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Planning and Sustainability Commission Recommends the Floodplain Resilience Plan to City Council

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Plan aims to reduce the impacts of flooding in Portland and protect floodplain habitat for endangered and threatened fish species; City Council to consider the plan in the spring of 2023.
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On Nov. 22, 2022, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) voted unanimously to recommend the Floodplain Resilience Plan to City Council. The recommendation followed a public hearing in September and a work session in October. The plan is expected to go before City Council for a public hearing in spring 2023.

Why is the plan important?

As climate change increases the chance of extreme weather events and excessive rain, the areas near rivers and other bodies of water are at greater risk of flooding. This puts people, buildings, wildlife, trees and other vegetation at risk.

The Floodplain Resilience Plan will reduce the impacts of future flooding on those who live and work in, or close to, Portland’s floodplains. The plan also aims to protect floodplain habitat for endangered and threatened fish species.

The plan, along with future updates to the building code and expanded mitigation banking options, will continue the City’s implementation of the Floodplain Management Program Work Plan, which was completed and signed by eight City bureau directors in 2019. This Citywide effort responds to Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) guidance to update rules that apply to new development along the edges of Portland’s rivers and streams.

To achieve these goals, the Floodplain Resilience project will:

  • Expand environmental zones to apply to the city’s floodplains.
  • Update requirements to preserve habitat in areas within the city where the risk of flooding is high.
  • Add new mitigation requirements to areas within 170 feet of the Willamette River in the Central City to improve floodplain habitat near Portland’s rivers and streams.

What changes were made by the PSC?

The PSC approved a few amendments in two categories:

  1. Map Amendments – Updated maps of the proposed River Environmental overlay and riparian buffer area along the Willamette River.
  2. Zoning Code Amendments – Clarification of proposed language in a number of code sections regarding the measuring of top of bank, dredging in the waters along South Waterfront, the application of the River Environmental overlay zone on public streets and sidewalks, and proposed tree removal standards in South Waterfront.

What’s next?

The PSC's Floodplain Resilience Plan Recommended Draft is expected to head to City Council in the spring of 2023. Check the project website for the hearing date and other updates as it moves forward. Those interested can also sign up for email updates.

Contact

Jeff Caudill

City Planner II, Planning and Sustainability