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Planning and Sustainability Commission Formally Recommends the Comprehensive Plan Recommended Draft to City Council

Commission’s transmittal letter focuses on residential and economic growth strategies, housing affordability, environmental health, transportation, and equity and inclusion.

After a unanimous vote on July 28, 2015, Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) formally sent its Recommended Draft of the Comprehensive Plan to City Council. PSC Chair André Baugh summed up the Commission’s recommendation in a September 14 letter to Council, stating:

Adopting a new Comprehensive Plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. This Plan will shape the future of Portland by giving direction to land use, development and public facility investment decisions between now and 2035.

The Recommended Plan includes a vision statement and guiding principles, goals and policies, a land use map, and a list of significant projects. The Plan addresses standard land use and growth topics like urban form, housing, environment, economy and transportation. … [I]t also expands the traditional view of a comprehensive plan to include topics such as equity, technology and public health.

Portland’s last Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1980. It laid the groundwork for one of the best transportation systems in the country and helped develop a vibrant Central City. Since then the city’s population has doubled and become more diverse. We need more housing and jobs for new residents, access to good transit and amenities for all Portlanders — especially in East Portland — and a healthy and resilient environment.  

Excerpts from the PSC’s letter include statements about:

Residential Growth Strategy
The heart of the residential strategy is to build more complete communities. This means well-designed growth in centers and on corridors that serve surrounding neighborhoods. We seek complete communities that can benefit Portlanders through improved walkability and safety, expanded housing choices, stronger business districts, and full return on our investments in transit through compact development. This does not mean that the goal for complete communities means all places will be the same. The strategy is not “one-size-fits-all.” It is intended to build on the existing variety among neighborhoods, corridors and centers.

Economic Growth Strategy
The Commission put significant energy into understanding and debating issues related to employment land supply. We made several conclusions that are built into the Recommended Plan:

  • The desire to try to address growing income disparity and declining middle-class employment opportunities shaped the Recommended Plan. In the current economic recovery, well-paying jobs for people with high levels of education increased. Low-wage jobs also grew. Family-wage middle class career opportunities did not.
  • It is important to maintain manufacturing and distribution jobs, because they serve as an upward mobility ladder for a large sector of the population — especially people of color and those without access to higher education.
  • In order to maintain and grow our manufacturing and distribution job sector, Portland must use our existing employment land base more efficiently, but this will require significant public investment. There are 600 acres of industrial brownfields that could be returned to productive use. There are also important transportation investments recommended in the Transportation Systems Plan (TSP) that can increase the productivity of existing employment. …
  • Expanding middle-wage jobs, however, does not mean we should sacrifice environmental quality or accept industrial sprawl. Also of note, the PSC found that the 2035 industrial land supply would be sufficient to meet the jobs and economic development objectives without greenfield development on West Hayden Island. 

Housing Affordability Challenge
The city has enough land zoned and served with infrastructure to accommodate expected residential growth. … However, the current national and local challenges to affordability, housing choice, and equity in public services shaped the Recommended Plan:

  • If Portland is to meet its goals to be affordable to a broad range of households, market-rate and affordable residential development must increase. Even with the growth in housing supply, more Portland households are forecast to experience excessive housing cost burdens. …
  • The Comprehensive Plan plays an important role to ensure the private market can develop enough housing to keep up with demand, but this is not enough. It is clear to us that investment in affordable housing must be substantially increased over the next 20 years.
  • We also have recommended a suite of anti-displacement policies for your consideration. The Recommended Plan includes policies that support increased affordable housing development and housing security. It includes policy support for additional funding tools such as inclusionary zoning, bonuses, and linkage fees. It recommends improved tenant rights protections. It recommends consideration of community benefit agreements where relevant.

… The Plan includes several “big moves” in transportation that we would like to highlight:

  • Unlike the previous Transportation System Plan, the recommended transportation project list has been prioritized using explicit criteria developed with public input. The list also has been right-sized to match the amount of revenue the Portland Bureau of Transportation expects to have. …
  • The recommended transportation project list includes significant investment in East Portland — to build out more complete streets, connect people to transit, and carry out the already-adopted Bicycle Master Plan. This is an important investment in equity. This investment should happen before we consider further expansion of the streetcar in central Portland.

