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Parking and Willamette River subject of upcoming Planning and Sustainability Commission work session on Central City 2035 Plan

Commissioners will also continue their discussion of building height on November 16 at 4 p.m.

When you think of Portland, what comes to mind?

Downtown? Bridges? Views of Mt Hood? Great places to eat, drink and play?

Well, the Central City’s got all that and more, and the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) is reviewing proposals to make it even better.

Since considering testimony on the Central City 2035 Plan Proposed Draft at public hearings in July and August, project staff and the PSC have been diving deeper into the Plan’s key topics.

On Wednesday, November 16 at 5 p.m., the Commission will hold their second work session on the CC2035 Plan. At their first meeting in September, they discussed building heights in historic districts and scenic view corridors. The second work session will give Commissioners a chance to wrap up the discussion about building heights. Then they will move on to a range of river-related topics and the parking code.

Willamette River


Home to fish, birds and wildlife ― including threatened and endangered Chinook, Coho and chum salmon as well as steelhead and bull trout ― the Willamette River is also a signature attraction for residents and visitors. People of all ages enjoy the recreational spaces, trails, swimming areas and boating opportunities the river and riverfront provide. And the river is also a transportation corridor, moving cargo and people throughout Portland and the region.

The Plan includes proposals to allow new activities in parks and open spaces close to and around the river. It also proposes to support expanded use of the docks, promote in-water activities, and orient businesses and residences toward the river, while protecting and enhancing the environment.

During the upcoming work session, the PSC will focus on the regulations that govern public and private property along the river. They will also discuss swimming and vegetation.

Parking Code

Parking structure and MAX train

In 2015 the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) convened a 30-member Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) to oversee the update of the transportation policies for the Central City. Based on input from this project, the Proposed Draft CC2035 Plan includes an update to the Parking Code to improve parking predictability, reduce costly parking reviews, limit new parking and surface lots, and allow shared parking.

PBOT’s SAC met several times to review recommendations related to parking ratios. One of the first SAC recommendations was to continue to not require new and rehabilitated buildings to build parking. The SAC also endorsed adjusting maximum parking ratios in all Central City districts downward to reflect investments in transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

At their public hearings in July and August, the PSC heard a number of comments about these parking limits and new regulations. At the work session, they will review these issues and learn more about how the parking ratios were derived.

Remaining building height topics

Downtown Portland skyline

During the public hearings, the PSC heard from members of the public and property owners about increasing or reducing allowed building heights in many different parts of the Central City. At the first work session, the Commissioners took action on heights within scenic view corridors and most of the historic districts. At the upcoming session they will discuss other proposed height amendments.

Please check the PSC calendar to confirm dates, times and other details prior to the event. You can also view the work session on the BPS YouTube channel.

For more information about the work sessions, please visit the PSC work sessions and hearing page.

PSC News: November 8, 2016 Meeting Recap

Electric Vehicles — briefing; Inclusionary Housing Zoning Code Project — work session / recommendation


  • Electric Vehicles — briefing
  • Inclusionary Housing Zoning Code Project — work session / recommendation

Meeting files

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

An orchard and community grows in Lents

BPS partners with Green Lents to create a Lents oasis.

malden court beforeFor decades, a forlorn half-acre vacant lot covered by an 8-foot wall of Himalayan blackberries and unknown hidden debris, remained a nuisance site for illegal dumping and illicit activity. Tucked away along a gravel road adjacent to the Springwater Corridor in the West Lents Floodplain, the site was given to the Bureau of Environmental Services by Multnomah County to be used for stormwater management. No longer needed for that purpose, but unable to be sold or developed, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s sustainable food program thought the property could be put to good use.  

“While the site didn’t seem suitable for annual crops, it became clear that an orchard or food forest that could also serve as a community gathering space would be a great option,” said Steve Cohen, food policy and program manager for BPS. “But, it was going to take a strong community partnership with neighbors who shared the vision and were up for a challenge.”

A 2012 walk through the surrounding neighborhood led Cohen to a serendipitous meeting with a gardener  and many neighborhood gatherings. As a result, the property was transferred to BPS and was leased to Green Lents, a non-profit founded to engage the Lents community in developing a more livable, thriving place. Green Lents secured over $200,000 worth of donations and grants, including one from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The agency funded an environmental assessment and brought in a herd of goats to clear the land. With additional support from Business Oregon, 248 tons of refuse and soil were removed and the site was awarded a “No Further Action” designation.  

malden court afterMany work parties later, the Malden Court Community Orchard was officially opened on a rainy Saturday in September. Neighbors noted that the transformation will not only provide food and a community gathering space, but also improves public safety, benefits the Johnson Creek watershed, provides educational opportunities, and increases neighborhood livability for the diverse community surrounding the orchard.

 “Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, partners, and funders, the site is being transformed into a food forest full of fruit-bearing trees, shrubs and native plants, said Alison Hilkiah, Lents resident and MCCO committee member. “We are so happy to have space that will help our community emotionally, physically, and psychologically.” 

From Sustainability at Work: GoGreen Portland

9th annual event welcomed Mayor-elect Wheeler for the opening keynote address.

GoGreen attendeesOver 300 representatives from the public and private sectors convened October 5 for the 9th annual GoGreen conference sponsored by Sustainability at Work, a program of the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

Mayor-elect Wheeler emphasized in the opening keynote, “There is no question that reversing and combating climate change is this generation’s greatest challenge.”

At the same time, Portland will need to accommodate unprecedented growth. “Portland is expected to grow by 223,000 households by 2035,” stated Joe Zehnder, chief planner at the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, in a dynamic discussion on density. Climate, equity and economic development are at the forefront of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and were at the forefront of the day’s sessions – showing collaborative support across public and private sectors. 

Attendees gained insights from entrepreneurs on the forefront of a low-carbon economy — companies like IOTAS, delivering smart home technology, and Building Energy, offering energy service providers and building owners performance benchmarking tools.

Sustainability at Work outreach tableBusinesses, such as FYMI, CLEAResult, Northwest Natural and Pacific Continental Bank, shared strategies for promoting green practices in the workplace. Successful strategies included: Internal grant programs for employee-generated sustainability initiatives, billable hour accounts for sustainability-related efforts, and annual volunteer days with environmentally focused non-profits. Additional suggestions included building sustainability questions into job postings and interview questions, and creating leadership development opportunities within internal green team efforts.

Presenters shared how their businesses are preparing for game-changing technologies. Laura Bisesto, public policy manager for Lyft, shared her prediction that in five years, autonomous vehicles will provide the majority of Lyft rides across the country, and that by 2025, private car ownership will end.

“The event was a great opportunity to connect with contacts in the green business community and get re-energized,” said Elee Jen with Energy Performance Engineering.