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Recommendations include limiting the size of new houses and rezoning two-thirds of single-family neighborhoods to allow smaller multi-family housing units, including duplexes, triplexes, four-plexes, small apartment buildings and cottage clusters.


PORTLAND TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - The Residential Infill Project proposal will return to the City Council on Dec. 7.A divided, short-handed City Council delayed taking action on a controversial proposed density plan Wednesday evening after listening to five hours of conflicting public testimony.

The council will take the proposal prepared by the Residential Infill Project up again on Dec. 7, when they will deliberate and potentially vote on it. Additional written public testimony will be accepted through Nov. 23.

Only three members of the council were present for the two Wednesday hearings on the proposal. Mayor Charlie Hales and commissioners Amanda Fritz and Steve Novick all agreed the staff should revise the numerous recommendations within the proposal to address issues raised during the testimony, but they did not provide much specific direction.

“There’s a reasonable likelihood that a significant portion of this will have enough support on the council to move forward, but what exactly that is remains to be determined,” said Hales.

Recommendations include limiting the size of new houses and rezoning two-thirds of single-family neighborhoods to allow smaller multi-family housing units, including duplexes, triplexes, four-plexes, small apartment buildings and cottage clusters.

Novick said he is generally supportive of them, explaining they will encourage more lower-priced homes for the estimated 240,000 more people expected to move to Portland by 2035. Fritz was concerned about the impact on neighborhoods without the infrastructure to support the additional housing, and worried many Portlanders will not be able to afford even such smaller homes in the future.

“We’re not going to get consensus [tonight], Novick said at the end of the hearing.

Commissioners Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman were absent for both the 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. hearings.

The project is staffed by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. At the end of the second hearing, Hales said all five council members should meet with them and discuss their concerns with the proposal by the end of November. Hales, Novick and Fritz agreed generally with reducing the size of future houses, but split on the details and whether all or just some single-family neighborhoods should be rezoned for multi-fmily housing.

BPS Director Susan Anderson said that at the Dec. 7 hearing, the council could give general direction to the staff about changes to the proposal, which would then be redrafted and presented to the pubic next year before being considered by the Planning and Sustainability Commission, which advises the bureau. It would then return to council in more detailed form.

“We’ve never done a process quite like this before,” said Anderson. “If you give us general direction, we can take it back out to the community.”

Hales wants the council to finish this phase of the proposal before he leaves office on Jan. 1. He said 700 homes have been demolished during his four years as mayor, with most replaced by a single house that is larger and more expensive than those near it.

“I feel a sense of urgency about this,” said Hales, arguing that more and more people are being priced out of Portland by such residential infill projects.

“If the choices are doing nothing, passing [the proposal] as is or tuning it, I’m in favor of tuning it,” Hales said.

For an early Portland Tribune story on the proposal, visit tinyurl.com/jzxntp9.

For more information on the project, visit www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/67728.

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