Getting involved in land use planning can be intimidating. Indeed, the process can be confusing, technical, and bureaucratic to someone who is approaching it for the first time. The rewards can be great though; compelling a City Council to make a decision you agree with through testimony, providing supportive comments when there is a plan change you like, or just knowing how you can find out more about the way your community is planned for and built, can be very gratifying.
A good place to bring your questions is your local planning office, where a city planner or staff member can tell you where you can find out about proposed land use changes. Most planning offices will be able to see you in person at what is usually called the "planning desk", or take a phone call during office hours. Many cities today offer updates via electronic newsletter, or may offer a specialized notification service for residents who are particularly interested in land use matters. A call or visit to your local planning office will answer many of those questions.
While each city and county has their own approach, every Oregon city and county has a plan for public involvement as part of their local comprehensive plan (Goal 1 – Citizen Involvement). This means that no matter where you are in the state, the land use process should be open to the public and the public should have the ability to comment.
There are a number of ways people can provide input into local land use planning and review processes. The most common way of providing input is through written or oral testimony at your local planning commission or city commission meetings. Our Land Conservation and Development Commission page offers advice to the public on how to interact with the commission, and the best way to deliver both oral and written comments. While your city or county might vary slightly, this is a good place to start to help you understand what the process could look like.
See DLCD's publication, "Putting the People In Planning (2019)" for more helpful information.
It is important that you are involved in planning decisions from the beginning. If someone chooses to appeal a decision (to bring their concerns to the Land Use Board of Appeals or Circuit Court) because they don't agree with the facts that were used to make the local land use decision, they must have already participated and voiced their concerns at the local planning level. The Oregon land use system requires someone to be involved in a planning decision from the beginning if they want to object later on. This is a safeguard for development and change, which also allows communities to get early feedback when the public is not in support of a proposed change.
To learn more about Oregon's land use planning program, see "Understanding Oregon's Land Use Planning Program" a short, annotated video series that talks in plain language about how to work with the program's 19 Statewide Planning Goals and Oregon administrative rules. It also explains how federal programs and executive initiatives influence the way statewide land use planning, development and conservation are achieved in Oregon.
Citizen Involvement Program
Each city and county comprehensive plan includes a Citizen Involvement Program (CIP), which describes how the public can participate in each phase of the planning process. Local governments must periodically evaluate their efforts to involve citizens, and if necessary, update their programs. These requirements are established in Goal 1, Citizen Involvement:
- A Committee for Citizen Involvement (CCI) must be established to monitor citizen involvement.
- A Citizen Involvement Program (CIP) must be adopted, providing for involvement in all phases of the planning process.
- The CIP must be reviewed periodically to assure that opportunities continue to be provided.
Contact your local government planning department to learn about the citizen involvement plan for your community.
Comprehensive Plan Amendment Notification Service
DLCD created a Plan Amendment Notification Service for anyone interested in receiving an automatic notification of comprehensive plan proposals or adoptions received by the department. Interested persons can create an online user account to sign-up for the notification service. Subscribers may select the cities and counties of interest, and when DLCD receives a proposed or adopted amendment from that jurisdiction, it will send an email notification to the subscriber.
If you're interested in signing up for this notification service, click on the link below to get started:
Plan Amendment Notification Service Registration