How long-range planning has shaped Portland over the years

Portland adopted its first comprehensive plan in 1980, which set forth the land use vision for the city’s long-term future.

Oregon’s statewide coordinated land use program began in 1973 with the passage of Senate Bill 100 to ensure the orderly development of cities and protections for natural and agricultural resources within the state. Portland adopted its first comprehensive plan in 1980, which set forth the land use vision for the city’s long-term future.

The Comprehensive Plan shapes the city

After the development of the 1980 Comprehensive Plan, which helped to revitalize downtown, laid the groundwork for a world-class light rail system, energized community members into a network of neighborhood associations and coalitions, and capitalized on the city’s natural beauty, Portland gained notoriety as a highly livable and accessible city. Walkable neighborhoods with easy access to stores, restaurants, and schools; nearby parks, rivers and other sources of outdoor recreation; arts and culture; universities, colleges and culinary schools; small and large businesses offering jobs … all of these components of a humming community blossomed and thrived in Portland over the course of a couple of decades. However, not all Portlanders realized those successes and benefits.

Moreover, earlier planning and land use actions and investments placed heavy burdens on some areas of the city and specific community groups. The broad brush expansion of single-family zoning with large lot size requirements means that land for building lower cost, multi-family housing is severely limited throughout the city. This has led to social and economic segregation and increased housing costs. Other examples of direct impacts include the siting of the I-5 freeway in North Portland that displaced hundreds of black families, the clearing of homes for urban renewal in South Portland where Jewish and Italian communities thrived, and the lack of complete street infrastructure in East Portland that affects safety for lower income households.

So land use planning and exclusionary zoning were determining factors in the migration of people from one neighborhood to another, oftentimes splitting up families, closing businesses, and breaking or straining strong community bonds.

Addressing past harms

Today, we recognize that harm and aim to reverse it through more inclusive and intentional zoning, new and creative tools in the planning and economic development toolbox to restore at least parts of those communities, and more meaningful community engagement with marginalized communities to elevate their voices in the planning conversations.

The development of Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan, which provides policy guidance for the next 15 years of growth and change, incorporates many thousands of comments and suggestions from dialogue with diverse community members and organizations. The 2035 Comprehensive Plan also includes new policies to hold us accountable for addressing discriminatory barriers to fair and equitable access to housing and the impact of gentrification and displacement, particularly for underserved and under-represented populations.

Have your say

There is room for every Portlander to be at the table. And each person has a right to have their say about the future of our city, our neighborhoods, our business districts, our parks and recreation areas. The plans you see on this website were not created in a vacuum; they are the result of many, many conversations with thousands of community members over time. We invite you to join the conversation.

Stay tuned

These are questions that affect us all and, therefore, should be addressed collectively. So, we invite you to stay tuned to our planning work: