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Comprehensive Plan Update community workshops spur thoughtful discussions

e-newsletter April 2013

During February and March, Portlanders attended seven community workshops to learn about and discuss the Comprehensive Plan Update goals and policies. In schools and community centers around the city, community members engaged with City staff and neighbors through interactive exercises and conversations about housing, transportation, urban design, infrastructure investments, growth scenarios, economic development, watershed health and industrial land supply.

Developing a comprehensive plan requires many conversations between community members, staff, technical experts and stakeholders. We’re fortunate to have such highly engaged and committed participants and partners in the process, ensuring that the final product will be reflective of Portlanders’ values and vision.


Policy Survey and Online Commenting

Portland’s existing Comprehensive Plan was developed in the 1970s and adopted in 1980, when the city’s primary concern was revitalizing downtown. But the 1980 plan doesn’t mention watershed health, climate change or equity … major issues facing Portland today. These and other concerns around housing and jobs are complex and many layered, requiring thoughtful consideration and broad input from Portland’s many different communities and interest groups.

To help address these issues and answer some larger questions, the project team developed a policy survey . Feedback from the survey will help staff refine the goals and policies in the Working Draft Part 1. Staff have been using the survey questions to prompt discussions at the workshops and other group settings, and solicit valuable input about the community’s many preferences and opinions.

So far, nearly 300 people have filled out the survey online and another 200 have submitted comments via an online feedback form, correspondence and talking with City staff. Thank you to the hundreds of Portlanders who have taken the time to respond so thoughtfully.  

The online survey is open until May 1. You can help us hit our goal of 500 responses by taking the survey here.


Other Outreach Efforts and Next Steps

Even if you missed the community workshops on the Comprehensive Plan goals and policies, there are still several ways to get involved and share ideas about how and where the City should develop as it grows. In addition to the online survey, staff are meeting with several community groups each week, and will soon start tabling at community-wide events (e.g., Sunday Parkways, Portland Parks Summer Concert Series, street and community fairs) in the spring and summer. Feedback from the community during this time will help guide refinements to Part 1 as well as the upcoming land use maps in Part 2.


Coming next: Working Draft Part 2

Part 2 of the Comprehensive Plan Working Draft will be published in mid-summer. It will include a series of maps (including an updated Urban Design Framework, land use designations, etc.) and first drafts of the Citywide System Plan, including infrastructure project lists.

To prepare Working Draft Part 2, the City’s District Liaisons will be talking with stakeholders during the spring to gather district-specific information, comments, preferences and ideas to shape draft maps and connect the policies with geographically specific mapping possibilities. For more information, please contact your District Liaison  or call 503-823-7700.

In early fall, the City will hold another series of community workshops focused on mapping questions and infrastructure choices. The goal is to refine land use maps and infrastructure plans based on fall workshop input and publish a Proposed Draft Comprehensive Plan Map in December 2013, for Planning and Sustainability Commission and City Council consideration and discussion in early 2014. 

The Barbur Concept Plan heads to City Council for adoption

e-newsletter April 2013

The Portland City Council will hold a public hearing on the Barbur Concept Plan on April 24, 2013. The Concept Plan identifies seven catalytic focus areas along the six-mile-long boulevard — places where there is a community desire for change — and establishes a unifying vision for this historic transportation corridor as a more accessible, vibrant place.

On Feb. 26, after hearing from the community, the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) voted unanimously to forward the recommended Concept Plan to City Council. The Commission also heard a compelling story about the vision for this important corridor.

That vision takes advantage of existing strengths in each area, situated in four unique segments (Lair Hill, The Woods, Historic Highway and Far Southwest) and proposes several innovative ideas to enhance each unique area and promote public and private investment (see page 26 of the Concept Plan).

The vision is supported by an economic analysis of what the market would support and when. The report’s key finding is that future high capacity transit (HCT) is a necessary ingredient to making the vision real. Public investments in high capacity transit (light rail or bus rapid transit) have been shown to stimulate redevelopment. High capacity transit would be a key piece to realizing many of the changes envisioned in the Concept Plan.


