Planning commissioners in Portland, Ore., are trying to “embrace gentle density,” according to Next City, along with other large cities like Toronto and Minneapolis. Last week, the commission voted to implement policy changes that cap the size of a new single unit, re-legalize structures to include more than one unit inside, and allow buildings to be a bit larger to include more units. Although the changes still have to be presented to City Council, the recommendations lean towards the council’s pro-density motives.

Minneapolis officials have been debating a similar long-range vision, As Next City has covered. Mayor Jacob Frey has voiced strong support for so-called “fourplexes” in single-family neighborhoods, with the goal of increasing density without massive new developments.

The concept is an example of gentle density — i.e., increased density from duplexes or garage apartments in areas zoned mostly for single-family homes. In Toronto, officials have also been eyeing the city’s network of alleys — or laneways — as a source of second units in neighborhoods that generally keep to one home per lot.

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