The Residential Infill Proposal (RIP) Is Headed To The City Council

On Monday October 17, city staff at the Bureau Of Planning And Sustainability submitted the Residential Infill Project (RIP) proposals for city council action. Read the proposal here.

Recommendations 1 to 3 of the proposal (pages 1 to 14) would limit the size of infill house. That part isn't too controversial, as far as we can tell.

However, staff’s RIP proposals adopted the other, controversial, aspects of the earlier version of RIP, that we wrote about on August 2, in "What The Proposed Residential Infill Zoning Means For Laurelhurst".

Duplexes plus ADUs (three units) will be permitted on all lots in R5 zones (such as Laurelhurst). Recommendation 4, page 15 of the proposal.

Triplexes (three units) will be permitted on all corner lots in R5 zones. Recommendation 4.

On double lots (10,000 sq ft), clusters of several small apartments or houses (multiplexes) and ADUs will be permitted. In Laurelhurst, these clusters could potentially contain up to six units on a lot. Recommendation 6, page 16.

Laurelhurst will be included in the “Housing Opportunity Overlay Zone” and thus subject to all of these changes. Recommendation 5, page 15.

Let's be clear about what the city's Residential Infill Project will do:

RIP will effectively re-zone our neighborhood - and about 70% of Portland’s other close-in residential neighborhoods - from single-family house neighborhoods to multi-family dwelling neighborhoods.

All the areas shaded in yellow in this map will be effectively re-zoned - Laurelhurst included.

When the city allows up to six housing units on a single lot, there will be almost no house in Laurelhurst – no matter how historic, beautiful, or valuable – that will be safe. Developers will be able to profitably demolish almost any house and replace it with multi-family multiplexes, row houses, and “clusters”.

One of the developers who supports "infill" proposals, and sits on the committee that created RIP, Vic Remmers of Everett Custom Homes, has put it this way:

"this would mean neighborhoods would start seeing more duplexes, triplexes, four-plexes and two-story apartments built around small courtyards." May 2016 interview, Portland Tribune.

These new "plexes" probably won’t look anything like how our neighborhood looks today.

How many duplexes, triplexes, and clusters of "two-story apartments" could there be in Laurelhurst? One historiclaurelhurst.com reader, using a neighborhood map cross-referenced with current Zillow lot sizes, has figured this out. In Laurelhurst, RIP will permit 1387 duplexes, 347 triplexes, and 45 multiplexes. Most of the larger lots where multiplexes will be permitted are near the heart of Laurelhurst and around Laurelhurst Park.

The RIP proposals will be presented to the city’s Planning and Sustainability Commission on October 25, and presented to the city council on November 1. Public meetings on the RIP proposals will be on November 9 and 16. On December 7 the city council is expected to vote on RIP. See details on the city’s calendar.

If the council approves the RIP proposals, developers will increase their purchases of property in Laurelhurst while city staff write the regulations. After RIP becomes effective, potentially before the end of 2017, they will start demolishing, and our neighborhood will never be the same again.

If we want to protect Laurelhurst with a historic district listing, this is our last chance.

To send your views to the city council, in advance of their December 7 vote: cctestimony@portlandoregon.gov

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