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Draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan makes headlines

As City Council work sessions kick off, BPS staff present overviews of the growth management strategy, infrastructure investments and housing elements.

Last month, City Council kicked off a series of work sessions on the draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Local media outlets were there, including all three major television networks as well as print reporters. Mayor Charlie Hales kicked off the first Council work session on September 29, saying, “This is some of the most important work we’ll do. It’s critical work at a critical time because we’re experiencing all this growth and change.”

KGW’s Rachel Rafanelli reiterated that message later in the day. Standing in front of an apartment building under construction in the Pearl, she said, “There are signs of growth everywhere, and it isn’t slowing down … [The new plan] outlines the city’s vision and goals for growth, focusing on affordable housing, transportation and livability.” She noted that the plan guides growth in Centers and Corridors … growing up, not out. And that the City would cut down on traffic by encouraging public transportation, walking and biking.

In his introductory remarks to City Council, Planning and Sustainability Commission Chair André Baugh talked about how the draft 2035 Plan also provides an adequate supply of employment land, protects the environment and creates better transit options for more Portlanders to get to work.

“This translates into savings in household spending and a reduction in carbon emissions,” Baugh pointed out. “And it ties into the housing affordability issue. We all know we’re out of balance in terms of housing supply and demand for new units. This new Comp Plan is not a silver bullet, but it’s a significant tool to ensure an adequate supply of housing for all income levels.”

The first of five work sessions provided an introduction to the Comprehensive Plan Update, including an overview of the growth management strategy (the “up, not out” mentioned above) and a briefing on the infrastructure investments recommended in the plan. A second work session on October 8 focused on housing.

Housing and Affordability

At the Housing work session on October 8, Chief Planner Joe Zehnder began by recognizing that Portland has a housing affordability issue now because we’ve been successful at building a walkable urban city that people want to live in. As more people move here, demand exceeds supply and prices go up.

The draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan includes a two-pronged strategy to address housing affordability: 1) increase housing supply for all income levels; and 2) increase the supply of permanently affordable housing.

Additional work sessions were held on October 29 (Economic and Environment elements), November 3 (Transportation element) and November 10 (Land Use Map). You can watch videos of each work session on the City Council website

Council will hold three public hearings before the end of the year (check City Council agendas for updates and details):

  1. Thursday, November 19, 2 – 6 p.m.*
    City Hall Council Chambers
    1221 SW 4th Ave
  2. Thursday, December 3 2015, 6 – 9 p.m.
    Mittleman Jewish Community Center
    6651 SW Capitol Hwy
  3. Thursday, December 10, 6 – 9 p.m.
    Parkrose High School
    12003 NE Shaver St

*2 – 3 p.m.
Testimony heard on the Economic Opportunities Analysis, Growth Scenarios Report and other supporting documents
 3 – 6 p.m.
Testimony heard on the Recommended Draft Comprehensive Plan Goals, Policies and Land Use Map

Starting in January, Commissioners will resume their consideration of the draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan, holding additional work sessions and potentially more hearings.

More Comp Plan Coverage in the Media

In an interview with KATU’s Steve Dunn on October 4, Mayor Hales acknowledged, “Growth is scary, and we just want to press the pause button because it feels like we’re in the rapids. … But we need to plan for what we want. Like 82nd Ave. Is that really what we want there, surface parking lots and car dealers? Is it the highest and best use of that land? What can we do to make places like Montavilla and Lents better?”

The City’s new Comprehensive Plan was also featured on OPB radio’s Think Out Loud, along with a podcast titled One Portland Growth Document to Rule Them All. Principal Planner Eric Engstrom represented the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, telling host Dave Miller, “The plan today really isn’t full of a bunch of new ideas; it’s a continuation of the old one. A lot of things in the city today — like the bus mall, Waterfront Park, the streetcar system, the Pearl and South Waterfront, and the retention of the Central Eastside Industrial District — those ideas were all part of the 1980 Plan and have come to fruition.”

There are new areas of focus in the 2035 Plan, however. Like equity, affordable housing, investments in infrastructure in underserved areas, and providing for middle-wage jobs.

Street Roots endorsed the new Plan on October 8, noting the importance of the 11 policies that address gentrification and displacement.

And OPB’s Amelia Templeton helped explain how the Plan would help create more jobs in a story called “Portland Growth Plan Proposes More Middle Wage Jobs.” By helping landowners redevelop brownfields, providing more land for small manufacturers, and creating better bus routes to connect people living in East Portland with jobs along the Columbia Corridor, the Plan will support job creation and retention.

“Can the City shape growth? Or will the city just grow up willy-nilly?” asked KATU’s Kerry Tomlinson in her September 29 “Problem Solvers” feature. She referred Portlanders to the Comp Plan Map App, and encouraged people to go online and check their property. Tomlinson’s suggestion prompted more than 5,000 visits to the site that day. Since launching on September 21, the Map App has had almost 27,000 hits, and more than 203 comments have been submitted to City Council via the interactive tool.

Finally, the Tribune published an op-ed by Sam Chase, Alisa Pyszka and Skip Newberry called “Portland future not tied to other models.” In it, the writers argue that density is essential to keeping housing affordable in the region and not becoming completely out of reach for all but a few (ala San Francisco and Seattle).

And that seems to be the crux of it for many Portlanders: keeping housing affordable while preserving our great single-family neighborhoods. By focusing growth in centers and corridors with new multi-family development, we can preserve Portland’s unique neighborhoods, keep housing prices from skyrocketing, provide more housing choices and offer more Portlanders the chance to enjoy the complete walkable places that make this city so attractive. The Plan also delivers better transit options to more people and stimulates job growth, especially for middle-wage jobs. It incorporates nature in the city, protects the environment and ensures a healthier and more complete East Portland. Finally, it puts us on path to resilience in the face of climate change. 

Stay tuned for more, as the draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan makes its way through the Council work sessions and hearings. Up next: the Economic and Environment elements on Thursday, October 29 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.


New Map App makes commenting and testifying on land use and zoning changes easier than ever in new mobile-friendly interface

Enhanced design and user interface created to more clearly communicate technical information about zoning and land use proposals.

The all new Comprehensive Plan Map App was launched earlier this month with the release of the Recommended Draft, offering Portlanders an improved interface and design.  

The app has been completely overhauled, with a fresh look and feel and new interface that performs just as well on mobile devices as on desktop. Portlanders can now submit comments on the Comprehensive Plan’s land use designations, Citywide Systems Plan, Transportation System Plan, as well as Mixed Use Zones and Employment Zoning projects. More project maps, including the Residential and Open Space Zoning Update Project, will come online later this fall.

More accessible, visual content

Users familiar with the original Map App will notice the new version is more visually appealing than its predecessor. A newly designed user interface presents information on land use and zoning proposals in a quick and succinct manner. Visit the Mixed Use Zones Project map, for instance, click or tap on a proposal, and take a look at how the proposed zones are described. You’ll see new visuals and images that summarize zones to make understanding proposed changes easier. Major improvements have also been made to performance, especially on smartphones and tablets, so users can view and comment on proposals from anywhere.

Better commenting experience

The ability to add and view comments and testimony is now in a single place, which is especially nice for mobile users. The comment form offers a lot more information about what kind of feedback you are providing and where it will go. And email confirmations with details about the proposal, what's next, what we will do with your comments or testimony, and what to do if you have questions, are sent to every person who comments or testifies on the Map App.

Behind the scenes with the back end of the Map App

Like the first versions of the Map App, the newest version was created entirely in house. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Technical Services team used a custom database along with Esri’s ArcGIS platform, ArcGIS JavaScript API, Maxbox Studio, Dojo Toolkit and Dojo Bootstrap. In the brief period of time since it was launched, the app has received 18,500 page views.

Says Tech Services Manager Kevin Martin, “The Map App is just one product of a very complex project, but it’s helped us improve our communication and outreach with the public. This version, more than the two previous ones, was less about building a web app and more about creating information and visuals that help Portlanders understand sometimes confusing planning ideas across several platforms.”

If you would like to learn more about how the Map App was developed or report a bug in the app, please send an email to and someone from the web development team will get back to you. Otherwise, enjoy the user experience!

Coming Soon to Your Neighborhood: Info Sessions, Drop-in Hours and Open Houses re: the Comprehensive Plan and Early Implementation Projects

Planners will be at locations all over town to chat with community members and answer questions about the land use and zoning changes.

No matter where you live in Portland, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn more about the City’s draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan; the Mixed Use Zones, Employment Zoning and Campus Institutional Zoning projects; and the Residential and Open Space Zoning Map Update.  

Over the next few months, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) will host events around the city, ranging from neighborhood drop-in hours, where Portlanders can chat with their local District Liaison, to project-specific informational sessions and open houses. Staff will also be “tabling” at other events organized by various community organizations around the city. Look for an event near you at:

Open House at PCC Cascade

One of the main events will be an open house and info session on Thursday, October 15, from 6 – 8 p.m. at PCC Cascade’s Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building (MAHB). The event will include an info session about the recently released Mixed Use Zones Discussion Draft, with a presentation starting at 7 p.m. The open house will cover the Comprehensive Plan Recommended Draft, which is at City Council for public hearings starting November 19, as well as other Early Implementation projects such as Campus Institutional Zoning, Employment Zoning, Residential and Open Space Zoning Map Updates and more.

