The Southwest Corridor Inclusive Communities project will be an ongoing multi-year effort that coordinates several interrelated initiatives. The City of Portland, with funding from Metro, will be implementing land use and community engagement elements of the Southwest Corridor Equitable Housing Strategy (2018), and other past foundational work such as the Barbur Concept Plan (2013), SW Corridor Plan (2010) and South Portland Circulation Study (2001).
Planning is underway for a light rail line in the region’s SW corridor, located along I-5 and 99W. Over the next 25 years, this corridor will experience the most growth across the region.
But it is currently under-served by transit, so light rail service will provide a reliable and affordable way to get to existing and future jobs, educational opportunities, shopping and homes in the corridor.
This multibillion-dollar infrastructure investment will attract additional private and public investments, bringing more jobs and businesses, improved community services and amenities as well as housing choices to the area.
We have an opportunity with the SW Corridor light rail line — and the accompanying public and private investments — to create benefits for those who have traditionally been under-served and even harmed by major transportation projects.
The benefits of these improvements should be available to everybody.
It’s no secret that Portland and the region are growing, and more people are having difficulty keeping up with the rising cost of living. People of color and immigrants are affected the most as they are pushed farther away from desirable neighborhoods with amenities and access to transit.
The City of Portland has partnered with other jurisdictions and community organizations to align this major public investment in transit with our values: inclusion, equal access to opportunity and diversity in our region.
In 2018, the City of Portland adopted the SW Corridor Equitable Housing Strategy (EHS). This new strategy sets housing goals and targets to preserve and create more housing opportunities for households of all types and incomes.
As we begin planning for complete and inclusive communities in the SW Corridor, starting with South Portland and West Portland Town Center future light rail station areas, we will build on the SW Corridor Equitable Housing Strategy work, prior planning, and Comprehensive Plan policies that call for inclusive, connected and healthy places for our community.
Past planning efforts in the area
Metro 2040 Plan
An important milestone in the history of Barbur Boulevard and the West Portland Town Center came in the 1990s. With the Metro 2040 Plan, Barbur Boulevard was designated a “high-capacity transit corridor,” and the area around the West Portland Crossroads was designated a Town Center. These designations signaled future improvements and a more significant role for the area in future planning.
Barbur Concept Plan
In 2013, the adoption of the Barbur Concept Plan established a unifying vision for the Barbur corridor and identified seven key places along Barbur Boulevard that have potential to be destinations, including the West Portland Town Center (also known as “The Crossroads”). This plan also raised questions about whether the Town Center designation was still appropriate for West Portland.
2035 Comprehensive Plan
That question was considered during the City’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan Update process, and the Town Center designation was reaffirmed and retained. In December 2016, Portland’s new 2035 Comprehensive Plan formally incorporated the Metro West Portland Town Center designation into Portland’s land use plan. The Town Center designation signals the City’s intent for The Crossroads area to become a more complete community, with a full range of housing choices along with commercial and community services.
Project steps and timeline
In November 2018, the light rail project reached a major milestone with the adoption of a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA). The LPA will be the foundation for further alignment and station area location and design work through 2020, which will result in a Final Environmental Impact Statement and Conceptual Design Report. A Metro regional transportation funding measure is expected in November 2020. BPS’s SW Corridor planning will result in plans adopted by City Council in the summer of 2020.
Over the next two years, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will lead or support the following efforts:
1. Plan for complete and inclusive communities in two initial areas:
2. Update South Portland Historic District Guidelines.
3. Develop concept plans for two publicly owned opportunity sites suitable for mixed-income housing and mixed-use commercial development (Barbur Transit Center and land currently used for access ramps to the Ross Island Bridgehead).
4. Form an inter-jurisdictional Equitable Transit-oriented Development (TOD) Workgroup to implement an affordable housing memorandum of understanding led by TriMet.
5. Community Grants Program for capacity building and engagement activities by community-based organizations (CBO) working directly with low-income households and communities of color. CBOs will advise project decisions, build organizational relationships, and help develop deeper ties among all community members.
In collaboration with city, regional, and community partners, the following related efforts are also underway in 2019 and 2020: