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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 08 April 2009

Portland Mayor Sam Adams is teaming up with Sen. Rod Monroe (D-Portland) to support a bill that would extend Portland's design review authority to rapidly developing areas of the city.

"As Portland aspires to build sustainable, livable neighborhoods, we need tools to ensure that new multi-family housing in our town centers and main streets are of the highest quality," said Mayor Adams. "Good design is not just aesthetic; it's a matter of long-term value, neighborhood livability, and stopping low-quality infill housing."

Design review is an important tool for city planners. The legislation would extend Portland's existing exception for discretionary design review authority to medium-high density residential development of 18 dwelling units or more that are located in town centers, main streets, corridors and light rail station communities. The legislation would apply only to Portland.

Currently, Portland's design review is limited to the Central City, Gateway, and historic districts. State law limits Portland to a two-track system of either a "standards-only" approach or "design review" at applicants choosing regardless of size, density or complexity.

Beyond being just a tool for designers or another requirement for architects and builders, design review is a priority for the community members most affected by bad design. Community members involved in preparing and adopting the recently completed East Portland Action Plan (EPAP) identified design quality of new housing in corridors as a high priority for meeting the challenges of rapid change and redevelopment. 

"The communities I represent in my district are seeing some of the fastest and most aggressive development of anywhere in the city, "said Sen. Monroe, who grew up in Southeast Portland. "As our city expects to accommodate a large share of the region's one million new residents in the next 20 years, good design quality will maximize our ability to target public investments in transportation, and related improvements to pedestrian, parks, plazas and other civic features where growth will be greatest."

The Senate Education and General Government Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing for the bill. And with a deadline of April 17 for scheduling a committee work session, time is running out for the bill.

To see the bill, visit www.leg.state.or.us/09reg/measpdf/sb0900.dir/sb0907.intro.pdf

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