Factual Basis Summary


Portland’s Comprehensive Plan is a long-range plan that helps us prepare for and manage expected population and employment growth, as well as plan for and coordinate major public investments. Portland is updating its Comprehensive Plan, as required by the State of Oregon, through a process called “periodic review.”

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability developed a work plan for the Comprehensive Plan Update, which has been approved by City Council and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD). The work plan includes the following tasks:

  • Task 1 – Community Engagement: Providing open and meaningful opportunities for individuals and organizations to effectively influence the Comprehensive Plan update.
  • Task 2 – Inventory and Analysis: Research and analysis necessary to provide a solid factual base for the Comprehensive Plan update.
  • Task 3 – Consideration of Alternatives: Explore the social, economic, environmental and energy implications of alternative patterns of development.
  • Task 4 – Policy Choices: Consider and make a variety of policy choices.
  • Task 5 – Implementation: Identify and develop implementation measures necessary to carry out the policy choices.

We developed a community involvement plan and established the Community Involvement Committee, as required by Task 1 – Community Engagement. We are now ready to complete Task 2 – Inventory and Analysis, which requires us to compare the job and housing forecasts against our capacity to accommodate them. The tools we use to do this include:

Together these reports form the “factual basis” for the Comprehensive Plan Update. The key finding from this background research shows that the future number of households in Portland is expected to grow by 132,000 and the number of jobs by 147,000. The data show that we have enough space to accommodate our housing needs and most, but not all, categories of jobs. We anticipate being short of land for industrial, manufacturing/production uses — particularly harbor industrial lands — but also institutional lands, such as for hospitals and educational institutions. Additional information about these reports is included below.

Economic Opportunity Analysis (EOA)

The Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) is an analysis of the long-term supply and demand for employment land. Key findings include:

  • The city has had nearly flat job growth since 2000 and has only captured 5 percent of the regional job growth, compared to a historic rate of 25% from 1980-2006.
  • Institutional and office are leading employment growth sectors, with national and regional trends showing a shift from manufacturing to services. However, manufacturing remains a key sector with above-average wages and high employment multiplier effects, i.e., one manufacturing job supports 3.69 total jobs in the region.
  • Metro's 2035 Employment Forecast allocates 147,000 new jobs to Portland — a 27% job capture rate. Portland will need additional employment land for traded-sector transportation facilities, such as airports, rail yards and marine terminals.
  • In general, Portland expects a surplus of employment capacity in the Central City and commercial corridors but has estimated a future shortfall of about 600 acres of industrial land capacity by 2035. More land for hospitals and higher education campuses will also be required.

Housing Needs Analysis (HNA)

The City's Housing Needs Analysis is a compendium of five distinct reports that analyze the state of housing supply, housing affordability issues and the City's ability to meet projected housing demand going into 2035. Key findings include:

Housing Supply

  • About 60 percent of the housing units in Portland are single-dwelling homes, and 40 percent are multi-dwelling units. The mix of housing types varies across the city, with more multi-dwelling housing and lower home ownership rates in the city’s core and adjacent close-in neighborhoods.
  • The current mix of housing types is expected to change over time, with an increasing share of multi-dwelling units. Eighty-five percent of the city's future housing capacity is zoned for multi-dwelling development.
  • More than half of the city’s housing was built before 1960, with about one-third built before 1940. To preserve a variety housing types, prices and rents in Portland, it will be important to maintain the existing housing stock. Preservation of older housing stock is also key to preserving Portland’s architectural history and the unique character of its residential neighborhoods.
  • Overall, the currently zoned development “capacity” in Portland is expected to be more than sufficient to meet future housing demands; currently zoned capacity for growth is approximately 230,000 dwelling units compared to a future growth forecast of 130,00 new households by 2035.

