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Portland’s zoning reform looks to boost the ‘missing middle’ of housing

New regulations would legalize more units per lot.

August 24, 2020 |
Portland’s zoning reform looks to boost the ‘missing middle’ of housing

Photo: Pexels


The city council in Portland, Ore., recently approved the “Residential Infill Project” (RIP), a package of amendments to the city’s zoning code that legalizes up to four homes on nearly any residential lot and sharply limits building sizes.

Developers will now have the option to build as many as six homes on any lot if at least half of the resulting sixplex is available to low-income households at regulated, below-market prices. In addition, parking mandates that required builders to provide space for cars were eliminated on most of the city’s residentially zoned land.

The new regulations could generate an estimated 4,000 to 24,000 new units of housing and reduce displacement for vulnerable renters by 28%. Portland is one of the leaders among North American communities trying to boost new multi-unit residential projects.

Since 2018, Minneapolis, Seattle, Austin, and Vancouver, British Columbia have passed code reforms aimed at increasing housing stocks and reducing costs to developers and residents.

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