Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

My Portland Plan: How Baby-Boomers and Millennials Might Be Tipping the Scale Toward Even More Active Transportation Use

How these demographic groups choose to live and get around will have an impact on all Portlanders

In a previous post, we discussed how Portlanders in the past few decades have steadily shifted their preferred way of commuting to work away from driving alone to more active transportation options. Recall in 1990, 68 percent of commuters drove alone to work. By 2000, that number was down to 64 percent. In 2011, less than 60 percent of Portland workers were driving alone to work.

Commuters on Hawthorne BridgeIn this follow-up post, we’ll discuss how that trend will most likely continue over the next few decades, given demographic trends. And keep Portland on track towards its goal: by 2035, 70 percent of commuters will either take transit, bike, walk, telecommute or carpool.

Portland is on the path towards that future, but much work still must be done. The good news is, we have demographics on our side. Over the next few decades, the scales may tip with the preferences of the baby boomers and their children — the Millennials — of the later 1970s, 80s, 90s and early 2000s.

Combined, they are the largest population group. And their preferences will shape the mobility landscape in the years to come.

Just as boomers’ preference for driving shaped the development of the country over the last forty to fifty years, so too, as they age, will their increasing preference to take transit shape how the urban landscape evolves. Their children, who make up an even larger group than the boomers, will have a similar impact, if not more.

How these demographic groups choose to live and get around will have an impact on all Portlanders.

The American Assocation of Retired Persons recently reported that as baby boomers move into retirement age and older, driving will continue to steadily decline as an option for getting around. And more and more seniors will increasingly depend on a variety of public transportation options.

On the other end of the age spectrum, fewer teens, 20-somethings and early 30-somethigs are falling in love with the car culture. Fewer young people are getting their driver’s license. Researchers and various media report that between half and two-thirds of 18-year olds had their driving licenses in 2008; in 1983, more than 80 percent had their licenses. And they’re buying fewer cars.

Millenials also don’t mind getting around by transit, walking or biking. Carpooling and even car-sharing is an acceptable alternative. Owning a car is not out of the question, so long as they do not have to spend so much of their income on a monthly payment.

Millenials also prefer — even demand — a more urban lifestyle. They tend to want something different from the suburban way of life of their parents’ generation. Most young workers today want to live in a more urban setting.

And more and more, too, Millenials are choosing to live alone (or with a dog). Thus, the trend is towards smaller and smaller households that demand less space.

Given these demographic trends, a variety of policies will need to be put in place to address mobility and access services and the complementary land use activities that reinforce such services. To be sure, over the long run, investment in public transportation to make it more accessible to seniors will also benefit young working adults. And building communities that invite more transit use, walking and bicycling, while also supporting affordable and inclusive housing options, will help spread the benefits of good living to all Portlanders.

Given these preferences of the two largest population cohorts, it should be no surprise, then, that a high probability of better quality urbanism is in all of our futures. 

New details about the Residential Energy Efficiency Federal Tax Credit

Federal tax credit extended for purchases made in 2013

Did you make energy efficiency improvements to your home in 2011-2013? Receive a federal tax credit for energy efficiency improvements in the building envelope of existing homes and for the purchase of high-efficiency heating, cooling and water-heating equipment.

Efficiency improvements or equipment must serve a dwelling in the United States that is owned and used by the taxpayer as a primary residence.The maximum tax credit for all improvements made in 2011, 2012, and 2013 is $500. The cap includes tax credits for any improvements made in any previous year. If a taxpayer claimed $500 or more of these tax credits in any previous year, any purchases made in 2011, 2012, or 2013 will be ineligible for a tax credit.

Learn more here:


BPS E-News: From our director, Susan Anderson: Looking back, looking forward

Issue 21, February 2013

In 2012, Portland moved forward on many fronts — and I am pleased with the substantial accomplishments that were made in collaboration with BPS and dozens of community, business, nonprofit, academic and other partners. Here is a sampling of our progress:

  • Together, we adopted the Portland Plan, our strategic plan for a prosperous, educated, healthy, equitable and resilient future.
  • Through the expanded composting and recycling program, Portland residents reduced the amount of garbage we send to the landfill by nearly 40 percent — in just one year. No other city in the world has done this much in such a short period of time. And all that food and yard waste tripled the production of nutrient-rich compost for farms and gardens.
  • We updated our zoning code to make it easier for people to grow, sell and buy locally grown food here in Portland.
  • Through our Sustainability at Work program, we helped more than 900 companies save money, use greener products and technologies, cut costs and gain efficiencies.
  • We rezoned SE 122nd, a major thoroughfare in East Portland, so that over the coming years residents will be able to enjoy more of the retail and commercial amenities found in our inner neighborhoods.
  • Closer to the Willamette, we completed a plan for the future of the northeast quadrant of the Central City, a place rich with history and development potential.
  • In 2012, we made significant progress implementing the Climate Action Plan. In Portland, total carbon emissions are now down 6 percent below 1990 levels. This compares to an increase of more than 12 percent for the rest of the United States. Clearly we are headed in a different direction.
  • In the Cully neighborhood, we celebrated the opening of a green street and developed a new plan to address community needs for more neighborhood-serving commercial development and improve the safety and accessibility of Cully’s neighborhood streets, as more people move to this neighborhood and discover its charm.
  • We instituted a policy banning plastic bags and applauded as Portlanders increased their use of reusable bags by 300 percent.
  • We launched the Killowatt Crackdown, a friendly competition to inspire energy efficiency in Portland’s largest commercial buildings.
  • In collaboration with several city bureaus, we officially came into compliance with Metro’s Title 13, Nature in Neighborhoods. The approach features both regulatory and non-regulatory actions to protect and enhance thousands of acres of regionally significant natural resources.
  • On a more personal note — BPS staff are known for volunteering in the community, and even raised more than $5,000 for the Oregon Food Bank at our annual winter auction. All in all, it’s been an extremely productive year.


So what’s next?

2013 brings new City leadership and the opportunity for new vision and collaboration. A major effort underway for BPS is the development of our new Comprehensive Plan. As a once-in-a-generation update, it is a comprehensive task requiring all hands on deck! Dozens of community, business, academic and neighborhood leaders are working on this project as part of the Policy Expert Groups. These advisory groups are focused on such topics as housing, economic development, watershed health, community involvement, infrastructure, neighborhoods and transportation. Their work will be stitched together within the new Urban Design Framework, which forms the basic structure for the physical components of the Comprehensive Plan.

As you’ll read further on, the Comprehensive Plan – Working Draft Part 1 has recently been published, and public feedback is needed. We hope to see some of you at workshops around the city in February and March. Or visit us at and tell us what you think.

Many other efforts are underway this year:

  • The annexation ofWestHaydenIslandis moving toward a decision by the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC). Staff is working hard to support the commission as they devote several meetings from now until April to further understand and consider the many complex environmental, economic and social issues related to the annexation decision. The PSC is scheduled to make a recommendation to City Council in April.
  • A new code improvement project is underway to make it easier for homeowners in our historic and conservation districts to make minor improvements to their homes.
  • We’re also working on a concept plan for the future of Barbur Boulevard, in cooperation with Metro.
  • Elsewhere on the Westside, we’re launching the Central City West Quadrant Plan to address longstanding issues in places like Goose Hollow and Old Town/Chinatown, and take advantage of the energy and investments occurring in the education district around PSU, theNorth Pearland South Waterfront.
  • And, we will begin the Central Eastside Quadrant Plan, including a focus on the challenges and opportunities related to industrial, commercial, transportation and housing issues, and transit–oriented development as part of Milwaukie light rail area planning.
  • We are in the early stages of improving garbage and recycling services for renters, to ensure that all residents, whether they own their home or rent, have access to the same information and quality of service for their household.
  • Parking for new apartments being built in the inner eastside neighborhoods continues to be an issue. A proposal will be brought to the PSC and City Council that will likely include some additional parking requirements and options to help ensure better access for people with disabilities.
  • We’re preparing options to help create a more resilient community through a Climate Adaptation Strategy, which includes recommendations on how the City and the County can minimize the impacts on our community of climate-related risks, such as extreme weather, floods, droughts and heat waves.
  • And we’ll continue to provide technical assistance to other bureaus on how to cut energy costs in City facilities. Projects over the past two decades have resulted in more than $40 million in electricity and natural gas savings, while total savings for 2012 were more than $5.5 million.
  • We will wrap up the first three years of our partnership with Clean Energy Works Oregon with energy efficiency improvements in more than 5,000 homes.
  • For residents, the Fix-It Fairs continue to be hugely popular events held in neighborhoods and serving more than 2,000 households each year.
  • And businesses can take advantage of a new service offering free energy assessments and financial incentives for energy efficiency improvements. In addition, we will continue to offer onsite assistance to hundreds of companies focused on waste reduction, energy and water efficiency, solar and transportation options.

So as you can see, 2012 was a busy year, and we have much exciting work ahead. We hope our efforts, and our business and community partnerships, have provided a benefit to your household, neighborhood or business. Let us know how we can work with you to build a more prosperous, healthy and resilient community.


