It might be hard to remember, but work on the West Portland Town Center Plan began a year or so before Covid made us quarantine and avoid public meetings. Back then, open houses and workshops at Markham Elementary provided opportunities for community members to learn about the area – including the thriving Muslim community – and envision what the town center could be like and how to make it happen.
Now, after a Discussion Draft and a Proposed Draft of the Plan have been vetted by the community and the Planning and Sustainability Commission, the near-final draft of the plan is on its way to City Council for a public hearing and a vote.
When completed, the plan will set the stage for population and job growth in this part of SW Portland. It’s particularly relevant because – eventually – a new light rail line will likely run through this part of the city, making it a hub for housing and businesses around the Barbur Transit Center and connecting Portland with neighboring Tigard.
Notably, the area south of the Crossroads (the intersection of Barbur, I-5 and Capitol Highway), known as West Portland Park, is the most racially diverse area of SW Portland, with BIPOC Portlanders making up 28% of the population. 17% of residents are foreign born, and 9% are from Africa. But adjacent areas are much less diverse, have higher incomes and a history of exclusive land use and housing access practices.
The WPTC Plan prioritizes and addresses the needs of these diverse and vulnerable populations, particularly the thriving East African and Arab Muslim communities, which are anchored by two mosques in the area. The plan aims to expand housing options in this area, which has lower housing and employment capacity than other town centers around the city (think St Johns, Hollywood and Lents).
The WPTC Plan is both a land use plan and a community development plan, focused through a health and racial equity lens.Community-based organizations like Unite Oregon, HAKI Community Organization, and Community Alliance of Tenants (CAT) were given grants to support their participation in the development of the plan and engage community they serve in the area. The WPTC Plan reflects that participation and models a new approach to equitable growth and development, reducing displacement risk and supporting equitable and fair housing access.
What’s in the Plan?
Community priorities are reflected in the main components of the WPTC plan, including:
- More areas for shops and homes.
- Employment focus areas to support jobs.
- Tools to help preserve existing low-cost housing.
- A multicultural hub to bring together and support community through gathering spaces, cultural shops, restaurants, social services and housing.
- A “Green Ring” circulation and recreation network for walkers and rollers to provide safe and low-stress access in and around the center and to shops, schools, and parks.
The Plan prioritizes housing stability and long-term affordability through the zoning code, with phased zoning coordinated with infrastructure needs and plans. It also ties some increases in development capacity to public benefits. Along with Zoning and Comprehensive Plan map changes, the plan includes:
- A coordinated growth strategy with recommended transportation and stormwater improvements.
- A new West Portland Multicultural plan district in the zoning code.
- Actions and roles for public and nonprofit sectors.
- A West Portland Town Center Character Statement for the ‘d’ overlay areas.
Have your say
The WPTC Plan Recommended Draft is now available for public review and testimony. Portlanders are invited to share their feedback on the plan with City Council in writing via the Map App or in person/virtually at a public hearing on Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.
Testify in person or virtually
To testify at the public hearing, you must register online. Registration closes one hour before the scheduled hearing time on Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. Please email email@example.com with questions about providing testimony.
Testify in writing
Written comments on the Recommended Draft are due by the time of the hearing at 2 p.m. Oct. 12, unless extended by City Council, and must include your name and address. Written testimony may be submitted via:
The Map App is as easy as sending an email. Click “Testify” at upper right-hand corner.
West Portland Town Center Plan Testimony
1221 SW 4th Avenue Room 130
Portland, OR 97204
If you have questions, please reach out to the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org.