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City planning -- Oregon -- Portland, Land use -- Oregon -- Portland


Metro, the regional planning organization for Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties, designated the area in Southwest Portland known as West Portland as a Town Center in its Region 2040 Preferred Growth Concept. Metro's Town Center definition is open to different levels of interpretation without much guidance as to how the Town Center vision (i.e. increased density, a mix of land uses, a sense of place, and an emphasis on alternative modes of travel) is to be planned for and implemented. Since this designation in 1994, public sector planning efforts have been initiated around and specific to the West Portland Town Center. However, there is still a high level of uncertainty as to how the Town Center vision will be realized and who is ultimately responsible for its implementation.

This report addresses this uncertainty. While it does not presume to provide answers, it does pose a variety of options for planning methodologies, public sector responsibilities, and community involvement. These options are based on a viewpoint that traditional planning methodologies and models are insufficient to realize the Town Center vision, and that nontraditional methods and models must be explored and attempted if this vision is to become a reality.

The report has three sections which are intended to convey ideas and information that will guide the public and private sectors and the community in the planning and implementation of the West Portland Town Center directly, and other town center-like places indirectly. Section I introduces the West Portland Town Center and explains the report methodology. In addition, this section analyzes the current planning process for the West Portland Town Center. Section II of the report summarizes seven case studies, numerous stakeholder interviews, and a citizen focus group that were the basis for a significant portion of the information and ideas presented in the final section. Section ill presents an analysis of all research. This includes a discussion of general principles for planning town center-like places and three alternative approaches, including the Status Quo, Partnership, and Community Ownership, for the planning and implementation of the West Portland Town Center.

The Status Quo Alternative proposes no significant changes in the current planning process for the West Portland Town Center. The Partnership Alternative proposes a higher level of community and private sector participation in the planning and implementation of the West Portland Town Center. The Community Ownership Alternative proposes a planning and implementation process for the West Portland Town Center that is primarily initiated, led, and completed by the community.

AGS Associates recommends a carefully formulated composite of the three alternatives that addresses a consensus-based vision for the area. We would like to see the community and local businesses become more actively involved in all stages of the planning and implementation for the West Portland Town Center. This process should take place within a well-defined framework that is actively supported ·by the various public sector stakeholders.

This project was conducted under the supervision of Deborah Howe and Connie Ozawa.


Clients: Metro, Portland Bureau of Planning, and Southwest Neighborhoods, Inc. (SWNI)


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