If Oregon Bans Single-Family Zoning, It Will Change How Portlanders Live

Portland has among the nation's highest percentage of housing that are single-family homes.

(Katie Reahl)

Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) wants to remodel some neighborhoods.

On Dec. 14, WW first reported Kotek is drafting a proposal that would require cities with populations larger than 10,000 to allow up to four homes to be built on land parcels currently zoned exclusively for single-family housing. Her proposal could become the nation's most dramatic effort to address housing shortages and economic and racial segregation caused by zoning restrictions.

Portland economist Joe Cortright, who disagrees with Kotek on rent control (he's against it), says he "strongly supports" Kotek's proposal.

Even if political backlash forces Kotek to scale down her plan, it could still have a meaningful effect in Portland, where incremental changes to city zoning code (such as allowing duplexes where only single-family homes are currently permitted) have been repeatedly delayed. More than 70 percent of Stumptown's residential land is designated for single-family housing, and Portland—along with cities where sprawl is prized over density—has among the highest rates of single-home occupancy in the country.

Percentage of single-family home occupancy, ranked:

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.