Last October, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability released the West Portland Town Center Plan Discussion Draft, inviting Portlanders to learn about it via an online open house. We invited feedback on the draft plan through an online survey, asking respondents to tell us what they supported, thought needed improvement, or disapproved of.
Roughly 450 people visited the online open house, and 190 responded to the accompanying survey. Staff also received emails from community members expressing their opinions about the plan. Demographically, a wide range of Portlanders participated, including lower income and BIPOC community members, thanks to extensive outreach efforts with our partner community organizations.
Respondents largely support the proposed plan goals, the “shared growth” scenario, and many of the big ideas, such as a new multicultural hub and green ring for the town center. However, they also shared their concerns about displacement, affordable housing, equitable economic development, and funding for and investment in much-needed sidewalks and bikeways, parks, and stormwater facilities, all of which will be essential to realizing the goals of the plan.
What the community said
From the survey responses, as well as comments received by email or at meetings, we heard:
- The “shared growth” concept and addition of multi-dwelling zoning to the area had strong support (70% of survey respondents).
- The racial equity goals and related big ideas, including creation of a multicultural hub with affordable housing, human services, and cultural amenities, were most broadly and highly supported (79% of survey respondents).
- Addressing displacement and affordable housing are still top community priorities, including the plan’s tools for encouraging the retention of existing affordable apartments (80% of survey respondents) and building new affordable housing.
- Concern from a few residents in older homes about being displaced by opportunistic developers and rising taxes.
- Strong – and most frequently cited concern – about the lack of funding commitment for street, stormwater, and parks infrastructure, as well as the relationship of shortfall to planned land use changes.
- Desire for stronger commitment to funding elements of the plan that support community’s social and health needs.
- Need for the Plan to do more to prioritize safer and better ways for people to get around – instead of car-oriented investments.
- Importance of Crossroads intersection improvements to connect the area (highest priority for survey respondents).
- Finally, some concern about the rate and extent of change in the area, including desire to maintain the valued aspects of West Portland, such as its low-key vibe; trees, parks and access to nature; and relatively quiet local streets.
Learn more about what ideas and parts of the plan had the most support and what else people had to say:
Proposed Draft to be released in the next month or so
With this community feedback on the WPTC Plan Discussion Draft, project staff are preparing the next version of the plan – the proposed draft – which will be released in late April/early May. The Planning and Sustainability Commission will hold a public hearing, and Portlanders will be able to testify on the WPTC Proposed Draft virtually at that time and/or in writing via the Map App.
Included in the Proposed Draft will be a new element: a growth management strategy, which will outline the sequencing of zone changes and investments based on projected growth, available funding, and optimal logistics.
Input from community members plays an important role and still makes a difference at this stage! Staff welcome feedback on ways to support community benefits and services as well as small businesses, improve health and climate resilience outcomes, ensure pedestrian safety, and encourage other modes of transportation in the area besides cars.
SW Corridor Equity Coalition
Parallel to BPS’ work on the WPTC Plan, the SW Corridor Equity Coalition champions and stewards the priorities of the SW Corridor Equitable Development Strategy, with particular emphasis on implementing the West Portland Town Center Plan and anti-displacement strategies. Housed within UniteOregon, the coalition includes an executive committee of culturally specific community-based organizations and members from the nonprofit, philanthropic, private, and public sector.