The Comprehensive Plan - Portland’s Vision for 2035
The Comprehensive Plan is a 20 year plan that will help with the growth and development of our beloved city, Portland. The main goals of the plan are as follows: create complete neighborhoods, encourage job growth, create a low carbon community, improve natural areas and open spaces, provide reliable infrastructure to equitably serve all parts of the city, improve resiliency and one size does not fit all. The first comprehensive plan for Portland was developed in 1980 and now is the time for a new one.
Creating complete neighborhoods in Portland is a vision for the future. The comprehensive plan would like to see neighborhoods with a mix of people, housing styles, businesses, cost of living scenarios and public transportation. The goal of a complete neighborhood would be a place where life’s everyday needs are accessible by walking or biking and work commutes are through public transportation. They would like to see more local businesses within neighborhoods and better connected public transportation that appeals to more folks. Housing is also on the list, the plan wants higher density with more options for renting and purchasing to allow a mix of incomes, people and businesses in the neighborhoods. So far, I believe we have some neighborhoods that already fit this bill. Beaumont, Irvington and Alberta are just a few that are good examples of this “complete neighborhood” concept.
Encouraging job growth is another goal that the plan would like to see by helping small business in neighborhoods, encouraging home businesses, planning for a vibrant central city, investing in Brownfield cleanup and improving access to living wage jobs in East Portland. With the increased public transportation and new complete neighborhoods there will be an influx of new jobs available, making living in Portland even more comfortable for those already here and more convenient for those moving in.
Creating a low carbon community will be done by encouraging growth in complete neighborhoods. The plan would like to see less traffic in the city by supporting walking/biking and public transportation. The plan will also include setting up green infrastructures to manage and clean storm water to help cool the city, encourage high efficiency low carbon energy sources and encourage resource efficient buildings. Since 1980 Portland has reduced its carbon emissions by 11%, the goal is in 2050 to reduce the carbon emissions by 80%.
The plan also wants to improve natural areas and open spaces by maintaining the parks, trails, nature corridors and so on that are established in the city and planning for new as well. The comprehensive plan wants to focus on enhanced greenway corridors that are distinctive green streets that connect centers, schools, parks, natural areas and the rivers. The plan also calls for neighborhood greenways that are low motor vehicle traffic streets prioritized for bicycles and pedestrians. Some of these projects are already underway; the Twenties Bikeway project is one. It is on SE 26th to SE 30th Ave from SE Clinton to NE Lombard to create a bikeway that better connects the city and allows for alternative trasnporation.
Providing reliable infrastructure that works for the city of Portland will be achieved with the ideas of maintaining existing infrastructures, examining system deficiencies and determining future needs. The major systems that are part of the plan are Portland’s sewer, storm water, and water and park systems. The city is already working to constantly improve these systems and will continue to do so with the comprehensive plan. An example of a successful renovation of the system is the “Big Pipe” project that was completed a few years ago to keep groundwater and raw sewage from flooding the Willamette River in downtown Portland. There are however areas in Portland that are still suffering due to lack of maintenance or updating these major systems, the comprehensive plan will hopefully remedy this and create a cleaner, safer, more cohesive city.
The plan calls for Improving Portland’s Resiliency by preparing for climate changes and reducing risks posed by natural disasters. Retrofitting of bridges to help with earthquake proofing and focusing on the city’s alternative water supply is also part of improving Portland’s resiliency. The future of Portland is a drier, hotter summer and warmer wetter, winter and the comprehensive plan will help accommodate these coming changes through encouraging growth in lower risk areas, enhancing green infrastructure, creating complete neighborhoods and reducing risks to critical infrastructure such as sewer/ storm water. One example is the East Lents Area Flood project which will restore stream banks, floodplains, and wetlands to protect homes, businesses, and infrastructure from flooding.
Portland has five major pattern areas: Inner Neighborhoods, Eastern Neighborhoods, Western Neighborhoods, Central City and Rivers. Each area has unique needs and characteristics that is why the last part of the plan is One Size Does Not Fit All. Inner neighborhoods extend from Lents to St John’s, Eastern neighborhoods encompass all of Portland East of interstate 205 –including parts of Cully and Brentwood-Darlington, Western neighborhoods include all areas West of Central City, Central City includes downtown and parts of the inner NE side like the Lloyd district and Rivers encompass Rivers industrial and commercial areas, natural areas and residential neighborhoods along the Willamette and Columbia Rivers outside Central City. Each one of these areas will be part of the plan in a way that is both conducive and constructive to the current area and comprehensive plan. The goal here is to address each separately to ensure needs are met while using creative thinking and planning.
Overall the comprehensive plan is Portland’s future. This is a plan that will both maintain the feel of Portland and make necessary changes to create a more livable city. Complete neighborhoods will help ensure a sense of pride and community that will benefit the city as a whole. Portland is on its way to becoming a better place to live and do business with more jobs, more housing, better public transportation and so on. Life is all about change and being able to adapt, cities are the same way. As they grow older systems crash, older housing becomes inadequate, more jobs are necessary and communities change. It is time to reevaluate what we love about this city and what needs some work. Let’s keep what we love about Portland, change the things that need changing and embrace our history as we look toward the future.
Written by Amanda Folkestad and Brian Porter