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Planning and Sustainability Commission Recommends West Quadrant Plan to City Council

Affordable housing, Morrison bridgehead, building heights and river restoration discussed

Portland’s Central City offers something for everyone: a wide range of jobs, diverse housing types for different income levels, educational institutions, entertainment and dining options, and retail and recreational experiences. And the area is poised to become a true 21st century global model for low-carbon, sustainable urban development.

The Central City’s west side — or West Quadrant — has the region’s highest concentration of jobs; more than 87,000 in 2010 and 30,000 more expected by 2035. Its seven distinctive districts — from Goose Hollow to Chinatown — are becoming increasingly mixed use, providing residents more choices in new housing options and adding to the district’s vitality. So the goal of the 20-year West Quadrant Plan is to continue the area’s successful evolution as the region’s business, cultural and recreational hub while accommodating a large share of population and job growth within a compact and sustainable urban center. The plan emphasizes continuing economic activity and employment opportunities, increasing access to the river, creating a more exciting urban waterfront, and expanding housing diversity and livability.

Work sessions lead to a PSC recommendation

The West Quadrant Plan reached a big milestone recently when the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) recommended it to the City Council for adoption after a second work session on the Proposed Draft. Staff presented commissioners with more information regarding affordable housing in the Central City, bridgehead heights along the riverfront, building height, and habitat enhancement and restoration along the riverfront. Work session materials, including the presentation, can be found in the Documents Section of the project website.

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) staff offered a working definition for “affordable housing.” Then they explained priorities for housing affordability in the West Quadrant, including supporting greater racial, ethnic and economic diversity as well as housing options; meeting the needs of the lowest income populations; and closing the minority homeownership gap. Staff also provided specific housing targets.

Aerial view of the Morrison bridgeheadThe project team shared potential impacts from increased bridgehead heights along the waterfront, including shadows and wind in Tom McCall Park as well as increased building heights in other West Quadrant districts.

Commissioner Mike Houck raised the issue of increasing habitat restoration in the Willamette River. Staff explained that existing habitat is constrained along the Central Reach because of the seawall on the west side and a railroad and I-5 on the east, so there are few additional restoration sites available. But they agreed that the West Quad Plan should call for at least two to three shallow water restoration areas to conserve and restore fish and wildlife populations.

The PSC requested that BPS explore the potential effects of wind on pedestrians caused by building height along the waterfront as well as housing development bonuses tied to additional building height for both commercial and residential uses.

After reviewing the proposed changes to the plan and discussing the above topics in depth, the commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the West Quadrant Plan to City Council for adoption.

Portland City Council will consider the proposed West Quadrant Plan in January 2015 and adopt the plan by resolution. After that, planners will begin to consolidate all of the quadrant plans and draft new zoning code provisions into a complete Central City 2035 plan. This consolidated plan and ordinance will then be the subject of hearings before the PSC and City Council. Once adopted, CC2035 will become part of the Comprehensive Plan. 

PSC News: December 9, 2014 Meeting Recap and Documents

URA Amendments — hearing / recommendation; CC2035 West Quadrant Plan — work session / recommendation; Green Infrastructure — briefing


  • URA Amendments — hearing / recommendation
  • CC2035 West Quadrant Plan — work session / recommendation
  • Green Infrastructure — briefing

Meeting files

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

Comprehensive Plan Work Sessions with Planning and Sustainability Commission Begin

Commission hears from Community Involvement Committee and several City bureaus; decides on agendas for future work sessions

At its November 18 meeting, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) held the first of several work sessions devoted to the Comprehensive Plan Update.

First, commissioners heard from the Comprehensive Plan Community Involvement Committee (CIC). Committee members presented a report summarizing public involvement efforts for the past six months. CIC members then shared their personal observations about how the City could engage even more community members in the development of Portland’s long-range plan for the future.

Then the PSC heard comments about the Proposed Draft from partner bureaus, including the Housing, Transportation, Emergency Management, Portland Development Commission, Development Services, Environmental Services and the City Attorney's Office.

Lastly, the PSC considered a schedule for upcoming work sessions, starting in January 2015. Members discussed agendas for four future work sessions (tentative schedule below), which will focus on the bigger, more complex issues the plan addresses, including:

  • Citywide decision-making
  • Centers and Corridors and Mixed Use Zones
  • Employment land supply and West Hayden Island
  • Transportation Systems Plan
  • Capacity in the David Douglas School system
  • Community involvement policies
  • Housing needs, affordability and compatibility
  • Residential down-designations

Staff assumes that other issues will arise during the course of these work sessions, so a fifth work session is being held open to discuss those and additional map or policy changes.

