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After Four Years of Controversy, Portland Adopts the Residential Infill Project



After four years of deliberation and analysis, the Portland City Council adopted the Residential Infill Project (RIP) on August 12, 2020. According to the City, RIP legislation is intended to increase housing opportunities by opening up the types of dwelling units that can be constructed in residential zones that have historically not allowed them, namely those zones that allow primarily single-family residential units. Under RIP, triplexes, fourplexes, sixplexes and cottage clusters will now be allowed in many single-family residential zones they were not allowed in before. Maximum dwelling size has been reduced from approximately 6500 square feet for a single-family unit to 2500 square feet, based on the floor area ratio allowed for a typical 5,000 square foot lot in the R-5 zone. Off-street parking to accommodate the additional density has been made optional.

The legislation has been controversial, which is primarily why it has been under review since 2016. Critics state that it unnecessarily disrupts established neighborhoods, will lead to too much density, and exacerbates a lack of parking. RIP was adopted with only Commissioner Amanda Fritz voting “no,” because, in part, the increased density is not being funnelled to areas with supportive transit.

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