‘Main Street’ zoning plan changes revealed in East Portland

Find out what changes City of Portland plans to make along ‘Main Streets’, as it proposes to change ‘Mixed Use Zones’ policies …

People gather to hear how zoning rules are about to change – and be locked in until 2035 – in Portland’s Comprehensive Plan.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The City of Portland’s policy regarding the types of uses in buildings along designated “Main Street” corridors is about to change.

That was the main message shared at an October 10 meeting, attended by some 85 people, held at the Jade District/Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) Multicultural Space on the morning of October 10.

Most of the work has been done on two programs – the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (BPS)-led “Mixed Use Zones Project” and the “Employment Zoning Project”. The reason for the meeting, officials said, was to get feedback on proposals which, if adopted by the City Council, will become part of the City’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan.

Representatives of Oregon Department of Transportation, Portland Development Commission, and TriMet, were also present at the meeting.

Speaking about the “Employment Zoning Project” is BPS Senior Economic Planner Steve Kountz.

The first formal presentation was given by BPS Senior Economic Planner Steve Kountz, regarding the “Employment Zoning Project”.

Kountz explained that this Comprehensive Plan Update project will put forth new policies, with the aim of making more-efficient use of mixed-employment areas: In this case, along 82nd Avenue of Roses.

“Essentially, we have an oversupply of typical neighborhood commercial corridors that allows development,” Kountz said.

“On the other hand,” Kountz continued, “in the business zones, we have a very limited supply – providing just enough supply to accommodate the land available. We are expecting market changes in this area, for new development. It’ll probably start with used-car lots that are larger than what are typically developed.”

This enlarged portion of the BPS Employment Zoning Project relevant to the 82nd Avenue of Roses shows new “EG1” Zones marked in red.

Specifically, in along 82nd Avenue of Roses and some areas of SE Stark Street, new “compatibility limitations” on outdoor uses of land – such as car sales lots – will be implemented in the EG1 General Employment zones.

Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon Director Duncan Hwang commented, “Our concern is small business displacements, especially for immigrant and refugee business owners. Whatever values we can keep, we will, by offering technical assistance and the partnership as part of the Jade District Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative.”

Better sidewalks are needed along the Avenue of Roses, says Portland Bureau of Transportation Senior Transportation Planner April Bertelsen.

Speaking about the need for improved infrastructure along 82nd Avenue of Roses was Portland Bureau of Transportation Senior Transportation Planner April Bertelsen.

“A lot of the sidewalks in this area are substandard,” Bertelsen remarked – a statement that caused many heads to nod in agreement in the audience.

“When we have redevelopment of properties, we’re asking for improvements in sidewalks – it is their responsibility,” Bertelsen said. “This means wider sidewalks and street trees, and more space … with more safety crossings.”

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales listens as David Hampston questions the planning in outer East Portland.

Questions outer East Portland planning
Before the segment on “Mixed Use Zones” began, outer East Portland activist David Hampston stated his views and asked a pointed question.

“The City talks about having separate [zoning and] codes from each of the ‘Five Portlands’,” Hampston began. “Are you planning on doing something like this for East Portland’s neighborhoods and districts, annexed from the county 25 years ago?”

Hampston decried the poor state of transportation infrastructure, saying “it sucks”, and the giving of “waivers and remonstrance to local housing developers, which is why there are no sidewalks. Has the Bureau been giving serious thought to how East Portland will be developing over the next 20 years?”

After the meeting, Hampston said he didn’t hear an answer to his questions.

BPS Senior Planner Barry Manning talks about the “Mixed Use Zones Project”.

Mixed Use Zones Project
Speaking about the “Mixed Use Zones Project” was BPS Senior Planner Barry Manning.

“The whole city is expected to accommodate about 200,000 [more] folks over the next 20 years,” Manning told East Portland News. “Our current citywide growth strategy is focused most on development centers, such as along 82nd Avenue of Roses. We’re adjusting zoning to make it fit in a way that provides a sense of community, and brings more of a sense of place, as these locations develop over time.”

These changes, Manning said, are important to study and understand, because they will become City Code, and will shape the development of “Main Streets” in the future – and 82nd Avenue of Roses is one of the Mixed Use Zones in the study.

Although the commercial zones remain, there will be fewer of them after the “Mixed Use Zones Project” is approved, Barry Manning says.

One big change: the nine commercial zones will be transformed into four new Mixed Use Zones.

Also, the new plan makes it clear that “household uses” – residences in these “Mixed Use Zones” have been allowed, and will clearly still be allowed.

In the zones

  • Commercial Mixed Use Zone 1 – Buildings are smaller, with a 35’ maximum height
  • Commercial Mixed Use Zone 2 – Buildings are medium-sized, with a 55’ maximum height
  • Commercial Mixed Use Zone 3 – For larger buildings, with a 75’ maximum height
  • Commercial Employment Zone – Similar to the existing General Commercial Zone

The first three zones, in layman terms, the new zoning constrains the height and the mass of building gs that is allowed.

The fourth zone is similar in size and mass as the medium zone, but allows more auto-oriented uses on-site, such as drive-through businesses. An example might be a quick oil change type use.

At the meeting, attendees are asked to write remarks on a map depicting changes along 82nd Avenue of Roses.

The Discussion Draft is being provided for the public to review and provide feedback to City staff. The Proposed Draft will probably come out in the Holidays timeframe; then later, before the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission.

People can find out more, on the project-specific website: CLICK HERE.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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