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LCDC upholds Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan

State land use commission rejects six appeals to adopted plan.

The Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) voted on March 15, 2018, to reject six appeals that had been filed in December to block elements of Portland's newly adopted Comprehensive Plan. The 20-year plan includes new land use policies, land use maps and zoning, and new public facilities plans.

Appeals from the Multnomah Neighborhood Association cited objections to mixed use zoning in Multnomah Village and the “middle housing” policy adopted with the new plan. The neighborhood association also objected to new community engagement policies adopted with the plan. Another appeal concerned the zoning designation of a property in the Arnold Creek area. 

State officials are now expected to prepare a written order implementing the Commission’s decision. The LCDC decision may be appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals. If the LCDC decision is not appealed, the plan will be considered “acknowledged” by the state. 

The plan is scheduled to go into effect on May 24, 2018. 


Appeals are filed against Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan

The state Land Conservation and Development Commission will likely hear the appeals in March 2018.

The life of a new comprehensive plan in Oregon is complicated. Even after it is adopted by city leaders, it still must go through several rounds of review, checks and balances before it goes into effect.

Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan was adopted by City Council in June 2016. After that, city planners sent the new plan to the state for acknowledgement. While being considered by the state, community members who participated in the local decision-making process had a period in which they could file an objection to the plan with the Department of Land Conversation and Development (DLCD).

Several objections were filed against the plan earlier this year, but DLCD rejected them all in a recent order. The Multnomah Neighborhood Association and one other individual subsequently filed appeals of that DLCD decision with the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC).

Multnomah’s appeal cites objections to the mixed-use zoning in Multnomah Village, and the “middle housing” policy adopted with the new plan. In October, the City published draft proposals to implement the new policy through the Residential Infill Project.

The other appeal concerns the zoning designation of a property in the Arnold Creek area. 

LCDC to hear the appeals in March

The LCDC will likely consider the appeals at their scheduled March 2018 meeting in Salem. State officials would then prepare a written order implementing the Commission’s decision, which could take several months. The City Council recently delayed the effective date of the adopted plan until May 24, 2018, to allow time for that order to be issued. The LCDC decision may be appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals.

The 2035 Comprehensive Plan includes new land use policies, land use maps and zoning, and new public facilities plans. A positive ruling from LCDC would solidify the planned May 24 effective date. 

State approves Portland's 2035 Comprehensive Plan

The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) issues an order rejecting challenges to the city’s new Comp Plan

On Dec. 5, 2017, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) issued an order both approving Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan and responding to objections raised against the new plan and associated implementation measures. 

The new comprehensive plan was adopted by the Portland City Council in June of 2016. The plan includes a new policy document, updated land use map designations, and a new Citywide Systems Plan, which includes both a Public Facilities Plan and Transportation System Plan. In December of 2016 Council also adopted a corresponding set of Zoning Code and Zoning Map updates.

In the DLCD press release the agency’s director stated, “Portland is an attractive city with lots of people moving there each year. The city council had to make difficult choices about how to best accommodate the expected growth. Our review found the plan to be consistent with the state’s requirements for efficient, managed use of land.” The agency also noted, “Portland’s plan also includes a focus on equitable decision-making. A new section of the plan includes a commitment to more fully engage both conventional and less traditional communities within the city when considering land use and investment choices.”

Periodic Review provides for objections  

Under Oregon land use law, the state must approve local comprehensive plans for consistency with the Statewide Planning Goals. The new plan was produced under that state mandate called “Periodic Review.” The plan was originally scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. This was designed to allow time for the State of Oregon, through the DLCD, to review the plan.

Periodic Review provides opportunities for people who participated in the local planning process to object to state approval. The DLCD then considers objections and issues an order. About a dozen individuals and organizations objected to the adopted plan. Several organizations filed multiple objections.

The DLCD's order invalidated some objections and rejected the remainder. Now, there is another opportunity for people who filed valid, but rejected, objections to request a hearing before the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). 

