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From BPS Director Susan Anderson: Happy Earth Day! It's time to celebrate -- Portland leads nation on climate action!

A 21 percent drop in Portland carbon emissions is cause for celebration.

Over the past decade, cities have become the epicenter of climate action. From recent events, such as Mayor Hales championing Portland’s 2015 Climate Action Plan on the global stage to our long-term focus on local climate action in every sector, Portland residents, businesses and government are making a difference.

We are thrilled to report that Portland is on its way to achieve the 80 percent carbon reduction goal established in 2009. Since the early 1990s, the City has set ambitious goals and taken steadfast action, and finally our hard work is paying off.

The results speak for themselves: Since 1990, Portland has reduced carbon emissions by 21 percent, while increasing population by more than 30 percent and total jobs by more than 20 percent. On a per-person basis, that’s equal to 40 percent less carbon pollution for every Portlander.

It’s fantastic to see this progress in every sector of the economy. For example:

  • Low-carbon transportation makes a huge difference. Gasoline sales are down seven percent, even with the 33 percent increase in population since 1990. This is the result of more Portlanders using public transit, walking or biking, driving shorter distances, driving more efficient vehicles, and using lower-carbon fuels including biodiesel and electric vehicles.
  • Energy efficiency saves money and reduces carbon emissions. As a result of energy efficiency investments, residential energy use has declined nearly 10 percent below 1990 levels, even as our homes have gotten larger.
  • Citywide recycling and composting works. Since 1990, emissions from Portland’s land-filled waste has decreased by 82 percent — thanks to residential and commercial recycling and composting, coupled with methane capture at the landfills.
  • Portland City government is walking the talk. Through energy efficiency projects, the City now saves more than $6 million annually on City government electricity and natural gas bills.
  • More of our electricity is generated from lower-carbon sources, such as wind, solar, hydro and natural gas.
  • More complete neighborhoods mean less energy use per person.By increasing the number of people who have access to wonderful, walkable neighborhoods with restaurants, stores, parks, libraries, grocery stores, breweries, schools and more, people are able to drive less, and walk and bike more. This means lower transportation costs and lower carbon emissions.

So what’s next for Portland?

Portland is significantly ahead of the national trend, but we have a way to go to meet our target to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030, and 80 percent by 2050. Nationally, total carbon emissions have actually increased by about 8 percent since 1990, while Portland total emissions have been reduced by 21 percent. So we are absolutely heading in the right direction, while growing a prosperous, healthy and more equitable community.

Recent actions indicate we can reach our goals by continuing to take action:

  • Walk, bike and take transit.
  • Drive more fuel-efficient or electric cars.
  • Compost and recycle, and buy durable goods that last.
  • Invest in solar on our homes or community solar projects.
  • Shift more utility power generation from coal to renewable energy sources, as required by new Oregon state law.
  • Insulate our homes and replace aging heating and cooling equipment.
  • Improve lighting, HVAC and other systems at local stores and office buildings, and in schools and public buildings.
  • Make cost-effective energy efficiency investments in industrial businesses.
  • Plant trees. They sequester carbon and shade our homes and buildings.

These actions can help reduce your carbon footprint and often can improve your health or save you money. Learn more at



Susan Anderson
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability


Laying the Groundwork for the Off-road Cycling Master Plan

Off-road Cycling Master Plan facilities overview and inventory

Developing Portland’s Off-road Cycling Master Plan requires a strong foundation. This foundation starts with a collective vision and desired outcomes, and understanding the types of off-road cycling trails and facilities and what types are currently available in Portland.

Vision and Desired Outcomes

The Off-road Cycling Master Plan Project Advisory Committee developed a shared vision, goals and outcomes to guide the planning process.

Existing Off-road Cycling Trails and Facilities

The City of Portland allows off-road cycling in seven City-owned locations. These include trails in Forest Park, Powell Butte Nature Park, and Mt. Tabor Park, as well as bike parks at the New Columbia Bicycle Skills Park and Ventura Park. In addition, the Portland International Raceway is open to off-road cycling for competitive events. Gateway Green is planned for off-road cycling trails, but is not yet developed.

The inventory maps the off-road trails and bike parks at each of these locations that are open to people on bicycles.

Types of Off-road Cycling Facilities

The Off-road Cycling Master Plan is planning for a system of different types of facilities to meet the range of off-road riding experiences sought by Portland residents. Trails and bike parks can differ greatly in type and in technical challenge and experience offered. This overview describes the factors that help define the spectrum of off-road experiences: preferred riding style; age and skill level; setting; scale and type of facility. The typology table lists the universe of facility types, from small neighborhood-scale bike skills parks, to various types of off-road trails, to large competitive venues. Not all types of facilities will be appropriate to community needs and sites in Portland.

Through community input and technical analysis, the planning process will identify the types of trails and facilities that make sense for Portland and meet the needs of the community. These community needs will be defined in a needs assessment. This information and further community input will drive the discussion about which of the possible types of facilities, at what scale and setting, should be included in the Master Plan for the City.

