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How the "Better Housing Through Design" Project Will Affect Laurelhurst North of Sandy

There is a new re-zoning project in Portland that you should know about. It directly affects our Laurelhurst neighbors north of Sandy, on Wasco, Clackamas, and Halsey.

It is the "Better Housing Through Design" project. The proposal is to re-zone the multifamily dwelling zones for increased density.

Background on Multi-Dwelling Zones.

Currently, the "multi-dwelling zones" include R1, R2, and R3. "R1" basically means one unit per 1,000 square feet of lot, "R2" means one unit per 2,000 square feet of lot, "R3" means one unit per 3,000 square feet of lot. We say "basically" because there are some exceptions to this. But that's the general idea.

For example, on a standard 5,000 square foot lot, like most lots in Laurelhurst, R1 would allow five dwelling units, R2 would allow two, R3 would allow one.

Multi-Dwelling Zones in Laurelhurst.

North of Sandy is R1. This is Halsey, Clackmas, and Wasco streets.

The two blocks of historical Laurelhurst that are bounded by Oregon, Hoyt, 31st and 32nd include some R2.

And there is a little bit of R2 on Hazelfern at 44th (just one lot).

You can see the zoning at PortlandMaps. Just zoom in to the area you are interested in, click on a property, then click the "zoning" link. The map will show zoning using color coding, like the images above.

The Proposed Re-Zoning.

The "Better Housing By Design" proposal is to remove the limit on units per square foot of lot, from R1, R2 and R3 zones. Instead, buildings would only be limited by size, height, and lot coverage.

Here is the summary, as shown in the city's presentation. Click on the image to go to the whole presentation.

How would this work? Take a 5,000 square foot lot in a R1 zone - for example, on NE Clackmas. It would be re-zoned to "RM2".

  • A building of 7,500 square feet - or up to 11,250 square feet, with "bonuses" - could be built.

  • It could be up to 45 feet tall, and cover up to 60% of the lot.

  • There would be no limit on the number of dwelling units in the building: if 7,500 square feet, it could be twelve 500 square foot apartments, six 1,000 square foot apartments, etc.

  • No off-street parking would be required.

  • Other requirements are explained in the presentation, including open space, setbacks, and building design.

You can read more about this project here.

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