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DOZA Citywide Design Policy

What is DOZA? The Design Overlay Zoning Amendments (DOZA). This is very important as

it will guide all new design and development of buildings. This policy includes standards, guidelines and "Design Overlays". 


Sign up to testify at the hearing! More info here:

TESTIFY IN ADVANCE - submit comments online

Support for DOZA Design Overlays with changes for main streets.

We support bigger buildings and increasing affordable housing, but with greater power, comes greater responsibility - this means doing density sensitively without dominating or damaging local identity. We can grow support for density if done well.

We're advocating for: (see our Top 3 Recs)

  • Main Street Design Standards.
    Without good tools, many of our valued undesignated historic streetcar neighborhoods are at risk.  In 2016, the City identified a long list of main street centers at risk of redevelopment - 19 out of 21 had no preservation tools (e.g. Hawthorne, Belmont, Division, Alberta, Montavilla, Sellwood-Moreland,.etc), instead of downzoning, it was recommended DOZA add main streeet standards and guidelines. The City has already identified possible Future Work in the DOZA Staff Report (p. 51-53) for these places but without your advocacy, these areas may not get the tools to guide their growth with context. View the Main Street Centers Study (i.e. the Low Rise Commercial Storefront Analysis).


  • Sustainability Scorecard
    Many areas have experienced gentrification and displacement, rising rents and loss of neighborhood identity. We need better tools that track impacts and can support redeveloping communities to have a voice in shaping their future. We can't manage if we don't measure.


  • Equitable Design Review
    We have a different standard of care for Central City at 45' for Design Commission Review but 65-75' trigger everywhere else, ignoring impacts to our vintage main street "centers of centers" that lack preservation tools. Most of our main streets are not designated with historic or conservation districts so are very vulnerable to loss. We aren't suggesting neighborhood design review, just equal treatment from the City Design Commission for this side of the river in our centers.


  • Affordable Design Standard is missing
    Many newer buildings are un-necessarily unaffordable due to "fast fashion', ignoring time-tested affordable design practices. PDX Main Streets is advocating for a new "Design for Affordability Standard" based on what we've learned about cost-efficient design. That means stacking your floors, aligning openings, not cantilevering buildings out using expensive structural steel, avoiding large extraneous overbuild elements, and investing in good materials and energy efficiency. It's not an either/or debate: EVERYONE DESERVES GOOD DESIGN, and it doesn't have to cost more.


  • Community Based Planning Policy
    We believe there is a minimum standard of care and responsibility of good governance to consider community work that can demonstrate these two criterion are met (best planning practices, widespread community support) and to help assist them toward a pathway for communities to have a meaningful voice in shaping their future. A community based planning policy is an opportunity for the City to lead in being a model for others, showing they are listening to communities and really care about the values they espouse of government of, by, and for the people. 


Since 2013, we've been working with communities to respond with positive tools and resources to make better density with less impacts and greater fit with context. We care about ensuring ALL communities have a voice in shaping the city and tools to clarify community design goals, and create opportunities to overcome divisive debates around development politics.

Opponents don't care about impacts, spreading false narratives or community voices that have worked to clarify goals for new density through years of public engagement when no City help was available. Tell the City that a one-size fits all approach and silencing community voices isn't the Portland Way. We need to hear from you!

  • Sign up to testify in person (by 4:00 on 5/11)

  • Submit written comments


We encourage everyone to speak out now Portland City Council online now and/or sign up to testify today to provide your valuable feedback on this important process. 

Learn more: View our webinar presentation to Venture Portland on DOZA. (Slides, video recording) 



PDX Main Streets Top 5 Recommendations (2020)

 Communities that have already voted to support our Top 5 Recommendations:

  • Hawthorne Boulevard Business Association (HBBA)

  • Concordia Neighborhood Association (CNA)

  • Hosford Abernethy Neighborhood District (HAND)

  • Rose City Park Neighborhood Association (RCPNA)

  • Sunnyside Neighborhood Association (SNA)

  • Creston Kenilworth Neighborhood Association (CKNA)

  • Richmond Neighborhood Association (RNA)

Other Advocacy Letters & Recommendations on DOZA


PDX Main Streets Advocacy Guide (2019) | PSC DOZA Overview Video

Vintage Areas Map.jpg


  • Lack of Public Involvement Insufficient public outreach on a major citywide design policy, particularly for the East Side.

  • 65-75 Foot Tall Trigger for Design Commission Review (6-7 stories) is not scaled for impact given big impacts on narrow older vulnerable main streets! This creates contrast over compatibility, narrow lots are a poor fit so lead to demolition, and lack of main street design standards lead to creating bad context, big impacts and loss of neighborhood identity. 

  • Context is raised as a guiding issue. What context should we be relating to? The image at the Burnside Bridgehead above - our last 5-10 years? Or the 100+ year history of harmonious design of our city that follows a common pattern which helps new buildings fit in any size, style and scale. These patterns are style neutral and can help tall building relate to human scale.

  • What we are building is un-affordable and frequently novelty for novelty sake adding further cost and little quality. Good time-tested design that you see on many older main streets is generally a more affordable design pattern we can use for new buildings that can be denser, with higher quality and more cost-efficiency. (Walsh Construction has good design guidance for this).

  • We are gentrifying, demolishing and displacing communities. We have a terrible history of this, yet the City does not recognize how unguided growth is unintentionally perpetuating this right NOW. 

  • 19 undesignated  main street centers are at risk (Hawthorne, Alberta, Belmont, Sellwood-Moreland, Fremont, Montavilla, etc) 

  • Vulnerable un-designated historic streetcar-era main streets have no specific design guidelines nor protections and are not a priority for staff or Planning Commission. Despite identifying many vulnerable areas as important in the staff report (p. 51-53 Areas of Special Character). These areas were identified in the Low Rise Commercial Storefront Analysis in 2016. PDX Main Streets has done a significant amount of the work for design tools that can be used for these places now.

Advocate, Volunteer, Donate, Speak Out!

PDX Main Streets - Bill Tripp Mixed Use
PDX Guidelines Cover 9.15.20_Page_01.jpg

We're RESHAPING our City NOW.

Do we have a coherent VISION?

Who is Deciding?

A small number of Developers, Architects, Planners and Politicians. This is inequitable. And Not Contextual.

YOU deserve a VOICE

"Nothing about us, without us" is the Portland Way.

Do we have a coherent Vision for our Cit


  • Design Overlay: There are new and updated Design Overlays ("D-Overlays") that will have new guiding policy. You can view these mapped overlays on the Map App and give testimony there as well.

  • Design Standards (Volume 2): Clear and objective "standards" that will govern design of most new developments - no design review is required. There are mandatory points and optional additional points - this is something to weigh in on. You can find these on page 34 in Volume 2.

  • Design Guidelines (Volume 3): 10 Overarching Guidelines. These are more flexible, however more open to interpretation. If a project cannot meet the Standards, then the new "Design Guidelines" will be used. Design review by staff is given if in the Design Overlay. Design Review is given by the Design Commission if in Central City, Gateway or for buildings above 65'.

  • Design Commission Review: will only kick in for projects over 65' tall or 80,000 square feet that go through the Design Guidelines (65' is roughly equivalent to a six-story building) - You can see a good chart of this on page 23 in the Staff Report.

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