At roughly 2:50 p.m. today, Portland’s City Council made its final vote on the 2035 Comprehensive Plan, marking the end of an unprecedented era of planning and community involvement, as well as numerous Council and Planning and Sustainability Commission hearings, work sessions and votes.
One by one, Commissioners voted “aye,” each of them offering kudos to the plan and the process of its creation. Casting the final vote, Mayor Charlie Hales said, “Comp Plans may be wonky, but it’s really important: It determines how our city grows. The impacts of this plan will resonate for decades — even a century. It was critical we got this right, and I think we did. Many, many thanks to our hardworking staff and devoted community members who made this possible.”
Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan builds on the best of Portland’s planning legacy while charting a smart path to a prosperous, healthy, equitable and resilient future. The Plan ensures the city will have more and better housing for residents of all ages, abilities and incomes. It helps increase middle-wage jobs while protecting the environment and human health as well as lowering carbon emissions. And it provides for healthier neighborhoods and improved transit options, particularly in East Portland and other underserved areas.
Growing Up Not Out
Over the next two decades, Portland will welcome 260,000 new residents and 140,000 new jobs. The new plan manages how Portland will grow — leveraging new resources to build more complete neighborhoods. This means well-designed development that complements and serves surrounding neighborhoods, improves walkability and safety, expands housing choice, strengthens business districts, protects air and water quality and our natural environment, and supports our investments in transit and active transportation.
Stated Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Director Susan Anderson, “There’s a reason people from around the world are coming to Portland. They want to experience Portland’s diverse neighborhoods and vibrant downtown, get around on our great transit system and bike boulevards, and stroll along the river.
“These great places wouldn’t be here if there hadn’t been a good plan — or several good plans — that articulated a vision for a highly livable city,” she added. “The 2035 Plan builds on the best ideas from the 1980 Comp Plan: linking land use and transportation; preserving our industrial economy; creating a strong central city with jobs as well as housing; and enhancing our great neighborhoods and lively business districts.”
The 2035 Comp Plan meets 21st-century challenges by:
- Integrating public health goals with land use planning.
- Protecting Portland’s air and water quality, habitats and natural resources.
- Emphasizing schools as centers of community.
- Synchronizing investments in housing, transit and other infrastructure.
- Giving people more transportation choices.
- Calling for significant City investment in brownfield cleanup, transportation systems and affordable housing.
- Recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for Portland’s different geographies (e.g., hilly west side, East Portland, small-block, inner ring neighborhoods).
Process and Public Involvement
“Early on in the planning process — as far back as the Portland Plan and visionPDX — the issue of equity was central to our discussions,” explained former Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) Chair André Baugh, who presided over most of the PSC meetings during the creation of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan and the Portland Plan. “We wanted to make sure this plan considered the voices of all of Portland’s communities and incorporated an ‘equity lens’ to guide decision-making and land use changes.”
Extensive outreach was conducted throughout the multi-year planning process to gather input from Portland’s diverse communities, including renters, people of color and other historically underserved populations, older adults and people with disabilities.
As a result, Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan has a crisp focus on equity. It features goals, policies and land use changes that address gentrification and displacement, integrate public health, allow for more housing types and create incentives for more affordable housing. The Plan also includes a refresh of the City’s public involvement program, adding more emphasis on engaging communities who have been historically under served and under represented such as communities of color, immigrants and refugees, and tenants. This refreshed program builds on Portland’s nationally recognized Neighborhood Association system and strong legacy of public involvement.
The new plan also acknowledges the importance of economic development in order to create jobs and maintain a healthy local economy. In particular, the plan calls for the City to maintain manufacturing and distribution jobs, because they serve as an upward mobility ladder for a large sector of the population — especially people of color and people without a college degree.
“Engaging with the business community and residents to create this plan has been exciting and gratifying,” said Katherine Schultz, current PSC chair. “Together we’ve focused on how to spur economic development in the Central City, along our main streets and in the industrial areas. We’ve also had many discussions about how to make Portland’s neighborhoods meet the needs of our growing and increasingly diverse population.”
With Council’s adoption, the plan moves onto the state for “acknowledgement.” This means that the Department of Land Conservation and Development will review the goals, policies and land use map to make sure that they comply with state land use goals. Implementation of the new plan is expected in early 2018.
Early Implementation projects for the new Comp Plan are moving through the Planning and Sustainability Commission. This includes updated zoning codes for commercial mixed use areas, and for college and hospital campuses. A public hearing on a new Zoning Map will be held on July 12. Check the PSC calendar for details.
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