Portland, OR, City Code

Updated June 2022

By: City of Portland Planning Bureau

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Table of Contents

Accessory Dwelling Units

The city’s zoning code permits internal, attached, and detached accessory dwelling units (ADUs) by right in all residential districts, subject to use-specific standards (§33.205). These standards address number of residents, home occupations, short-term rentals, location of entrances, parking, unit size, setbacks, applicability of accessory structure standards, and density calculations.

active transportation

The city’s zoning code includes bicycle parking requirements based on primary use and square footage (§33.266.200), similar to traditional minimum off-street parking standards for motor vehicles. The regulations also contain illustrated design standards, including that short-term bicycle parking should serve the main entrance of a building and should be visible to pedestrians and bicyclists. Portland offers a bicycle parking fund for instances where adherence would be prohibitively expensive.

The city's zoning code code also requires bike storage for most uses (§33.266.210). Virtually all uses must provide long-term bicycle parking, provided they have at least 2,500 sq. ft. of gross buildable area, as outlined in Table 266-6. Bicyclists must be provided approved racks or lockers and storage must be in one of the following areas: in a locked room; an area that is enclosed by an at least 8 foot fence with a locked gate; within view of an attendant or security guard; within 100 feet of an attendant or security guard; in an area that is monitored by a security camera; or visible from employee work areas. Bike storage does not have to be provided on-site, but must be within reasonable distance. 

Affordable Housing Programs

The city’s codified ordinances outline a holistic affordable housing program. Title 30 discusses the city’s affordable housing preservation requirements for federal and local projects and addresses renter protections. §33.120.210 permits transfer of floor area ratio to support affordable housing and §33.120.212 describes the density bonus available to developments in multi-dwelling zones with units that are affordable to those earning no more than 60% of the area median income. §33.130.211.B discusses similar bonuses for affordable housing in commercial/mixed use zones. The city’s policies on accessory dwelling units are outlined in §33.205 and the mandatory inclusionary housing program is described in §33.245.

Biophilic Planning

The city’s code incorporates many elements of biophilia such as ecoroofs, scenic view preservations and trees. This code creates a zoning overlay in the downtown district requiring large buildings to have an ecoroof (§33.510.243). The city’s code also implements a scenic resource zone overlay to protect the views of the mountains by using building height restrictions and setback requirements (§33.480). The code also promotes tree preservation with tree preservation standards for developments, street tree planting standards and tree density standards (§11.50).

Content-Neutral Sign Regulation

The city’s sign code generally adheres to a literal interpretation of content neutrality (i.e., you do not have to read a sign to know whether it is in compliance with the regulations) (Chapter 32). The only exception is the code’s definition of directional sign (§32.22.020.P).

Environmentally Sensitive Areas

The city’s zoning code includes provisions to protect and conserve environmental zones. The regulation includes development standards, environmental review, and natural resource management plans (§33.430.110 et seq.). Overlay zones are further organized into resource areas, located at the center of the overlay zone, and transition areas, which provide a buffer to an environmental zone (§33.430.050).

Green Stormwater Infrastructure

The city’s code and charter describes the use of green roofs, or “ecoroofs”, in a Central City Plan District. It requires green roofs to cover the entire roof of all buildings over 20,000 square feet in certain zoning districts (§33.510.243.B). The code and charter allows solar panels, wind turbines, skylights, and other features to substitute up to 40% of this roof area (§33.510.243.B.1) and requires the approval of the “ecoroof” in accordance with Ecoroof Design Criteria (§ in the city’s Stormwater Management Manual (§33.510.243.B.2).

Inclusionary Housing

The city addresses inclusionary housing in its zoning code (§33.245). Inclusionary requirements apply to projects of 20 or more dwelling units. Affordable unit percentage requirements range from 8 to 25 percent depending on targeted affordability levels, project location, and whether new units are built on- or off-site or existing units are converted to affordable units. An in-lieu fee may be paid instead.

The city also offers bonus density or FAR for voluntary provision of affordable units in multifamily residential zones or payment into the city’s Affordable Housing Fund (§33.120.211).

The city’s Inclusionary Housing Zoning Code Project webpage provides background information and additional documentation on the development of the city’s inclusionary housing program.

Marijuana-Related Uses

The city’s public order and police code permits multiple types of marijuana-related uses, subject to licensing standards (§14B.130). It defines seven types of “marijuana business”: “marijuana micro-producer,” “marijuana micro-wholesaler,” “marijuana processor,” “marijuana producer,” “marijuana retailer,” “marijuana retail courier,” and “marijuana wholesaler” (§14B.130.020).

Its licensing standards for marijuana businesses address fixed location requirements, separation from other marijuana businesses and schools, location in residential districts, courier operations, compliance with state and local regulations, display of license, on-site consumption, security systems, age verification, hours of operation, mobile or drive-through sales, deliver, medical sales, accessibility to the general public, and compliance with food production regulations (§14B.130.040 & §14B.130.080).

Scenic View Protection

The city’s planning and zoning code protects scenic resources by limiting building height and setting landscaping and screening standards in scenic resource zones. It contains development standards that apply to view corridors and scenic corridors (§33.480.040). Additionally, it discusses the relationship between scenic zones and environmental zones, specifying that environmental review processes must consider scenic qualities as a resource.

Shared Mobility

The city’s planning and zoning code authorize reducing parking requirements for developments that provide designated spaces for carsharing and bike-sharing programs. It allows applications for the reduction of two (2) parking spaces for every carsharing parking space provided if the applicant presents proof of an agreement with a carsharing company (§33.266.110.D.2(f)). The code also authorizes reducing 3 (three) required parking if the developer provides a city bike-sharing station with fifteen (15) docks and ten (10) shared bicycles (§33.266.110.D.2(g)).

