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Proposal to shift the implementation date of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan

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.