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Planning staff says it will request allowing up to six units to be built on lots throughout the city if half are affordable

COURTESY BPS - A slide from the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability briefing on the Housing Opportinities Initiative.

The City Council will be asked to consider allowing up to six units on many if not most lots currently zoned for single-family homes later this year.

Staff from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability told the council they will make the request during a Tuesday morning briefing on the Residential Infill Project. It currently proposes to allow up to four units on almost every residential lot in the city.

Senior planner Joe Zehnder said the request will allow up to six units if half of them are affordable to families earning less the media family income for the area. He said encouraging the additional units will help create more lower-priced in the city.

The council is scheduled to hold its first hearing on RIP — as the project is commonly called — on Dec. 11. The plan is controversial because some preservationists and neighborhood activists worry it will result in a wave of demolitions and redevelopment projects.

The briefing was part of a work session that included two other redevelopment related projects. Together they are called the Housing Opportunities Initiative.

The Better Housing by Design project is intended to improve the design and encourage the construction of more multifamily buildings. The council has scheduled the first hearing for Oct. 2.

The Anti-Displacement Action Plan is intended to prevent households from being forced to move out of their neighborhoods because of demolitions or increasing housing costs, a process known as gentrification. The council was told it will be asked to appoint a new task for to ensure community involvement and accountability in the crafting of the plan. No schedule was offered for when it will be completed.

The projects are underway in large part because Portland is expected to growing by 260,000 people by 2035, requiring an additional 123,000 housing units. Housing production is so far not keeping pace with population growth, contributing to the affordable housing crisis.

Mayor Ted Wheeler and the council members praised the planning efforts but expressed concerns that most of the new housing will not be affordable to most residents. Among other things, they wanted assurances that the anti-displacement plan will be adequately funded and enforced. Some were also worried many of the new units would be used as short-term rentals.

You can read a previous Portland Tribune story on the work session here.

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