This region is admired across the nation for its innovative approach to planning for the future. Our enviable quality of life can be attributed in no small measure to our stubborn belief in the importance of thinking ahead.
One example of this foresight was the Metro council's adoption of the 2040 Growth Concept, a long-range plan designed with the participation of thousands of Oregonians in the 1990s. This innovative blueprint for the future, intended to guide growth and development over 50 years, is based on a set of shared values that continue to resonate throughout the region: thriving neighborhoods and communities, abundant economic opportunity, clean air and water, protecting streams and rivers, preserving farms and forestland, access to nature, and a sense of place. These are the reason people love to live here.
Policies in the region’s long-range plan encourage:
Ten urban design types are identified in the 2040 Growth Concept as the "building blocks" of the regional strategy for managing growth. Read about how each of these components contributes to making a vital, livable region for generations to come.
Downtown Portland serves as the hub of business and cultural activity in the region. It has the most intensive form of development for both housing and employment, with high-rise development common in the central business district. Downtown Portland will continue to serve as the finance and commerce, government, retail, tourism, arts and entertainment center for the region.
Similar to town centers, main streets have a traditional commercial identity But are on a smaller scale with a strong sense of the immediate neighborhood. Examples include Southeast Hawthorne in Portland, the Lake Grove area in Lake Oswego and the main street in Cornelius. Main streets feature good access to transit.
As centers of commerce and local government services serving a market area of hundreds of thousands of people, regional centers become the focus of transit and highway improvements. They are characterized by two- to four- story compact employment and housing development served by high-quality transit. In the growth concept, there are nine regional centers - Gateway serves central Multnomah County; downtown Hillsboro and Tanasbourne/AmberGlen serve the western portion of Washington County; downtown Beaverton and Washington Square serve Eastern Washington County; downtown Oregon City and Clackamas Town Center serve Clackamas County; downtown Gresham serves the east side of Multnomah County and, across the Columbia, downtown Vancouver serves Clark County.
Town centers provide localized services to tens of thousands of people within a two- to three-mile radius. Examples include small city centers such as Lake Oswego, Tualatin, West Linn, Forest Grove and Milwaukie and large neighborhood centers such as Hillsdale, St. Johns, Cedar Mill and Aloha. 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.
Station communities are areas of development centered around a light-rail or high-capacity-transit station that feature a variety of shops and services that will remain accessible to bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users as well as cars.
Under the 2040 Growth Concept, most existing neighborhoods will remain largely the same. Some redevelopment can occur so that vacant land or under-used buildings could be put to better use. New neighborhoods are likely to have an emphasis on smaller single-family lots, mixed uses and a mix of housing types including row houses and accessory dwelling units. The growth concept distinguishes between slightly more compact inner neighborhoods, and outer neighborhoods, with slightly larger lots and fewer street connections.
Corridors are major streets that serve as key transportation routes for people and goods. Examples of corridors include the Tualatin Valley Highway and 185th Avenue in Washington County, Powell Boulevard in Portland and Gresham and McLoughlin Boulevard in Clackamas County. Corridors are served extensively by transit.
Serving as hubs for regional commerce, industrial land and freight facilities for truck, marine, air and rail cargo provide the ability to generate and move goods in and out of the region. Access to these areas is centered on rail, the regional freeway system and key roadway connections. Keeping these connections strong is critical to maintaining a healthy regional economy.
An important component of the growth concept is the availability and designation of lands that will remain undeveloped, both inside and outside the urban growth boundary. Rural reserves are lands outside the UGB that provide a visual and physical separation between urban areas and farm and forest lands. Open spaces include parks, stream and trail corridors, wetlands and floodplains.
Communities such as Sandy, Canby, Newberg and North Plains 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.