Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View More

Portland project team wins "smart cities" prize

From BPS Partner Portland State University

Smart Cities Portland Project Team

The Portland Action Cluster accepting the GCTC Leadership Award in Austin. Pictured (from left to right): Wilfred Pinfold (Urban.Systems Inc.), Christine Kendrick (City of Portland), Mike Reich (Sensamo), Kristin Tufte (Portland State University), Kevin Martin (City of Portland), Paul Giangarra (IBM Research), Glenn Ricart (US Ignite), John Gordon (Current/GE).


Thanks to author John Kirkland, Portland State University, for sharing this story.

(Austin, TX) -- A “smart cities” project team that includes Portland State University won the Global City Teams Challenge Leadership Award grand prize on June 13.

The $20,000 prize came from US Ignite, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster the creation of next-generation internet applications that benefit the public. It honored Portland’s Connected Intelligent Transit Action Cluster team for its ongoing work in developing a sensor-connected “smart” corridor that gathers transit data, traffic signalization information and air quality measurements to help local governments make improved transportation policy choices. 

Portland’s team is one of many around the world. Members of the team include Portland State University, Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Portland Bureau of Technology Services, Technology Association of Oregon, Intel Corporation, Urban.Systems Inc., SensamoSeabourne, DKS Associates and TriMet.

The leadership award recognizes teams that are deploying technologically replicable, scalable and measurable Internet of Things (IoT) projects. Portland’s project includes the use of a new applications lab at PSU – the first of its kind in the United States – that collects, stores and shares data about all things related to transportation in the city. The lab promises to be a boon to the City of Portland and mobile application developers as they find ways to streamline the way Portlanders move about the city.

"One of the key components of a "smart city" is using data collected from sensors to assist with decision making and investment planning," said Kevin Martin, Technical Services Manager, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. "Piloting a network of low-cost, connected air quality sensors allows us to assess -- in real-time and at a block-by-block level -- the air quality impacts of our transportation system, and how those impacts change as we modify the system. It also gives the City additional tools to measure the performance of future transportation investments, such as the planned projects in the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan."

From BPS Director Susan Anderson: Portland’s new 2035 Comprehensive Plan adopted!

New long range plan for Portland puts people first.

Susan Anderson portraitLast week, the Portland City Council adopted the city’s new Comprehensive Plan. Nearly nine years in the making, the development of this new plan involved three mayors, dozens of advisory committees and tens of thousands of community members. And nearly half our bureau.

It’s a big deal. 

Recipe for a new plan

When we first set out to develop a new comp plan, we looked around the world for the best plans we could find. And what we found were plans that focused on the usual land use, transportation, housing, streets and sewers.

So we decided Portland’s plan should be flipped 180 degrees.

So we focused on people — in all neighborhoods, with all types of businesses, and especially with people who had not traditionally been part of the discussion before. We created a framework to help people thrive — from East Portland to the West Hills, and central Portland in between. And we totally refreshed our public involvement strategy to broaden our reach to people of all incomes and races, renters and homeowners, young and old, immigrants and refugees, small business owners, and people with disabilities.

The result of all that work is our new 2035 Comprehensive Plan.

By focusing on the details, we can think big

From my perspective, it’s a plan that thinks big by focusing small. Big, with big results citywide for housing, jobs, affordability, environmental protection and more. And small, focused on the details of each part of the city; each unique neighborhood, business center and area that needs protecting, from open space to prime industrial lands.

One of the primary goals of the plan is to create a city where at least 80 percent of people live in walkable, complete neighborhoods … with a variety of housing options, strong neighborhood business centers, served by great transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

That seems like common sense. It’s just how we do it.

But it hasn’t always been this way.

The planning success story

We took our first steps toward this model more than three decades ago with the adoption of the 1980 Comp Plan. It soon became a national model, and many of the things we love best about our city were set in motion with that plan.