The PSC invites written comments on the Proposed Draft until March 13, 2015. Community members are encouraged to review the work session schedule below and send their comments about a particular topic to the commission at least eight days before that issue will be discussed to allow commissioners to review relevant testimony before each meeting. All work sessions will be held at 1900 SW 4th Ave., Suite 2500A.

Tentative PSC Comprehensive Plan Work Session Schedule

Please refer to the PSC Calendar one week before each scheduled meeting to confirm the agenda and times.

Work Session 1: January 27, 2015 (3 p.m.)

Topics: Centers and Corridors; Non-conforming Uses and Split-Zoning; Implementation; Consent List #1

  • Using the Plan in Decision-making (1 hour)
    • Balancing decisions
    • Showing compliance with the Guiding Principles
    • Numerical goals/targets, relationship to Portland Plan Measures of Success
    • Glossary terms
  • Centers and Corridors (2 hours)
    • Centers and corridors strategy; link to Portland Plan and the Scenarios Report
    • Urban Design Framework map
    • Mixed Use map approach
    • Relationship to zoning and Mixed Use Zone project
    • Site-specific center and corridor map questions
    • Investment strategy
    • Commercial displacement
  • Non-conforming Uses and Split-zoning (1 hour)
    • Defining the issue
    • Trade-offs of maintaining non-conforming uses and split-zoned developments
  • Consent List 1 (1 hour)
    • Staff recommendations the PSC could endorse without further discussion. Draft list released on January 13.

Work Session 2: February 10, 2015 (12:30 p.m.)

Topics: Economic Goals; West Hayden Island (WHI); Schedule/Timeline Check-In

  • Economic Elements and Goal 9 (2 hours, 30 minutes)
    • Summary of Periodic Review requirements for the 2035 Comprehensive Plan
    • Purpose and requirements of Goal 9 and consequences of not meeting Goal 9 requirements
    • EOA Briefing - Proposed approach to meet Goal 9 requirements: forecasts; job mix; role of manufacturing in the economy
    • Implications of proposed Goal 9 approach: land needs, wages and demographics
    • Industrial Land and Watershed Health (ILWH) Strategy overview
    • Economic policy refinement
    • Other employment-related map questions (non-WHI)
    • Related brownfield and transportation recommendations
  • West Hayden Island (1 hour)
    • Map approach
    • Policy approach
    • Relationship to past PSC recommendations
  • Schedule Check-in (30 minutes)
    • Discuss work session progress and schedule

Work Session 3 and Transportation System Plan (TSP) Hearing: February 24, 2015 (3 p.m.)

Work Session 3 Topics (3 - 5 p.m.): David Douglas School District; Community Involvement; Consent List 2; Discussion of Commissioners' Items of Interest for March 24.


Public Hearing on the Transportation System Plan Project List (5 p.m.) 

  • Public Hearing on Transportation Element and TSP Project List (2 hours)
  • David Douglas School District (1 hour)
    • Discuss options for responding to school capacity concerns
    • Implementation of proposed policy
  • Community Involvement Policies (1 hour)
    • Promoting inclusive planning
    • Role of neighborhood associations
    • Status of old neighborhood and area plans
    • Open data
  • Consent List 2 (30 minutes)
    • Staff recommendations the PSC could endorse without further discussion. Draft list released on February 10.
  • Selection of Other Items of Interest (30 minutes)
    • PSC members discuss and agree upon issues to discuss on March 24, 2015.

Work Session 4: March 10, 2015 (12:30 p.m.)

Topics: Transportation System Plan; Housing; Residential Densities

  • Transportation System Plan (2 hours)
    • Mode hierarchy policy
    • Multimodal system completeness approach
    • Financial plan
    • Project ranking and fiscally constrained list
    • East Portland equity considerations
    • Discussion of specific projects
  • Housing (1 hour)
    • Documenting housing needs and proposed approach to meeting housing needs
    • Opportunity mapping policy
    • Affordability, gentrification and displacement
    • Residential compatibility and density
    • Specific issues: large houses, skinny lots and demolitions
  • Residential Densities (1 hour)
    • Down-designations to match existing lot patterns (including Eastmoreland and Reed neighborhoods)
    • Down-designations to preserve historic character (including Eliot neighborhood)
    • Hazard-related and infrastructure-related down-designations (in East Portland and Southwest)
    • Miscellaneous up-designations and down-designations

March 13, 2015, 5 p.m. Testimony closes

Work Session 5: March 24, 2015 (p.m.)

Topics: Discussion of other individual maps or policy changes of interest to commissioners. Items to be nominated before February 24.

  • Candidate list: broadband, air quality, sound and light, food security, institutional zoning project relationship (subject to change)

Hearing on revised Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) Report: April 14, 2015

Hearing on revised Growth Scenario Report: April 28, 2015

Work Session/Recommendation: May 12, 2015