Now, to promote the development of more courtyard housing within Portland’s neighborhoods, the city is preparing to amend its zoning code to remove provisions that would pose barriers to the design and build of this type of housing. Without the code amendments, many of the design concepts put forth in the competition could not be built as proposed.
“Courtyard housing in Portland has deep roots,” said Nick Fish, the City’s Housing Commissioner, in a press release issued by the city. “We are rediscovering it because it satisfies so many of our sustainable development objectives. It is family-friendly, energy-efficient, and fits beautifully in our established neighborhoods. I hope these changes will pave the way for a new generation of homeowners.”
A formal “discussion draft” of proposed zoning code amendments is now available for review, and a Planning Commission hearing on the discussion draft is scheduled for August 25, 2009.
Item 36 – Greenway Water Quality Zone and Greenway Goal Exceptions
Problem Statement: The Greenway River Water Quality or “q” overlay was applied to all land adjacent to the Willamette River (with some exceptions) in 2002, to bring Portland into compliance with Title 3 of Metro’s Functional Plan. The q overlay is applied to land that already includes other overlay zones including greenway overlay zones. The greenway overlay zones are intended to implement State Goal 15, Willamette Greenway. However, the q-overlay requires a larger setback from the top of bank than the other greenway zones. In general, greenway setbacks limit development and the types of uses in accordance with State Goal 15. Development that is not river dependent often needs a greenway goal exception. However, since the q-overlay is not part of the state goal requirements, a goal exception should not be required if development that is not river dependent is proposed in the larger q-overlay setback area, but outside of the other greenway setback. The code needs clarification to ensure that a goal exception is not required in those situations.
Analysis: Although the amendment to correct this issue is a fairly simple code fix, the issue has already been included in discussions for the River Plan North Reach. Since this project is taking a more holistic approach to reviewing the regulations along the Willamette River, it makes sense to include this issue within the River Plan amendment rather than review it separately through Regulatory Improvement.
Item 25 – Alternative Driveway Paving Problem Statement
Problem Statement: The parking and loading chapter of the zoning code requires that driveways and parking areas be paved. It is not clear that alternatives to traditional paving materials, such as grasscrete, porous pavers, and pervious asphalt are allowed by the code.
Analysis: The zoning code requires that driveways and parking areas be paved. The actual construction of driveways and parking areas is governed by Title 24, the City’s Building Regulations Title. Title 24 allows alternatives like grasscrete and porous pavers to be used as alternatives to traditional asphalt and concrete paving.
Meanwhile, I look forward to seeing more courtyard housing in Portland. It's a way to encourage more design creativity while allowing more of a sense of community that will serve families and singles alike, while maintaining a scale that fits in with a surrounding fabric of single-family homes.