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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

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Calling all nature lovers, boaters, kayakers, paddle boarders, swimmers, hikers, residents and anyone else interested in the future of the Willamette River

The River Plan / South Reach Discussion Draft ready for review; public comments welcome until November 27, 2019.

Over the past 18 months the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff have been talking with interested groups and individuals during topic-specific meetings and community walks along the river as well as at visioning sessions, open houses and meetings hosted by others. River planners used this information to the develop the River Plan / South Reach Discussion Draft. View the Discussion Draft here. Comments on the Discussion Draft are due on Nov. 27, 2019.   

What’s in it?

The River Plan / South Reach is an update to the Willamette Greenway Plan for the south reach of the Willamette River. The Discussion Draft includes the following early recommendations:

Watershed Health and Resilience

  • Apply new River Overlay zones, which include a 50-foot river setback and new bird-safe glazing, exterior lighting and landscaping requirements.
  • Update floodplain development regulations to reduce flood risk and expand salmon and steelhead habitat.
  • Identify habitat restoration opportunities in key river and upland areas. 

Recreation and Scenic Resources

  • Increase access to in the Willamette Greenway Trail network.
  • Complete planning and identify implementation funding for the Ross Island/Oaks Bottom/Sellwood Riverfront Park complex and the former Staff Jennings site. 
  • Develop culturally specific City programming and activities.
  • Allow a small amount of river recreation-supportive retail in three South Reach parks.
  • Expand partnerships that address boater education, safety and enforcement.
  • Designate and protect the unique views of the South Reach.

Tribal Engagement and Collaboration

  • Work with tribal nations and the urban native community to identify culturally significant locations, natural resources and practices that honor and perpetuate tribal customs, traditions and culture. 

Riverfront Communities

  • Ensure all nearby neighborhoods have safe and convenient access to the riverfront.
  • Improve coordination and services to the houseless communities, while reducing impacts on natural resources.  

Review the Discussion Draft.

Learn more at an open house

Project staff are hosting an open house to share information about the discussion draft and hear what community members have to say about it. Refreshments will be provided.

River Plan / South Reach Discussion Draft Open House
Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019
9 - 11:30 a.m.
Center for Equity and Inclusion
5757 SW Macadam Avenue
Portland, OR
TriMet: #35

Community members review draft concepts for the South Reach of the Willamette River

Nearly 100 people attended an open house in Sellwood earlier this month; city planners will use their input as they develop a draft plan this winter.

On the 1st of December, about 90 people spent their Saturday morning at Llewellyn School reviewing the latest information about the River Plan / South Reach planning efforts. City planners shared what they had learned from a series of Fall public workshops focused on recreation, the environment and land use.

They presented initial concepts and described them through illustrations, code concepts and action items. Participants offered feedback and explored ideas with one another.

View the materials displayed at the open house and a summary of what we heard.

Project staff will consider all the feedback as they develop the first draft of the River Plan / South Reach this winter. Community members will have an opportunity to review and comment on the first draft of the plan in early Spring 2019.

The River Plan / South Reach project will update the Willamette Greenway Plan (1987). It will establish a renewed vision for the area, update existing policies and regulations, identify implementation actions, and prioritize future investments for the South Reach of the Willamette.

What did people say?

Here are a few examples of public input received at the open house:

  • Set new development back from the river at least 50 feet.
  • Require that upper stories of new buildings step back from the river setback.  
  • Add bicycle traffic-calming features, roundabouts, bollards or other features to existing trails that force bicyclists to slow down.
  • Improve and add crosswalks across SW Macadam Avenue to provide safe crossings.
  • Conduct an evaluation of South Reach floodplains and prioritize opportunities to reclaim and restore them.

Miss the open house? Want to review event materials and provide your comments to City planners?

You can review open house materials and submit comments to City planners in an online comment card, or by emailing your comments to

Updated inventory of natural resources in and around the Willamette / South Reach available for public review

Summary of river, river banks, flood plains, tributary streams, wetlands and upland features provides a status report for the river.

Q: Ever wonder who — if anyone(!) — keeps track of the trees, critters, plant species, wetlands and an assortment of other natural resources in and along the Willamette River?

A: That’s the work of environmental planners, who can’t create effective land use plans without knowing what the conditions on the ground (and water) are.

Inventory of natural resources for the South Reach in the works

As part of the River Plan / South Reach project, the City is updating existing environmental management tools and regulations for the South Reach of the Willamette River. The update will help protect and enhance natural resources in the South Reach and ensure the City's continued compliance with local, regional, state and federal regulations for river health and safety.

The first step in this effort is to produce an updated inventory of existing natural resources. The River Plan / South Reach Draft Natural Resources Inventory is now available for review. 

