First Advisor

Carl Abbott

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Studies and Planning




Central business districts -- Oregon -- Portland -- Planning, Central business districts -- Washington (State) -- Seattle -- Planning, Portland (Or.) -- Politics and government, Seattle (Wash.) -- Politics and government



Physical Description

2, xii, 398 leaves: ill., maps 28 cm.


Portland and Seattle are often considered to be divergent in character, partly because civic leadership in each city has a different vision. The adoption of contrasting downtown core plans, projects, and policies in each city allows us an opportunity to understand the nature of each city's regime. As defined by Elkin, an urban regime is the community's governing coalition, those who exercise public authority in a legal sense and those private actors able to act collectively and bring concerted influence to bear.

The time frame for this study begins with the first modern planning document, the 1972 City of Portland Downtown Plan. During this period, both central business districts were transformed, simultaneously losing some retail, commercial and industrial functions while gaining further control of regional economies.

Portland perfected the entrepreneurial urban regime. The linkage among the land use alliance (property owners, investors and private professionals); the bureaucracy; and politicians was established by the success of the 1972 Downtown Plan. There is little conflict in Portland. Systemic bias is masked by overly extensive citizen involvement processes; city subsidies and grants which influence activists' positions; and use of tax increment money to hire consultants who reinforce the business point of view.

Seattle never perfected the entrepreneurial regime. The business community was fractured into conservatives and progressive camps. Also, the bureaucracy was caught in the Mayoral-Council crossfire. There is great controversy in Seattle. The prodevelopment decisions are still made but activist groups can successfully make it to the ballot box.

Primary sources of information included planning studies; reports; memoranda; minutes of meetings; resolutions; budgets; and activists' printed materials. Participants in each city were interviewed. Secondary sources of information included articles, and census materials.


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