Amanda Fritz: City needs to ‘raise the bar,’ say no to developers more often


In a memo to her staff, Fritz emphasized the importance of tree preservation, on-street parking availability and neighborhood compatibility when considering developer proposals.

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BY JACOB PALMER | OB DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who is the head of the Bureau of Development Services, made her stance clear on neighborhood development proposals clear to her staff earlier this month.

She wants less crammed-in properties and more neighborhood cohesion, the memo obtained by the Oregonian found.

From Elliot Njus’ report published on OregonLive.com:

“I don’t support the philosophy of cramming in density at all costs,” Fritz wrote in the memo, obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive. “We need a more balanced approach.”

The directive won’t impact development that’s allowed outright under city code. Rather, it’s a change in how planners make “discretionary” land-use decisions, in which some criteria is subjective. Homebuilders say they’ve already noticed a shift at the bureau. Rather than hearing “no,” however, they’re often hearing “I don’t know.” That has builders and developers worried. Like most businesses, they want certainty when it comes to regulations and how they’re applied.

Activists to “save” Portland neighborhoods from demolition are expected to grow frustrated with the city’s slow initiatives to address the situation.

The Portland Tribune reported Wednesday morning that the plans could take years to implement:

Both initiatives are included as budget requests from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. One request is for $332,000 to pay for an 18-month Single Family Development Review Program. The other is for $133,000 for the first phase of a multiyear project to update the city’s Historic Resources Inventory. The funds are requested for the annual budget that begins July 1. They must be approved by the City Council for the projects to start. Activists repeatedly have testified before the council that there is no time to wait. They include representatives of the grassroots United Neighborhoods for Reform, the Architectural Heritage Center and Restore Oregon nonprofit organizations, and the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission.

Residential demolition and replacement projects are increasing as the economy improves. According to the most recent figures, the Bureau of Development Services is expected to issue 370 demolition permits this year, up from 281 in 2013 and 312 in 2014. That does not include permits for major renovation projects that replace the majority of existing houses.

 




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