Local communities have important knowledge and history they can contribute to helping new buildings fit as our city grows. However, many communities often lack the resources or expertise to know where to start. We provide free and low-bono services to fill the gaps in planning support to help those in need. 

Design guidelines highlight strategies for new development any community can use to help new development fit better within our most historic areas while leaving room for creativity and innovation.

As Portland considers new Citywide DOZA Design Policy with new design standards and guidelines, many have expressed concern that we need better tools for main streets to ensure we do density right, in our special places.

View our April 30, 2021 webinar presentation to Venture Portland on DOZA. (Slides,
video recording

View our Top 5 Recommendations for advocacy, and our DOZA policy page for more info. We encourage all communities to advocate for an equitable voice in the future of our City.


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PDX Main Streets Design Guidelines

These voluntary Main Street Design Guidelines began with a project for Division but we quickly realized these were needed for many of Portland's Main Streets which share similar characteristics and patterns. They were created with in-depth community involvement and participation over five years of grassroots planning, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in donated work by dedicated leaders and professionals. You can learn more about the extensive public engagement, research and community work we did at our former website

The PDX Main Streets Design Guidelines have been adopted for 12 Main Streets including Division, Hawthorne, Woodstock, multiple streets in Sellwood-Moreland, and seven main streets in HAND including MLK, Grand, 11th Avenue, 12th Avenue, Powell Blvd)

View the PDX Main Street Design Guidelines

Sellwood Moreland Main Street Design Supplement

In January 2019, the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League Board of Directors adopted the PDX Main Streets Design Guidelines for their neighborhood main streets. From 2018-2020 we were hired low-bono to support Sellwood-Moreland with a special supplement in addition to the design guidelines. 

View the Sellwood-Moreland Design Guidelines Supplement

Learn more about the Community Process

Connecting with Designers & Developers

Sample Design Guidelines Letter to Developers+ DesignersTemplate for Neighborhood & Business Associations regarding design guidelines + community engagement policy

Developer Notification & Community Engagement Policy | Developed by the Richmond Neighborhood Association (RNA) and adopted by RNA, HAND, and STNA. This gives guidance on when to engage, what information to bring so community groups can understand context and impacts, and has a template for how to follow-up on community comments heard.

Is your favorite Main St. in Transition?

Contact us at to find out how we might be able to support your neighborhood.

If you like what we're doing to proactively guide growth and change, support us by volunteering, follow us or donate to help us bring more support to communities across Portland.