By Nancy Tannler

At a recent Sunnyside Neighborhood Association (SNA) Land Use meeting, the subject of zoning and the future development of Hawthorne Blvd. and Belmont St.  were the focal point of the evening.

The look and size of new developments taking place in Portland is allowed by zoning regulations made in the 1986 Comprehensive Plan. The concerns of the SNA Land Use committee are for future zoning codes now being written for the Plan that will be become final in 2016.

The evening’s presentation  described various new “mixed use” zoning codes and the suggested use application SNA is recommending to the city for the Comp Plan. According to Michael Molinaro, cochair of SNA, the idea behind mixed use is simple: residential spaces on the upper floors and “active” (commercial) use at the street level.

City planners project that 50 percent of Portland’s household growth will take place in mixed use areas. Existing commercial zones do not deal with mixed use appropriately.

The consequences result in developments that impact existing neighborhoods in a negative way. City planners need to prove that by adjusting code and creating livable mixed use housing, the City will be able to maintain the urban growth boundary with the predicted growth in population.

A Code Evaluation Report has redefined the look of new development. Although Molinaro said, “…the report is changing on a regular basis as neighborhoods and the CAC weigh in on various aspects. At the same time, city planners are cleaning up the myriad of different zoning code classifications into a simpler, more direct group that reflects the particular street or area.”

Here is a list of the new codes, anachronisms and the existing codes they relate to as well as a brief description of their objectives for the future:

CM1 – Commercial Mixed Use (formerly CN1/2 and CO1 zones) – These are smaller, boxy, four story buildings that are approximately 35 feet in height. Retail, service and office space are allowed but not required, mostly residential; limited industrial employment use; institutional use allowed.*

CM2 – Commercial Mixed Use (formerly CS, CM, CO2, and CG zones) – Medium size, 45’ to 55’* allowing a broader array of retail, service and office on a larger scale; residential, industrial employment and institutional use.

CM3 – Commercial mixed use (formerly EX and Cx zones) – Large buildings, 65’ to 75’*; retail, service and office, residential, industrial employment and institutional use.

CE – Commercial Employment (formerly CG zone) – Medium-sized buildings 53’ to 45’*; retail, service, office and auto; residential; light industrial; institutional.

*Within these revised zones, there is a draft for Performance Bonus Elements to be given to developers who create a public benefit in their building.

They may be allowed extra height if they will include one of the following community benefits: affordable housing; affordable commercial space; courtyards with public access or open space; community services or high performance green features.

An example is the St Honoré Bakery/Salt & Straw building on Division St. that allows for extra height because of the ground floor plaza and indented entrance.

asunnyside-mapalegend-smallMolinaro said,  “Unlike today’s current zoning laws where a project can virtually cover the entire lot, the new code will apply an F.A.R. calculation (floor area ratio) that prescribes the maximum bulk of a project.  This new application will generally result in a slightly smaller building than allowed today that will reduce the impact of large, long facades that go straight up from the street line.”

City planners are proposing Building Articulation and Massing that breaks up the facades with indents, setbacks, roof line variety and height step down to multi-dwelling zones so people living next to these corridors will still have light.

Neighborhood Associations won’t have the final say on decisions about which zoning code will apply to a specific area of their neighborhood, but they can send letters and testify. Developers are required to use the zoning code in place or they can request a zone change.

The map above shows what the purposed zoning for Sunnyside neighborhood will look like in the 2016 Comp Plan.