Environmental Health
The new Comprehensive Plan includes many policies regarding improving fish and wildlife habitat, protecting the city’s biodiversity, preventing incremental environmental degradation, and ensuring ecosystem resilience.

Equity and Inclusion
The Recommended Plan features policies that bring a focus on increasing equity into how we grow, shape and invest in Portland’s future. It includes equity as one of the five guiding principles of the Plan. It is built on the premise that we must consider the combined effect of Comprehensive Plan elements, such as housing, economy and transportation, could have on the opportunities, stability and health of households. It incorporates the use of environmental justice considerations into future decision making.

The Plan also includes a significant overhaul of the public involvement program. 

Measures of Success

Noting that the Recommended Plan was designed to make Portland more prosperous, healthy, equitable and resilient, the PSC urged City Council to keep in mind the following measurable goals for progress by 2035, as described in the adopted 2012 Portland Plan:

  • 80% of households live in complete neighborhoods (as measured by the Complete Neighborhoods Index).
  • Carbon emissions 50% below 1990 levels.
  • 33% tree canopy coverage citywide.
  • 90% of households are economically self-sufficient.
  • 84% of eighth graders are at a healthy weight.
  • 70% of people walk, bike, take transit, or use other less polluting ways to get to work.

Next Steps

City Council will hold its first public hearing on the Recommended Draft on November 19, 2015, at 3 p.m. in Council Chambers. Additional hearings will be held in December. Portlanders are invited to view the Recommended Draft and comment online via the Map App, by letter or email, or in person at a hearing.

Learn more about the Comprehensive Plan Recommended Draft.

Early Implementation projects for Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan are here – or coming soon

Public invited to review and comment on discussion/proposed drafts for employment land, campus institutions and mixed use zones.

While the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) voted on July 28 to recommend Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan to City Council, other projects that will help implement the new plan are in the pipeline.

These projects either address a state mandate or implement a key component of the new Comprehensive Plan. They will become effective after the plan is adopted by City Council. The public is invited to learn about and give feedback on the Early Implementation projects, including the following projects that have or will soon have drafts out for review.

Campus Institutional Zoning Project

A discussion draft for the Campus Institutional Zoning Project was released in early August, and the comment period is open until September 14, 2015. This project increases the development capacity of Portland’s college and hospital campuses to accommodate the projected demand for new construction and job growth over the next 20 years, while protecting surrounding neighborhoods from potential negative impacts. A proposed draft is expected in October. Learn more at

Employment Zoning Project

The public can expect a Proposed Draft on the Employment Zoning Project on September 21.This project implements new policies to achieve more efficient use of industrial land and mixed employment areas, while also protecting neighborhood livability and watershed health. Outcomes include code changes to Industrial (IG) and General Employment (EG) zones and zoning map changes for new mixed employment areas. Learn more at

Mixed Use Zones Project

The Mixed Use Zones Discussion Draft is scheduled to be published in late September. This project will develop new mixed use zoning designations and revise Portland’s commercial and central employment zoning codes currently applied in centers and corridors outside of the Central City. The project addresses issues that arise with new more intensive mixed use buildings, such as massing and design, transitions and step-downs, and ground floor uses. The comment period on the Discussion Draft will close on October 30, 2015. Learn more at

Discussion versus Recommended Drafts

Each project presents multiple opportunities for the public to provide feedback. Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) staff will first publish a Discussion Draft (including policy, code and/or map changes), which serves as an initial proposal to stimulate discussion. Public comments on this draft may be submitted directly to project staff and are considered when developing the Proposed Draft. The Proposed Draft is staff’s proposal for the public and Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) to review. The PSC holds public hearings on the Proposed Draft and invites public comments in the form of written or oral testimony. After considering public testimony and deliberating, the PSC recommends revisions to the Proposed Draft to produce a new Recommended Draft that is forwarded to City Council for adoption.

So far, the Employment Zoning Project and Campus Institutional Zoning Project have both released Discussion Drafts. These drafts are the first opportunity for the public to review new policy, code and/or map changes and give feedback directly to the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS). Staff will consider all comments on the discussion draft when writing proposed drafts for their projects. The public will then have the opportunity to review the proposed draft and provide testimony to PSC at public hearings. Check the PSC calendar for dates, times and tentative agendas.

