August 19, 2014

Dropping Densities: New Shift in Portland?

Given that we look to Portland for trends, here’s something to watch, as reported in the Portland Tribune: City ponders about-face on density.

The city of Portland — often incurring the wrath of residents and neighborhood associations — has scrambled for two decades to increase density via infill developments, row houses, apartments and condos.
Now city planners are plotting something unthinkable in the 1990s and 2000s — reducing density.


In the proposed comprehensive land use plan designed to guide Portland’s growth through the year 2035, planners are proposing lower densities on 2,100 acres of land throughout the city. It’s known as down-zoning. …
None of the proposals are written in stone, as the city has just started taking public testimony on the long-awaited update of the 1980 comprehensive land-use plan. And to be fair, that “comp plan” also calls for increasing densities in many parts of town, especially on commercial corridors and intersections ….

Full article here.

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  1. That aside, how about getting some Portland Architects up to Vancouver to mix things up a bit and break up the usual suspects inner circle of Vancouver architects?

  2. Just sounds like they are adjusting their plans in response to NIMBY complaints.
    In Vancouver, the politicians never made the up-zoning mistake in ‘NIMBY-sensitive” areas in the first place, so don’t have to backtrack. i.e. most of Vnacouver’s up-zoning has been downtown, along arterials and at nodes – which is where Portland appears to be retaining its density.
    That said, it would be nice to have midrise districts spreading around, rather than mostly on arterial corridors. It’s a bit like the stands of trees along the highways concealing the clearcuts in behind.

  3. I agree with both of the above comments.
    Architecture in Vancouver is horrible lately–everything looks the same.
    And density only on arterials doesn’t make/enhance neighbourhoods.

    1. To follow up on Don’s comment, look at Kerrisdale for example. The arterials have retained low rise commercial while the tall buildings were put on the side streets within walking distance of the shops.
      Kerrisdale does seem to lack grocery shopping options, however. It seems really strange that residents in an area with a higher than average senior population are expected to travel to Dunbar, Arbutus Village or Oakridge to shop for food.

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