Why are there so many meetings, hearings, work sessions, etc. for the Comprehensive Plan Update? I’m wondering when the end will be in sight?
You are right that the Comprehensive Plan has been the subject of many meetings, etc. But there is a “method to the madness,” per state land use planning law, which aims to give the plan and the public due process.
Who: The City Council has sole authority to update the Comprehensive Plan, but first they must get a “recommendation” from the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC). The PSC bases its recommendation on proposals from City planners and public testimony. The Commission can recommend something different from what planners propose, and Council can change what the Commission recommends. But both the PSC and City Council hold public hearings before they change anything.
Why: Planners develop their proposed plan from lots of research and analysis contained in official background documents. These “official reasons” are adopted by Council ordinance as supporting evidence for the proposed changes in the plan. Example “whys” include the number of people expected to be born in or move to Portland over the next 20 years and best estimates on the amount of new housing and jobs these folks will need.
What: Comprehensive Plan policy describes what the City will do, and not do, to meet the expected demands and opportunities of the future.
Where: The Comprehensive Plan Map (or land use map) shows where new jobs and housing growth can go, depicts other developed areas where little change is expected and shows areas that are protected as natural areas or open space.
How: The “whats” and “wheres” in the Comprehensive Plan are carried out by official “hows.” For example, the Zoning Code explains how the policies in the plan will be carried out while the Zoning Map explains how the land use map will be implemented.
When: Council has already adopted all the official “whys” (background reports) except for one — the amount and types of land needed for expected employment growth, known as the Economic Opportunities Analysis. The PSC will conclude its hearings on this remaining analysis and will make their recommendation about the goals and policies as well as the Comp Plan Map this spring. City Council will pick them up this summer. The PSC will begin its hearings on the implementation projects (how) this summer, but Council will likely not consider this body of work until 2016.
Hope this helps.