Early Implementation Timeline & Commenting



Opportunities for providing feedback

If yes, to whom?

Summer 2015

Release of Discussion Drafts for Employment Zoning Project and Campus Institutional Zoning projects

Yes – The public may give feedback to staff, who will consider it when developing a  proposed draft

BPS staff

Summer/Fall 2015

Release of Proposed Draft for Employment Zoning Project

Yes – The public may provide written testimony to the PSC, who will consider it when developing a Recommended Draft

Planning and Sustainability Commission

Fall 2015

Release of Discussion Drafts for Mixed Use Zones Project and Zoning Map Update

Yes – The public may give feedback to staff, who will consider it when developing a Proposed Draft

BPS staff

Fall 2015

Release of the Proposed Draft for Campus Institutional Zoning and Mixed Use Zones Projects

Yes – The public may provide written testimony to the PSC, who will consider it when developing a Recommended Draft

Planning and Sustainability Commission

Fall 2015

PSC’s public hearings and recommendations on Employment Zoning and Campus Institutional Zoning Projects

Yes – Testimony may be submitted in writing or given orally at public hearings

Planning and Sustainability Commission

Winter 2016

PSC’s public hearings and recommendations on Mixed Use Zones Project and Zoning Map Update

Yes – Testimony may be submitted in writing or given orally at public hearings

Planning and Sustainability Commission

More Early Implementation projects are on their way this fall and winter. Check back here and/or subscribe to the Comprehensive Plan Update E-News by sending an email to


Portland’s New Comprehensive Plan to be Considered by City Council

Portlanders can now review the Recommended Draft and testify to City Council in writing, via the Map App or at a public hearing

Last month Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) voted to recommend a new Comprehensive Plan to City Council. With the release of the PSC’s Recommended Draft on August 24, 2015, Portlanders are invited to review the draft and submit their testimony to City Council.

At the request of the PSC, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) incorporated a list of amendments to improve the Plan’s ability to address economic prosperity, human and environmental health, equity and resiliency. The PSC’s amendments are now reflected in an updated land use map, goals and policies document, and a list of significant projects.

Portland's new Comprehensive Plan will help the City prepare for expected population and job growth. The Recommended Draft includes elements that address housing, transportation, environmental protection, economic development, infrastructure improvements and community involvement.

See the Comprehensive Plan Recommended Draft

Interactive Map App

The Recommended Draft also includes a revised Map App, which allows community members to click on or search for a specific property to view any recommended land use changes. Most of the city will keep the same land use designation (residential, employment, open space, etc.); only 14 percent of the area of the city will be subject to change if City Council adopts the Recommended Draft. Visit the Map App at

The bureau has set up a helpline to answer questions about the draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Community members may call 503-823-0195, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Staff will be on hand to answer questions; interpretation services are also available for those whose first language is not English.

Additionally, the City’s District Liaisons will be holding drop-in hours throughout the city this fall to answer questions. Check the Comprehensive Plan calendar for dates, times and locations.

How to Comment

The public is invited to comment on the Recommended Draft directly to City Council via the following methods:


Map App:

U.S. Mail: 

Comprehensive Plan Testimony c/o Council Clerk
1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 130
Portland, OR 972014

In person:   

November 19, 2015, 2 p.m.
Portland City Hall
1221 SW 4th Avenue, Council Chambers

Public involvement timeline

With the publication of the PSC’s Recommended Draft and launch of the Map App, City Council’s official record opens. To give Council and the public time to review and understand the recommendations in the draft 2035 Plan, Commissioners will hold their own work sessions with staff on key topics from September through November.  

The first public hearing at City Council will be on November 19, with other hearings to be scheduled soon after. Council will then hold additional work sessions to consider amendments to the Recommended Draft. A City Council vote to adopt Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan is anticipated in February 2016. Once the Plan has been adopted, it then goes to the State Land Conservation and Development Commission for acknowledgement.

