Your City Hall: Density plans to be previewed by council
WHAT IS HAPPENING? The City Council will be briefed on three current plans related to residential density increases on Tuesday, Sept. 3. Two are intended to encourage and manage future density increases. The third is an effort to reduce, if not prevent, residents being forced out of their homes because of the increases.
The plans are being drafted by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, which is updating them together for the council under the title "Housing Opportunities Initiative." The briefing will take place during a 9:30 a.m. work session at which public testimony is not allowed. Anyone can attend the session at the Council Chambers in City Hall. It also will be shown live on community TV and on the city's website, where it also can be watched later.
WHAT ARE THE PENDING PLANS? All three plans have been previously publicized and at least one is controversial:
• The Residential Infill Plan proposes to allow smaller multifamily projects, up to fourplexes, to be built in all single-family zones. Since the plan's recommendations were referred to the council by the Planning and Sustainability Commission last year, the 2019 Oregon Legislature passed two bills — HB 2001 and SB 534 — with similar requirements. Bureau staff have determined the overall plan does not have to go back to the commission, except for small future adjustments. The council is scheduled to consider it in December.
• The Better Housing by Design project is intended to encourage the construction and improved design of more housing in multifamily zones, including affordable units. It includes incentives for additional density — including size bonuses — and requirements for more open spaces. The council is expected to consider it this fall.
• The Anti-Displacement Action Plan is being developed at the direction of the council to address the higher housing costs that are predicted to result from the density increases, commonly called gentrification. The emerging strategy is partly in response to community pushback over former longtime residents who have been forced to move out of their neighborhoods because of previous city-supported redevelopment projects. The bureau will ask the council to approve a framework for involving the community in co-creating the final plan, including the appointment of a new task force.
IS THERE ANY CONTROVERSY? The Residential Infill Plan — commonly called RIP — has both supporters and opponents. Supports say encouraging more so-called missing middle housing will lower housing costs and allow more people to live in desirable neighborhoods. Opponents charge it will change the historic character of many neighborhoods without guaranteeing new housing that many residents can afford. The new state laws require the council to act by next year at the soonest.
WHAT CAN I DO? You can learn more about each project at the bureau's website, attend the work session in person, or watch it live or later on community TV or online at the Portland City Auditor's website. The city's website can be found at www.portlandoregon.gov.
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