Better Housing by Design - Draft Discussion - RNA Letter

At the March 12th, 2018 RNA General Meeting we discussed the results of the RNA Land Use & Transportation Committee meeting where they key topic was the BPS's Better Housing by Design Project - Draft Discussion.

After presentation, discussion, and debate the RNA Board voted 10-3 to approve and send this letter to the Project Leads, Head of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (Mayor Wheeler), and other relevant parties.

RE: Better Housing by Design Project

The RNA would like to thank Bill Cunningham and his team at BPS for having clear materials that are easy to follow. Such clear, simple, and well-defined documents, images, and renderings were a boon to our community’s ability to review, process, and agree to support of the following points.

The RNA Supports the following recommendations as-written..

1. Regulate development intensity by the size of the building, instead of numbers of units.
2. Require higher-density development to include visitable units.
4. Provide incentives for preserving existing affordable housing and trees through transfers of development rights.
5. Allow small-scale commercial uses on major corridors and near transit stations
8. Allow alternatives to conventional landscaping.
9. Limit large surface parking lots and asphalt paving.
11. Limit garages to no more than 50 percent of building street frontages.
12. Require building entrances to be oriented to streets or to courtyards.
15. Require building height transitions to single-dwelling zones.
20. Strengthen minimum density requirements.


The RNA Supports the following with changes...

6. Require residential outdoor areas in high density zones. (≥20,000 sqft)

We request that outdoor or green space requirements be the larger 48 sqft for all sizes of properties.

7. Require shared common areas, such as courtyards, for large sites more than 20,000 square feet.

We request that common areas be an element be for all sizes of properties

10. Reduce parking requirements.

We would like to see more parking permit programs or zones to better prevents the current tragedy of the commons occurring near dense residential and commercial areas with street parking.

13. Require front setbacks that reflect neighborhood patterns and limit privacy impacts.

The proposed standard doesn’t seem flexible enough. Perhaps have different standards for RM-zones that are interior to a neighborhood vs. those that are on transit corridors.

14. Simplify side setback regulations and reduce barriers to development on small sites.

Allow for zero side setbacks on sides adjacent to other RM-Zones or Commercial Zones provided that green space is then used elsewhere in the project.

16. Require large building facades to be divided into smaller components

Would like to see the requirements reduced from 100’ to 50’; meaning 50’ frontages wouldn’t need a notch, but anything larger would.
This opinion is shared both by the RNA and the Division Design Initiative

The RNA is split or not offering a stance on...

3. Prioritize affordable housing by:

While the RNA supports affordable housing for a more economically diverse neighborhood; opinions differ greatly on how to get or enforce affordable housing.

17, 18, or 19.

As these pertain to East Portland

21. Require transportation and parking demand management approaches.

While we like the idea, it should be for a longer term and more than just bus passes. Or we should approach parking strategies better to prevent abuse of free parking and let the markets decide how to get best incentivize people to live in units without parking.

Minority Position

Recognizes the project is in the early phases, and would appreciate Bill Cunningham and his team presenting the topic to the community to learn more about the project before sending a letter.

Thank you for all your hard work and outreach regarding the Better Housing by Design Project.
And thank you for considering our requests.

Richmond Neighborhood Association - Chair
Richmond Neighborhood Association - Land Use & Transportation Committee Chair

PDF: 2018-03-18 RNA letter-Better Housing by Design