Ready for public review: A new land use plan for the future of the Willamette riverfront in the South Portland, Riverdale, and Central City areas

News Article
River Plan/South Reach Proposed Draft heads to Planning and Sustainability Commission for public hearings; proposals address land uses and zoning, scenic and natural resources, recreation, and transportation.

One of the reasons people appreciate Portland is the river that runs through it, giving residents and visitors easy access to nature and water sports year round. The Willamette River is one of our city’s great treasures and – as with all things valuable – we need to take care of it so present and future generations can enjoy and benefit from it.

We have a plan for that!

Proposed draft volume 1 cover with report title and illustration of Willamette River and adjacent banks

For the past couple of years, the River and Environmental Team at the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has been working with the community to update the Willamette Greenway Plan (1987) and other river-oriented regulations. The result is the River Plan / South Reach Proposed Draft, which is ready for public review and testimony.

The Proposed Draft generally addresses development in the South Reach but also updates portions of 2018 Central City 2035 Plan to be consistent with the new River Plan / South Reach.  The changes modify the river-related and scenic resource-related regulations, including an updated landscaping standard, tree and vegetation management regulations, and floodplain requirements, as well as revised standards for the placement of temporary structures in the river.

Testify on the River Plan / South Reach

The proposed plan is now headed to the Planning and Sustainability for consideration. Interested property owners, community members and organizations are invited to testify to the PSC in person or in writing. Testimony will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2020.

In person at a public hearing

Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020 at 5 p.m.*

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 2500

Call Trimet at 503-238-7433 or go to their website at for bus and MAX routes and times.

*Please confirm the PSC schedule one week prior to the hearing.

In writing via the Map App

View the Map App 

Select River Plan/South Reach and click on the "Testify" button. Testifying in the Map App is as easy as sending an email. Once you press “submit,” you can see your testimony in the Testimony Reader in real time. You can also read other people’s testimony.

In writing via U.S. mail

Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission

1221 SW Fourth Avenue, Suite 7100

Portland, OR 97204 

Attn: River Plan / South Reach testimony

Check out the project calendar in the coming days for opportunities to meet with staff to learn more about the plan.

What’s in the plan?

The Proposed Draft was created through a public planning process that engaged hundreds of interested folks over the past two years.

It includes a 20-year vision for the South Reach of the Willamette River, including policies and objectives. The plan also contains recommendations and implementation tools, including Comprehensive Plan Map and Zoning Map and Code amendments, recommendations for Citywide Design Guidelines, and an action plan for future programs, projects and activities to achieve the future vision. Natural and Scenic Resources protection plans are also plan components. 

The primary proposals relate to application of River Overlay Zones and corresponding regulations. Proposed overlay zones are River General (g*), River Recreational (r*), and River Environmental (e). Each overlay has specific regulations that may apply to a property, such as an expanded river setback, updated tree and vegetation management requirements, new floodplain requirements and the establishment of a riparian buffer area, a residential dock standard, archaeological resources protections, and new standards for temporary structures in the river. Suggested Comprehensive Plan Map and base zone map changes proposed in the plan for five South Reach locations reflect current and future aspirations.

Additionally, the Proposed Draft modifies the river-related and scenic resource-related regulations that were adopted in the 2018 Central City 2035 Plan, with improved landscaping standard, updated tree and vegetation management requirements, and revised standards for the placement of temporary structures in the river. The Scenic Overlay (s) zone is being expanded on some properties, along with a new requirement for providing amenities, such as a bench or light, at key viewpoints in the Central City.