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Comprehensive Plan Update public hearings begin

Many more opportunities to testify ahead; written comments accepted until March 13

The public process is in full swing on the Comprehensive Plan Update. Now that the Proposed Draft is in front of the Planning and Sustainability Commission, Portlanders can give their feedback directly to the 11-member advisory commission in person or in writing.

Several public hearings in multiple locations have been scheduled from September through the spring of 2015. As Commission Chair André Baugh reiterated at the October 14 hearing at Parkrose High School, “We really want to hear from all of Portland. The PSC is here to listen to the community’s feedback.” To that end, announced Baugh, the written comment period for the goals, policies and land use map will remain open until March 13.

Comments to date

The PSC has received nearly 1,200 comments — the majority via the Map App, but also many by letters and emails. More than 50 people gave oral testimony at the first hearing on September 23; another 35 testified on October 14. The next public hearing will be on Tuesday, October 28 at PCC SE Campus.

The largest number of comments have been about centers and corridors map changes, transportation projects in the Transportation Systems Plan, and new residential designations. On the policy side, the environment and economic policies have attracted the most interest.

Parts of the plan

The Comprehensive Plan includes proposed land use maps, policies, project lists and a supporting document — the Citywide Systems Plan. An Urban Design Direction report serves as an illustrated guide to some of the urban design and urban form policies.

The Comprehensive Plan Map covers all of Portland and some not-annexed areas within Portland’s urban services boundary. Said Project Manager Eric Engstrom at the Parkrose hearing, “Our proposal is to leave much of the existing Comp Plan Map as it is today. The proposed map shows the areas that would change — only about 14 percent of the City’s land area.”

The first of several work sessions is scheduled for November 18. At these meetings, the commissioners will discuss what they’ve heard and deliberate over key issues. The work sessions are open to the public, but no testimony will be taken. Visit the PSC calendar for details and information about which topics will be discussed.

Remaining public hearings

Two more public hearings on the goals, policies and land use map will occur in 2014.

October 28, 2014 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Portland Community College – SE Campus, Community Hall
2305 82nd Avenue

November 4, 2014 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Avenue, Room 2500A

More hearings are scheduled for 2015. In February there will be a hearing on the Transportation System Plan. In early spring the commission will evaluate how well the new long range plan meets Portland Plan goals and verify conformance with state economic planning requirements.

The public will have an opportunity to testify on these topics at public hearings in April. Updates to the 2013 Growth Scenarios Report and Economic Opportunities Analysis will be available in early 2015, prior to these hearings. Check the project website and PSC calendar for more information.

Tentatively, the final PSC work session and vote to recommend the plan to City Council will be in May 2015. After that, Council will hold additional public hearings prior to a summer vote on the entire Comprehensive Plan Update.

For more information about the Comprehensive Plan Proposed Draft, please visit  

Business and public leaders build Oregon’s future at GoGreen 2014

Oregon Climate Declaration collected signatures to support climate action, equity panel received standing ovation.

The 2014 GoGreen conference brought together private and public sector leaders to discuss how to build a socially sustainable community. Topics discussed included social equity advocacy, the development of new economic models, competitive city strategies, behavioral change, new innovations and corporate responsibility. The City of Portland, together with Metro and Multnomah County, were presenting sponsors of the conference.

Eve Callahan with Umpqua Bank, Tom Kelly of Neil Kelly and Jonathan Nicholas, VP of Moda Health kicked off the conference, which took place October 16 at the Oregon Convention Center. These innovators shared how taking climate action is increasing demand for their products and services, attracting talent and managing risk. 

All three organizations have signed the Oregon Climate Declaration – a call to action from leading American businesses, urging the public, policymakers and business leaders to seize the economic opportunity in tackling climate change. Over 20 companies signed the declaration on Thursday, and dozens more attendees participated in a photo booth, standing for climate action.

Mayor Hales cites report from Coalitions of Communities of Color in keynote address

In his keynote, Mayor Hales stressed that economic and environmental advances cannot be made without making strides in equity. Mayor Hales cited a report from Coalitions of Communities of Color, which shows that people of color fair worse in Portland than their counterparts in other cities, while whites fare much better than their counterparts. Addressing this dichotomy is at the heart of being a successful and sustainable city.

The Mayor joined Rick Cole, Deputy Mayor for Budget & Innovation, City of Los Angeles, SaraHope Smith, Placemaking Director for City Repair Project and PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions Director Jennifer Allen in “Smart Strategies for Enhancing and Engaging a Vision for Competitive Cities.” The session explored how new technologies and innovation can foster a vibrant, functional, livable and modern society of sustainable growth.

Go Green Equity Panel

A very special session, “What's Next? The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations” explored the history of tension between green activism and racial justice and the many attempts at reconcilement. Panelists included Alan Hipolito, Executive Director of Verde, Rashad Morris, Program Officer of Bullitt Foundation, Dr. Emily Drew, Associate Professor of Sociology and Ethnic Studies at Willamette University, Mychal Tetteh, CEO, Community Cycling Center and Desiree Williams-Rajee, Equity Specialist at Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, City of Portland. Organizations that innovate, grow and prosper will be those that understand the needs of communities of color, understand the impact of their work on these communities, engage these communities, and reflect these communities in their leadership.

