A little more than 35 years ago, Portland welcomed its first Comprehensive Plan, a blue print for the city that would be admired around the world in the decades to come. In 1980, the population of Portland was 366,000, a little more than half of what it is today.
Back then, Mt St Helens had just erupted, and Supertramp and Donna Summers were all the rage. Smart phones were only on Star Trek, Microsoft had just 11 employees, and a kid could ride a bike without a helmet and get away with it.
Portlanders banded together into neighborhood associations to block the Mt Hood Freeway and ensured those transportation dollars would go toward the construction of the MAX blue line. A downtown parking lot was transformed into Pioneer Square, and the Harbor Freeway into Tom McCall Waterfront Park. And Portland’s 1980 Comp Plan directed population and employment growth into a series of “nodes and noodles.”
The rest is history.
Fast forward to 2035 ... Nodes and noodles have become “centers and corridors,” and Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan has helped a mid-sized city grow up. Portland has become a place where most people can live healthy lives, with access to good jobs, safe streets and bikeways, affordable housing, clean air and water, walkable neighborhoods, quality transit service and beautiful parks.
The 2035 Comp Plan built upon the best of Portland’s strong planning heritage, advanced a more equitable approach to neighborhood development and leveraged Portland’s rapid growth to balance prosperity, human and environmental health, equity and resilience.
Imagine 20 years from now …
… a Portland that has nearly a quarter of million new people living here. Places like Hollywood, the Jade District, North Pearl, and Barbur and Powell Boulevards will be high-functioning mixed use areas with easy access to transit and a range of housing types to meet the needs of smaller households, Portlanders who want to age in place, and an increasingly diverse population.
… a city with 140,000 more jobs. More middle-wage jobs and a balanced economy fueled by the preservation of industrial land, expansion of our colleges and hospitals, a robust Central City, and flourishing smaller businesses in centers and corridors.
… better transit with new routes throughout East Portland, connecting more residents with their jobs; and fewer cars on the road, creating more room for freight, bikes and pedestrians.
… healthier people who have easy, safe and pleasant routes to walk, bike or take transit.
… and a safer and more resilient Portland with well-maintained infrastructure.
Most of Portland’s diverse population would live in complete, healthy and safe neighborhoods, close to the amenities they need. Tens of thousands more well-paying jobs would offer residents financial security and a pathway to wealth. Increased housing options would make it possible for individuals and families to create households to their liking. And a robust transit system and greenway network would offer multiple transportation options for Portlanders to get to and from work, as well as other places they want to go.
Sound crazy? It’s not. If the 1980 Comp Plan could transform a city suffering from suburban flight and crumbling infrastructure into a destination city for tourists as well as newcomers looking for a place to call home … it’s entirely possible that the 2035 Comp Plan — built on the success of previous planning efforts and created with the benefit of more data and public involvement, and inspired by so many other forward-thinking cities — could successfully guide Portland well into the mid-21st century.
With the adoption of the 2035 Comprehensive Plan by City Council on June 15, 2016, Portland's long range plan for a prosperous, healthy, equitable and resilient Portland is on its way to the state for acknowledgement. And, thus, a reality.
Many thanks to the tens of thousands of community members who contributed to the plan. Just as with the 1980 Comp Plan, your contributions will be appreciated for generations to come.