Short-Term Residential Rentals

The city’s zoning and tax codes address short-term residential rentals.

The zoning code defines and describes the city’s two types of accessory short-term rentals, Type A and Type B (§33.207.020). It provides use-related regulations and standards for Type A units that address permit requirements, density caps within multifamily structures, maximum size, bedroom safety requirements, maximum occupancy, services, and prohibitions of commercial meetings, as well as permitting requirements (§33.207.040). It also provides use-related regulations and standards for Type B units, which require conditional use review and may host commercial meetings in non-single-dwelling zones and use nonresident employees (§33.207.050).

The city’s taxes title includes a chapter on transient lodging tax that addresses short-term residential rentals, providing relevant definitions (§6.04.010), establishing hosts’ responsibility to comply with the requirements of the chapter (§6.04.060.D), and defining violations of the chapter (§6.04.170).

Solar Energy

The city's zoning code includes a chapter on solar access to encourage variation in the width of lots to maximize solar access for single-dwelling detached development and minimize shade on adjacent properties (Chapter 33.639). The criteria apply to lots for single-dwelling detached development in all zones where practical (§33.639.020). The code specifies which lots within a development should be the narrowest and which should be the widest based on N-S or E-W street orientation (§33.639.100). Historic Resource Protection Overlay Zone provisions exempt solar energy systems from historic design review when roof-mounting standards are met (§33.445.320.B.8). Lessening solar access is listed as a negative effect of fences (§33.100.205). Roof-mounted solar panels are not included in height calculations (SF, MF, and Commercial, employment, and industrial zones) and may exceed the max height if: it is a flat roof or the horizontal portion of a mansard roof that may extend up to 5 feet above the highest point of the roof; if it is a pitched, hipped, or gambrel roof they must be mounted no more than 12 in from the surface of the roof at any point (§33.110.215.C.5.). A density bonus of 5% is offered if solar water heating is provided to all units in MF dwelling zones (§33.120.270.C.7.). The code includes community design standards for rooftop solar energy systems on principal and accessory structures and exterior alteration of residential structures (in SF dwelling, R3, R2, R1) which include: they must not increase the footprint of the structure or peak height of the roof, the system must be parallel to the slope of the roof, PV roofing shingles or tiles may be directly applied to the roof surface, and PV glazing may be integrated into windows or skylights (§33.218.100.N) These regulations apply to primary and attached accessory structures as well as detached accessory buildings (§33.218.120.H). Rooftop solar energy systems, PV glazing, roofing shingles, or tiles cannot be installed on a conservation landmark (§33.218.100.P.7 and 8). Ground- or pole-mounted solar panel systems may not exceed 8 ft in height and may not be located closer to the street than the primary street-facing building facade (§33.218.120.H). In FH, RX, C, and E Zones, rooftop solar energy systems must not increase the footprint of the structure, must not increase the peak height of the roof, and the system must be parallel to the slope of the roof. PV roofing shingles may be directly applied to the roof and PV glazing may be integrated into windows or skylights. Ground-mounted systems on sites that abut an RF through R2 zone must be set back one foot for every one foot of height, from the lot line (§33.218.140.K). In I Zones, all previous requirements apply. Additionally, the system may not be located closer to the street than the portion of the street-facing facade that is closest to the street (§33.218.150.I). Solar access is one of the approval criteria for a preliminary plan for land division (§33.660.120.I). The ordinance defines small scale energy production and solar feature (§33.910).

Transfer of development Rights

The city’s zoning code authorizes transfer of development rights (TDR) to protect environmentally sensitive areas in three plan districts.

TDR standards for the Johnson Creek Basin plan district (§33.537.100) relate to a floodplain and its flooding and landslide risk.

TDR standards for the Northwest Hills plan district (§33.563.030) prioritize the preservation of environmental assets and promote managed growth.

TDR standards for the Pleasant Valley plan district (§33.564.70) focus on housing development that both preserves environmentally sensitive sites and provides opportunities for new housing and urban density.

Urban Agriculture

The city's zoning code addresses urban agriculture. It includes a chapter on food production and distribution uses (Chapter 33.327).

The purpose statement addresses the encouragement of access to affordable and healthy food for all through community gardens, market gardens, and food membership distribution (§33.327.010).

Standards for market gardens address maximum area by zoning district, on-site sales, hours of operation, fences, and signs (§33.327.100). Standards for community gardens limit on-site sales and address hours of operation, fences, and signs (§33.327.200). Standards for food membership distribution allow this as an accessory use and provide standards for non-institutional sites in residential zones (§33.237.300).

Agricultural uses, including community and market gardens, are allowed with limitations in most districts and are conditional uses in some (Table 100-1; Table 110-1; Table 120-1; Table130-1; Table 140-1).

Urban Livestock

The city code's animal title addresses the keeping of livestock within the city (Chapter 13.40). Keeping a total of 3 or fewer fowl, pygmy goats, or rabbits in a clean and sanitary condition does not require a permit; otherwise, an "animal facility" permit is required to keep livestock (any farm animal that is not a dog or cat) in the city. The ordinance lists criteria for permit approval addressing facility condition, maintenance, sanitation, and nuisance issues, as well as setbacks. The ordinance provides for flexibility in these regulations through the use of variances.

A city website summarizes information on raising backyard animals and bees in the city and offers links to permit applications and requirements. 

Portland, OR

2010 Population: 583,776

2010 Population Density: 4,375.25/square mile