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Learn about what is currently happening with the Central City 2035 project. Read meeting announcements and summaries, as well as other recent happenings.

Planning and Sustainability Commission Recommends West Quadrant Plan to City Council

Affordable housing, Morrison bridgehead, building heights and river restoration discussed

Portland’s Central City offers something for everyone: a wide range of jobs, diverse housing types for different income levels, educational institutions, entertainment and dining options, and retail and recreational experiences. And the area is poised to become a true 21st century global model for low-carbon, sustainable urban development.

The Central City’s west side — or West Quadrant — has the region’s highest concentration of jobs; more than 87,000 in 2010 and 30,000 more expected by 2035. Its seven distinctive districts — from Goose Hollow to Chinatown — are becoming increasingly mixed use, providing residents more choices in new housing options and adding to the district’s vitality. So the goal of the 20-year West Quadrant Plan is to continue the area’s successful evolution as the region’s business, cultural and recreational hub while accommodating a large share of population and job growth within a compact and sustainable urban center. The plan emphasizes continuing economic activity and employment opportunities, increasing access to the river, creating a more exciting urban waterfront, and expanding housing diversity and livability.

Work sessions lead to a PSC recommendation

The West Quadrant Plan reached a big milestone recently when the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) recommended it to the City Council for adoption after a second work session on the Proposed Draft. Staff presented commissioners with more information regarding affordable housing in the Central City, bridgehead heights along the riverfront, building height, and habitat enhancement and restoration along the riverfront. Work session materials, including the presentation, can be found in the Documents Section of the project website.

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) staff offered a working definition for “affordable housing.” Then they explained priorities for housing affordability in the West Quadrant, including supporting greater racial, ethnic and economic diversity as well as housing options; meeting the needs of the lowest income populations; and closing the minority homeownership gap. Staff also provided specific housing targets.

Aerial view of the Morrison bridgeheadThe project team shared potential impacts from increased bridgehead heights along the waterfront, including shadows and wind in Tom McCall Park as well as increased building heights in other West Quadrant districts.

Commissioner Mike Houck raised the issue of increasing habitat restoration in the Willamette River. Staff explained that existing habitat is constrained along the Central Reach because of the seawall on the west side and a railroad and I-5 on the east, so there are few additional restoration sites available. But they agreed that the West Quad Plan should call for at least two to three shallow water restoration areas to conserve and restore fish and wildlife populations.

The PSC requested that BPS explore the potential effects of wind on pedestrians caused by building height along the waterfront as well as housing development bonuses tied to additional building height for both commercial and residential uses.

After reviewing the proposed changes to the plan and discussing the above topics in depth, the commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the West Quadrant Plan to City Council for adoption.

Portland City Council will consider the proposed West Quadrant Plan in January 2015 and adopt the plan by resolution. After that, planners will begin to consolidate all of the quadrant plans and draft new zoning code provisions into a complete Central City 2035 plan. This consolidated plan and ordinance will then be the subject of hearings before the PSC and City Council. Once adopted, CC2035 will become part of the Comprehensive Plan. 

Second Work Session on Proposed West Quadrant Plan on December 9

Affordable housing and Morrison bridgehead to be discussed in greater depth

On December 9, 2014, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) will hold a second work session on the West Quadrant Plan Proposed Draft.

At the first work session, commissioners identified the issues of affordable housing and maximum building height allowances at the Morrison bridgehead as needing further discussion.

Drawing of potential development scenario at the Morrison BridgheadSupporting documents for the December 9 session can be found in the Documents Section of the project website. The packet includes material on housing and bridgehead heights, as well as additional information requested by the PSC related to West End building heights. It also contains a detailed list of proposed revisions to the Proposed Draft released in August.  

Staff from various City bureaus will be available to answer any remaining questions about the Proposed Draft before the commission votes to recommend the plan (with revisions) to City Council for consideration.

The December 9 work session is open to the public, but public testimony will not be taken. Approximately 100 pieces of written testimony were received by staff prior to the closing of the public comment period on October 1, 2014 and forwarded to commissioners. There will be additional opportunities for public comment when the West Quadrant Plan Recommended Draft goes before City Council early next year.

 

Public hearing on West Quadrant Plan draws crowd

Forty community members offer their testimony on the future of the Central City’s west side

Members of the public testify on the West Quadrant PlanOn Sept. 9, 2014, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) welcomed testimony on the West Quadrant Plan Proposed Draft at a public hearing. Central City residents, business owners and other interested individuals packed the room to offer testimony – some supportive, some critical – on the current draft.