How does this happen? “We need to get over our fear of the R-word,” says Williams-Rajee, “By addressing institutional racism – the systemic interaction of policies and programs designed to not benefit people of color – we can begin to live into our rich potential as a diverse society. This is both a professional competency and a performance measure…that’s a lesson in change we’ve had the benefit of learning from the sustainability movement.”

“These leaders presented such a clear and compelling case for the environmental community to place equity to the forefront of our initiatives,” said Megan Shuler, Sustainability at Work Program Manager.  “It was phenomenal to be in the room with businesses we’ve served and several of our partner programs who were on their feet with a standing ovation. What a powerful platform we now have to advance this important work.”

BPS assists community orchard group in Lents neighborhood

Friends of Malden Court Community Orchard invites public to community design meeting towards a more healthy connected neighborhood.

A vacant lot overrun with invasive blackberries in the Lents neighborhood — considered a neighborhood eyesore — will soon be transformed into a
community orchard and gathering place. The Friends of Malden Court Community Orchard neighborhood group is about to involve neighborhood residents in the next steps of placemaking: design meetings. The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) have provided financial support through a Community Watershed Stewardship Grant and project planning and siting support.

“The one-third acre site was identified in the 2005 Diggable City project that created an inventory of surplus city properties with potential for growing food and providing a community benefit,” explained Steve Cohen, Sustainable Food program manager at BPS. “It took awhile to figure out the best use for the land, identify neighborhood partners, and secure the non-profit Green Lents, who will act as the fiscal agent. We are so lucky to work with such a dedicated group of volunteers.”

Green Lents will lease the land from the City of Portland on behalf of the Malden Court Community Orchard project. The Lents property was acquired by the City in August 1992 from Multnomah County Tax Title to be used for the public good in service of the programs and goals of the Bureau of Environmental Services.

From permaculture to fruit tree varieties to interpretive signage, all site ideas will emerge from community meetings

The community orchard will be located on Malden Court where SE 87th Avenue meets the Springwater Corridor, but design meetings will be held at the following locations at the following dates and times:

Saturday, November 15 | 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. 
St. Mary Ethiopian Orthodox Church ( 7715 SE 92ND Ave.)

Wednesday, November 19 | 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m
Kelly Elementary School Cafeteria (9030 SE Cooper St)

Refreshments and snacks will be provided.

  • For more information about the design meetings, contact April Jamison, or (971) 266-4196.
  • Follow the project on the web at:
  • For more information about how the City of Portland has participated in this project, contact Steve Cohen at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, 503-823-4225. 

Portlanders share their homes

New regulations make short-term rentals legal

Thanks to new regulations crafted by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, Portlanders can now legitimately rent bedrooms in their homes to guests staying fewer than 30 days. The new rules allow residents to rent out up to two bedrooms in their single-dwelling residence with a low-cost permit, provided they live in their residence at least nine months a year.

The new regulations, which were passed unanimously by City Council in July, require a City inspection and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Operators of short-term rentals must notify their neighbors, post their permit number on their listings, and remit transient lodging taxes to the City. For more information about short-term rental permits, please the Bureau of Development Services webpage

Mayor Charlie Hales released a proposal that would expand these new rules to cover multi-dwelling buildings, including apartments and condominiums. City Council will consider such amendments at a public hearing on November 19. More information about the proposal is available on the Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Program (RICAP) News and Update page

Mixed Use Zones Project to share new concepts

November 5 & 6 workshops offer Portlanders a chance to view and discuss initial ideas to improve zoning code

Last month, we shared news about the Mixed Use Zones (MUZ) Project, an early implementation project for the Comprehensive Plan Update. Mixed use zones allow commercial development as well as multifamily housing. They are scattered around the city along busy main streets and boulevards (corridors) and vibrant neighborhood hubs (centers).

The draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan proposes a growth management strategy focusing much of the city’s future growth and development in and along centers and corridors — places like Hollywood and St Johns, Barbur Blvd and 82nd Ave. But because centers and corridors are so diverse in size and character, mixed use regulations must be refined to more sensitively accommodate the needs of the community while simplifying the code. 

The MUZ Project is being guided by an advisory committee, which has helped craft principles for developing new code for mixed use zones, such as quality design, economically feasible development, equity, and sensitivity to neighborhood character and adjacent structures.

Staff have also been gathering community feedback from neighborhood walkabouts and holding roundtable discussions with businesses, developers and designers. Feedback from this process and the project advisory committee has informed a very preliminary conceptual framework for code updates.

Now it’s time to share that framework with the community

A workshop to present and discuss these initial concepts will be held November 5, 6 - 9 p.m. at 1900 SW 4th Ave (Rm 2500) and November 6, 6 – 9 p.m. at Jefferson High School, 5210 N Kerby Avenue (cafeteria). Staff will describe the proposed new zones and some basic characteristics (i.e., anticipated floor-area ratios and height limits). A more detailed MUZ concept report is due by Winter 2015. Proposed zoning codes are expected in the spring. Public hearings on the proposed mixed use zones are scheduled for the summer.

For more information, see the story on the Comprehensive Plan Update news feed