  • September – December 2015: City Council staff work sessions
  • November 19, 2015: City Council hearing @ 2 p.m.
  • November – December 2015: Additional City Council hearings
  • January 2016: Additional work sessions to consider amendments
  • February 2016: Anticipated City Council vote to adopt the 2035 Comprehensive Plan

Early implementation projects

There are several Early Implementation projects for the new Comprehensive Plan currently underway, including zoning code updates for employment land, campus institutions and mixed use areas. Portlanders will have additional opportunities to weigh in on drafts of these projects as they come before the PSC. Check the Comprehensive Plan Update website for news about those projects at

Planning and Sustainability Commission votes to recommend Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan to City Council

Responding to big picture issues identified in the Portland Plan and community input, a plan for the next 20 years of growth and development in Portland is on its way to adoption

Last week, Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) voted to recommend a new Comprehensive Plan to City Council. The draft 2035 Plan provides a framework to guide the city's growth and development over the next 20 years (through 2035). It includes a land use map, policy document and a list of needed public facilities (infrastructure investments). 

The Plan addresses a broad range of topics, including economic development, housing, environmental protection, transportation, infrastructure investments and community involvement. Accompanying public facility plans identify needed transportation improvements (such as sidewalks, bikeways and new transit lines) as well as improvements to parks and public buildings; and water, stormwater and sewer systems.

Vote by vote, commissioners praise the Plan and the public

As the vote was called, each of the 11 commissioners shared his or her thoughts about the Plan and the process of creating it. 

PSC Chair Andre Baugh thanked the people of Portland. “You’ve probably spent more time on this plan than we have, telling us what you want. We hope we put that in the plan,” he said. Chair Baugh then acknowledged his fellow commissioners. “You shared, you listened, allowing the community to understand that we heard them. This plan will endure for 20 years. It’s more than a land use plan. It’s about values.” 

Public process leads to a better plan

The PSC received more than 4,000 public comments on the plan. They held five public hearings and more than a dozen work sessions over the course of 12 months. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will incorporate a list of amendments requested by the Commission in June and July, and publish a complete Recommended Draft by late August. The City Council will take up the Commission's recommendation this fall, holding its own work sessions and public hearings before adopting the new plan. 

Plan ensures a healthy connected city

Physician and former Multnomah County Health Department Officer Gary Oxman spoke about how the Plan “supports a healthy community where people can really thrive in a very complete sense, enjoying physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being.”

“I think it’s a great plan,” said longtime commissioner Don Hanson. “It has so much content, so much depth.” 

Another PSC veteran, land use attorney Michelle Rudd, said, “I deal with reviewing plans every day, so I appreciate all the substance in this plan. It has multiple objectives and broad strategies to get us to success.” 

“When I first became involved in land use planning 35 years ago,” recalled Mike Houck, one of Portland’s most committed environmentalists, “I was told, ‘There’s no place for nature in the city.’ We’ve come to realize that human health and economic success require environmental health. With this new plan, we’re creating a resilient city and ecosystem.” 

Said Vice-chair Howard Shapiro, “Each of you contributed immensely to delivering this very elegant document. It’s a wonderful template for the city. But we need a good epilogue that says why we’re doing this. I think it’s about a sense of the common good … building bridges for the common good.”

The newest member of the Commission, Teresa St Martin, echoed that sentiment, “I’m impressed by the Commissioners, the stakeholders and by the excellent work of staff. So many hearts and minds have contributed to a healthy connected city.” 

Community Involvement Committee report

Prior to voting, Commissioners heard from the Comprehensive Plan Update Community Involvement Committee, the oversight body for public engagement. Representatives spoke about the legacy of their work on the advisory body, which began with the Portland Plan six years ago. They shared community engagement highlights over the course of the entire project, including the policy expert groups (PEGs),  the interactive Map App, the Comp Plan helpline, neighborhood walks, open houses, tabling at events, “office hours,” advertising, mailings, e-newletters, videos, social media channels, and special efforts to reach under-represented and underserved populations, including Portlanders who speak a foreign language. 

The entire meeting was streamed live on the BPS YouTube channel and, along with the meeting minutes and documents, is available for review


Under state law all Oregon cities must have comprehensive plans showing how 20 years of job and housing growth can be accommodated. And these plans must be updated periodically (state Periodic Review). Portland's first Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1980. Part of the plan was updated in the 1990s, but this is the first complete overhaul of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan. 

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