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City Council Holds Public Hearing on Recommended Draft of the West Quadrant Plan

The West Quadrant Plan was the focus of a public hearing at City Council on Feb. 4, 2015. Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) staff presented the big ideas in the recommended plan, including creating a healthy and vibrant 21st-century urban waterfront, developing a signature 10-mile walking and biking parkway (or Green Loop), encouraging a mix of uses in the quadrant and constructing a model low-carbon Central City.  

Close to 60 community members testified on the Recommended Draft for more than four hours, with much of the testimony focusing on height and density limits in the West End and Goose Hollow.

But affordable housing took center stage when Commissioner Dan Saltzman co-sponsored the resolution to adopt the plan, along with Mayor Charlie Hales. Commissioner Nick Fish also spoke passionately about the need to keep Portland from becoming like San Francisco and other high-cost cities through regulations and programs that would support affordable and workforce housing on the west side of the Central City.

The West Quadrant Plan calls for a mix of housing types and establishes an affordable housing target for 2035. It also addresses the environmental health of the Willamette River and proposes actions to protect historic resources.

In regards to building height, the plan leaves existing limits in much of the quadrant alone. It does, however, propose transfer of development rights for historic buildings in Old Town/Chinatown as well as bonuses that could create incentives for affordable housing, building setbacks for plazas and public space, and other civic amenities.

At one point during the hearing, Commissioner Steve Novick asked staff about the relationship between building height and carbon emissions. BPS Director Susan Anderson pointed out that higher buildings can help create more compact, transit-accessible and amenity-rich communities, which help us reach our climate action goals.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is conducting a study to determine the costs and benefits of bonuses to both the City and developers as well as the financial viability of different types of bonuses. BPS is also working on an updated Scenic Resources Inventory in the city center, which will identify view sheds and corridors worth preserving. Until this work is done, however, no final decisions on height limits or bonuses will be made.

Next Steps

The West Quadrant Plan will be back on the Council agenda in a few weeks. Please check Council agendas to confirm the following:

  • Friday, February 20 (5 p.m.)
    City Council proposed amendments will be posted on the Council website.
  • Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 2 p.m., time certain 
    City Council Hearing

After Council votes to adopt the plan by resolution, planners will then begin to consolidate all of the quadrant plans (West, N/NE and SE quadrants) and draft new Zoning Code provisions for a complete Central City 2035 (CC2035) plan. This combined plan and ordinance will then be the subject of hearings before the Planning and Sustainablity Commission and City Council in 2016. Once adopted, CC2035 will become an amendment to the newly adopted Comprehensive Plan.

The West Quadrant Plan is a long-range plan for Central City districts west of the Willamette River, including Downtown, the West End, Goose Hollow, the Pearl, Old Town/Chinatown, South Waterfront and South Downtown/University. For more information, please visit