The Portland metropolitan area is admired across the nation for our innovative approach to planning. Our region’s enviable quality of life can be attributed in part to a stubborn belief in the importance of thinking ahead.
One example of this foresight is the 2040 Growth Concept, a long-range plan that reflects input given by thousands of Oregonians in the 1990s and adopted by the Metro Council in 1995.
Policies in the 2040 Growth Concept encourage:
- safe and stable neighborhoods for families
- compact development that uses land and money efficiently
- a healthy economy that generates jobs and business opportunities
- protection of farms, forests, rivers, streams and natural areas
- a balanced transportation system to move people and goods
- housing for people of all incomes in every community.
Ten urban design components are identified in the 2040 Growth Concept as the focal points for growth:
The central city, or downtown Portland, serves as the region’s business and cultural hub. Within the region, it has the most intensive development of housing and employment, with high-rise development common in the central business district. Downtown Portland will continue to serve as the region’s center for finance, commerce, government, retail, tourism, arts and entertainment.
Town centers provide services to tens of thousands within a two- to three-mile radius. One- to three-story buildings for employment and housing are characteristic. Town centers have a strong sense of community identity and are well served by transit. They include:
- small city centers – Lake Oswego, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove, Milwaukie
- large neighborhood centers – Hillsdale, St. Johns, Cedar Mill, Aloha.
Main streets are similar to town centers: a traditional commercial identity but on a smaller scale with a strong sense of the immediate neighborhood. They feature good access to transit and include:
- Southeast Hawthorne Blvd. in Portland
- Boones Ferry Rd. in Lake Grove
- Adair and Baseline streets in Cornelius.
Regional centers are hubs of commerce and local government services serving hundreds of thousands of people. They are characterized by two- to four- story, compact employment and housing development served by high-quality transit. In the plan, eight regional centers become the focus of transit and highway improvements:
- Gateway, serving central Multnomah County
- downtown Hillsboro and Tanasbourne/AmberGlen, both serving western Washington County
- downtown Beaverton and Washington Square, both serving eastern Washington County
- downtown Oregon City and Clackamas Town Center, both serving Clackamas County
- downtown Gresham, serving eastern Multnomah County
Station communities are areas of development centered on a light-rail or high-capacity-transit station that features a variety of shops and services. These communities are accessible to bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users as well as cars. They include:
- E 102nd Avenue on the MAX blue line
- Cascade Station on the MAX red line
- Orenco Station on the MAX blue line
Neighborhoods remain largely the same under the 2040 Growth Concept. Some redevelopment can occur to better use vacant land or under-used buildings. New neighborhoods are likely to have smaller single-family lots, mixed uses and a mix of housing types such as row houses and accessory dwelling units. The growth concept distinguishes between slightly more compact inner neighborhoods and the slightly larger lots and fewer street connections of outer neighborhoods.
Corridors are streets that serve as major transportation routes for people and goods. Extensively served by transit, corridors include:
- Tualatin Valley Highway and 185th Avenue in Washington County
- Powell Boulevard in Portland and Gresham
- McLoughlin Boulevard in Portland and Clackamas County.
Industrial areas and freight terminals serve as hubs for regional commerce. They include industrial land and freight facilities for truck, marine, air and rail cargo21sites that enable goods to be generated and moved in and out of the region. Access is centered on rail, the freeway system and roadway connections. Keeping these connections strong is vital to a healthy regional economy.
Parks and natural areas are lands that will remain undeveloped, both inside and outside the urban growth boundary. These include parks, stream and trail corridors, wetlands and floodplains.
Rural reserves are large areas outside the urban growth boundary that will remain undeveloped through 2060. These areas are reserved to provide long-term protection for agriculture, forestry or important natural landscape features that limit urban development or help define appropriate natural boundaries for development, including plant, fish and wildlife habitat, steep slopes and floodplains.
Neighboring cities are communities such as Sandy, Canby, Newberg and North Plains, which have a significant number of residents who work or shop in the metropolitan area. Cooperation between Metro and these communities is critical to address common transportation and land use issues.