Middle Housing Policy
Appealed to the
Oregon Court of Appeals
The LCDC and the City filed their Responses to the MNA brief on July 3, 2019.
The MNA filed a Reply on July 24, 2019.
Oral Arguments January 9, 2020
The Middle Housing Policy makes a radical change in land use planning in that it allows the zoning code to determine the number of units on a residential lot. Historically the Comprehensive Plan itself governed residential density. Compared to the Comprehensive Plan, the zoning code can be changed relatively easily at anytime with little public oversight or input.
The Residential Infill Project is implementing the Middle Housing Policy. On March 12, the PSC voted 5 to 4 to endorse allowing 4 units without conditions on almost all single family residential zoned properties citywide. This was done over the objection of Andre Baugh who argued that RIP will result in the displacement of low-income residents, unfairly burdening minority populations.
Video of PSC Vote: 4 Units - No Strings Attached (Please Watch)
The Multnomah Neighborhood Association filed an appeal of the City's 2035 Comprehensive Plan "Middle Housing" Policy 5.6 (MHP) at the Oregon Court of Appeals. We hired Michael Gelardi, a land use attorney with the law firm Hershner Hunter, to represent us in this case. If successful, the appeal will likely result in a remand to the City to conduct further proceedings on the MHP.
Mr. Gelardi petitioned the Court for judicial review of the MHP. He also filed a motion to clarify the record and to determine the schedule:
The Court granted our requests. The City and the MNA submitted motions to correct the record:
LCDC generally agreed to supplement the record in response to MNA’s and the city’s requests, but LCDC refused to include the city’s Urban Design Direction document in the record.
Mr. Gelardi has petitioned the court to consider certain documents showing that the city has implemented the Middle Housing Policy of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan through the Residential Infill Project. The city and the LCDC have attempted to prevent the court from considering this information:
We need your Help to Fund the Appeal
Implementation of the "Middle Housing" Policy
The MHP is the policy basis for the Residential Infill Project (RIP). The current RIP proposal allows 4 housing units on 99% of all lots zoned "single family residential" citywide and removes parking requirements for single family zones.
MNA Land Use Fund
Donations are 501(c)3 tax-deductible
Currently the Neighborhood Association's Land Use Fund is directed towards appealing the Middle Housing Policy at the Oregon Court of Appeals.
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Multnomah Arts Center, room #5
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KBOO Interview with Planner Eben Fodor
Listen to the KBOO interview with Planner Eben Fodor on the Comprehensive Plan, Middle Housing, and Residential Infill Project:
The Implications of LCDC Approval of Portland’s Comp Plan
By Eben Fodor, August 10, 2018
The Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) has just officially approved the City of Portland’s new 2035 Comprehensive Plan by rejecting all the appeals that have been filed. As a planner who helped the Multnomah Neighborhood Association (MNA) file some of these appeals, I am alarmed at the lack of oversight and integrity in the planning process that is supposed to be provided by the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) and its commission, LCDC.
Portland failed to follow long-standing planning policy in its fervor to advance a last-minute “middle housing” policy. This policy is now being used as the primary legal justification for the Residential Infill Project (RIP). The RIP will rezone all of Portland’s single-family residential neighborhoods to quadruple the density, allowing four-plexes on every lot zoned Single Family Residential.
While there are concerns about how the RIP will affect the stability and functionality of Portland’s neighborhoods, and whether it will produce any affordable housing, the focus of the MNA appeals has been on the flawed process that got us here.
If Portland’s heavy-handed, top-down planning is allowed to stand, it will have statewide consequences. The implications of the LCDC decision to endorse this sort of planning can be summarized as follows:
- Cities do not need to base planning policies or actions on any factual evidence. They can support their planning proposals by making up any findings they wish, based merely on conjecture and speculation.
- Cities are not required to document or demonstrate any actual need for any planning action. Nor are they required to demonstrate any broad public support for their actions.
- Cities do not need to show that a planning action will have the desired effects or produce any benefits whatsoever in meeting public needs or desired outcomes.
- Cities do not need to respond in any way to public input on planning proposals, as long as timely notice is provided. Public involvement is not a meaningful process, but merely something to check off on the planner’s checklist.