It’s amazing — the great insights people and planners had 35 years ago. The community paused and took a look at what was happening in Portland and so many other U.S. cities: People were fleeing to the suburbs, downtowns were dead at night, and the car was king.

In response, Portland created a plan that went in a different direction. A plan that encouraged housing and business growth in the central city and in our vibrant neighborhoods. And today, it’s paid off — with a few hundred thousand new residents, thousands of new businesses, and dozens and dozens of wonderful neighborhoods.

So it’s been a success. In fact, so successful, that we’re now faced with a whole new set of problems and opportunities. Portland is popular — and that means we’re less affordable, we have more traffic congestion, and people and businesses have been displaced.

But that popularity also means we have a more diverse community. We have highly educated people starting up amazing companies and more innovation and creativity. We have the capacity to protect the environment and create a low-carbon economy.

And the capacity to be a world class city.

A next-generation plan for future generations

The new Comprehensive Plan reflects these challenges and opportunities. It provides a framework for the next 20 years to help increase housing supply and affordability, reduce the need to drive, protect our natural resources, provide parks and open spaces, and ensure enough land for industry and middle income jobs. 

The new plan also branches out to address new issues … Like climate change, environmental justice and better access to technology for all residents.

The 2035 Comprehensive Plan is a plan for the next generation. It continues our great planning legacy. And it, literally, provides a map to the future we want to see. For a Portland that’s more equitable, healthy and prosperous for everyone.


Susan Anderson Signature

Susan Anderson
City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

PSC News: July 12, 2016 Meeting Recap

Task 5: Composite Zoning Map — hearing; Task 5: Mixed Use Zones Project — work session / recommendation


  • Task 5: Composite Zoning Map —  hearing
  • Task 5: Mixed Use Zones Project — work session

Meeting files

An archive of meeting minutes and documents of all Planning and Sustainability Commission meetings are available at

Portland’s Central City gets a new long range land use plan to guide growth and development; enhance environment

Public invited to read and testify on the Proposed Draft of the Central City 2035 Plan; Planning and Sustainability Commission to hold public hearings

CC2035 Proposed DraftWhat do Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Pearl, PSU, Waterfront Park, Lloyd Center, South Waterfront and the Transit Mall have in common?

They’re all part of the Central City’s vibrant economic, cultural and civic life. And places and institutions like these are just some of the attractions that draw people here to Portland to live, work and play.

With the publication of the Proposed Draft of the Central City 2035 (CC2035) Plan, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is sharing the latest version of the area’s land use plan for the future. This new plan will guide growth and development along the Willamette River and in the city center for the next 20 years.

Read the Central City 2035 Proposed Draft

Why is this important?

Portland’s Central City is the center of the metropolitan region, with Oregon’s densest concentration of people and jobs. Home to 32,000 people and 130,000 jobs, the Central City is vital to Portland and the region. From the West End to the Central Eastside, 10 different neighborhoods offer residents, employees and visitors a variety of cultural, educational, employment and recreational opportunities in fewer than five square miles.

But as Portland grows, becomes more diverse and experiences the effects of climate change, the city’s center will face new and increasing challenges.

The CC2035 Plan aims to meet these challenges, while improving and building upon past plans and traditions. The Plan lays the groundwork for a prosperous, healthy, equitable and resilient city center, where people can collaborate, innovate and create a better future together.

21st-century strategies for the city's urban core

A Livable City Center

More and more people are calling Central City their home. With the transformation of the Pearl District into a thriving, walkable neighborhood, we know the area can be more than just a place to work, go to school or recreate. It’s also a really great place to live. Other Central City neighborhoods are poised to become similarly vibrant (think South Waterfront and Lloyd), with housing close to jobs, shops, restaurants, transit, parks and other amenities.

