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Comprehensive Plan: Portland's vision for growth and progress

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The 2035 Comprehensive Plan vision for the future of Portland, the guiding principles and urban design direction to help achieve that goal, and how to track our progress to ensure we get there.
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Comprehensive Plan Vision

"Portland is a prosperous, healthy, equitable and resilient city where everyone has access to opportunity and is engaged in shaping decisions that affect their lives."

Guiding Principles

The Comprehensive Plan includes five guiding principles to ensure implementation of this plan is balanced, integrated, and multi-disciplinary. The influence of the guiding principles is seen throughout the plan as they shape many of the individual policies and projects. 

Economic Prosperity

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Support a low-carbon economy and foster employment growth, competitiveness, and equitably distributed household prosperity.

Human Health

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Avoid or minimize negative health impacts and improve opportunities for Portlanders to lead healthy, active lives.

Environmental Health

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Weave nature into the city and foster a healthy environment that sustains people, neighborhoods, and fish and wildlife. Recognize the intrinsic value of nature and sustain the ecosystem services of Portland’s air, water and land.


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Promote equity and environmental justice by reducing disparities, minimizing burdens, extending community benefits, increasing the amount of affordable housing, affirmatively furthering fair housing, proactively fighting displacement, and improving socio-economic opportunities for under-served and under-represented populations. Intentionally engage under-served and underrepresented populations in decisions that affect them. Specifically recognize, address and prevent repetition of the injustices suffered by communities of color throughout Portland’s history.


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Reduce risk and improve the ability of individuals, communities, economic systems, and the natural and built environments to withstand, recover from, and adapt to changes from natural hazards, human-made disasters, climate change, and economic shifts.

Urban Design Direction

The Urban Design Direction illustrates how the City intends to grow, how people will experience the public spaces within it, and how different places in the city can be enhanced.

Urban Design Framework

The Urban Design Framework brings the urban design objectives to the ground and details how the City will achieve them. It locates centers and corridors — areas expected to grow and change — within the context of the city’s distinctive natural and topographic features. It is intended to guide and shape conversations about existing and future places, connections and experiences, and the public infrastructure investments needed to support them. 

A map showing the designations of centers and corridors

Tracking Progress

As a growth management tool, comprehensive plans serve to anticipate and direct where growth should occur. Comprehensive plans not only govern land use decisions; they also serve as an element of the City’s public facilities planning process. Land use maps and growth-related infrastructure plans should synchronize with each other. Accordingly, it is important to know if growth is happening where it was planned.

Growth forecasts for the 2035 Comprehensive Plan were done for the period 2010-35. During that time, Portland is projected to add approximately 260,000 new residents (123,000 households) and 140,000 new jobs.

In 2010, Portland had approximately 585,000 people, and 370,000 jobs. From 2010-17, Portland gained almost 75,000 new jobs, and more than 30,000 new homes have been constructed. The current estimated population (mid-2017) is about 640,000 people.

The residential rate of growth is consistent with the forecasts used in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Employment growth has been exceeding the forecast, though much of that growth has occurred within existing businesses (without consuming the available vacant or underutilized land).

Actual permits increase similarly to forecast

Comparison of forecast housing growth with actual building permits through 2017. For the sake of simplicity, the forecast assumed a steady rate of growth, but in the real world economic cycles will mean that the real rate varies year to year. In 2010 and 2011 Portland was still recovering from the Great recession. By 2014 housing production has surpassed the previous peak, which had been in 2003.

Graph comparing 2010-2017 forecasted and actual data

The inner ring of this chart shows the forecast and the outer ring shows the actual permits for 2010-2017. The production of single family dwellings and apartments is roughly matching the forecast assumptions. Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) production is exceeding expectations. In recent years that housing type has represented about 6% of new units, exceeding the 2% assumed in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan Growth Scenario Report. On the other hand, the production of attached houses, townhouses and duplexes has been much lower than had been forecast (representing only 4% of actual units compared to 13% of forecast).

Graph of expected house growth by neighborhood

This chart shows the ratio between the rate of housing development assumed in the plan, and actual permits, for 2010-2017. For example, during that period 7,964 new units were permitted in the Central City, which is 94% of the forecast production of 8,429 units for that same period. Sellwood-Moreland-Brooklyn area is growing much faster than expected, with 1,286 new units, when only 320 were forecast for that period. The 2010-2017 forecast for Pleasant Valley was 439 homes, but only 64 new homes have actually been permitted. The table references the Portland Plan analysis areas, which generally include several neighborhoods.