- Cities do not need to inform the public about the details or potential impacts of any proposed planning policy or action, no matter how far-reaching and impactful it may be. The mere mention of a topic in a staff report is sufficient public information.
- Major and fundamental planning actions can be hidden as tiny “amendments” in massive, last-minute documents. It’s up to the public to find them and interpret them. The city does not need to be clear and explicit about its intentions.
- No actual public outreach or education efforts are required of the city for any planning action. Passive website posting or simple notice is all that is required.
- Requirements for comprehensive planning do not apply to last-minute policy amendments, even if they could change zoning and density citywide. There is no need to consider and coordinate transportation, infrastructure, or other related elements, since this is too burdensome for the city.
For fans of Oregon’s statewide planning system, it’s a great concern that fundamental elements of the system may not have any real meaning and that citizens may have no real role in the process.
The Multnomah Neighborhood Association is working hard to raise funds for an appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals within the 21-day deadline. If they are successful in this case, it will head off a precedent for some of the worst planning in the State’s modern history, and it will establish the legitimacy of public involvement and fact-based planning in the Statewide Planning Program.
Eben Fodor is a planning consultant with Fodor and Associates LLC in Eugene, OR focusing on sustainability and community planning for non-profit and private clients.
Residential Infill Project
A Overlay Map
Yellow = Transforms single-family zones into multi-family zones; allows up to 3 units on interior lots and 4 units on corner lots
Purple = Rezoning R2.5
Click here to watch a video about how planners in Ballard WA zoned out single-family homes and eliminated citizen involvement. The same thing is now being promoted in Portland in the Residential Infill Project.
Objections to the Comprehensive Plan
Objection to Task 4
The Multnomah Neighborhood Association filed three Appeals to Task 4 of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. The appeals were made at the direction of the membership. Two of the objections—on the “middle housing” policy and the lack of process leading to its adoption and on the designation of Multnomah as a Center—were filed on our behalf by Eben Fodor & Associates, Eugene planning consultants, and reviewed by two land use attorneys. The third objection—on Chapter 2, Citizen Involvement, was filed on our behalf by past chair Carol McCarthy.
Objection to the Designation of the Multnomah Neighborhood as a Center in the City of Portland Comprehensive Plan Update
Objection to Task 5
On August 7th, the City of Portland submitted Task 5 of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan to the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD).
On August 25th, MNA submitted an objection to the Plan’s Early Implementation Task 5. If found valid, the objection basically would maintain the historic character of the village by changing the CM2 zoning to CM1. The measurement of height would be done on the lowest frontage street. The document is posted below.
Appeals to DLCD Decisions Filed
Appeals to Tasks 4 & 5
The Multnomah Neighborhood Association filed the following appeals to Tasks 4 and 5 of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. The DLCD rejected all Objections.
MNA Exceptions to Staff Report:
DLCD Staff Report:
The City submitted the record for Task 4 to the DLCD. The City waived the 120-day time limit for review and requested it to be done with Task 5 when submitted. The MNA wrote a letter to DLCD director Jim Rue and the commissioners to inquire about this waiver and request that DCLD proceed with the review.
PSC Membership Violations
Materials for saving trees
- Action Needed - Urban Forestry Commission - view as (PDF) or (MS Word)
- Heritage Tree Nomination Form (PDF format) (MS Word Format)
- Useful site about trees
- Link to an interactive Tree Map
UUA's development at SW 33rd & SW Capitol Hwy:
2035 Comprehensive Plan Letter Templates
2019 Legislative Letter Templates
28% Proposed Increase
The Mayor held a public meeting on the temporary shelter on February 16th, at the Multnomah Arts Center Auditorium.
Click here for the City Press Release (November 10, 2015) (pdf).
Click here for Questions residents posed at November 10, 2015 MNA meeting (and after) (pdf).
Click here for Transition Projects Answers to Questions shared by MNA Chair in her December 8, 2015 Report (pdf).
Click here for Temporary Sears Shelter Donations and Volunteer Opportunites (pdf.)
Click here for the Quitclaim Deed (pdf).