MP2H Northwest Plan Update

News Article
Staff are on focused potential land use and transportation changes in the area between NW Vaughn and NW Nicolai, west of Highway 30; staff will share latest work at upcoming open house.

The city team continues to work on developing a land use and transportation plan for the MP2H study area in Northwest (NW) Portland. Now we can share project updates and expected next steps, including information about a public design workshop event.

A refresher on project history

The MP2H project began in late 2019 and included public open houses in spring and summer 2020, including a focus on alternative future land use development scenarios for the Northwest Portland study area.

Over the course of the project, the City team met and worked with a variety of stakeholders, including community-based organizations, business associations and local neighborhood residents to gather a diversity of input and learn more about the perspectives of under-represented communities. A Project Working Group (PWG) also met regularly in 2020 and 2021 to discuss the approach to land use and transportation in the area.

Informed by these and other sources, staff refined the alternative scenarios into a “preferred scenario.” This scenario focuses potential land use and transportation changes in the area between NW Vaughn and NW Nicolai, west of Highway 30.

In late December 2021, staff published and took public comments on the Discussion Draft of the MP2H Northwest Plan and a Draft Montgomery Park Area Transportation Plan, all of which more fully described the proposal and implementation approaches. Comments ranged from general support of the proposal to concerns about preservation of industrial lands and impacts on middle-wage jobs. They also focused on the need for public benefits that support under-represented communities in the broader area, concerns about climate resilience, and other issues. You can review Public Comments on the MP2H-NW Plan Discussion Draft.

Staff continued to refine the plan and the public benefits approach through engagement with community stakeholders and key large property owners. Public benefits such as middle wage jobs, affordable housing, opportunities for homeownership and commercial condominium ownership for underserved communities, as well as publicly accessible open space, have been identified and could be achieved through a combination of regulatory (e.g., zoning maps and code) and nonregulatory (e.g., binding agreements) measures.

What has changed from the Discussion Draft?

The direction of the MP2H NW Plan remains similar to the December 2021 Discussion Draft proposal. The area between NW Vaughn and NW Nicolai, west of Highway 30, would transition from an industrial and employment-focused area into a transit-oriented district, which would include employment, housing and other community-serving uses. The plan concept still includes the potential for a significant amount of housing, situated in a new mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhood served by an extension of Portland Streetcar. However, there are some key changes that reshape the proposal.

One change will likely include a greater emphasis on jobs in the plan area. This approach recognizes the value of industrial and employment lands to support jobs, particularly middle-wage jobs that may not require a four-year degree. The plan will support the creation of jobs through regulatory (zoning allowances and requirements) and nonregulatory measures.

Another change may include zoning map changes along with the plan. Unlike the Discussion Draft, which proposed Comprehensive Plan map amendments for future land use changes, the next iteration of the plan – the Proposed Draft – could include zoning changes to implement the plan and allow development. Also, some elements of the proposal, including height limits and floor area ratios, are expected to be refined in the Proposed Draft.

In addition, public benefits are becoming more defined. The plan aims to:

  • Accelerate the creation of affordable housing. The draft plan will provide opportunities for both market rate and affordable housing. And, as a public benefit, construction of a significant number of affordable housing units is anticipated in the near term. If these planned units are not constructed early on, a higher percentage of affordable units will be required as part of plan district provisions.
  • Create a new open space. The draft plan will require part of the proposed open-area requirements to be met through creation of a publicly accessible park or open space serving the new district.
  • Create opportunities for wealth-building for underserved communities. A homeownership down payment assistance fund is being considered. This will assist lower income Portlanders with accessing homeownership in neighborhoods across the city. The plan will also include an affordable commercial space requirement and opportunities for affordable commercial condominium ownership.
  • Commemorate York. The draft plan will consider ways to recognize and celebrate the contributions of York, an enslaved member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, for whom NW York Street is named.

What comes next?

In the coming months, project staff will prepare a Proposed Draft of the MP2H Northwest Plan, based on public comments on the Discussion Draft and technical, infrastructure, and economic issues. Staff will brief the Planning Commission on the proposals this summer, before publishing the MP2H Northwest Plan Proposed Draft. The Planning Commission and Design Commission are expected to hold formal public hearings in the fall.

Design Character Statement – an opportunity for public comment

In addition to a new zoning plan district to inform and direct future development, the MP2H proposal will apply the Design overlay zone (“d” overlay) in the area. Before a Proposed Draft is finalized in the fall, staff will create a Design Character Statement for the MP2H Northwest Plan area. This will serve as a guiding resource in the review of future development projects subject to design review.

Staff will hold a public workshop on June 28 to gather community and stakeholder input to create a new Design Character Statement for the area. Community members are invited to share their thoughts about how future development in the area should evolve.

View next steps and project timeline on the About the MP2H Project page.