Urban Form Directions and Trends

These maps provide information on the urban form and land use patterns fostered by current zoning, recent development activity, and the locations of recent major public infrastructure investments.

Development Allowances: Default Urban Form
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DRAFT4a. Development Allowances: Default Urban Form

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Default Urban Form Map (PDF)
Focus on: Central City/West 1/2 | North | Inner East 1/2 | East
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This depicts Portland’s current direction regarding its urban form, showing the relative building heights and mixed-use areas (red) that would result if all properties were to be developed to the maximum allowances of the Zoning Code.


The Default Urban Form map is a depiction of Portland’s current direction regarding its urban form. It shows the relative building heights and mixed-use areas (red) that would result if all properties were to be developed to the maximum allowances of the Zoning Code.


(Note: height depicted for topographical features and allowed building heights is exaggerated to provide clarity at a citywide scale.)

  • Zoning guides the tallest buildings and most intense concentration of commercial and residential uses to the Downtown area.
  • Outside Downtown and the Central City, allowances for mixed-use development (commercial and residential) and mid-rise buildings are focused in centers (such as Gateway and Hollywood), light rail station areas, and along major streets (such as Hawthorne Boulevard, Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Foster Boulevard, 82nd Avenue, and Barbur Boulevard).
  • Zoning for medium density apartments and other multifamily development (orange), generally limited in height to four stories, is focused in areas along or near transit corridors and adjacent to mixed-use centers.
  • The city’s industrial areas and corresponding industrial zoning are generally located in low-lying riverfront areas or along railways.
  • Single-dwelling zoning, intended for houses and sometimes duplexes, is Portland’s most wide-spread type of zoning and applies to large areas of the city between major streets.

Residential Development Activity
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DRAFT4b. Residential Development Activity, 1999-2008

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Residential Development Activity (PDF)
Focus on: Central City/West | North | Inner East | East
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As an indication of trends regarding where development intensification is occurring, this map shows where residential development has been taking place from 1999 through 2008.

The greatest concentration of housing development has been taking place in Central City neighborhoods such as Downtown, the Pearl District, and South Waterfront. Outside of the Central City, East Portland (mostly east of I-205) has become the location of the largest amount of smaller-scale infill development in established neighborhood areas. Multifamily housing and other higher-density housing types are now the majority of Portland’s new housing.


New Housing Units, 1999-2008, by Type and Area (Planning Liaison Districts)


Housing Type W CC N NE SE E Citywide
Apartment/Condo (up to 5 floors) 1,157 803 1,761 1,086 1,040 3,165 9,012
Apartment/Condo (more than 5 floors) 148 9,741 172 542 335 259 11,197
Duplex 69 21 92 200 280 724 1,386
Rowhouse/Townhouse 271 48 264 251 434 555 1,823
Single Family House 1,940 35 1,496 725 1,631 3,472 9,299
Accessory Dwelling Unit 48 9 17 58 68 29 229
TOTAL 3,633 10,657 3,802 2,862 3,788 8,204 32,946

Public Systems Additions
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DRAFT4c. Public Systems Additions

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High Capacity Transit (PDF)

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Parks (PDF)
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These maps highlight major public systems additions, specifically light rail lines (built over the last 25 years) and park system additions, the latter funded through system development charges from new residential development. These types of public systems additions are intended to help accommodate growth.

High Capacity Transit

Since the opening of the Portland region’s first light rail line in 1986, the light rail system has been expanded to four lines that extend east, west, north and south. Light rail serves the Central City and some of Portland’s mixed-use centers (such as Gateway, Hollywood and Lents), which are intended to accommodate significant amounts of housing and commercial growth. Other areas adjacent to light rail stations, such as the Interstate Avenue corridor and along the Eastside MAX line, are also intended for concentrated development to capitalize on their high-quality transit service.


Parkland acquisitions and development have been less closely tied to areas where growth is intended to be concentrated, with few parks additions having taken place in Portland’s mixed-use centers. An exception is the Central City, where new parks have been created for the high-density Pearl and South Waterfront districts.

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