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Reed Neighborhood Association forges ahead with preservation effort

The Reed Neighborhood Association is moving forward with the efforts previously reported in THE BEE to curtail density in Reedwood, a section of the neighborhood located between S.E. Steele, S.E. Schiller, S.E. 36th Place, and S.E. 32nd Avenue.

At an August neighborhood association meeting, residents voted in favor of lobbying the Portland Bureau of Planning in the hopes of changing the zoning of Reedwood, as well as that of Reed College Heights, from an R5 designation to a less-dense R7 - or 7,000-square-feet per lot.

With the exception of Reedwood and Reed College Heights, most of the Reed neighborhood is zoned R5 for density, which means that a house can hypothetically be built, not just on a 5,000 square-foot lot, but also on a 3.000-square-foot lot, according to Reed Neighborhood Association President and Architect Gabriel Headrick. Most of Inner Southeast Portland's houses are on 5,000-square-foot lots.

But Reedwood is already zoned R7, with an official warning that R5 could be allowed on appeal. Residents in favor of maintaining the character of Reedwood contend that the area is a showcase of classic ranch houses, and its mid-century residential character should be protected by making R7 the official zoning designation without exception.

In addition, Reedwood is seeking a special Plan District designation from the city that would protect the ranch-style character of the neighborhood.

The neighborhood's issue with zoning intensified after some developers, knowing that they could appeal to the Planning Bureau, purchased properties in Reedwood, divided the land, and built 'skinny' homes and multi-story houses. Reedwood mostly consists of long, low-profile, mid-century ranch houses with 20-foot setbacks on large lots.

'We want the Planning Bureau to please take that R5 [option] off our zoning maps so that developers can't do that anymore,' explained Headrick.

The Planning Bureau will soon begin updating its Comprehensive Plan, and the Reed Neighborhood Association wants firm R7 zoning, without exception, implemented in the new plan.

'We'll still have the Historic District option, if this doesn't work out,' sighed Headrick.