Connect with Metro
503-797-1804 TDD
503-797-1797 fax
people walking

Regional vision: The 2040 Growth Concept

Planning and conservation    Regional planning and policy    2040 Growth Concept

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:

  • safe and stable neighborhoods for families
  • compact development, which uses both land and money more 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 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.

Central city

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.

Main streets

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.

Regional centers

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

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

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.

Industrial areas and freight terminals

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.

Rural reserves/open spaces

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.

Neighboring cities/green corridors

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.

Related Documents

To view PDF files, download free Adobe Reader. To translate PDF files into text to assist visually-impaired users, visit

To view MOV files, download free QuickTime.

Need assistance?

Land use planning
503-797-1562 | 503-797-1930 fax
Impassioned civil discourse in your pajamas - Opt In

By the Numbers

Amount of residents who say that farm and forestland should be preserved because of the contribution they make to our economy.

Featured viewpoint

The regional efforts to develop and implement the principles of the 2040 plan have been amazing. The active participation in its development and the results in our greatly improved downtowns, communities and neighborhoods have made this effort an outstanding success. Now we have the opportunity to build on these accomplishments far into the future.

© 2014 Metro. All rights reserved.

Send questions, comments and suggestions about the website to

600 NE Grand Ave.
Portland, OR 97232-2736
503-797-1804 TDD
503-797-1797 fax