Comprehensive Plan testimony accepted until April 27

City Council continues hearing on Commissioner-sponsored amendments

After another public hearing on potential City Council amendments to the Draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan on April 20, 2016, Commissioners decided to continue hearing testimony until Wednesday, April 27. More than 75 people testified at the hearing, which had been continued from April 14. The most frequently cited items included policies related to open data, middle housing, anti-displacement and historic preservation. The Council also received a large number of comments about the proposed conversion of Broadmoor Golf Course to industrial land, Eastmoreland zoning designations and many other proposed Comp Plan Map changes.

At the end of the April 20 hearing, there were more than 50 people who had signed up but didn't have an opportunity to testify. The Council agreed to continue the hearing on April 27 at 2 p.m. in City Council Chambers. Oral testimony on April 27 will be limited to those signed up to speak on April 20 who were not able to testify that day.

Written testimony about the potential Council amendments will be accepted until 5 p.m. on April 27. Comments can be sent via email to, submitted online via the Map App, mailed to the Council Clerk (1221 SW Fourth Ave., Room 130, Portland OR 97204), or delivered to the Council Clerk during the hearing on April 27. 

The Council closed oral testimony on the Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA), and other related supporting documents. Written comments on those documents will continue to be accepted until Friday April 22 at 5 p.m.

The Council will begin voting to accept or reject the potential amendments on April 28 and May 11. The final vote on the City’s new 2035 Comprehensive Plan is expected in June 2016.

Comment on draft code language for deconstruction requirement through May 18

BPS is working to increase deconstruction activity in Portland.

deconstruction workersDraft code language for Portland’s new deconstruction requirement that will help shape how certain buildings are removed in Portland is now ready for public comment through May 18, 2016. Portland City Council passed the new Deconstruction Resolution with a unanimous vote in February.

After incorporating revisions from the public comment period, City Council will consider the code language on June 29. Code language provides a framework for deconstruction and salvage requirements as well as enforcement. The new deconstruction requirement goes into effect in October 2016. 

Deconstruction is a method for removing structures that keeps valuable materials out of the landfill, protects health, creates pathways to construction careers and generates affordable reusable building materials. Currently, less than 10 percent of houses that are removed use deconstruction -- the rest are mechanically demolished, sending most materials to the landfill.

The new resolution directs BPS to develop code language that: 

Requires projects seeking a demolition permit for a one or two-family structure (house or duplex) to fully deconstruct that structure if: 

1. The structure was built in 1916 or earlier; or
2. The structure is a designated historic resource.

Provisions for exemptions will include structures that are determined to pose an immediate safety hazard or unsuitable for deconstruction / salvage (e.g., too much rot, mold, or fire). 

Benefits of the new deconstruction requirements

  • Diverts 8,000,000 pounds (4,000 tons) of materials for reuse (annually).
  • Creates job opportunities that act as a pathway for construction careers.
  • Increases likelihood of discovering materials containing lead and asbestos for safe removal and disposal.
  • Triples the amount of deconstruction activity in Portland.

How to Comment

The new code language is available for review at the City's website

Submit comments by email to

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is committed to providing meaningful access. For accommodations, modifications, translation, interpretation or other services, please call 503-823-5468, the TTY at 503-823-6868 or the Oregon Relay Service at 1-800-735-2900.

Deconstruction Grant Program gets additional funds from Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

At a June 2015 City Council hearing, BPS recommended establishing a deconstruction grant program as a first step towards increasing deconstruction activity in Portland. City Council unanimously supported the recommendation and asked BPS to return in January 2016 with a status report on the grant program and recommendations for next steps. Maximum grant awards are $2,500 for full deconstruction; $500 for partial projects. 

BPS was recently awarded additional funding to support the grant program from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  Visit for application criteria and instructions.


Contact Shawn Wood at or 503-823-5468.

Final City Council hearing on Comp Plan amendments on April 20

First City Council hearing on Commissioner-sponsored amendments draws crowd

On Thursday, April 14, Portland City Council held its first public hearing on a set of amendments to the draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan. The amendments were “sponsored” by the Commissioners based on public testimony on the Recommended Draft plan as well as their own interests and concerns.

More than 100 Portlanders showed up to share their feedback on the amendments with City Council. Testimony focused on topics ranging from open data, the proposed conversion of Broadmoor golf course to industrial land, and other proposed Comp Plan Map changes. A significant portion of the testimony was about the “middle housing” concept, an amendment sponsored by Mayor Charlie Hales.

The final scheduled hearing on the Comp Plan amendments is Wednesday, April 20 from 2 to 5 p.m. in Council Chambers, City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Ave. Please check the Auditor’s website for more information and to confirm details. People interested in providing testimony may begin signing up one hour before the hearing. Testimony is limited to two minutes per person.

Next Steps

At the end of the hearing, the Mayor will close the hearing and testimony (unless it is extended), and Council will begin work sessions on the Comp Plan amendments the following week on April 28. Final vote on the City’s new Comprehensive Plan is expected in June 2016.