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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.

Central City 2035 Proposed Draft to be released on June 20 for public review

Planning and Sustainability Commission to hold public hearings in July and August

Originally scheduled to be released on May 10, the Central City 2035 (CC2035) Proposed Draft will now be released on June 20, 2016. Project staff will use the extra time to consider feedback on the Discussion Draft in order to shape the Proposed Draft.

Salmon Springs in spring

On June 28, staff will present the Proposed Draft to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) at a briefing. Commissioners will then hear public testimony at two hearings: one on July 26 and the other on August 9. 

Portlanders are invited to submit testimony on the Proposed Draft to the PSC in person or in writing, prior to or at the hearings.

Planning and Sustainability Commission Public Hearings
July 26, 2016
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Portland Building, Room C

(Another PSC hearing is scheduled from 4 – 6 p.m. on this date. Please check the PSC calendar one week prior to the hearing to confirm time and other details.)

August 9, 2016
4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Portland Building, Room C

Check the PSC calendar to confirm time and location prior to each hearing. Then read instructions and tips for testifying.

Next Steps
Following the hearings, the PSC will hold work sessions on September 27, November 8 and November 22 to formulate its recommendation on the CC2035 Plan. The project will then go before the Portland City Council for consideration and adoption. The CC2035 Plan will be the first amendment to Portland’s Comprehensive Plan, and the specific recommendations contained within the plan are expected to become effective in early 2018.

Portlanders get familiar with the draft Central City 2035 Plan at open houses and drop-in hours

Community members learn about bike improvements, the Green Loop, new height limits, parking, the river and more

Portlanders got a chance to talk to city planners about the future of the city’s urban core during open houses and drop-in sessions in early March, coinciding with the release of the Central City 2035 Discussion Draft.

More than 70 people attended open houses on both sides of the river, and even more had the opportunity to learn about the plan during drop-in hours 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. They shared information and answered questions about the CC2035 Plan, gathering input on the Discussion Draft. Public feedback will inform the development of a Proposed Draft, which will be the subject of a public hearing before the Planning and Sustainability Commission on June 14, 2016.

What we’ve heard so far…

At drop-ins, meetings and open houses, staff heard about a wide variety of topics. Some of these are summarized below.

  • Questions about how maximum building heights are determined and how the City is protecting important public views. Height comments also supported both taller and shorter buildings in different parts of the Central City.
  • Interest in how the plan proposes to improve parking, particularly in the Central Eastside.
  • Strong interest in the transportation elements of the plan, particularly in improving specific streets for bicycles and pedestrians.
  • Excitement about the “big ideas” such as the Green Loop concept, a small version of which was on display at the events.
  • Support for goals and policies that would result in more trees, particularly on the east side of the Willamette River.
  • Interest in learning more about sustainable building elements of the plan, such as requiring ecoroofs and more flexibility with the green building standards.

Tell us what you think! Join the conversation.

Experience the open house with our Online Open House. Review and comment on the CC2035 Discussion Draft before March 31, 2016 by:


The Central City 2035 Plan Discussion Draft is released, revealing a fresh vision for the heart of the city just in time for Valentine’s Day

This new long-range plan for Portland’s urban core includes goals, policies, maps and code to ensure a prosperous, healthy, equitable and resilient Central City for all.

At the heart of the city and the region, Portland’s Central City is home to more than 32,000 people and 123,000 jobs in less than five square miles. From the West End and Lloyd to South Downtown and the Central Eastside, its 10 different neighborhoods offer residents, employees and visitors a variety of cultural, educational, employment and recreational opportunities.

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 Central City 2035 Plan (CC2035) aims to meet those challenges, while improving and building upon past plans and traditions. The Plan lays the groundwork for a prosperous, healthy, equitable and resilient Central City, where people can collaborate, innovate and create a better future together.

cover

Review the CC2035 Discussion Draft

Key Elements of the Plan

A place to call home…

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 Central City can be more than just a place to work, go to school or recreate. It’s actually a really great place to live. Other Central City neighborhoods are poised to become similarly vibrant (think South Waterfront and the Lloyd District), with housing close to jobs, shops, restaurants, transit, parks and other amenities.

Today, roughly 30 percent of the housing in the city center is affordable. The new plan aims to maintain this percentage with a bonus system to spur the construction of more affordable housing.

Employment Center for the Region

The Plan supports economic development strategies and programs to facilitate economic growth in the Central City. It builds on the connection — created by Tilikum Crossing — between the emerging industries in the Central Eastside with OHSU and PSU and encourages a range of businesses to locate in the area, particularly technology and research/development firms.

What was initially allowed as an interim use on underutilized surface parking lots, food carts have become small business stepping stones and a part of Portland's vibrant culture. The plan recognizes the value of food carts to the economy and calls for developing a strategy to accommodate them in other ways, as surface parking lots transform into mixed use buildings with retail, office and residential units. New transportation infrastructure will support residents, businesses and freight operations. And new land use tools will help expand commerce on and along the Willamette River.

New Bonus and Transfer System

The City’s priorities for affordable housing and historic preservation get a boost with the Plan, which capitalizes on more floor area (FAR) and height — but protects iconic views of Mt. Hood and other treasured sites with firm height limits. The Plan creates a new affordable housing fund and bonus that creates fees to be spent on creating more units for people of all ages and incomes.

