City Council approves controversial infill plan
As expected, the City Council approved the controversial plan to increase density in single-family Portland neighborhoods on Wednesday, Aug. 12.
The council approved the final version of the Residential Infill Project recommendations on a 3-to-1 vote. Only Commissioner Amanda Fritz voted against them, saying she believes they will increase the demolition of smaller, affordable homes.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said the changes would increase the availability of more affordable housing in single-family neighborhoods.
"Our current 'one size fits all' policy reinforces neighborhoods of increasingly unaffordable single homes," Eudaly said. "RIP creates more opportunity for different types of housing that will meet our current and future needs."
The most controversial provision would allow up to six units on virtually every residential lot, provided that at least half the units are affordable for households earning no more than 60% of the median family income. That's known as the Deeper Housing Affordability FAR Density Program.
Otherwise, the Residential Infill Project, or RIP, would still allow up to four units on every lot.
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 up to four units on virtually every lot, which is more than is now required by the state.
Hearings on the plan were repeatedly rescheduled earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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