By Claire Adamsick, NECN
Adapted from an article by Bob Kellett, SE Uplift
The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability recently released a proposed draft of the Comprehensive Plan, which sets the framework for Portland’s growth and development over the next 20 years. If the plan’s goals are achieved, what can we expect inner North and Northeast Portland to look like in 2035?
The draft plan states that improvements to inner neighborhoods like ours should “try to minimize residential and commercial displacement and provide additional affordable housing options.” With Portland expected to add 122,000 new households by 2035, close-in neighborhoods can expect increased density. New development, according to the plan, must coincide with preserved and enhanced historic and cultural resources, as well as active traffic and parking management.
Residential Neighborhoods Remain Residential
According to the draft, the overwhelming majority of the properties that are currently zoned for single-family and lower-density housing will remain that way. Most residential properties in our coalition area that are not located on main streets or in commercial centers will maintain their current zoning.
Built in 1880, the John Antonio House is the second-oldest house in Eliot Neighborhood
One exception is the Eliot neighborhood, which is proposed to be “downzoned” from its R2 Multi-dwelling designation to the R2.5 Attached Residential designation. This means that the residential area would be designated for Single-dwelling rather than Multi-dwelling residential at a slightly lower density of one unit per 2,500 square-feet of site area, with up to two units per lot (the current R2 designation allows one unit per 2,000 square-feet of site area, and allows multiple units on one lot). The Eliot Neighborhood Association advocated for this change in an attempt to have zoning more closely reflect the current character of Eliot’s residential area.
Moving forward, there will continue to be infill, changes to the housing stock, lot splitting, and some increases in density in single-family residential neighborhoods. Yet the bulk of new housing for Portland’s expected population growth is focused around corridors and centers.
Corridors and Main Streets Grow Up
Interestingly, city planners predict that more than half of Portland’s residents in 2035 will live alone. This has big implications for the types of housing that will be needed. Think smaller housing units in multi-unit complexes. The planners estimate that by 2035, 80 percent of new construction in Portland will be multifamily housing. Most of the new apartments and condos will be located on corridors and main streets like Williams, MLK and Broadway. The development we are seeing today on North Williams will likely play out elsewhere, with multi-story, mixed-use projects that include housing, retail, and offices replacing lower density structures. As part of the Comprehensive Plan, there is a Mixed Use Zones Project underway that will ultimately replace the current “commercial” zones with “mixed use” zones.
Institutional Employment Centers
Over the past decade, some of the fastest job growth in the city has occurred in the health care and education fields. Institutions like Emanuel Hospital, Concordia University, and Portland Community College are adding jobs. These institutions’ campuses are mostly surrounded by residential neighborhoods and are, themselves, zoned residential. This has made it a challenge for them to expand their facilities without further encroaching into the neighborhoods and without lengthy conditional use processes. The proposed draft plan acknowledges that job growth will continue to occur in these fields and implements zoning that allows the institutions to build higher and denser in the center of their campuses rather than spread out into the neighborhoods. The Institutional Zoning Project is currently underway, and will result in new processes and zoning standards.
Increased Street Capacity without Increased Street Size
With 122,000 new households in our city by 2035, how will people get around? The transportation element of the Comprehensive Plan focuses on increasing facilities for people to get around on bike, on foot, and by using public transit on existing roads. Streetcar service is proposed for extension from the Lloyd District to Hollywood (via Broadway/Weidler or Sandy), as well as along MLK to Killingsworth. Meanwhile, streets like Killingsworth, Lombard and Columbia Boulevard will see improved intersections and crossings for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Give Feedback, Ask Questions
You can submit questions or comments on the Comprehensive Plan draft to the city between now and March 13, 2015. The city has set up a phone hotline, (503) 823-0195, to answer questions about the Comprehensive Plan or a specific property.
Nan Stark, our District Liaison from BPS, is hosting a number of drop-in office hours and workshops in September. There are also multiple ways you can provide formal testimony, including adding your comments to the Map App.
If you have other questions, please contact Claire Adamsick, NECN Committees Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503.388.9030.