Our city is facing a crisis that resonates with almost every Portlander – a housing crisis that demands more than just intellectual debates and bureaucratic inertia. As a mayoral candidate, I am driven by the unwavering belief that it is our time to act boldly and transform our city’s future.

For far too long, we have been tinkering around the edges, lacking the political will to create the transformative changes we desperately need. ReCode Portland is the first rewriting of the city’s land use code in over 50 years. Though a step forward, it falls short of meeting the urgency of this moment. We cannot afford to ignore the very real challenges of housing and economic development intersections, soaring land and construction costs and the limited availability of suitable land for housing.

Portland’s population hit a peak of 77,634 in the mid-20th century, more than our current population of 68,085. Released in 2017, our city’s comprehensive plan set a 10-year population goal of approximately 72,000 people by 2027. The number of new households this implied could vary, but based on the 2017 household size of 2.08, this would result in a total of 2,557 new housing units in the next 10 years. This is falling short by a long shot considering demand.

Currently, over 4 million square feet of available, underutilized vacant land remains barred from containing housing. To fulfill the demand over the next decade, we require approximately 12,000 housing units, necessitating 5 million square feet of available land. It’s time to challenge the outdated notion that all industrial land must be preserved at the expense of addressing our housing crisis. Repurposing land is not just a trendy concept – it is a necessity for our city’s survival, and Portland can lead the way in creating innovative housing solutions.

Our existing land use code is a substantial roadblock to progress. Our current zoning regulations prioritize commercial and industrial interests, neglecting the pressing need for housing. Let’s be clear – our crisis lies in housing, not industrial use. We must reevaluate and reform these policies to foster the creation of affordable and diverse housing options.

We must merge zones I-M, I-L, B-2, B-4 and B-5 into a new zone. This new zone would encompass the most available land for housing expansion. The areas of this new district are East Bayside, Riverside Corridor, Forest Avenue, Warren Avenue and Washington Avenue. This new zone will encourage residential, commercial and light industrial to co-exist, as a modern city should.


Simplification is the key to progress. By consolidating various zones into a new, inclusive district, we can unlock the full potential of available land for housing expansion. This streamlined zoning approach would promote coexistence between residential, commercial and light industrial areas, simplifying the approval process and encouraging the development of diverse housing options. Utilizing our land effectively is a crucial part of the solution to the housing crisis, and this innovative zone will empower us to thrive.

Enough analysis – now is the time for action. We must break free from the inertia and chart a new course toward a future where everyone can find a Portland address to call home, without fear of being priced out, restricted or marginalized.

We stand at a crossroads, and this moment demands courage and imagination. Let’s seize this opportunity to create housing policies that reflect our values, respect our land and uplift our neighbors. A thriving community awaits us if we rise to the occasion and overcome our housing crisis with compassion and determination.

The time for transformative change is now. As a city, we must unite behind a vision that places affordable housing at the forefront, nurturing a vibrant and equitable Portland for generations to come. Together, we can rewrite the narrative of our city and build a future that cherishes what we hold dear while fostering growth and opportunity for all.

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