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City Council-proposed Comprehensive Plan amendments available for review

In July 2015 the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) recommended a new 2035 Comprehensive Plan to City Council. This is the most significant update of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan since the original plan was adopted in 1980.

The PSC made its recommendation after considering a 2014 staff proposal, and more than 4,000 public comments over the course of a year. That staff recommendation was based on an earlier 2013 working draft, produced in collaboration with eight advisory committees in 2012 and 2013.

After receiving the PSC recommendation, City Council held five public hearings ― on November 19, December 3 and December 10, 2015, and January 7 and 13, 2016. Council received more than 2,500 comments via email, letters, verbal testimony and an online Map App.

In February 2016, each Commissioner submitted potential amendments they wanted to discuss.

Amendment Report and Map App

The policy language and map amendments that are under consideration by City Council are now available for public review. They can be viewed in the Amendment Report prepared by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), and in the Map App – Land Use Layer. There also are a number of minor technical amendments, which are identified in the report.

The amendments in this report have not yet been adopted by Council.

Amending the final Comprehensive Plan requires a vote by City Council following public hearings. The Mayor or other Commissioner must make a motion to introduce the amendment — after considering public testimony. Then another Commissioner must second that motion, and the amendment must receive at least three votes (a majority of the five-member City Council).

Public Hearings on City Council-sponsored Amendments to the draft 2035 Comp Plan

April 14, 2016, 6 p.m.
Portland Building Auditorium (2nd floor)
1120 SW 5th Avenue
Portland, OR 97204

April 20, 2016, 2 p.m.
Council Chambers
1221 SW 4th Avenue
Portland, OR 97204

Time and date subject to change. Check our Comp Plan calendar for specific dates and additional information.  

Amendment “Themes”

Council-proposed amendments cover a wide variety of topics. A few notable themes include:

Middle Housing
The PSC-recommended Plan included policy support for more housing choices to accommodate greater diversity of family sizes, incomes and ages, as well as the changing needs of households over time. The Recommended Plan also directs most new housing growth to the Central City and to other mixed use centers and corridors.

Commissioners Novick and Saltzman have introduced amendments that take this a step further, putting greater emphasis on the “middle” scale of housing. This “missing middle” concept, coined by urban planner Daniel Parolek, includes multi-unit or clustered residential buildings that provide relatively smaller, less expensive units (think the older two-story courtyard apartment buildings in Buckman and Irvington, or fourplexes). This type of housing also creates a transition between the scale of four- and five-story mixed use apartment buildings (e.g., Division and Williams) and surrounding single-family areas. Increasing this type of housing will help bridge the gap between apartment living and entering the housing market; for example, it may help families who have outgrown apartments or millennials to buy their first home. See Chapter 5: Housing of the draft 2035 Comp Plan and pages 52-53 of the Scenarios Report

Through these amendments, City Council could direct BPS to consider future zoning changes within a quarter mile of designated centers, where appropriate, and within the close-in neighborhoods around the Central City. However, these potential changes would not occur for several more years, after additional public discussion to refine the idea.

Commissioner Novick wrote about this concept in a recent blog post called “Bringing affordability back to Portland’s neighborhoods”.

The Portland Tribune also focused on the topic

Historic preservation
Mayor Charlie Hales introduced amendments to strengthen historic preservation policies. These amendments follow a recent decision to reinvigorate the BPS historic preservation program to better protect Portland’s historic resources. This policy could lead to new incentives and stronger regulations. See Chapter 4: Design and Development

Public Involvement
Commissioner Fritz offered a variety of amendments to clarify and strengthen public involvement policies as well as affirm the ongoing role of Neighborhood Associations. See Chapter 2: Community Involvement

Age-friendly City
Commissioner Fish has asked for additional policy to reinforce Portland’s goals to become a more age-friendly city. These amendments are in the Public Facilities and Transportation chapters of the plan. See Chapters 8 and 9, respectively

Employment land
Several Commissioners have offered amendments to better balance the need for employment land with other goals in the Comp Plan. These include amendments that adjust the amount of land zoned for employment at the Riverside and Broadmoor golf courses, as well as adjustments to the balance of Mixed Use and Employment zoning in Parkrose. See the Land Use Map

Next Steps & Public Hearings

City Council has scheduled public hearings on April 14 and 20 to hear public testimony about these potential amendments. Commissioners are tentatively scheduled to vote on these amendments on April 28. These dates are subject to change. Check the BPS website for specific dates and additional information.

What is the Comprehensive Plan?

Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan guides how and where land is developed as well as where infrastructure projects are built to prepare for and respond to population and job growth. All cities and counties in Oregon are required to have a Comprehensive Plan. Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan addresses future development and describes how and when community members will be involved in land use decisions. It helps coordinate policies and actions across City bureaus as well as with regional and state agencies.

The Comprehensive Plan includes five elements that work together:

  • Vision and Guiding Principles  
  • Goals and Policies
  • Comprehensive Plan Map
  • List of Significant Projects
  • Transportation policies, classifications and street plans