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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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Below you'll find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions. 

For a one-on-one conversation, contact the Comprehensive Plan Helpline at 503-823-0195.

What is the Comprehensive Plan?

The Comprehensive Plan is a long-range plan for Portland’s growth, change and improvements for the next 20 years. It consists of goals and policies, maps, a list of significant capital projects, a Citywide System Plan and portions of the Transportation System Plan.

After hearing testimony from thousands of Portlanders, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) voted to recommend adoption of the Comprehensive Plan on July 28, 2015. The PSC’s Recommended Draft Comprehensive Plan has been forwarded to the Portland City Council for consideration and a new round of public hearings in the fall. The PSC’s Recommended Draft Land Use and Transportation System Plan maps are displayed in this Map App.

What is the Transportation System Plan (TSP)?

The Transportation System Plan (TSP) is the City’s long-range plan to guide transportation investments. Portland originally developed its Transportation System Plan in 2002 and it was last updated in 2007. Periodic updates of the TSP are mandated by the State of Oregon.

The TSP meets state and regional planning requirements and addresses local transportation needs for cost-effective street, transit, freight, bicycle, and pedestrian improvements. The plan will provide transportation options for residents, employees, visitors, and firms doing business in Portland, making it more convenient to walk, bike, take transit — and drive less — while meeting their daily needs. The TSP provides a balanced transportation system to support neighborhood livability and economic development.

What is the difference between the Comprehensive Plan Map and zoning?

Both depict how land can be used and developed over time, using a set of “designations” and “zones” (shown as colors on the maps). Both show broad categories of uses, such as residential, mixed use, industrial, employment and open space. They also convey information about the scale of future development (the type and size of buildings). 

The Comprehensive Plan Map is about the future…
The Comprehensive Plan Map depicts a long-term vision of how and where the city will grow and change over the next 20 years to accommodate expected population and job growth.

The Zoning Map is about what is allowed today…
Decisions about Comprehensive Plan designations directly guide subsequent decisions about zoning. The City’s Zoning Map tells us how land can be used and what can be built on any given property today. Zones are more specific than the Comprehensive Plan designations and come with a set of rules (included in the City’s Zoning Code) that clarify what uses are allowed (e.g., residences, businesses, manufacturing), and how buildings may be developed or changed (e.g., maximum heights and required setbacks from property lines).

The Comp Plan Map and the Zoning Map are like a leader and a follower. The plan map is the leading map and the zone map is the following map. The zone map can “catch up” to the plan map, but it can’t go past it.

The plan map is a long-range map saying what will be allowed 20 years from now, while the zone map says what is allowed now. For most properties in the city, what is allowed now and what will be allowed 20 years from now are essentially the same.

When will draft zoning proposals be ready to view?

Proposed Commercial/Mixed Use and Employment zones will be added to the Map App in late September 2015, followed by proposed residential and open space zone updates in late October 2015. Check the BPS calendar for opportunities to learn more and weigh in. 

When will proposed Comprehensive Plan and zoning changes go into effect?

Not until 2017.This allows time following City Council adoption in 2016 for the State of Oregon to “acknowledge” the plan, and for any appeals that may be filed.

How do I provide testimony on the Comprehensive Plan?

See How to Comment for the four ways in which you can provide testimony about the Comp Plan to City Council.

How do I provide input on proposed zoning updates?

Zoning updates that implement the Comprehensive Plan include the Mixed Use Zones Project (map and code), the Employment Zoning Project (map and code), and the Campus Institutional Zoning Project (code only). These will be followed by proposed residential and open space zoning map updates.

You will be able to weigh in on each of these projects at different times and in different ways, depending on the stage the project is at. Each project will have a “discussion draft,” an initial proposal for public review. The public is invited to provide comments directly to staff. This early input informs the preparation of a “proposed draft,” which then is presented to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC). The PSC holds public hearings and invites testimony in writing and in person.

Check for most recent information on each project webpage.