Susan Anderson Signature

Susan Anderson, Director 

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

BPS E-News: Comprehensive Plan Update offers workshops in February and March

Issue 21, February 2013

Portland’s Comprehensive Plan has served the city well since 1980, but it’s time to give it a complete overhaul so that it reflects the Portland of the 21st century. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is taking the lead on this citywide effort to manage the location of population and job growth, as well as public investments in infrastructure (such as streets, sidewalks, parks and stormwater systems) over the next 20 years. The new Comprehensive Plan will set guidelines for community involvement and influence the direction of private development and public facilities — all to ensure that Portland is a more prosperous, healthy, educated, equitable and resilient city.

While the Portland Plan set goals and policies for economic development, housing, education, transportation and watershed health, the new Comprehensive Plan will help implement them through more specific city policies to help us make better on-the-ground decisions in our neighborhoods. With the Comprehensive Plan as the foundation, we can improve zoning and provide direction prosperous and sustainable development throughout the city. These ideas will then be represented through a set of maps and a list of capital projects.

The bureau recently published the Working Draft Part 1 of the Comprehensive Plan Update, which includes initial draft goals and policies for public discussion and review. The accompanying Companion Guide  provides an introduction to the Working Draft Part 1 and highlights the document’s main ideas. 

Collective Effort Requires Community Input

The Comprehensive Plan Update is being developed with the help of more than 160 community members, technical experts and City staff from a variety of bureaus who serve on eight different advisory committees called Policy Expert Groups (PEGs). Now it’s time for the entire city to have a say in how this long-range land use plan will evolve.

“We need your help to bring this document from a “60 percent draft” to 100 percent,” says Bureau Director Susan Anderson. “The draft Comprehensive Plan is a work in progress, which means there are still areas to be fleshed out and detail to be added. I encourage all Portlanders to join me at a workshop or give us your feedback in whatever way you can.”

Portlanders are invited to review and comment on the Working Draft Part 1, available on the Comprehensive Plan Update project website at Printed copies are also available at Multnomah County libraries throughout the city and at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

The Working Draft Part 2, available this summer, will include draft maps and a draft list of capital projects. 

Citywide Workshops Offer Chance to Learn and Comment 

In February and March, City staff and partners will be sharing information and soliciting feedback through a series of community workshops in six different locations.

Workshop Dates and Times 


West: Tuesday, February 19, 6 – 9 p.m.
Multnomah Arts Center
7688 SW Capitol Highway, Portland

North: Tuesday, February 26, 5:30 –  8:30 p.m.
De La Salle North Catholic High School
7528 N Fenwick Avenue, Portland

Southeast: Thursday, February 28, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Franklin High School
5405 SE Woodward Street, Portland

East: Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
David Douglas High School
1001 SE 135th Avenue, Portland

Central: Tuesday, March 5, 5 – 8 p.m.
Smith Memorial Student Union, Portland State University
1825 SW Broadway, Portland

Northeast: Saturday, March 9, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Beaumont Middle School
4043 NE Fremont Street, Portland

Business: Thursday, March 14, 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.
Location to be announced

For more information about how to engage, visit the Get Involved section of the Comprehensive Plan Update website at

BPS E-News: Code update means easier process for home fixes in historic/conservation Districts

Issue 21, February 2013

Homeowners in Portland’s historic and conservation districts will have an easier time making minor modifications to their homes when a proposed set of code amendments is adopted. In response to community concerns about the time and expense involved in historic design review, the Bureaus of Planning and Sustainability and Development Services developed this proposal in collaboration with homeowners, remodelers and historic resource advocates.

The goal of the Historic Resources Code Improvement Project is to streamline the regulatory process around historic design review. The project team has been looking at ways to create a quicker, easier-to-understand and more predictable review process for projects with minor impacts on historic resources, as well as clarifying code definitions and other code clean-up measures.

On Jan. 22, 2013, the Planning and Sustainability Commission held a public hearing to consider the Proposed Historic Resources Code Improvement Project Zoning Code Amendments, and voted to forward a package of recommended Zoning Code Amendments to City Council.

What happens next?

Council is expected to hold a hearing on the code amendments on Feb. 27, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. The recommended report will be available the first week of February. The adopted code amendments will be effective 37 days after the City Council vote.

After adoption, the project team will continue its work to improve the regulatory process and provide benefits to homeowners in the historic and conservation districts. The code amendments may also allow the Bureau of Development Services to reduce historic review fees for smaller projects in the near future.

For more information about the project and how to get involved, please visit the project website at or call 503-823-5869.