Powerful Tools for Affordable Housing and Historic Preservation

Today, roughly 30 percent of the housing in the city center is affordable. The Plan prioritizes affordable housing and historic preservation by refocusing the height and floor area ratio (FAR) bonus and transfer system primarily around these two initiatives. With the passage of inclusionary housing legislation in the 2016 legislature, Portland is poised to respond to the current shortage of affordable housing with comprehensive inclusionary housing programs. Through the Plan, staff will propose a powerful combination of regulations and incentives to provide enough housing for Portlanders now and into the future.

Employment Center for the Region

The Plan supports strategies and programs to facilitate economic growth in the Central City. One of the big ideas is to support the growth of an Innovation Quadrant in the southern end of the Central City, where industry in the Central Eastside Industrial District and academic researchers at OHSU, PSU and others can collaborate and thrive. New transportation infrastructure will support residents, businesses and freight operations. And a major update to industrial zoning in the Central Eastside will allow a new generation of industrial uses and small manufacturers to grow new businesses there. In addition, a bonus incentive for the Central Eastside is being proposed to increase industrial space on the ground floor of new buildings.   

A Vibrant Willamette River

New land use tools will help protect, provide access to and activate the Willamette River and its banks. The Plan applies an environmental overlay to improve habitat over time, expands the river setback, and allows some small retail structures in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The Plan also includes a bonus to allow more development FAR in exchange for riverfront open space.

Green Building Tools

With new requirements for eco-roofs, bird-safe building design and LEED registration, the Plan will create a greener, more environmentally healthy Central City. Eco-roofs can reduce heat island effects and provide onsite stormwater management. Bird-friendly building design helps avoid bird collisions with buildings in areas with extensive tree canopy and adjacent to the river. Both efforts to protect natural resources and habitat qualify as elements for LEED Gold certification.

A “Green Loop” for All

A proposed six-mile open space path a few blocks up from the river through the Central City will offer casual cyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities a chance to stroll, roll, run or ride bikes through parks and neighborhood business districts. The “Green Loop” is part of a larger effort to expand the use of public rights-of-way into community spaces and improve infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. It will connect many of the city’s civic and cultural institutions and link Downtown’s iconic parks to the rest of Portland.

Modified Building Heights to Protect Scenic Views and Historic Character

The Plan establishes a building height pattern in the Central City that protects a few select public views of treasured sites like Mt Hood. It also establishes height limits and new regulations within historic districts to ensure compatibility with existing historic character. The Plan retains the basic “step down” to the Willamette River, parks and adjacent neighborhoods, but allows greater height in the Downtown retail core, along the transit mall and around bridgeheads to increase development potential and activate the waterfront. See the CC2035 Map App for site-specific information about height and FAR. 

Better Transportation Choices

Finally, the plan includes many new transportation projects that will enhance access into the Central City and make it easier to walk, bike and use transit. Future projects will address safety at intersections, develop a world-class bicycle network and improve connectivity for pedestrians. The Plan will provide transit improvements that add capacity and enhance reliability, as well as targeted improvements that address safety on freeways and freight operations in industrial areas. 

Proposed Draft incorporates months of public input and involvement

Through the Central City Concept Plan, subsequent quadrant plans and other supporting projects, a set of proposals was carefully stitched together into a Discussion Draft. Following the release of the CC2035 Discussion Draft in February, hundreds of people attended open houses and drop-in hours on both sides of the river over the course of two weeks. Project staff also attended more than 40 meetings with neighborhood associations, property owners and others throughout the Central City. Additionally, community members submitted some 200 written comments and letters by the March 31, 2016, deadline.

The project team considered these comments and input from other agencies and organizations to create the Proposed Draft CC2035 Plan.

Get involved and have your say

The release of the CC2035 Proposed Draft marks the beginning of the formal public legislative process. The public is invited to read the plan and discuss it with family, friends and neighbors ... then testify to the Planning and Sustainability Commission at public hearings in July and August. Testimony may also be submitted in writing by August 9, 2016.

Learn more about public hearings and how to testify in person and in writing.