[This year's news cycle was a vicious one, and left little time for reflection. As 2020 nears its end, we're taking the opportunity to look back on the most important Mercury stories written during the past year. This article was originally published on August 12, 2020. We hope you'll consider making a monthly contribution to the Mercury to help continue our work into next year and beyond.—eds.]
After years of debate, Portland City Council has passed a policy overhauling the city’s residential zoning rules to allow more housing within city limits.
The Residential Infill Project (RIP) will lift Portland’s decades-old ban on building "middle housing"—duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes—in the vast majority of the city’s neighborhoods, where current city rules only allow the construction of single-family homes. The final policy, four years in the making, is meant to improve housing affordability by increasing the sheer number of homes within Portland city limits—and begin to reverse the lasting impacts of local zoning laws created to exclude people of color from buying property.
"We cannot deny the impacts that exclusionary zoning have had and their racist origins," said City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, before casting her vote. "That is a vitally important piece of the conversation."
The vote comes a year after the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill 2001, a law requiring cities with a population over 25,000 to allow construction of middle housing on land exclusively reserved for a single home.