ADU insights for the City of Portland

I recently attended a session with the Bureau of Development Services on the Title 33 standards associated with development of an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU).

City of Portland planners reviewed the development standards for ADU’s including the zones they are allowed in (Allowed in conjunction with most single family residences, regardless of zoning); how to determine the maximum size of a unit (75% of primary dwelling with a not to exceed 800 square feet) and considerations when converting a structure/internal space or building new. Other considerations include on-site trees, utility location(s) and parking.

One particular point I thought was interesting was some of the possible exceptions for setbacks. Setbacks for an ADU follow the standards found in Title 33, Section 205 for Accessory Dwelling Units. Section 33.205.040.C.4 notes that detached accessory dwelling units must be:

Either set back 40 feet from the front lot line; or located behind the rear wall of the house, attached house, or manufactured home. For the purpose of this regulation, the rear wall of the house is the wall furthest from the wall with the main entrance to the street. The ADU also has to comply with the base zone standards for detached accessory structures.

Exceptions to this standard can include the following:

The ADU may be located in rear or side setback if in the R7 through RX Zones:

 40-feet from front lot line and 20 feet from street side lot line;  No wall is taller than 10-feet, except gable; Overall height is no more than 15-feet; Does not exceed 24’ x 24’ in size; the Combined length of all structures in setback does not exceed 24-feet; the dormer setback 5-feet from all lot lines (including alleys); there are no windows or doors facing this lot line and no rooftop deck. A graphical reference for these setback exceptions can be found here:

Another tricky section of Title 33 for ADU compliance is the building height standard. As the following graphics indicate, measurement of building height is in consideration of the site and and slope/type of roof. Where it gets tricky is in a situation where roof slope does not necessarily result in a more compatible building.

In a recent Adjustment review that Marty Buckenmeyer, Architect and I successfully collaborated on, the height of the proposed ADU was taller than allowed by code. This was as a result of wanting to maintain compatibility between the ADU and the primary dwelling which is a required design standard. As this graphic from Buckenmeyer Architecture illustrates, the proposed roof line created an ADU that was less bulky than a project that met code, however, was considered taller based on the measurement for a roof pitch of 14/12. This land use application was successful in the Adjustment process and I lobbied staff at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to consider a permanent code change to Title 33 to reflect the nuances of measuring height of different rooflines, using this project as an example. The takeaway for this is that measurement standards can yield unintended results and the Adjustment process can be used to mitigate in these situations.

If you are considering an Accessory Dwelling Unit project, get in touch for a Strategy Session or a Preliminary Site Assessment to learn about your site's options. Either of these can be scheduled here.

Thank you to Buckenmeyer Architecture for providing associated plans and graphics.



Banishing Stereotypes and Encouraging Street Art for All

I love the vibrancy and interest that street art brings to building facades. I’ve written about street art in Portland and Buenos Aires here.  So I was excited to see these two opportunities for young women and seniors. The Graffiti Camp for Girls in Oakland California is working to balance out the gender balance of street art by offering classes and workshops. In Lisbon, Portugal, Lata 65 offers urban art workshops for seniors. Their tag alone is worth checking out on Facebook.

Perhaps our own home-grown, Portland-based. Forest For the Trees might consider offering similar workshops? If you haven’t checked out their program and tour of artists that happens in August, their website offers all the details and maps on how to find their work.

Note: Photo from Lata 65





City of Portland Inclusionary Housing Program Summary

City of Portland Inclusionary Housing Program Summary

City of Portland Inclusionary Housing Program Summary

 On December 21, 2016, City Council voted unanimously to amend Portland’s Zoning Code and Housing Code to implement an Inclusionary Housing Program. On January 20th 2017, the City of Portland Bureau of Housing/Bureau of Development Services provided a session on the details of this new City program. Information provided in this article is summarized from this presentation. This new program is effective February 1st 2017.