Housing Affordability

  • The overall home ownership rate has increased steadily since 1990 and was 57 percent in 2007, according the American Community Survey.
  • The most notable trend affecting the Portland housing market in the last decade has been the decline in affordability, which is a function of both housing costs and incomes. Since 2000, both housing prices and rents in Portland have increased more than incomes. Consequently, more households are “cost burdened,” paying more than 30% of their household income for housing costs. In 2007, about 45 percent of Portland households, whether they rented or owned, were “cost burdened,” compared to 36 percent nationwide.
  • Although Home Forward’s (formerly the Housing Authority of Portland) properties are somewhat dispersed throughout the city, the use of Section 8 rental housing vouchers has been increasing the most in areas far from the city center, such as in the far north (the St. Johns, Portsmouth and University Park neighborhoods) and East Portland (neighborhoods east of I-205).
  • Low and moderate income households will continue to be challenged in terms of finding “affordable housing units” due to a combination of high housing costs, rising energy prices and stagnant household income. The recent drop in housing prices has neither improved nor worsened housing cost burden for owners. However, the tightening of the rental market and increasing rents is deepening affordability issues for renter households. Given the projected growth in cost-burdened households, preserving and expanding the stock of affordable housing units of various types and in varied price ranges will continue to be a critical long-term housing issue.

Infrastructure Condition and Capacity Analysis (ICC)

The City of Portland provides and maintains infrastructure systems that supply water, sewer, transportation, parks and civic services. The City’s infrastructure systems vary in service area, capacity to accommodate growth, replacement value and condition. The Infrastructure Condition and Capacity Analysis documents the condition and capacity of the City’s primary infrastructure systems, discusses key issues and constraints, and attempts to identify areas of the city where additional growth may require changes in service levels or additional investment. Key findings include:

  • The City of Portland’s infrastructure systems will face a variety of challenges and opportunities over the next 20 years, including accommodating new growth and density, effectively managing existing systems, serving current residents and meeting regulatory requirements.
  • In light of the overall condition and capacity of the City’s infrastructure systems, the report recommends the City:
    • Update the City’s long-range infrastructure plan
    • Set appropriate service levels
    • Develop geographically sensitive infrastructure approaches
    • Optimize investment decision-making
    • Develop both financially constrained and priority capital improvement programs
    • Continue to improve and integrate asset management practice
  • Portland partners with a wide variety of agencies and organizations to provide infrastructure services. While not explicitly discussed in the report, the capacity of these partner agencies to provide necessary services affects the City of Portland’s service capabilities and demands.

Natural Resource Inventory Report (NRI)

The City's Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) builds on Metro’s inventory, adopted in 2005 with Title 13 of the Urban Growth Management Functional Plan. Both the City's and Metro's  inventories focus on riparian corridors and wildlife habitat. Riparian corridors include rivers, streams, flood areas, wetlands and the lands adjacent to these water bodies. The regional Title 13 inventory reflects extensive review and input from independent scientists and the public. The City has vetted the updated inventory methodology through specific projects (e.g., Airport Futures) and through the Portland Plan.

  • The City’s NRI identifies 26,235 acres of significant riparian and wildlife habitat resources within Portland, along with the Willamette and Columbia rivers.
  • The NRI reflects current,higher resolution natural resource data, information from additional scientific studies and field visits, and refined GIS inventory models, fish/wildlife species lists, and habitat area maps.
  • The NRI maps show 1) the location of specific natural resource features; and 2) the relative quality of the natural resources based on specific riparian corridor functions (e.g., flood storage, microclimate and shade, organic inputs/food web, wildlife movement corridor) and wildlife habitat attributes (e.g., habitat patch size, interior habitat area, proximity to other habitat and water).
  • The adoption of this NRI as information to support the Comprehensive Plan does not change any City regulations or zoning maps.

Buildable Lands Inventory (BLI)

Oregon's statewide planning program requires cities maintain at least a 20-year supply of land adequate to accommodate forecasted housing and employment growth.  The Buildable Lands Analysis (BLI) assesses the City's development capacity under current city plans and zoning. The City uses its own computer model to estimate capacity, defined as the likely number of new housing units or new jobs based on recent development trends. The results of the BLI inform the EOA and the Housing Needs Analyses.