Dear Claire: What are the Most Common Zones in Portland?
Demystifying Zoning: Navigating the Layers, Overlays, and Planned Districts
Zoning is super complicated. Let’s be honest. A couple of things that you should know is that there are multiple layers in zoning. You have your base layer and the base layer tells you the most basic things about the area. What that will be is whether it’s commercial, whether it’s residential, or whether it’s multi-family. That’s the base layer.
Then there’s going to whether or not the area is allowed to have so many units on a certain amount of land, and that’s going to correspond to numbers. And then on top of that, there are what they call overlays. Overlays can be in any of those base zones and they’re specific to different things that the city wants to encourage.
For instance, if the city wants to encourage people walking around and buying things in a commercial center, they’re going to put a certain overlay on it. Or, if they want to discourage people parking or if they want to encourage infill, they have all kinds of different base zones and overlay zones.
There’s a lot to this and of course, I’m happy to give you information and websites that you can check out to learn all about this. But the easiest way is to look up the zoning for whatever property you’re thinking about buying, check it out, and see what they say specific to that zone, because there’s also something called planned districts. A planned district, such as in the Interstate Urban Renewal Area, is a planned district and has a book with all the things that they want to see and where and why. Planned districts usually have a plan that is literally 40 or 50 years out in advance, therefore, planners really plan. They think very far in advance, and they want a certain area to have a certain feeling, a certain work-ability, and they have a real clear idea of what it’s going to look like a long time from now. What you’ll often see isn’t what a planner is hoping to see, it’s what they’re planning for a very long range in the future. The good news is all this information is online and most of it is published on the City of Portland website. They’re happy to give you all of this information so you can check it out.
As always, I love giving you all kinds of crazy information and answering any questions you have about this so just reach out. I hope you’re all doing really well and we’ll talk again soon. Take Care.
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