Staff from BPS and the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will be there to talk with community members about their projects and answer questions.

Want to find an outreach event near you?

Check the Meetings and Events calendar.

Don't want to go out?

No problem; the Map App allows you to learn more and provide feedback from the comfort of your home. So if you’d prefer to stay in, you can always learn more about proposed land use and zoning changes on the Map App. Or give us a call on the Comp Plan Helpline at 503-823-0195.

Stay tuned for more events being scheduled. Any way you like, you can learn more about the Comprehensive Plan — in person, online or by phone. Looking forward to seeing you out there!

Property owners may receive letters about proposed land use changes that could affect permissible uses of their property

Notice of proposed Comprehensive Plan Code or Map changes arriving in mailboxes soon; recipients can look up their property on the Map App to see proposed code or map changes and/or call Helpline with questions

Thousands of Portlanders may receive — or have already received — notices regarding proposed land use changes that could affect the permissible uses of their property.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability recently sent out the first notices to owners of property proposed to be rezoned for employment. Subsequent mailings will go to campus institutions and nearby residents, property owners in mixed use zones, and others whose property may have a proposed land use designation or zone that is new or different from the current one.

Along with information on the proposed changes, the notices tell property owners how they can learn more, get answers to their questions via the Comprehensive Plan Helpline, or provide formal testimony to the Planning and Sustainability Commission or City Council.

If you haven’t received one of these notices yet, but are curious about proposed changes, visit the all-new Map App, which allows you to browse or search by specific address and view any proposed changes to your property.

And feel free to call the Comprehensive Plan Helpline at 503-823-0195 or email us at if you have any questions. We’re here to help!

Eagerly Awaited Mixed Use Zones Project Discussion Draft Released

Public invited to share feedback with City planners about new regulations that will guide the “look and feel” of Portland’s growing centers and corridors.

Based on public input, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has developed a Discussion Draft of new regulations for mixed use zones. The Mixed Use Zones Project Discussion Draft includes draft Zoning Code and Zoning Map amendments for community review and feedback.

Review the Mixed Use Zones Discussion Draft

The code amendments in the Discussion Draft would replace the current array of commercial zones with a smaller number of new commercial/mixed use zones. The new regulations would accommodate growth and development in centers and corridors while addressing community concerns about building massing and design, transitions to lower density zoning, outdoor space and ground floor uses. They would also provide incentives for affordable housing, affordable commercial space, plazas/community gathering places and sustainable development.

The Mixed Use Zones Project Discussion Draft represents evolving thinking and is an initial proposal to stimulate community discussion.

Staff will gather public comments on this Discussion Draft to inform the development of a Proposed Draft, which will be presented to the Planning and Sustainability Commission in early 2016 for their consideration, public hearings and a vote.

See the Mixed Use Zones Project component of the Comprehensive Plan Map App to find out where the new commercial/mixed use zones are proposed to be applied:

Please submit comments or questions on the Discussion Draft by Monday, November 16, 2015:


Write:    City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

              Attn: Mixed Use Zones Project

              1900 SW 4th Ave., Suite 7100

              Portland, OR  97201

Learn more at Mixed Use Info Sessions and an Early Implementation Open House
The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is hosting a series of public information sessions on the Mixed Use Zones Discussion Draft as well as an open house on all the Comprehensive Plan Early Implementation projects (see list below). Please check the Comprehensive Plan Update calendar to confirm dates, times and locations at

CENTRAL – Info Session
Wednesday, October 7, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Presentation at 7 p.m.
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
1900 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, Room 2500 A/B

CENTRAL – Info Session
Thursday, October 8, 8 – 9:30 a.m.
Presentation at 8:30 a.m.
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
1900 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, Room 2500 A/B

SOUTHEAST – Info Session
Monday, October 12, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Presentation at 7 p.m.
Community Music Center
3350 SE Francis Street, Portland

SOUTHWEST – Info Session
Wednesday, October 14, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Presentation at 7 p.m.
Wilson High School – Cafeteria
1151 SW Vermont Street, Portland

(Mixed Use Zones, Campus Institutions, Employment Land and more)
Thursday, October 15, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Presentation at 7 p.m.
PCC Cascade Campus
Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building – Room 104
705 N Killingsworth Street, Portland

EAST – Info Session
Tuesday, October 20, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Presentation at 7 p.m.
Floyd Light Middle School – Library
10800 SE Washington, Portland

For more information, visit the project website at