Council to vote on infill plan amendments July 9
After years of work and months of delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portland City Council is scheduled to take the final steps next Thursday toward approving the controversial plan to increase housing in single-family neighborhoods.
The council has scheduled a 2 p.m. session on Thursday, July 9, to vote on seven proposed amendments to the Residential Infill Project that would allow at least four units on virtually every lot in the city. The goal is to increase the amount and variety of housing to accommodate both existing residents and the 260,000 additional people expected to move to Portland by 2035.
The project, which first started under former Mayor Charlie Hales in 2015, has divided the city. Supporters argue it will reverse decades of discriminatory zoning restrictions by allowing the construction of lower-priced housing in neighborhoods where lower-income residents, especially people of color, cannot afford to live. Opponents say it will encourage the demolition of existing homes without guaranteeing that many families can afford the replacement housing.
Since Hales first directed the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to undertake the project, the Oregon Legislature changed state zoning laws to require most cities — including Portland — to allow more housing in neighborhoods zoned for single-family homes, without requiring a minimum number for every lot. The plan before the council allows four units on virtually every lot, which is more than now required by the state.
Beyond that, an amendment scheduled to be considered next week allows up to six units per lot, so long as at least half the units are made affordable for people earning no more than 60% of the median family income. It is called the "deeper affordability bonus."
Hearings on the plan were repeatedly rescheduled earlier this year because of the pandemic. No additional public testimony will be taken. The final vote on RIP is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 5.
Council meetings are being conducted remotely because of the pandemic but can be seen on the city's website and community TV. You can find a staff memo outlining the proposed amendments here.
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