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Enough Land for Jobs in Portland? Revised Economic Opportunities Analysis says "Yes"!

Portland’s Comprehensive Plan ensures the City has enough land for housing and jobs based on projections for population growth and business development. Through the Centers and Corridors growth management strategy, the City can accommodate the need for more housing.

But it’s the Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) that helps us determine how much land we need for future employment and then posits ways to meet that goal.

The good news is that the recently revised EOA shows that the policies, infrastructure investments and land use map changes in the Comprehensive Plan Proposed Draft will support Portland’s economic growth into the middle of the 21st century.

Portland has room to accommodate 142,000 new jobs on 3,000 acres of employment land by 2035. This is in addition to the city’s existing 370,000 jobs.

Meeting Goal 9

Under Statewide Planning Goal 9, Oregon cities must provide enough employment sites of suitable sizes, types and locations to accommodate forecast job growth for the next 20 years. The 2035 Comprehensive Plan will support job growth by creating:

  • An additional 450 acres of development capacity in existing industrial areas through land use changes, public infrastructure investments and brownfield redevelopment.
  • An additional 375 acres of development capacity for major campus institutions, the Central Eastside and Lower Albina industrial districts, and town centers throughout the city.
  • Capacity to expand marine terminals, rail yards and airport facilities.

Industrial Lands and Watershed Health Strategies

Industrial lands are sites that typically allow light and heavy manufacturing, warehousing, marine cargo and other industrial uses. These sites play a key role in supporting and growing middle-skill, family-wage jobs, which generally do not require an advanced degree. They help provide opportunity and income self-sufficiency to the 30 percent of Portland students who do not graduate from high school, as well as the 30 – 40 percent of high school graduates who do not go on to college. This, in turn, helps the City reach it equitable prosperity goals and support a balanced economy.

The proposed Comprehensive Plan accommodates 31,600 new jobs, 22 million square feet of new building area, and 1,700 acres of land development in our industrial districts by 2035.

But much of the industrially zoned land in Portland is located in or near environmentally sensitive areas along the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. The proposed plan includes a balanced strategy of goals, policies, infrastructure investments and map changes to both promote economic prosperity and improve watershed health through:

  • Retention and protection of prime industrial land.
  • Intensification of land use and reinvestment in freight infrastructure.
  • Brownfield redevelopment.
  • Private golf course conversion to allow for industrial land and open space.

Maximizing the use of industrial land reduces the pressure to create more sites in environmentally sensitive areas, particularly in the Portland Harbor.

Other Job Growth Capacity Strategies

Other areas of the city are also targeted for job growth, including:

  • Central City Industrial – The SE Quadrant Plan will designate additional capacity in the Central Eastside Industrial District, primarily by expanding industrial office development and limiting retail sales and services. 90 more acres and 10,000 new jobs
  • Campus Institutions – Hospitals, colleges and universities are projected to have the highest job growth over the next 20 years. The new Comprehensive Plan designates these campus institutions as employment districts rather than conditional uses in residential areas to help them expand without encroaching on nearby neighborhoods. 370 more acres and 23,000 new jobs
  • Central City Commercial and Neighborhood Commercial areas have more than enough capacity to accommodate the forecast job growth. 840 more acres and 69,000 new jobs

Read the entire revised EOA.

Public Hearing on the EOA

Portlanders are invited to comment on the revised EOA to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC), which will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 (please check the PSC calendar to confirm details).  Written comments are also welcome by April 14, either by mail or in writing. See Tips for Testifying for more information.

After the hearing, the PSC will vote to recommend the EOA, which will move onto to City Council for adoption with other parts of the new Comprehensive Plan.