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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

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.

Residential Infill Project open houses begin; share draft proposals for new houses and additions in single-dwelling zones

Online open house and questionnaire offer community members another way to learn about the project and give feedback on proposals that address the scale of new houses, housing options and historically narrow lots.

On Wednesday, June 15, 2016, the Residential Infill Project (RIP) kicked off a new round of public involvement at the Multnomah Art Center. More than 100 community members showed up to learn more about the project, ask questions and voice their concerns about new development in Portland's single-dwelling neighborhoods. 

In response to community concerns about demolition and infill, RIP staff and the stakeholder advisory committee are exploring ways to adapt Portland’s single-dwelling zoning rules to meet the needs of current and future generations. Draft proposals to reduce the scale of new houses, allow more housing options and address issues around historically narrow lots are now available for public review and comment.

Online Open House and Questionnaire

Portlanders will have many more opportunities to learn about the draft proposals, and staff will use the public input to refine proposals for City Council to consider in the fall. From June 15 to August 15, the public is invited to review draft proposals and take an online questionnaire.

Visit the online open house and take the questionnaire.

Open Houses and Drop-In Hours

More open houses are scheduled throughout the city in June and July to give community members a chance to review staff proposals. The presentations will be the same at all locations.

Please come to learn about the project, review the proposals, ask questions and share your feedback.

Tabor Space
5441 SE Belmont St., Copeland Commons
Tuesday, June 28, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
*TriMet: Bus #15 and 71

Historic Kenton Firehouse
8105 N. Brandon Ave.
Wednesday, July 6, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
*TriMet: Bus #4 and MAX Yellow Line

East Portland Neighborhood Office
1017 NE 117th Ave.
Wednesday, July 13, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
*TriMet: Bus #25, 71 and 77

German American Society
5626 NE Alameda St. (at Sandy Blvd)
Thursday, July 14, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
*TriMet: Bus #12 and 71

SMILE Station
8210 SE 13th Avenue
Saturday, July 30, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
*TriMet: Bus #70
This open house is hosted by United Neighborhoods for Reform.

*Visit TriMet’s Trip Planner at to plan your route.

Staff will also be available to discuss the draft proposals at the following drop-in hours:

  • June 21, 12:30–2:30 p.m. at Northwest Library, 2300 NW Thurman Street
  • June 21, 5–7 p.m. at Hollywood Library, 4040 NE Tillamook Street
  • June 27, 5:30–7:30 p.m. at Kenton Firehouse, 2209 N Schofield Street
  • June 29, 3:30–5:30 p.m. at Woodstock Library, 6008 SE 49th Avenue
  • June 30, 4:30–6:30 p.m. at Hillsdale Library, 1525 SW Sunset Boulevard

Next Steps*
Staff will use the public input to refine proposals for City Council to consider in the fall. Council will provide direction on the recommended concepts, and staff will then draft changes to the zoning code rules for adoption in 2017. 

  • June 15 through August 15: Public review of draft proposals
  • August/September: Summarize public comment and revise proposals
  • October 3: Publish staff recommendations to City Council
  • October 25: Planning and Sustainability Commission briefing (tentative)
  • November 9: City Council hearing(s) (tentative); provide direction for code language
  • Winter 2017: Begin working on code language
  • Summer 2017: Publish draft code language; public review
  • Fall 2017: PSC and City Council hearings; adopt code language

* Subject to change; check website closer to date

For more information, visit the project website at, email project staff at, or contact:

Julia Gisler, Public Involvement

Morgan Tracy, Project Manager

PSC News: June 28, 2016 Meeting Recap

Task 5: Mixed Use Zones Project — work session; Central City 2035 Plan — briefing


  • Task 5: Mixed Use Zones Project — work session
  • Central City 2035 Plan — briefing

Meeting files

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