Last week, Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) voted to recommend a new Comprehensive Plan to City Council. The draft 2035 Plan provides a framework to guide the city's growth and development over the next 20 years (through 2035). It includes a land use map, policy document and a list of needed public facilities (infrastructure investments).
The Plan addresses a broad range of topics, including economic development, housing, environmental protection, transportation, infrastructure investments and community involvement. Accompanying public facility plans identify needed transportation improvements (such as sidewalks, bikeways and new transit lines) as well as improvements to parks and public buildings; and water, stormwater and sewer systems.
Vote by vote, commissioners praise the Plan and the public
As the vote was called, each of the 11 commissioners shared his or her thoughts about the Plan and the process of creating it.
PSC Chair Andre Baugh thanked the people of Portland. “You’ve probably spent more time on this plan than we have, telling us what you want. We hope we put that in the plan,” he said. Chair Baugh then acknowledged his fellow commissioners. “You shared, you listened, allowing the community to understand that we heard them. This plan will endure for 20 years. It’s more than a land use plan. It’s about values.”
Public process leads to a better plan
The PSC received more than 4,000 public comments on the plan. They held five public hearings and more than a dozen work sessions over the course of 12 months. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will incorporate a list of amendments requested by the Commission in June and July, and publish a complete Recommended Draft by late August. The City Council will take up the Commission's recommendation this fall, holding its own work sessions and public hearings before adopting the new plan.
Plan ensures a healthy connected city
Physician and former Multnomah County Health Department Officer Gary Oxman spoke about how the Plan “supports a healthy community where people can really thrive in a very complete sense, enjoying physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being.”
“I think it’s a great plan,” said longtime commissioner Don Hanson. “It has so much content, so much depth.”
Another PSC veteran, land use attorney Michelle Rudd, said, “I deal with reviewing plans every day, so I appreciate all the substance in this plan. It has multiple objectives and broad strategies to get us to success.”
“When I first became involved in land use planning 35 years ago,” recalled Mike Houck, one of Portland’s most committed environmentalists, “I was told, ‘There’s no place for nature in the city.’ We’ve come to realize that human health and economic success require environmental health. With this new plan, we’re creating a resilient city and ecosystem.”
Said Vice-chair Howard Shapiro, “Each of you contributed immensely to delivering this very elegant document. It’s a wonderful template for the city. But we need a good epilogue that says why we’re doing this. I think it’s about a sense of the common good … building bridges for the common good.”
The newest member of the Commission, Teresa St Martin, echoed that sentiment, “I’m impressed by the Commissioners, the stakeholders and by the excellent work of staff. So many hearts and minds have contributed to a healthy connected city.”
Community Involvement Committee report
Prior to voting, Commissioners heard from the Comprehensive Plan Update Community Involvement Committee, the oversight body for public engagement. Representatives spoke about the legacy of their work on the advisory body, which began with the Portland Plan six years ago. They shared community engagement highlights over the course of the entire project, including the policy expert groups (PEGs), the interactive Map App, the Comp Plan helpline, neighborhood walks, open houses, tabling at events, “office hours,” advertising, mailings, e-newletters, videos, social media channels, and special efforts to reach under-represented and underserved populations, including Portlanders who speak a foreign language.
Under state law all Oregon cities must have comprehensive plans showing how 20 years of job and housing growth can be accommodated. And these plans must be updated periodically (state Periodic Review). Portland's first Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1980. Part of the plan was updated in the 1990s, but this is the first complete overhaul of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan.
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