Barbur Boulevard’s Past

Barbur was first a railroad route that was converted to an auto boulevard in the 1920s, linking downtown to other parts of Southwest Portland. When Barbur became part of the state highway system (99W), early commercial development was tailored to the automobile and traveler services. When I-5 was built in the 1950s, Barbur continued to serve regional traffic — but without the funding and attention that a standalone highway might receive. Consequently, the southwest neighborhoods continue to advocate for basic pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements. With Metro's SW Corridor Plan underway, the time is right to consider how to complete this roadway’s transformation from a rail line, to a highway, and now to a civic corridor that offers an enjoyable place for people to live, work, play and learn.


What’s Next?

A week after the hearing, the City Council will vote on the plan by resolution as non-binding City policy. The plan identifies future actions that will need to correspond to future regional decisions about HCT and other major infrastructure investments in the corridor. This will ensure that Barbur, the adjoining neighborhoods and the City can take advantage of opportunities when they arise to move the community's shared vision forward.

A copy of the recommended concept plan is now available for the public to review.

Your comments are appreciated in person or via:


Fax: (503) 823-4571 (attn Council Clerk)

Mail: 1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 140, Portland, OR 97204.


SW Corridor Plan

Metro is leading a comprehensive planning effort to create livable and sustainable communities along the corridor between Portland, Tigard and Sherwood through integrated community investments in land use and transportation. A major component of this effort is to determine the mode of transit (e.g. light rail, bus rapid transit) and alignment (e.g. Barbur or I-5). Metro is in the early stages of evaluating alternatives and is expecting to narrow the wide range of alternatives into a handful by this summer. For more information, please visit

The project team is working to schedule the following events and public involvement tools. Once confirmed, the events will be added to the project calendar on the SW Corridor website

  • April online open house - Beginning mid-April, catch up with the Southwest Corridor Plan by viewing the online open house.
  • Project bundle evaluation results - Evaluation results of the project bundles will be released by mid-May.
  • Opt In survey, May 20 through 28 (unconfirmed) - Using Metro's Opt In program, participants will be able to respond to the evaluation results and how they connect to regional and local values. Learn about and join the Opt In panel.
  • Community Planning Forum, May 23 (unconfirmed) - Learn more about the evaluation results and offer your thoughts on what priorities should be included in the plan's investment package.
  • June online open house - Beginning mid-June, review the initial concepts for the final investment package and offer your comments for the steering committee's decisions on how to move forward.


West Quadrant Plan project up and running

e-newsletter April 2013

What is the West Quadrant Plan?

Guided by the Central City 2035 Concept Plan, the West Quadrant Plan will examine a range of issues  in the western areas of the Central City, including:

  • land use
  • urban design
  • transportation
  • environmental impacts
  • economic development

This effort will result in recommendations for policies to guide future public and private investment and development in the western areas of the Central City, including the River District (the Pearl District and Old Town/Chinatown), Downtown, Goose Hollow, University District and South Waterfront areas.

Under the 1972 Downtown Plan and the 1988 Central City Plan, public, private and nonprofit investment on the west side resulted in the development of Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the MAX lines, the Transit Mall and Retail Core, Saturday Market, the streetcar system, Pioneer Courthouse Square and new public art. With all that development momentum, the Central City 2035 and West Quadrant Plan will build upon the vision and direction provided by these earlier plans, while reinforcing the new strategic concept of the Central City as the center of innovation and exchange for the region.

Planning process

West Quadrant Reader report coverTo kick off the West Quadrant Plan, the project team developed the West Quadrant Reader and an accompanying online survey. A short newspaper-like document outlining issues, opportunities and ideas for Portland’s West Quadrant, the Reader is a starting point for the public conversation about the West Quadrant and will help people give feedback via the online survey. The West Quadrant Issues and Opportunities Survey  seeks community input on topics such as housing, transportation and neighborhood services. It’s available online through May 10, 2013.

In the past few months, the West Quadrant Plan team held three major public events, including the first two West Quadrant Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) meetings, a planning forum and charrette for the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood and similar efforts for Goose Hollow. Attendance has been high, and feedback enthusiastic and informative. For more information and updates on the WQP project, please visit the News & Updates page of the CC2035 website. 

Together the discussions from the SAC meetings, ideas from neighborhood events (such as those in Old Town/Chinatown and Goose Hollow) and feedback from the survey will feed into the advisory committee’s work and shape the West Quadrant Charrette, scheduled for June 10-14, 2013. The charrette will lead into concepts development and a draft plan.

