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From BPS Director Susan Anderson: Easy Livin' in Portland

It’s summertime in Portland – and this fabulous weather and stunning natural beauty really puts the city’s best features on display! So naturally, it’s the time of year that lots of tourists and other visitors come to Portland. You can see them on the streetcar and MAX lines, and walking around the central city armed with a map and backpack.

What’s not to love about the Park Blocks, or Powell’s, Portland State, or Waterfront Park? Residents and tourists alike seek out these signature places because they offer peaceful respite along tree-lined boulevards, or myriad adventures in the many books inside the world’s largest book store, or countless opportunities to experience the Willamette River while listening to music, biking or strolling along the waterfront, or dining al fresco on a warm summer evening.

Great cities are made up of wonderful places like these, where people come together and enjoy urban amenities — like shops, restaurants, parks, bike and walking paths, entertainment, museums — as well as jobs and housing. When they all come together in one place, you get a vibrant city center.

The west side of Portland’s Central City has all of these amenities – but we also know it could have more.

Currently, we’re working on making the Central City a place with more livable neighborhoods — neighborhoods being the key word. A place with not just jobs, but different kinds of housing to provide for our growing population, more parks for kids and families, and more grocery stores and other services to meet residents’ daily needs. We’re also trying to create more opportunities for businesses —  large and small — to find a niche and fill it. And, provide safer, greener ways to get around — for transportation and recreation.

In June, Central City planners held a week-long charrette to find ways to help the West Quadrant (which runs from the River District to South Waterfront and Goose Hollow to Old Town/Chinatown) to the next level of urban evolution. Working with colleagues and partners from other bureaus — such as  Parks, Environmental Services, Development Services, Transportation, Housing Bureau, Development Services and Portland Development Commission — the project team guided participants through a process to generate new ideas for a more livable, attractive and prosperous central west side. Advisory committee members of the CC2035 Concept Plan and West Quadrant Plan, as well as PSU planners and students, the Portland Business Alliance, social service agencies, neighborhood residents, business owners and others joined the work sessions at strategic points along the way.

What emerged from this highly collaborative process was an affirmation of some old ideas that are working well, and some new concepts to lead Portland to a more prosperous and healthy future. A recap of the charrette is included in our Central City story in this issue.

I’d like to thank our partners and fellow collaborators for their contributions to this exciting work. Their passion for the West Quadrant is shared by many people in the community who have a goal for a more vibrant, livable place to work and live.

Here’s to a long-lasting and sunny summer!


susan anderson signature

Susan Anderson


City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability