By Midge Pierce

In the rush to make year-end decisions before the departure of Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick, City Council hammered down on several key actions last month that will impact SE Portland residents for years to come.

Among their decisions was Council’s unanimous vote to enact a controversial inclusionary housing ordinance requiring developers to include affordable housing for new projects with more than 20 units.

Proponents say it will help alleviate the housing affordability crisis. Skeptics say developers will find work-arounds.

Either way, developers are racing to file permits before the February 1 ordinance deadline. So far, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce, the development pipeline has 14,000 proposals for multi-family units, three times as many as usual.

Going forward, the Bureau of  Planning and Sustainability will work with Portland Housing Bureau to develop regulatory measures needed to implement the inclusionary housing project. Details can be found at portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/621577

Amendments to the city-wide zoning map for the Comprehensive Plan Early Implementation package were also adopted. The package includes approved zoning maps, zoning codes and a new transportation system plan.

The plan’s keynotes address commercial development and mixed use zones along town center and transportation corridors like Hawthorne and Belmont.

The Comp Plan must still go before the state for acknowledgement. Once that is done, residents involved in the process will be notified. The 20-year plan is projected to go into effect on January 1, 2018. More information can be found at: portlandoregon.gov/bps/72133

Of greatest potential impact to SE residential neighborhoods is the Council’s approval of amendments for the Residential Infill Project.

The proposal’s middle housing concepts stand to turn single family neighborhoods into urban hubs of multi-housing complexes with triplexes allowed on all corners and duplexes; duplexes with ADUs and cluster homes in housing opportunity zones that overlay existing zoning.

Outgoing Mayor Charlie Hales submitted an amendment to establish more deterrents to demolition. Commissioner Amanda Fritz addressed environmental concerns with amendments to provide adequate pervious surface areas, minimum yard setbacks for aesthetic continuity and flexibility for saving trees.

Other amendments include allowing bonus units for internal conversions and reductions in building coverage on 5000 square foot lots from a proposed 2500 square feet to 2000 square feet.

Commissioners voted for an amendment that would disallow development on historically narrow, R5-zoned lots.

The amendments are intended to provide guidance to planners as they develop codes and mapping for overlays.

Public hearings on revised plans will resume in 2017. For follow up go to: portlandoregon.gov/bps/67729

Portland residents are urged to follow these developments closely. Nothing less than the future of our city and neighborhoods is at stake.