Comprehensive Plan for Portland’s Future

By Don MacGillivray

The Comprehensive Plan will guide Portland’s land-use development and facility investment decisions over the next twenty years.

It is critical that the Plan influence other non-public organizations either through cooperation or regulation. To fulfill the urban visions for Portland as described in the Plan, the City relies upon the cooperation and initiative of many commercial interests.

The Plan is made up of the Vision, Guiding Principles, a Land Use Map, Policies, Goals, Objectives, a List of Infrastructure Projects, and Transportation improvements.

It addresses land use and growth subjects such as urban form, housing, environment, economy and transportation and directs changes to Portland over the next 20 years.

It expands the traditional view of a comprehensive plan to include topics such as equity, technology and public health. The document is 270 pages in length and there are many related background documents and plans.

There must be land and infrastructure for 123,000 new housing units and 142,000 new jobs. The Plan not only shows how this growth will occur, but it must show how it all can be accomplished through improvements to Portland’s variety and diversity.

Providing affordable housing and living wage jobs for all city residents will be a necessity to realize the full scope of the Plan. Per capita vehicle miles traveled will be reduced by 27% and there will be fewer single occupant commuter auto trips. The use of transit, bicycles, and walking will increase.

Portland will reduce carbon emissions by 60%. Transportation will have a recommended project list prioritized using criteria developed with public input. The coordination of the many decisions and investments will challenge local government and business interests alike.

The Plan’s Community Involvement Committee, formed six years ago, has been advising the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) and staff on informing the public about the Plan and how they can be involved in the process.

More than 4,000 public comments and suggestions were received about the current Draft Plan over the past 12 months.

The public process included: review by Policy Expert Groups, input via the interactive on-line Map App, the helpline, neighborhood walks, open houses, tabling events, advertising, mailings, e-newsletters, videos, social media communications, and outreach to Portland’s diverse citizen groups.

Information about the many meetings and documents are available on the BPS Comprehensive Plan website.

The updating of the zoning code and zoning map will change rules for development of commercial and residential neighborhoods. Within these zones the size, allowable uses, location, and scale of new buildings will be regulated differently.

This will cause significant changes on commercial corridors like SE Belmont St., SE Division St., and SE Hawthorne Blvd. The commercial and employment zones will be reduced from nine zones to only four.

Bonuses will be given to developers that will allow them to increase the size of a building if the developer agrees to include various public amenities. In this way a four-story building can become a five or six story building.

The heart of the Plan’s residential strategy is to build complete communities with well-designed growth in the Centers and on the Corridors that serve the surrounding neighborhoods.

Complete communities will provide improved walkability, safety, expanded housing choices, stronger business districts, and improvements to transit through compact development. This will be applied in unique ways throughout Portland depending on the existing characteristics of each neighborhood.

There are few things more important than economic growth. It is the key to a healthy, prosperous city. Basic to this is employment and the land supply.

The Plan attempts to address growing income disparity and a declining middle-class by improving Portland’s employment opportunities.

Family wage, middle class career opportunities must be increased by maintaining manufacturing and distribution jobs that provide for upward mobility to people of color and those without an advanced degree.

Portland must use our existing employment land base more efficiently and make important transportation investments that will increase the productivity of the city.

The city has enough land zoned and it is served with adequate infrastructure to accommodate the expected residential housing growth. The major local challenge is to provide housing of choice that is affordable and is equitably distributed in full service neighborhoods.

Portland households are experiencing excessive housing costs that take more than 30% of a family’s income therefore a significant amount of future development must be at prices and rents that are affordable.

To do this the Recommended Plan includes policy support for additional funding tools to provide for the needed housing. The ecological health of the city is addressed through policies that protects the city’s biodiversity, prevents environmental degradation, improves fish and wildlife habitat and ensures ecosystem resilience.

Equity is one of the five guiding principles of the Recommended Plan with policies that address equity in investments to be made in Portland.

The Comprehensive Plan elements, such as housing, economics, and transportation, provide opportunities for the stability and health of households. These investments will be evaluated in regard to their ability to increase equity in Portland.


Weighing in on the Comp Plan

• Read the Recommended Draft of the Comprehensive Plan at

• Email comments with “Comprehensive Plan Testimony” in the Subject line to Include your full name and mailing address.

• Mail a letter with your comments to: Council Clerk, 1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 130, Portland, OR 97204

• Attend a public hearing to offer oral testimony directly to the City Council. The first public hearing for the Comprehensive Plan is tentatively scheduled for November 19, 2015 at 2 pm. Check the Comp Plan Calendar for updated time, other hearing dates and more information.

• To be considered formal testimony and have your comments forwarded to Council members, you must include your name and mailing address in your letters, emails or online comments. Comments received without these components will not be included in the record, and the City will not be able to notify you of future hearing dates. If your name does not appear in the record, you may be precluded from appealing the Council’s final decision.

• Questions? Contact Marty Stockton, Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

1900 SW 4th Ave., Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201 by phone: 503.823.2041 by email: /

Comprehensive Plan for Portland’s Future

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