Green Loop

For casual cyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities, a proposed six-mile open space path around the Central City (outside the Greenway Trail) will offer people a chance to stroll, run or ride bikes through parks and neighborhood business districts. The “Green Loop” is part of a larger effort to repurpose public rights-of-way into community spaces. It will connect many of the city’s civic and cultural institutions and link Downtown’s iconic park sequences to the rest of Portland.

21st-century Central Eastside

The 2035 Plan also lays the groundwork for the 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. The Plan can spur new job opportunities for workers with a variety of different interests, skills and education levels and improves access to growing high tech, light manufacturing and software jobs. This will be achieved largely through increased job densities with more flexible employment zones in the Central Eastside.

Height and Views

Finally, the Plan retains the successful building height pattern from 1970 but allows taller buildings along the Transit Mall (SW 5th and 6th streets). It will protect public view corridors of treasured sites like Mt. Hood from viewpoints at Tilikum Crossing and other key vantage points. It establishes height limits and new regulations within historic districts to ensure compatibility with existing historic character. And it retains the basic “step down” to the Willamette River, parks and adjacent neighborhoods, but allows greater height around bridgeheads to increase development potential and activate the waterfront. See the CC2035 MapApp for site-specific information about height and FAR. 

Willamette River and the Environment

New land use tools will help protect, provide access to and activate the Willamette River and its banks. The Plan includes a bonus to allow more development height in exchange for riverfront open space, applies an environmental overlay, expands the river setback, and allows some small retail structures in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. 

Learn more. Join the conversation.

To learn more about the draft Plan, Portlanders are invited to view it online, attend an open house on either the east or west side of the Willamette River … and more.

Attend an open house:

  City of Portland Bldg 1900 SW 4th Ave Olympic Mills Bldg107 SE Washington St
Ongoing lobby displays; staff available daily 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Feb 22 – 26 Feb 29 – March 4
Open houses with breakout sessions to dig into complex topics Feb 24, 4 – 7 p.m. March 2, 4 – 7 p.m.

Community meetings: Staff will be visiting neighborhood associations, business and trade associations, and other groups during February and March. View the project calendar to see details for scheduled meetings.

Request a meeting or presentation: We will do our best to attend meetings upon request. Email us at cc2035@portlandoregon.gov to request a presentation.

Comment on the CC2035 Discussion Draft
Your feedback is welcome from February 9 – March 31, 2016.

Subsequent drafts of the plan and public hearings

Staff will consider comments on the Discussion Draft as they develop a Proposed Draft for the Planning and Sustainability Commission, which will hold public hearings in June. The PSC will vote to recommend a draft to City Council, and more hearings will be heard in front of that body in the fall.

Questions? Contact the Central City Team: 503-823-4286, cc2035@portlandoregon.gov 

City Council approves long-range plan to guide growth and development in Portland’s Central Eastside

With a supply-side solution to providing land for jobs, the plan ensures this unique industrial district will remain a viable location for manufacturing, industrial services and emerging technologies.

Central Eastside

One public comment at the July 29th meeting supported the City’s intent to collaborate with private property owners to create publicly accessible parks in the Central Eastside including this space near the Morrison Bridgehead.

On Wednesday, July 29, 2015, Portland City Council voted 4-0 to adopt the SE Quadrant Plan (full video; click on July 29, PM in the left hand navigation bar). Testimony overwhelmingly supported the plan's balance between supporting the growth of the district while reinforcing protections for industrial businesses. Members of the SE Quadrant Stakeholder Advisory Committee, business owners, land owners and representatives from nonprofits spoke about the plan’s strengths and how it could be improved.

Transportation strategies affirmed

The Portland Freight Committee, Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Pedestrian Advisory Committee testified in support of the plan. In addition, several industrial business owners reaffirmed support for both freight and bicycle circulation enhancements proposed by the plan, especially those that reduce conflicts between modes. Some also expressed enthusiasm for the Central Eastside portion of the Green Loop as a safer route for employees and visitors to bike through and to the district.

Land use tools support small businesses and craft manufacturers

The majority of testimony at City Council supported the expansion of the Employment Opportunity Subarea (EOS) throughout the rest of the district. The EOS, which would be expanded from 48 acres to 248 acres, will allow new and emerging industrial sectors such as digital industrial design, software and web design and maintenance, high tech and bioscience development, as well as traditional industrial sectors to co-exist. Although a few testifiers continued to express concern about how much change the EOS may mean for the district, Mayor Charlie Hales stated he was “cautiously optimistic that this is the right set of strategies” for the district that will help to “create more space and, therefore, maybe a little less competition for what's there now."

Final quadrant plan adopted

The SE Quadrant Plan was the last of three quadrant plans to be adopted (by resolution) by City Council in the City’s multi-year effort to update the Central City Plan. Now Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff will begin folding the policies, implementing actions and zoning proposals from all the quadrant plans and other input into a final document that will be called Central City 2035 (CC2035). A CC2035 Discussion Draft will be released for review in late 2015, followed by a Proposed Draft that will be submitted to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC). The PSC will hold public hearings before a vote to recommend the plan to City Council. 

Read the Adopted Southeast Quadrant Plan – guidance for the Central City 2035 Plan.