How you can get involved 

Future public events for the West Quadrant Plan will include open houses, community meetings, working groups and specific efforts targeted at smaller sub-areas in the district (e.g., Downtown, South Waterfront, West End, North Pearl). Each of these present an opportunity for community members to get involved, ask questions, provide feedback and contribute to the future of the area. To learn more about upcoming events, check out the project calendar. We hope to see you in the coming months!

Questions or comments?

Contact West Quadrant Plan staff at

BPS celebrates another successful Fix-It Fair season

e-newsletter April 2013

Since 1986, the Fix-It Fairs have helped Portland residents to save money while creating healthy homes for themselves, their families and the environment. 

This season, the Fix-It Fair served a diverse mix of 1,900 primarily low-and moderate-income residents in North, outer Northeast and outer Southeast Portland. More than 60 community partners exhibited, offering valuable resources and information to help attendees grow food at home, reduce water and energy usage, avoid lead paint exposure and much more.

From offering interactive training on basic home repair, planning nutritious meals, to demonstrating tree care, this season’s fairs featured 110 workshops. The information booths and workshops offered tools and inspiration to help attendees take charge of their personal health, finances, and their homes, inside and out.

The Ron Russell Fair in southeast Portland featured five workshops conducted in Spanish on topics specifically serving the needs of the Latino community.

Commenting on a budgeting workshop at a Fair, one resident said the presenter  “was super positive, incorporated audience ideas with enthusiasm, and helped me realize budgeting is fun, quick, and not another life stress.”

Another person who attended a kid-friendly gardening workshop said “I was here for [a later class] and just came in early to sit, but this was great. Easy to plant and easy to grow with high likelihood of success. That’s what I need!”

To ensure that the Fairs served a diverse range of residents, grassroots outreach efforts were employed. These included ads in community newspapers such as El Hispanic News, Portland Observer, Asian Reporter and The Skanner; radio promotion on KBOO’s Armando Puentes program and Bustos Media; and cable promotion on Univisión. Community partners also leveraged their communication networks and canvassed neighborhoods and popular local venues with fair material.

Fix-it Fairs are sponsored by BPS, Energy Trust of Oregon, Legacy Emmanuel Medical Center, Pacific Power, Portland Housing Bureau and Portland General.

A special thank you also goes to those City bureaus and offices that participate in the Fairs: Bureau of Development Services, Bureau of Environmental Services, Bureau of Emergency Management, Bureau of Transportation, Housing Bureau, Parks and Recreation, Water Bureau and the Portland Children’s Levy.


Code amendments for new apartments and parking adopted by City Council

e-newsletter April 2013

On April 10, 2013, City Council voted to adopt Zoning Code amendments for parking minimums, which will apply to some future apartment buildings depending on their location and size. The vote followed a five-and-a-half-hour public hearing at City Council the week before, at which dozens of people testified for and against parking minimums. Amendments proposed by Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz were included in the adopted code, which will go into effect in 30 days. Projects that have already received a building permit or that have submitted a complete permit application will not be affected.

Mayor Charlie Hales said the vision of urban planning remains, but must be modified from time to time to address the changing reality.

“We had a vision for main streets and we still do,” Hales said. “This doesn’t mean we’re moving away from our vision; it just means we’re adjusting. And you know what? We likely will have to do this again in the future.”

Read the adopted New Apartments and Parking Zoning Code Amendments 

Highlights of the Code Amendments

The revised regulations will apply to new apartment buildings with more than 30 units that are within 500 feet of a street with frequent transit service or 1,500 feet of a MAX station, and in certain commercial zones. The amount of parking required depends on the size of the building. For example, buildings with 31 to 40 units will have to provide one parking space per five units, while larger buildings will be required to provide more. But developers will be able reduce their parking obligations up to half by providing various amenities, such as spaces for car- or bike-sharing services.


Portland's first Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 1980, includes goals and policies to “... regulate off-street parking to promote good urban form and the vitality of commercial and employment areas.” In the early ’90s, City officials rewrote the Zoning Code and included three new commercial zones to promote main street storefront character with mixed use/residential development.

Today, historically low vacancy rates, especially in inner Portland, have resulted in a boom of apartment construction, many without onsite parking. In response to community concerns about potential parking impacts, the City Council directed the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to research the issue and develop Zoning Code amendments that require some parking for larger multi-unit buildings.

For more information about the research and study reports or to read the FAQ, visit the project web page.