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Land Use & Transportation

Lot Splitting

A large property that once had a 1920s bungalow and a generous vegetable garden has been replaced by two separate lots – each with a home much larger than the original bungalow – and each with much less garden space. This is not an uncommon occurrence in Portland these days. As our population grows, so too does the number of lots. This division of land is colloquially referred to as… Read More »Lot Splitting

Stopping ‘Ugly’ Buildings: Extending Portland’s Design Overlay Zone to ‘Neighborhood Centers and Corridors’

Stopping ‘Ugly’ Buildings Extending Portland’s Design Overlay Zone to ‘Neighborhood Centers and Corridors’ It was no less than Winston Churchill who said, “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” I think about this quote sometimes when I walk through our neighborhoods. Our buildings often give us a sense of place and help to shape our understanding of community. Every neighborhood has buildings that just feel special. Conversely, every neighborhood… Read More »Stopping ‘Ugly’ Buildings: Extending Portland’s Design Overlay Zone to ‘Neighborhood Centers and Corridors’

Portland’s Hidden Density

The SE Portland block I live on offers a snapshot of the city’s residential development eras. There are a couple of single family homes that were built in the 1890s. There are a handful of modest single family houses built in the late 1920s. There is a two-story 30-unit apartment complex that was built in 1972. And sprinkled in there are a pair of attached duplexes built in the 1950s… Read More »Portland’s Hidden Density

BPS Looks to Tackle In-Fill Development Standards

If you have been following the city’s process to update its Comprehensive Plan for how Portland will grow over the next couple of decades, you are probably keenly aware that much of this growth is directed toward mixed use zones situated along corridors and in centers. Portland is forecast to add about 120,000 new housing units over the next 25 years. If the city develops like it is laid out… Read More »BPS Looks to Tackle In-Fill Development Standards

System Development Charges: A Primer

A new multistory mixed use building is constructed in your neighborhood. The building has a physical imprint, but what other impacts does it have on an area? Additional people and businesses can lead to increased vibrancy and boost nearby businesses. Increased activity can generate more car trips, as well as more people biking and walking. New residences and businesses mean new toilets and showers, with new demands on water pipes… Read More »System Development Charges: A Primer

Zoning: Visualizing what could be

A few weeks ago, I talked with a friend who was considering purchasing a new home. She was excited to show me the pictures, pondering whether or not she could afford it, and trying to decide if it was the right fit for her. We talked a bit about the neighborhood where the house was located, which was a big selling point for her. And then the inner planning nerd… Read More »Zoning: Visualizing what could be

Land Use and Transportation: Issues Abound in 2015

With 2014 in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look ahead to what’s in store for 2015. Here are 6 key land use and transportation topics that I’ll be paying close attention to this new year. (1) The Apartment Building Boom: The past couple of years have seen a surge in the construction of multifamily buildings. This has been driven by a number of factors including historically low rental vacancy rates.… Read More »Land Use and Transportation: Issues Abound in 2015

Finding the Right Mix: The Mixed Use Zones Project

In a few weeks, my grandmother will turn 95 years old. In a couple of days, my son will celebrate his first birthday. I often think about the changes the world has undergone in my grandmother’s lifetime. I can’t even imagine what my son’s world will look like 95 years from now. Among the many changes my grandmother has lived through is the advent of zoning. The New York City… Read More »Finding the Right Mix: The Mixed Use Zones Project

Train Horns and Quiet Zones

Train Horns and Quiet Zones Cities can be noisy. All you need to do to observe this is to go far away from a city. Spend a few quiet minutes in wilderness and you’ll certainly notice sounds, but you’ll also notice the absence of city sounds: garbage trucks, revelers at bars and restaurants, construction, barking dogs, airplanes and cars. Sometimes these are background noises to our lives. In other cases,… Read More »Train Horns and Quiet Zones


PRESERVING PORTLAND’S HISTORY The City of Portland turned 163 years old this year. It is young compared to cities on the east coast and a mere babe compared to cities in other parts of the world. Even with its relative youthfulness, Portland is a city with history. You can see it in our public spaces such as our Olmstead-designed parks and our pioneer cemeteries, the parts of our street grid… Read More »PRESERVING PORTLAND’S HISTORY