Title 33 frankly is a mess. The regulations contain an astonishing number of exceptions, circular references, and poorly written ambiguous directives.
This has left us with disruptive, arbitrary, and capricious zoning standards. The gradual erosion of the zoning standards has created confusion for all involved (citizens, planners, designers, developers, plan reviewers). Increasingly few actually grasp what is allowed and how to find it in Title 33. A few developers and their consultants are nailing it, particularly since city staff is all-to-willing to defer to their interpretations. At the same time the zoning code is effectively disconnected from the very positive goals of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan that have been reduced to platitudes and wishful thinking.
Completely revamping the Zoning Code will be a very large undertaking. Portland city government charters the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) with maintenance of the Zoning Code. BPS task forces have heavy developer representation. Even under the most optimum of conditions, a complete overhaul of the Code could take years and still not address key issues. Hundreds if not thousands of houses may be destroyed while endless debate continues.
The City Council therefore should, and must, take the following simple emergency actions NOW to prevent this tragedy.
Remove the terms “Lot of Record” and "Lot Remnant" completely under Title 33.110 Single Dwelling Residential Zones.
Replace citywide regulations that govern the scale of houses with a simple formula that maintains the appearance of a given city block.
Restore the original definitions of minimum lot sizes for each Zone without exceptions.