A Plan to Increase Number of Homes Allowed in Portland’s Single-Family Neighborhoods Delayed

Mayor Ted Wheeler is hoping the controversial proposal can "create more housing" but "without disrupting" neighborhoods.

(Katie Reahl)

A vote to increase the number of homes in Portland's single-family neighborhoods has been delayed until next year.

The Planning and Sustainability Commission has been deliberating on changes that could allow two houses where one is currently allowed as well as double the number of backyard cottages and other accessory dwelling units allowed.

For advocates of development, the "residential infill project," as it's called, is the next big step toward increasing a shortage of supply of housing in Portland. For critics, there's a fear the proposal will increase the number of demolitions and utterly change neighborhoods for the worse.

The latest analysis of the city's draft proposal shows little of either: 1,700 more single-family homes over a 20 year period than would be otherwise developed.

Related: Here's Why a Plan to Ease the Housing Crisis Is Making Portland Homeowners Flip Their Lids

The delay on the proposal was first reported by the Portland Tribune.

The Tribune reported that Mayor Ted Wheeler was uncertain that the changes being contemplated "would strike the right balance," in the Tribune's words. Wheeler was quoted as saying "I'm in no rush."

When asked whether the mayor continued to support the concept of increasing building in residential neighborhoods, the mayor's office reiterated Wheeler's support for the idea, but argued that the proposal need not be contentious.

"We believe we can create more housing in Portland neighborhoods without disrupting those things that make our neighborhoods great," says Chief of Staff Michael Cox.

The Planning Bureau says the delay happened because the Planning and Sustainability Commission has been delving into the technical details of the proposal more than expected.

It won't be possible to have all the necessary hearings at City Council before the end of the year, when a new commissioner will be sworn in.

"The PSC will likely vote on the RIP package toward the end of the year, which means that a new Council will be the body considering their recommendation," says spokeswoman Eden Dabbs.

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.