Environmental overlay zones protect Portland’s natural resources, including streams, wetlands, forests and wildlife habitat, and minimize risk of damage to homes from natural hazards, including landslide, flooding and wildfire. The protections also mitigate the effects of climate change, such as reducing air temperature, which helps maintain Portland’s livability and access to nature in the city.
The environmental regulations encourage flexibility and innovation in site planning and provide for development that is carefully designed to be sensitive to the natural resources. The environmental overlay zones have been applied across Portland over the past 30 years through district plans.
The purpose of the Environmental Overlay Zone Map Correction Project is to synchronize the location of the overlay zones with the location of existing natural resources identified in the Natural Resources Inventory. This is part of bringing the zoning code into compliance with the 2035 Comprehensive Plan and ensures resources across Portland are mapped accurately and are regulated in a consistent way.
In July 2018, staff began attending community meetings and performing site visits in the Johnson Creek Watershed and Boring Lava Domes. Spring 2019, staff attend meetings and do site visits in the Northwest Hills and Southwest Hills. Finally, the work will finish up in the Columbia Slough Watershed and Columbia RIver in summer 2019. Public hearings and adoption are anticipated 2020.
To do this work, BPS staff will use the existing plans, such as the Southwest Hills Resources Protection Plan (1992) or Johnson Creek Basin Protection Plan (1991), to identify which natural resources should be protected. Then environmental overlay zone boundaries will be corrected to match. Staff will not be introducing any new policies or regulations as part of this project. To see a draft of update environmental overlay zones in Johnson Creek and Outer East, view the ezone map.
Draft environmental overlay zones in the Johnson Creek and Outer East area
For the Environmental Overlay Zone Map Correction Project