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Comprehensive Plan Update emerges with the Portland Plan

As the Portland Plan nears adoption by City Council, BPS is shifting focus to implementation, including the Comprehensive Plan Update. Updating the Comprehensive Plan is one of ways the City will achieve the goals of a prosperous, educated, healthy and equitable Portland. Mandated by the state, the Comprehensive Plan is the key long-range plan that helps us prepare for and manage expected population and employment growth, as well as plan for major public investments to accommodate that growth. It provides direction for City decision-making on land use, transportation, sewer and water systems, and natural resource management programs, while ensuring that investments in major city systems are coordinated.

Portland has experienced sustained population growth and development since the mid-1980s. This trend is expected to continue with a forecasted 132,000 new households and 147,000 new jobs by 2035. The Comprehensive Plan is about physical development, policy and plans, and it builds on the people-based goals and objectives expressed in the Portland Plan.

As one of the implementing tools for the Portland Plan, the Comprehensive Plan is framed in broad terms and provides future direction for the city through: 1) a set of maps, 2) goals and policies, and 3) a list of capital projects. Detailed implementation measures, such as zoning or project design for specific locations, will be resolved through the implementation phase of the planning process.

Policy Expert Groups

Work on the Comprehensive Plan Update will be guided by eight Policy Expert Groups (PWG) comprised of City staff, partner agencies and community members, who will focus their work around the following topic areas:

  1. Community Involvement (This Policy Work Group will consist of members of the Portland Public Involvement Advisory Council (PIAC)).

  2. Education & Youth Success

  3. Economic Development

  4. Residential Development & Compatibility

  5. Neighborhood Centers

  6. Infrastructure Equity

  7. Networks

  8. Watershed Health & the Environment

The City is now recruiting community members to serve on the PEGs. Members of the public who have a depth of understanding of a topic area and can make a significant time commitment to the PEG for the next 18 months are encouraged to apply. Applications are open until Monday, April 16, 2012. For more information about the Policy Expert Groups and to apply, please visit:

Economic Opportunities Analysis

The Comprehensive Plan Update is built on a foundation of background research and factual information. Staff have summarized their findings in background reports covering topics such as housing, natural resource inventories, infrastructure conditions and capacity and public schools. One of the state-required background reports is the Economic Opportunities Analysis or EOA, which is a study of the 20-year supply and demand for employment land within the city limits. It consists of four sections:


  1. Trends, Opportunities & Market Factors

  2. Long Range Employment Forecast (Demand)

  3. Buildable Land Inventory (Supply)

  4. Policy Alternatives

Key Findings

BPS contracted with E.D. Hovee & Company, LLC, to conduct the analysis. Their key findings include:


  • National employment trends indicate a shift from manufacturing to service sectors, with health, education and professional/business services being the leading growth sectors.

  • This past decade has been a period of relatively slow job growth not only for Portland but for the Metro region and nationally, but Portland’s job growth over the last business cycle has even lagged the region’s slow pace.

  • Industrial employment has been dropping at the same time the city is experiencing increases in industrial land development, cargo volumes and added value of manufacturing products.

  • The Buildable Land Inventory identifies a supply of 3,100 acres of vacant and underutilized employment land, but it may not be the right type or in the right location to meet projected demand.

  • Comparing the employment forecast to the buildable land inventory indicates a need for additional development capacity in our industrial areas and institutional campuses, as well as addressing market issues in the Central City, Gateway and our town centers to better utilize the existing zoned capacity.


Staff will be using the findings in the EOA to guide economic development policy changes in the Comprehensive Plan Update. The discussion draft of the EOA will be published on April 2, 2012 and will be available on the BPS website. The document will be reviewed by the Planning and Sustainability Commission on May 8.