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Portland plans for the future: City’s Draft Comprehensive Plan Update Ready for Review

Long-range plan will help city manage expected population and employment growth

Portland isn’t perfect, but it’s a place where people want to live … because of its size, public transit, natural beauty and friendly culture. But it probably would not have become the city it is today without the visionary long-range planning of 30 years ago. Back then, the city’s biggest concerns were improving air quality and revitalizing the downtown. Portlanders created the city’s first Comprehensive Plan to address those issues. 

Today, we face a new set of challenges: creating more jobs, ensuring our students are qualified to do them, protecting our valuable natural resources, making transportation options more accessible, preserving our distinct neighborhoods, and addressing racial and ethnic disparities. 

The Comprehensive Plan Update 

The City of Portland is now updating its Comprehensive Plan to help manage expected population and employment growth and coordinate major public investments in livability, parks, roads, sewers, business districts and more over the next 20 years. The update will be informed by and help implement the Portland Plan, a strategic plan for a prosperous, educated, healthy, equitable and resilient city. It will also build on the community’s vision created through visionPDX.

While the Portland Plan set goals and policies for economic development, housing, education, transportation and watershed health, the Comprehensive Plan Update 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 for healthy and prosperous development throughout the city. These ideas will then be represented through a set of maps and a list of capital projects. 

Read and comment on the Working Draft Part 1

The Working Draft Part 1 of the Comprehensive Plan Update — available now — 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. The Working Draft Part 2, available this summer, will include draft maps and a draft list of capital projects. 

Printed copies are also available at Multnomah County libraries throughout the city and at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

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.

Citywide Workshops Offer Chance to Learn and Comment

Portlanders can help shape this long-range plan for the future of Portland’s communities and neighborhoods by participating in the update of the Comprehensive Plan. In February and March, City staff and partners will be sharing information and soliciting feedback through a series of community workshops in seven locations. 

Workshop Dates and Locations

Comments and Input Welcome

There are many opportunities to participate in the update of the Comprehensive Plan, including:

  • Comment online: Submit a comment using an online form.

  • Send an email:
  • Subscribe to the Comprehensive Plan Update E-newsletter.
  • Attend a PEG discussion: The eight Policy Expert Groups will be reviewing and discussing the draft goals and policies in their monthly meetings. You can find meeting dates, locations and agendas on the Comprehensive Plan Update website’s Meetings and Events calendar or on the Policy Expert Groups page. All meetings are open to the public.
  • Request a meeting: Neighborhood, business, interest-based and community groups may host a Comprehensive Plan Update presentation and discussion.
  • Complete a survey: Coming soon!

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

Process and Next Steps

The updated Comprehensive Plan is being developed based on the Policy Expert Groups’ input, community discussions and technical analysis, including the facts and data gathered in the Background Reports developed during the Portland Plan process. The plan will be reviewed by the Planning and Sustainability Commission and adopted by City Council in 2014. Later phases of the project will include the development, review and adoption of key implementation measures, such as zoning and code amendments. Future refinement planning will address issues and topics that require additional study or community input.

Bureau releases Natural Resource Packet for Planning and Sustainability Commission

Packet to provide background and discussion information for January 29th

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) forwarded a packet of material for the January 29th Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) West Hayden Island (WHI) Work Session on natural resources. This session will be held from 4-7 p.m. Materials that are included in the packet and will be discussed at the work session include: natural resource mitigation, ownership, and tribal interests. The elements of the packet sent to the PSC are available here for the public to access. 

You can find more information on the work session at the BPS WHI Calendar.

Planning and Sustainability Commission Makes Recommendation to City Council: Adopt Historic Resources Code Amendment Package

Making it easier for homeowners to make minor home improvements in the City’s historic and conservation districts.

At a public hearing on Jan. 22, 2013, the Planning and Sustainability Commission reviewed code amendments that will make it easier for homeowners to make minor home improvements in the City’s historic and conservation districts.

Staff gave an overview of the project and answered several clarifying questions from commissioners. After testimony from 14 people, the commission voted to forward the package of Zoning Code Amendments from the January 7 report. Included in that recommendation were seven additional staff-recommended amendments and three specific requests to City Council in response to testimony, including: 

  1. Encourage the Bureau of Development Services to promptly create a user friendly handout explaining how historic resources are regulated. This is in response to repeated concerns that the regulations are too complex for the general public to understand.
  2. Clearly state when and by how much any potential fee reductions could be implemented. This was a common theme for all testifiers.
  3. Direct the bureaus of Development Services and Planning and Sustainability to return to the Planning and Sustainability Commission after a year to evaluate the success of code amendments in achieving the project goals. 

City Council is expected to hold a hearing on the recommended Zoning Code Amendments on Feb. 27, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. The recommended report will be available the first week of February.

PSC News: January 22, 2013 meeting recap and documents

Historic Resources Code Improvement Project – hearing/recommendation; Comp Plan Update – briefing; West Hayden Island Draft Plan – work session


  • Historic Resources Code Improvement Project – hearing/recommendation     
  • Comp Plan Update – briefing
  • West Hayden Island Draft Plan – work session

Meeting files:

An archive of meeting minutes, documents and audio recordings of all Planning and Sustainability Commission meetings are available at

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