Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

Scenario Planning Guidelines

Scenario Planning Guidelines

Why the Guidelines?

The Guidelines were developed as a resource to help Oregon metropolitan organizations and local governments conduct metropolitan land use and transportation scenario planning. Metropolitan areas are encouraged to use the handbook as guidance to design a scenario planning process that best addresses local conditions and builds on other concurrent or recent planning efforts. The recommended scenario planning guidelines are set forth in six steps. /ODOT/TD/OSTI/PublishingImages/workshop_sm_step5.jpg

The Guidelines are just that: guidelines
Land use and transportation scenario planning to reduce GHG — outside the Portland Metropolitan and Eugene-Springfield areas — is voluntary. The Guidelines provide recommendations on the process for conducting scenario planning. They are not new regulations or requirements. The Guidelines were crafted with input from metropolitan area planners and other stakeholders and provide our shared best thinking and advice; the specific steps and procedures outlined in the Guidelines are recommendations only. We expect and encourage local governments to consider other approaches and to innovate as scenario planning is carried out in each area.
The Guidelines build on existing plans and information
The Guidelines have been designed to fit the unique circumstances faced by Oregon’s metropolitan areas. Oregon communities have extensive experience with land use and transportation planning. The Guidelines are designed to allow metropolitan areas to use existing plans and information to conduct scenario planning. For example, the Guidelines describe how metropolitan areas can estimate greenhouse gas reductions likely to result from actions in already adopted plans.
The Guidelines reference new planning tools to inform and engage the public
In addition to building on existing information, the Guidelines also point to tools metropolitan areas can use—including sketch planning tools and a metropolitan version of ODOT’s award-winning GreenSTEP model—to effectively engage and inform the public and elected officials in evaluating existing plans and possible alternatives. These Guidelines describe how these new tools can fit into current planning efforts.

Recommended scenario planning tools include the state’s newly developed transportation GHG model, Metropolitan GreenSTEP, and sketch planning tool(s).
  • Metropolitan GreenSTEP allows planners and decision makers to analyze the effects of a large number of factors on transportation GHG emissions (e.g. land use, transportation system, pricing, technology). It provides a high-level regional view of likely effects of different community goals, objectives, policies and programs. Metropolitan GreenSTEP is able test hundreds of high-level policy scenarios quickly, such as implementing tollways or car pool marketing, to predict GHG emission. It can then be coupled with a sketch planning tool to estimate transportation GHG emissions from several more detailed land use scenarios.
  • Sketch planning tools use detailed information about different types of land uses in a community – both existing and planned – to estimate outcomes of different land use and transportation policies. It paints a detailed picture of land use patterns and transportation systems - using “building blocks” that represent the different types of land in the community. Detailed information about each “building block” enables planners to estimate a range of outcomes based on different land use and transportation scenarios.
The Guidelines describe a process for visioning a metropolitan area’s future
The Guidelines are intended to help metropolitan areas envision their future and address the greenhouse gas targets for 2035 adopted by LCDC. It recognizes that metropolitan areas may want to look out to a planning horizon beyond 2035 – such as 2050 – to develop a longer range strategic community vision and help meet long-term state goals for greenhouse gas reductions.
The Guidelines are a starting point; innovation is encouraged
We appreciate that scenario planning is not a one-size-fits-all recipe/formula. The Guidelines and the accompanying greenhouse gas reduction Toolkit provide a range of programs and actions that local governments can consider as they conduct scenario planning. Also, while the Guidelines reflect our best thinking at this time, we understand that tools and practices for conducting scenario planning are evolving rapidly. Consequently, we encourage metropolitan areas to innovate and adapt the recommendations in the Guidelines to fit local conditions and the latest information. For our part, we expect to update the guidelines as new tools, practices and information become available.
Scenario planning should evaluate a broad set of goals
While the Guidelines have been prompted by the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from light vehicle travel, we understand that scenario planning needs to consider a broad range of factors, including local goals and objectives as well as the costs and benefits of different strategies and actions. With that in mind, the Guidelines and recommended scenario planning tools include a broad range of evaluation criteria, which are intended to help local officials and the public understand potential benefits and consequences of different choices.
Metropolitan Scenario Planning in Oregon and GHG Reduction Targets
/ODOT/TD/OSTI/PublishingImages/NewGHGtargetsfor113574.jpg HB 2001 requires Metro and the Portland metropolitan area local governments to develop and select a preferred land use and transportation scenario that achieves the GHG emissions reduction targets. The Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area is directed to conduct scenario planning and develop two or more alternative land use and transportation scenarios that achieve the targets. While SB 1059 directed LCDC to set GHG reduction targets for all of the state’s metropolitan areas, scenario planning for metropolitan areas other than Portland Metro and Eugene-Springfield is not required, but is encouraged.

In 2011, at the direction of the legislature, GHG reduction targets were adopted for metropolitan areas based on an assessment of what could be accomplished at the metropolitan level given what is now known. The targets call for a 17-20% reduction of GHG emissions from light vehicle travel, which each metropolitan area needs to achieve by 2035 in order for the state to be on track to meet its 2050 GHG Reduction goal.

View the full Scenario Planning Guidelines document (PDF).


SB 1059 requires that ODOT and DLCD prepare guidelines to assist metropolitan areas in conducting scenario planning to meet GHG emission reduction targets.


The scenario planning guidelines provide recommendations and instructions explaining how local governments in the state’s six metropolitan areas should conduct scenario planning to meet GHG reduction targets. The guidelines help define:
  • Processes for scenario planning (e.g. who is involved, and key steps), which will include a process for cooperative selection of a preferred scenario.
  • Guidance for preparing scenarios (i.e. number and type of scenario to be developed, and scope of actions and programs to be considered).
  • Assumptions to be used in evaluating alternatives, which will include assumptions about baseline conditions that reflect the statewide transportation strategy.
  • Methods for evaluating GHG reductions, and other costs and benefits.
  • Steps for integrating scenario planning with other land use and transportation planning work (including regional transportation system planning and comprehensive planning).
  • Processes for public participation in developing and evaluating alternatives.
  • Coordination with cities that are near but outside the metropolitan area.
In addition, SB 1059 directed that the guidelines must:
  • Take into account the full range of actions local governments may take concerning land use and transportation planning.
  • Allow sufficient flexibility for different local governments to meet the needs of their individual communities.
  • Provide for coordination between state agencies and local governments.
  • Encourage local innovation to reduce GHG emissions.
  • Provide examples of alternative land use and transportation scenarios.
Guidelines Process

A scenario planning technical advisory committee – made up of local governments and other stakeholders – and a consultant assisted ODOT and DLCD in developing the guidelines over the past two years. The agencies provided the public an opportunity to review and comment on the guidelines. Guidelines were developed in coordination with and reflect other SB 1059 work, including:
  • Baseline assumptions by ODOT, DEQ, ODOE about future vehicles, fuels, and vehicular travel.
  • OTC Statewide Transportation Strategy to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector.
  • Toolkit of best practices for actions and measures to reduce transportation GHG emissions.
  • Draft guidelines should be completed by April 2011, to help inform target rulemaking, with final guidelines completed by the end of 2011.
Key Issues and Considerations

The guidelines address several major issues:
  • Define scenario planning (i.e. level of detail of scenario plans).
  • Identify who is responsible for conducting scenario planning and the process for cooperative selection of a preferred alternative.
  • Define how scenario plans relate to and should be integrated with other required land use and transportation plans.


Please send any comments or questions to:

Stephanie Millar
Senior Planner

Subscribe to email updates for the Oregon Sustainable Transportation Initiative.