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PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: KELSEY O'HALLORAN - At the Aug. 20 Multnomah Days parade, community members march in protest of proposed density increases in their neighborhood.Portland would rezone nearly two-thirds of its existing single-family neighborhoods to increase residential density, under a proposal to be considered the Planning and Sustainability Commission next Tuesday.

The proposed Housing Opportunity Overlay Zone covers most of the city except the David Douglas School District in East Portland, because the district doesn't have enough capacity for the additional students such new housing would generate.

The proposal is intended to fulfill a new policy approved by the City Council to encourage relatively smaller, less expensive housing units within a quarter-mile of designated urban centers, transportation corridors with frequent transit, high-capacity transit (MAX) stations, and within neighborhoods around the downtown core. The so-called missing middle housing will include duplexes, triplexes, four-plexes, small apartments and accessory dwelling units.

The policy directive was included in the update of the comprehensive land-use plan approved by the council early this year. It is a state-required document governing how the city will grow during the next 20 years. The plan anticipates the city will add 123,000 new housing units by 2035, with about 20 percent of the growth in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes.

The proposal was developed by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability as part of its work on the Residential Infill Project. It will be considered by the project’s advisory committee at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 18, in Suite 2500A of the 1900 Building, 1900 S.W. Fourth Ave.

The proposal was controversial even before it was finalized. It was supported by land use watchdogs and developers as a way to increase more affordable housing without expanding the urban growth boundary designed to preserve farm and forest land. But it was opposed by some neighborhood organizations and activists who complained it would harm the character of existing neighborhoods without guaranteeing most Portlanders can afford the new homes.

The proposal also calls for limiting the scale of all new homes to ensure they fit into existing neighborhoods better. Limits would be placed on the size and location of new homes on their lots, although some exceptions could be granted by city planners.

The Planning and Sustainability Commission will consider the proposal at 4 p.m. on Oct. 25 in Suite 2500A of the 1900 Building, 1900 S.W. Fourth Ave. The council is scheduled to consider it on Nov. 9 and 16.

For more information and to read the proposal, visit

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