currently, homeowners are allowed one ADU on their property. Triplexes aren’t allowed and duplexes must be on corner lots.
Builders could add a fourth additional unit to corner lots, provided that one of them is rented at below-market value.
Under the proposal, the maximum allotted size of homes would be reduced by about two-thirds.
According to Project Manager Morgan Tracy, 135,000 properties are within the proposed zoning changes. Tracy said the locations were selected based on proximity to transit and other services.
Most properties are east of the Willamette River.
Some neighbors told Fox 12 they fear the worst.
“Basically, that it would open the door for developers to come in, bulldoze existing homes and build new construction to try to maximize profits, and it could kill the face of our city and destroy the beautiful town that we all love,” Nick Fantasia said.
Neighbors said they’re also concerned about parking impacts on already crowded streets.
But on the other side of the issue are renters who believe the city not only lacks affordable housing, but also options.
Tanner Baldus said he’d like the city to take the plan a step further and allow five and six-plexes, and more incentive for below-market housing.
“I have friends who work at restaurants, work at retail–they’re going away,” Baldus said. “We need to be able to build for them.”
Tracy said he expects the specifics of the plan will evolve as the city continues to hear feedback. Out of the thousands of comments, most feedback has been negative, Tracy said, adding that people either think the proposal is a bad idea altogether, or that it’s not enough to put a dent in the housing crisis.
City Commissioners are expected to vote on a final version of the proposal this fall. The new rules could take effect as soon as next spring.
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