Residential Infill Project Summary


The Residential Infill Project has been in the works since 2015 and this latest round is an additional step closer to adoption by Portland City Council. The City considers the RIP project to be a contributor in the City’s overall affordability direction and this project is focused on providing additional infill options for residential projects. It includes recommendations for changes to the City’s zoning code on housing types, building scale and building design for the R7, R5 and R2.5 zones.


A link to the Residential Infill Project Summary: Revised Proposed Draft can be found here. Standards proposed include additional opportunities for Accessory Dwelling Units, Duplexes, Triplexes and Fourplexes as well as measurement definitions that provide for more compatibility with existing neighborhood dwellings. There are also changes proposed to rezone areas currently R5 too R2.5 with considerations for environmental impacts (z overlay). Questions on what this project means to your site or project? Email us and we’ll be in touch!

Next Steps

The recommended findings will be provided to the Planning and Sustainability Commission as a complete Revised Proposed Draft. The next draft of the proposal – the Recommended Draft – will incorporate any final changes the PSC makes to the Revised Proposed Draft. The Recommended Draft will be forwarded to City Council for additional public testimony and hearings, deliberations, possible amendments and a vote with a tentatively scheduled to be heard by City Council in Summer 2019.

A previous post from 2018 from UrbanLens Planning on the Residential Infill Project.

Photo: screenshot from the City of Portland Map app

Urban hike and historical stone markers

Taking in some great spring weather, I took an urban hike around the neighborhoods near Mt. Tabor. I used the guide developed by Laura O Foster in Portland Hill Walks and her insights provided a few surprises that I’ll share here:

 Most interesting, there are a number of obelisk stone markers across the City. These markers were used to measure the distance between locations and the center of downtown Portland. A marker (labeled P4) still exists near SE Stark and 61st. SE Stark used to be called Base Line Road and was a key eastern route to downtown Portland. More about how these markers were used can be found here.

Another interesting fact is that the entryway of a nearby building that was a fire-station in horse and buggy days (currently being used as a café) still has the stone paving designed to provide a horse’s traction on wet ground when pulling a fire engine cart. Cool stuff. 

The stone marker is at one side of 61st and the café/historic fire station is at the opposite side of the street. For more Portland walks and nerdy historic facts, I highly recommend Laura’s book as a way to learn more about our hidden gems while walking the neighborhoods of Portland. You can find it here from Microcosm Publishing. Happy Walking.




Bees and bicycles: Unsung Heroes of the Urban Environment

I was watching the mason bee activities around the bee boxes in the shared open space for UrbanLens Planning and I was struck by the synergies between mason bees and bicycles. Both these tiny pollinators and bicyclists are the unsung heroes of the urban environment as they both provide value well beyond their day to day activities and create dozens of helpful ripple effects in the environment which they serve.

Bees act as pollinators, which, in turn, creates opportunities for dozens of other flora and fauna. This enables production of food and higher quality habitat among other benefits. Mason bees pollinate over 1,500 flowers a day with a 95% pollinator rate in comparison to the approximately 700 pollinator actions at a 5% rate by honey bees. All for just going from point A to point B.

Similarly, having cyclists in an urban environment create active street life, reduce vehicle miles travelled, creates a quieter city environment and helps stretch infrastructure funding. Additionally, in a group, cyclists may act in a ‘swarm-like” manner, as shown in this video by Mikael Colville-Andersen simply by going from point A to point B.

Photo by Damien TUPINIER on Unsplash

Observations at a signal-free intersection in Amsterdam

This video was taken during an AM rush hour at Alexanderplein; a intersection in Amsterdam where the removal of traffic lights now facilitates a reasonable flow for all modes of traffic due to personal interactions and thoughtful behaviors.

Although the volume of bicycles may not seem like a perfect model for higher-auto traffic intersections in North American cities, the requirement that all users interact with each other creates a situation where everyone has to slow  down and pay attention to each other, rather than a signal. 

UrbanLens Planning Joins Business for a Better Portland

Join UrbanLens Planning in becoming a member of Business for a Better Portland, an organization who’s goal is to ensure that Portland is an equitable city where prosperity can be shared by all. They seek to make a positive difference in the city of Portland by combining the strength of business advocacy with the power of technology and grassroots social change. Recent wins under their belt include advocating for adoption of the City of Portland’s Enhanced Transit Corridor Plan and increased funding for small businesses via Prosper Portland.


PBOT launches Portland in the Streets program

The Portland Bureau of Transportation has released a "Livable Streets Strategy: PBOT prioritizes people by encouraging the use of the right-of-way for community gathering spaces, placemaking and programming.” Since the Livable Streets Strategy’s adoption, the Bureau has been working to develop the programs that will put this policy into practice. One program is called: Portland in the Streets:

What programs are part of Portland in the Streets? Here’s a quick list:

  • Block Parties - Small scale parties held on residential streets, such as neighborhood potlucks and barbecues that are held by, and for, residents along the street.
  • Community Events - Larger scale events that occur in the public right of way intended to build a sense of community. These events bring people from the entire neighborhood or region and events support and encourage community gatherings and local businesses.
  • Street Paintings - Large format works of art, designed and painted on local streets that build community, empower neighbors to shape their own public realm, create an artistic expression that’s about the people who live nearby, and break down social isolation.
  • Pedestrian Plazas - Long term community placemaking projects within the right-of-way to create open space on underutilized streets, alleys, or other roadways for the public to use and activate.
  • Street Prototyping - Community Initiated projects that test a new street or intersection design concept, and collect data to inform future design decisions.
  • Spaces to Places – These projects turn gravel, dirt and underdeveloped low volume streets or alleyways into places where people want to gather and install amenities desirable to the community.

These changes will help PBOT create a citywide program that helps community groups create and activate their own spaces that are unique to their own neighborhoods.

Among the changes: 

  • City Code Chapter 17.24 – Permits - Creates a new Portland in the Streets administrative rule to establish a consistent framework for all programs
  • City Code Chapter 17.25 – Sidewalk Cafes - Creates new permit and fee type for Sidewalk Cafés to extend their operations during a Community Event street closure
  • TRN 3.450 – Block Party permit fees going from $10 to zero - Eliminates the fees for the Block Party Program
  • TRN 3.450 – Park(ing) Day permit fee going from $25 to zero - Eliminates the fees for the Park(ing) Day Program

For more information, stay tuned to the Portland in the Streets website ( as they put these changes into practice this spring,



Planning and Women Division of American Planning Association Wins Award

The Women and Planning Division of the American Planning Association has been selected as the winner of the Divisions Council Achievement Award for Overall Division Performance. I'm a member of this Division and I can attest to all the good work that it does for planning professionals. As the Division newsletter notes, "This award is especially meaningful because it highlights the work of the Division to broaden our reach and offerings to our members." The Award letter states:

“We felt that the Division had a broad range of excellent activities and were impressed by the Division’s member engagement efforts, including the book club, webinar series, active social media, and local events.”

This is great news for the Division and the work that it does. Congratulations!