Building heights, particularly those in the West End, Pearl District and Old Town/Chinatown were the subject of a majority of the testimony. Many residents from those areas requested significant decreases in height limits – proposed, but mostly existing. Others testified in favor of maintaining and/or strategically increasing heights in some areas of the West Quadrant. Additional subjects of testimony included parking, affordable housing, economic development, historic preservation, equity, bridgehead development and the environment. 

Watch the hearing.

The written record will remain open until Oct. 1, 2014, which means Portlanders can submit testimony in writing until then to psc@portlandoregon.gov.

The Proposed Draft can be found in the Documents Section of the project website. Meeting minutes, written testimony and related documents will be posted to the PSC website when available.

Next steps

A PSC work session on the West Quadrant Plan is scheduled for Oct. 21, 2014. Staff will brief the commissioners on requested information and be available to answer questions as they discuss the Proposed Draft. The work session is open to the public, but testimony will not be taken. The commission may make a recommendation on the Proposed Draft at the conclusion of the work session, or commissioners may ask for another work session if additional time is needed to make a decision.  

Proposed Draft West Quadrant Plan at Planning and Sustainability Commission

Public invited to attend and testify at public hearing on September 9

Soccer fans watch events in Pioneer Square during MLS All Star WeekThe future of Downtown, the West End, Goose Hollow, the Pearl, Old Town/Chinatown, South Waterfront and South Downtown/University is before us. And you can testify about the proposed draft of a long-range plan for the Central City’s west side at an upcoming hearing before the Planning and Sustainability Commission.

Over the last year and a half, the West Quadrant Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) worked with interested community members and Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff to develop the West Quadrant Plan, which includes goals, policies and key directions for neighborhoods from the North Pearl to South Waterfront and from Goose Hollow to the riverfront. This plan will guide future growth and development in the area and incorporates fresh ideas from the community to help make the Central City an even more vibrant place to live, work and play.

Public Hearing Details

Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission Public Hearing

September 9, 2014
12:30 – 3:15 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Room 2500A

The West Quadrant Project hearing will begin at 12:30 pm. Instructions on submitting testimony: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/383906.

Download the Proposed Draft West Quadrant Plan

Next Steps

Following the public hearing on September 9, the Planning and Sustainability Commission will hold a work session to formulate its recommendation on the West Quadrant Plan on October 21. The project will then go before the Portland City Council for adoption by resolution. Specific recommendations in the West Quadrant Plan will go into effect once the entire Central City 2035 Plan (the update of the 1988 Central City Plan) is complete, expected in 2015.

Advisory Committee Endorses Plan for the Future of the Central City’s West Quadrant

Proposed Draft will advance to Planning and Sustainability Commission for public hearing and testimony

Transit Mall at Pioneer SquareThe West Quadrant Plan Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) voted to endorse the Draft West Quadrant Plan at their last meeting on July 21, 2014.

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff are making final revisions to the draft and will release a Proposed Draft at a Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) briefing on August 12. The PSC will hold a hearing on September 9 to consider public testimony.

Portlanders are invited to submit testimony to the PSC in person or in writing prior to or at the September 9 hearing. Agendas and tips for testifying are available online. There will be another opportunity for public testimony and comment at a City Council hearing later in the fall.

Next steps: Quadrant plans combined into one Central City 2035 Plan; amendments to the new Comprehensive Plan

After City Council adopts the West Quadrant Plan by resolution, it will provide direction for the next steps in the process but will not yet change City policy or code.  Moreover, there are still a number of topic areas not addressed, or fully addressed, in the West Quadrant Plan.  Work on parking, bonuses, the update of the Willamette Greenway Plan for the Central Reach, scenic resources, and other topics will continue through focused staff and stakeholder discussions over the next year.

Also over the next year, staff will work to combine the recommendations from the N/NE Quadrant Plan (adopted October 2013), West Quadrant Plan and SE Quadrant Plan (currently underway) into a single Central City 2035 Plan, with accompanying Zoning Code amendments.

By mid to late 2015, BPS expects to release the Proposed Central City 2035 Plan. There will be many opportunities for public comment as the Central City 2035 Plan advances through PSC and City Council. The final adopted Central City 2035 Plan will amend the Comprehensive Plan policies and designations for the Central City. 

For questions or comments about the West Quadrant Plan, please contact project staff at westquad@portlandoregon.gov.