Mixed Use Zones Project: Review of Proposed Draft

For some context, the Mixed Use Zones Project is the development of new zoning designations (CM1, CM2, CM3 and CE) for the City’s commercial areas outside of the Central City. The project was undertaken as part of the Comprehensive Plan 2035 implementation work. Currently, the City has 9 different commercial zones that lack the ability to respond to mixed use projects: by design and other issues which have emerged as Portland’s centers and corridors have experienced increased growth.

As with the Discussion Draft, I have reviewed the Mixed Use Zones Proposed Draft released in March 2016. Download a copy here.

 NOTE: As a result of the statewide passage of SB 1533, Inclusionary Housing, which requires an affordability component in projects greater than 20 units and includes development incentives for affordable housing. Some of the incentives proposed in the Proposed Draft may be modified in order to account for this very recently passed legislation.

The following is a summary of the changes proposed taken directly from the Proposed Draft:

The Mixed Use Zones Project has created zones with varying scales: CM1, small-scale, 3 stories, 35’; CM2 and CE, a medium-scale, 4-5 stories, 45’-55’; and CM3, large-scale, 6-7 stories, 65’-75’.

According to the City, the zones will help to manage the challenges faced by the larger scale mixed use projects adjacent to lower scale residential by creating new measurements for floor area ratios, reducing bulk and massing and creating new design standards. The City will also incentivize affordable housing and affordable commercial.  The new standards will also require neighborhood notification of most new development.

For those of you following along with the Discussion Draft, here is my summary of the significant changes from the previous draft to current:

·      The development of Low Rise Commercial Storefront, Chapter 33.415, and a corresponding map. The Low Rise Commercial Storefront is designed to limit development along portions of certain corridors. These portions, designated on this map, would be limited to CM1-scale development.

·      Transportation Demand Management programs. Pending consideration by PBOT, Portland Bureau of Transportation, mixed use projects of 10 units or greater would be required to provide a transportation demand management program in conjunction with the project’s building permit.

·      Bonuses: Five bonus options were proposed in the Discussion Draft, these have been reduced to three – and are focused on affordability: affordable housing, affordable commercial and Planned Development bonus for height and Floor Area Ratio.

·      Building Scale and Building Length and Facade. The maximum building length in the Discussion Draft was 110 feet and was increased to 200 feet.

·      Auto-accommodating development. In the Discussion Draft, drive-thru facilities were prohibited in the CM1, limited in the CM2 and CM3, and allowed in the CE zone. Current regulations propose that no new drive-thru’s will be allowed in the CM2 or CM3, but will be allowed in the CE zone.

·      Large Site Master Plan Bonus. These options have been modified to become part of a Planned Development Bonus.

·      Green Options in Inner Areas. Originally, the standards proposed 0% landscaping in inner areas—this has been revised to 15%.

·      Large retailers. The revised standard reduced the amount of square footage for flexible setbacks from 100,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet.

·      Additional provisions include increased flexibility for development within areas designated as Centers—including adjustments to minimum FAR and flexibility with locating parking areas.

It's not too late to provide comments to the City of Portland on these proposals: Testimony to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) on this Proposed Draft is open until May 10, 2016. View and testify on Zoning Map proposals in the Map App. Please review the FAQs on how to provide testimony and check the Planning and Sustainability Commission website to confirm dates, times and locations of public hearings.