RIP Is Not Needed For Portland’s Growth – The City Admits It

Did you know that, according to Mayor Wheeler’s lead planner Eric Engstrom, the Residential Infill project (RIP) is not required to keep up with Portland’s growth?

Engstrom was interviewed by KBOO in September 2018.  He defended his RIP project, but admitted:

“Q: Without the Residential Infill Project, could we still accomodate the expected number of people moving to Portland?

A: In pure numbers terms, yes.  This isn’t really about hitting our numbers.  The plan anticipated about a hundred and twenty-three thousand households that would be – that the city would grow by that amount in the next twenty years.  We can accommodate that number of people without the RIP project.”

That is undeniably true, based on the city’s own study.  The 2012 Buildable Land Inventory was a detailed study of Portland’s housing capacity – how many more housing units the city has room for, under existing zoning without RIP.  You can read the BLI Report here.


BLI report, page 8:  “The Buildable Lands Inventory (BLI) is an estimate of how much development potential is possible under current city plans and zoning.”

BLI report, page 18.  Zoned capacity in Portland is sufficient to meet projected housing need; that is, enough land in Portland is currently zoned to accommodate the projected number of new households. There are approximately 250,000 households in Portland today. The total estimated residential capacity of the city, with the existing Comprehensive Plan designations and evaluating the degree of impact from the constraints is 231,500 [new] units.”

BLI report, page 19:  “there is a remaining capacity of  approximately 231,500 potential new dwellings.”

In other words, Portland’s city planners know that the city already has zoned capacity for 231,500 more housing units, which is more than enough for the city’s growth.  Portland can double in population without needing to re-zone the city.

Metro’s planners know this too.  Metro’s 2014 Urban Growth Report concludes that the Portland metropolitan region can double its housing units without changing zoning.

Metro report, page 17:  “Current plans and zoning allow for a total of almost 1.3 million residences inside the urban growth boundary after accounting for environmental constraints and needs for future streets and sidewalks. About half of that potential capacity is in use today.”

Metro report, page 22: Over the last several decades, communities around the region adopted plans for job and housing growth that emphasize making the most of existing downtowns, main streets and employment areas. Based on those existing plans and estimates of what is likely to be developed in the next twenty years, this analysis finds that the region can accommodate new housing at the low, middle or high ends of the growth forecast range.

Portland doesn’t need to re-zone our single-family house neighborhoods to accomodate our city’s growth.  Portland doesn’t need the RIP!

Posted in: RIP