Ordinance delays effective date of the plan

Last week City Council passed an ordinance delaying the effective date of the new plan until May 24, 2018, at 1 p.m. to provide time for a possible LCDC hearing. The City will learn if any valid objectors have requested an LCDC hearing by late December.

Proposal to shift the implementation date of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan

New effective date would be May 23, 2018

Although the 2035 Comprehensive Plan was adopted in June 2016, the effective date was set as Jan. 1, 2018. A deferred effective date allowed time for the State of Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) to approve or “acknowledge” the plan. This is required because the new plan was the result of a state-mandated “Periodic Review” of Portland’s land use system. This is a once-every-20-years overhaul that follows a slightly different process than more routine zoning amendments.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is proposing an ordinance to shift the effective date of the new plan to May 23, 2018. Staff explained that the further delay is necessary to allow the state time to evaluate several objections filed over the plan adoption. 

The state review process allows people who participated in local deliberations an opportunity to object to the final plan. The City sent notices of adoption to participants, in several installments, earlier this year. Several individuals and organizations subsequently filed objections with DLCD.

The state agency is now preparing a response to those objections and will likely issue an order before the end of the year. After that, objectors will have the opportunity to appeal that decision to the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC). The LCDC members are appointed by the Governor and oversee the statewide land use system. If the DLCD’s order is appealed by one or more objectors, LCDC would likely hold a hearing in March 2018. An order formalizing the commission’s decision would be prepared after that. The new May 23, 2018, date allows that process to be completed before the plan goes into effect.

Although the City of Portland could choose to have the plan go into effect before it is acknowledged by the state, that path introduces some risks. For example, any land use decisions made under the new plan during the "effective but unacknowledged" period would have an extra burden of documenting direct compliance with state land use goals. Staff have advised City Council against adding that complexity to the development review process.

Although it will be several more months before the LCDC issues its decision, an ordinance is being proposed now to provide more certainty. Several other City plans rest on the foundation of the new Comprehensive Plan, including the Central City 2035 Plan and the Residential Infill Project. These related projects cannot be adopted until the new plan is in effect.

For more information about the Periodic Review process and further news about the state’s review of the plan, please visit the BPS website covering the Transition to the New Plan

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has requested that City Council consider the proposed ordinance. Commissioners will hold first reading on the ordinance on November 29. Please check the Council Agenda to confirm.

Community members sought for new advisory committee for land use plans

Members will monitor Comprehensive Plan-related public engagement efforts on a new Community Involvement Committee.

Would you like to help ensure that community members are involved in the way the City plans for change? Want to learn more about long range planning? Care about equitable and transparent public processes? Feel the need to get involved in civic life? Then, read on …

To support City of Portland planners and other staff to do inclusive and thoughtful public engagement efforts, Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan calls for the creation of a volunteer body to oversee the City’s community involvement efforts for long range planning efforts.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is establishing a new advisory committee of community volunteers called the Community Involvement Committee (CIC). And we need a variety of voices and perspectives.

The CIC will review projects that make changes to the Zoning Code and Zoning Map, which set the rules about how people can build on and use their properties. The committee will advise staff on how to do the best possible community engagement for these projects. The CIC will not, however, decide how the rules are changed or what gets built where.

What the CIC will do

Committee members will be able to work closely with planners in designing and evaluating processes for land use planning projects. Members will not only direct changes in community involvement practices in land use but develop expertise in land use planning issues, tools and processes as well. Learn more about the CIC.

The application process for the Community Involvement Committee has been extended with a new deadline of November 20. We are seeking members who demonstrate:

  • Commitment to advocating for and representing the goals and policies in Chapter 2 of the Comprehensive Plan.
  • Enthusiasm for seeking out and exploring new knowledge and approaches to community involvement in planning.
  • Ability to work collaboratively and productively with people of diverse perspectives and experience.
  • Commitment to transparency and equity in community involvement.

Applications will be accepted through 9 a.m. on November 20, 2017. If you have questions, please contact Sara Wright at 503-823-7728 or

Interested community members can apply here.