City News

Posted on: June 16, 2017

Effort Underway to Encourage Housing for Portland Workers

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Following the recent City Council approval of Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan, there is an effort to address a key concern raised by many: producing housing that average Portland residents and workers can afford. City staff is working with the Planning Board, after getting guidance from the Council’s Housing Committee, on zoning changes that would encourage additional workforce housing production in commercial corridors and squares.


“The issue of housing affordability and production was raised consistently during the Comprehensive Plan,” says Jeff Levine, Director of Planning & Urban Development. “The changes being developed would take our current housing incentives section and focus it on the areas that people said they wanted to see new development, such as along Franklin Street and existing public housing campuses. At the same time, we are proposing eliminating the ability to use these incentives in many residential zones, to address the idea that new growth should focus on key corridors and nodes.”


The changes are in a section of the zoning code called Division 30. They would provide additional density incentives for developments that include certain percentages of units priced for average incomes or below. “In developing these bonuses, we spoke to both residents and those who produce workforce housing,” said Levine. “We wanted to make sure we provided incentives that could actually produce more housing, yet were based on the existing zoning requirements.”


The Portland Housing Authority recently completed a plan for development of more housing on its existing campuses. The need to renovate existing buildings and the desire to produce additional affordable housing drove that process, which resulted in conceptual plans for each of their sites in Portland. The Division 30 changes would also allow the Housing Authority more flexibility on their campus sites to produce more housing as part of a “Planned Residential Unit Development (PRUD)” process. The PRUD process is designed to allow each site to propose a redevelopment plan and, in return, get some the additional development density needed to finance investment – as well as produce needed housing.


The Housing Committee voted to forward these concepts to the Planning Board, which has held one workshop on them to date. The Planning Board will hold a second workshop on Thursday, June 22nd at City Hall at 7 PM. The City Council is expected to take up these items in July.


For more information on this effort, visit the project webpage at:

http://portlandmaine.gov/Division30  


The Comprehensive Plan can be reviewed at:

http://www.portlandmaine.gov/compplan 


Any group interested in learning more about these proposed changes should contact the Planning & Urban Development Department. Staff will be available to answer questions and hear residents’ ideas and thoughts as the process continues.

Division 30 Information
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