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News Release
Proposal to clarify development standards that apply to outdoor shelters heads to City Council Feb. 8; Public invited to testify in person via Zoom or at City Hall, or in writing via the Map App. - 02/07/23

BPS logo and City seal with text The Bureau of Planning & Sustainability



February 7, 2023

Eden Dabbs
Public Information Officer, BPS


Proposal to clarify development standards that apply to outdoor shelters heads to City Council Feb. 8 

Public invited to testify in person via Zoom or at City Hall, or in writing via the Map App. 

Portland, Ore. — On Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 2 p.m., the Portland City Council will hear public testimony on a set of technical amendments to refine the original Shelter to Housing Continuum (S2HC) code amendments, which were adopted in 2021 to expand housing and shelter options for individuals and households with extremely low incomes and address the crisis of houseless Portlanders. 

On Nov. 8, 2022, the Planning and Sustainability Commission recommended the Shelter to Housing Continuum Technical Amendments, which clarify the development standards that apply to outdoor shelters permitted by the previously adopted Zoning Code amendments.

Outdoor shelters are facilities run by public and nonprofit entities, where clients have sleeping accommodations in tents, vehicles, or small cabins rather than in buildings. Examples include the Safe Rest Villages and other alternative shelters like Dignity Village or the Kenton Women’s Village.

These key amendments change the setback, height and fence rules that outdoor shelters must meet. They also resolve a technical issue regarding the size of industrially zoned sites that can be used for outdoor shelters. The changes will also give shelter providers the flexibility they need, while ensuring that the general scale and placement of shelters is consistent with abutting properties. 

Community members are invited to testify on the proposal in person at the hearing at City Hall or via Zoom. The public can also testify in writing via the Map App or U.S. Mail. Learn more

Why this matters 

The first Shelter to Housing Continuum package (S2HC), which took effect in 2021, contained four elements:

  1. Code changes to make it easier to site shelters and associated services in various zones.
  2. Implementation of a new community service use in the Zoning Code called “outdoor shelter.” 
  3. Increased housing flexibility by allowing group living configurations more broadly. 
  4. Allows occupancy of a recreational vehicle or a tiny house on wheels on residential property.

But as the City’s Safe Rest Villages Initiative has been siting shelters, and as the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) continues to operate and open other facilities, several other zoning code barriers and unanticipated technical issues arose. 

This follow-on project was initiated to amend the zoning code to create efficient pathways for shelters to be built and operated without the need for an emergency declaration. 

 Safe Rest Villages and other shelters

Safe Rest Villages (SRV) are a type of outdoor shelter. Three SRVs have been created since S2HC passed in 2021, and several more are in the pipeline. These would not have been possible without the code changes. Neighbors and community members have shown support and enthusiasm for these small gatherings of pod-like structures, organized around communal services, including small kitchens and bathroom facilities. 

In addition, local nonprofits and the JOHS are opening and operating shelters, including St Johns VillageWeShine Village, and Beacon Village.

While these kinds of facilities can’t solve the houseless problem on their own, they are an important step along the continuum of housing interventions for people experiencing houselessness. 

Learn more about the S2HC Technical Amendments Project 

About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) develops creative and practical solutions to enhance Portland’s livability, preserve distinctive places and plan for a resilient future. BPS collaborates with community partners to provide comprehensive land use, neighborhood, district, economic, historic and environmental planning, and urban design; research, policy and technical services to advance green building, energy efficiency and the use of solar and renewable energy, waste prevention, composting and recycling, and a sustainable food system; and policy and actions to address climate change.

View more news releases from Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.