The inventory provides a useful and accessible “status report” on the location of existing natural resource features and their functions. The report includes descriptions and maps of the current condition of riparian corridors and wildlife habitat located within the South Reach, including the river, river banks, flood plains, tributary streams, wetlands and upland features. In the report, the overall River Plan / South Reach study area is broken into five smaller geographic areas for evaluation.  

Comment on the draft Natural Resource Inventory

Public comments on the River Plan / South Reach Natural Resources Inventory are welcome. Please send feedback to; comments accepted until February 1, 2019.

Questions or comments can also be sent to Jeff Caudill at or 503-823-4572.

Some big ideas emerging for the Willamette River’s South Reach

Join fellow community members and City planners to review new directions for development of the River Plan / South Reach.

Over the past few months City planners have been talking with Portlanders about the Willamette River in the South Reach (between the Ross Island Bridge and Dunthorpe). We heard from many residents, recreational enthusiasts, and those who care about the health of the river for people, fish, wildlife and plants.

A few big ideas for the South Reach that we discussed with community members include:

  • Plan for a dock at Oaks Amusement Park. This could be a future river transit stop and/or a public dock for nonmotorized water craft.
  • Expand the river setback to accommodate riverfront trails, vegetation and trees.
  • Recreate the historic channel through Ross Island to reduce algal blooms.

We’ve captured those ideas and more in an illustrative concept drawing below. And during each conversation, we took notes. 

River plan development plan map

We welcome your thoughts on the South Reach – about its present state and possible future. Please join us at an open house where we’ll share community feedback and staff’s initial recommendations. Staff will be developing a first draft of the River Plan / South Reach over the winter. Your input on the plan now matters! 

Open House

Saturday, December 1, 2018
9 – 11:30 a.m.
Llewellyn Elementary School Cafeteria
6301 SE 14th Avenue
Transit: 19, #70

Can’t make it? Missed the community discussions? Use this comment form to share your ideas with us.

More information at:

  • Debbie Bischoff,, 503-823-6946
  • Jeff Caudill,, 503-823-4572 

Bright ideas for Willamette River’s South Reach emerge!

River lovers come together to talk with each other and City planners about recreation, natural resources and adjacent neighborhoods

This fall, the River Plan / South Reach team convened several meetings to discuss key topics about the southern portion of the Willamette River, from the Ross Island Bridge to Dunthorpe. Lots of interested community members offered great insights and suggestions to City planners, and their input will inform future public discussions and help shape the development of the River Plan / South Reach draft plan.

Review the meeting materials as well as notes from the community discussions. boating

Highlights from the first four Fall meetings

September 13: Riverside Recreation

  • Improve trail access and enjoyment for all by increasing directional signage, providing benches and restrooms, establishing a speed limit for bicyclists and separating pedestrians from cyclists.
  • Provide access from Brooklyn neighborhood to Springwater Corridor Trail and the river.
  • Consider a scenic viewpoint between SE Haig and Rhone streets.

September 18: River and Riverbank Areas

  • Expand the greenway setback to accommodate riverfront trails, vegetation and trees.
  • Consider a willing-seller program to buy up flood-prone properties; use these properties for flood storage and habitat areas.

September 25: In-river Recreation

  • Address impacts of wake boats on river recreation, floating homes and riverbank erosion; consider a no-wake zone, education, boat licensing endorsements and enforcement options.
  • Consider a multipurpose dock at Oaks Amusement Park for transporting patrons to/from the park and as a public dock for nonmotorized water craft.

October 4: River and Riverbank Restoration

  • Bring back the historic tidal flow-through area on the west side of Ross Island to reduce algal blooms.
  • Restore Riverview Natural Area streams to provide cold-water habitat for salmon.

River otters by Tom Nelson

Upcoming meetings on the east and west sides

Two more community sessions will focus on the east and west sides of the South Reach. Staff will work with community members to integrate the issues and opportunities they identified and topics they did not discuss previously.

Westside Discussion
Thursday, October 25, 2018, 6 - 8 p.m.
Center for Equity and Inclusion, 5757 SW Macadam Avenue
TriMet #35, #36*, #43* and 99*

Eastside Discussion 
Thursday, November 8, 6 - 8 p.m.
SMILE Station, 8210 SE 13th Avenue
TriMet #99*, #35, #19

*These TriMet lines provide limited bus service. Check schedules.

Photo by Tom Nelson

Finally! Big open house

On December 1, project planners will host an open house to share a summary of the information and feedback gathered to date, present staff’s recommendations for plan development, and share a draft future concept illustration. Staff welcome public comments on all materials provided at the open house.

River Plan / South Reach Public Open House
Saturday, December 1, 9 - 11:30 a.m.
Llewellyn Elementary School Cafeteria, 6301 SE 14th Avenue
TriMet #19, #70

Please contact project staff with any questions about the meetings or the project overall at or call 503-823-4572 or 503-823-6946