Plan aims to block new McMansions in Portland

Residential Infill Project would re-write single dwelling zones

A new home being built in Portland, November 29, 2017 (KOIN)
A new home being built in Portland, November 29, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new plan to prevent McMansions from being built in Portland neighborhoods that typically have smaller homes would bring big changes to the way homes are built.

The Residential Infill Project would re-write single dwelling zones. That means homeowners can now change their single family home to a duplex, for example, or add 2 Accessory Dwelling Units instead of one that is currently allowed.

Sandra Wood, the supervising planner for the Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, November 29, 2017 (KOIN)
Sandra Wood, the supervising planner for  Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, November 29, 2017 (KOIN)

The proposal to create more housing opportunities would also reduce the square footage of the homes that are being built.

Sandra Wood, the supervising planner for the Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, said there are many reasons to reduce square footage of new homes.

“A lot of houses in Portland are much smaller than 6000 square feet above grade,” Wood told KOIN 6 News. “Part of it is neighborhood compatibility and bringing that size down.”

The city is building “big apartment buildings and single-family homes,” she said. “We’re not building anything inbetween.”

Wood said this plan has an eye on future generations “because we’re getting a lot of growth, and partially because our needs change over time.”

She added Portland’s single-family residential zones “are pretty much the same as they were in the 1950s. … The world is changing and people have different needs.”

Charts on the Residential Infill Project from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, November 29, 2017 (KOIN)
Charts on the Residential Infill Project from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, November 29, 2017 (KOIN)

But John Gibbon, the president of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc., opposes this plan.

“Basically for Southwest, it’s a situation where we have real infrastructure problems and we have an increase in density in our neighborhoods and around this area,” he said. He pointed to streets without sidewalks and an overabundance of cars with no place to park.

John Gibbon, the president of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc., November 29, 2017 (KOIN)
John Gibbon, the president of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc., November 29, 2017 (KOIN)

“They’re trying to put a lot of innovative housing types into single-family neighborhoods that are probably already overburdened by that kind of use,” he said.

Wood admitted this plan is not a solution to one big housing issue.

“We don’t pretend that this is going to fix the affordability problem,” she said.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will be accepting public comments through 5 p.m. Thursday.

The Planning and Sustainability Commission will hold public hearings and accept comments on the proposed draft in Spring 2018. If they vote to recommend the plan to the Portland City Council there will be another round of public hearings with the council.