Local Land Use Planning

There are many reasons to enjoy living in this community.

From our beautiful parks, meandering trails, well-maintained streets, safe neighborhoods, and attractive commercial centers, Happy Valley is a wonderful place to call home. Much of the look and feel of the city took decades of thoughtful planning and steadfast leadership to instill development standards that reflect the community values.

Let’s dive deeper into the local land-use system that directs specific types of uses allowed and the requirements of developments to add to the quality of the community.

Even before the Metro UGB was established in 1978, the City of Happy Valley adopted its first Comprehensive Plan. Acknowledging that urban development would occur in Happy Valley, the Comprehensive Plan established a set of policies to guide growth. These policies are community value statements aimed to protect natural areas and steep slopes, encourage the use of open space, provide a variety of housing choices, facilitate economic development through available employment lands, develop good transportation routes, assure new construction is architecturally attractive, and allow citizens to be involved in future growth.

Beyond a set of guiding principles, the Comprehensive Plan set in motion a zoning map. While property owners have a right to develop their land inside the UGB, the Happy Valley zoning map details allowed uses in various areas throughout the city.  It seeks to ensure neighborhoods remain residential, multi-family units are near services such as transit, commercial and industrial areas are along major roads, and adequate land is reserved for open spaces like the Scouters Mountain and Mt. Talbert Nature Parks.

In Happy Valley, developers are also required to meet specific criteria, beyond being an allowed use.  Based on the Comprehensive Plan policies, the Happy Valley Development Code outlines stringent standards that development applications must meet.  One of the most visible criteria are the design standards.  Given Happy Valley’s history as a residential community, all commercial and mixed-use buildings must follow architectural designs that implement the “Happy Valley Style” which is a modern Cascadia type design inspired by craftsman, prairie, and rustic styles.  This leads to pitched roofs and natural materials such as stone and wood.  These elements are particularly well evidenced in construction over the last decade including the Hikade Dental Building; City Hall; and various buildings along Sunnyside Road that are located within the City of Happy Valley versus other nearby communities.  As a result, new buildings not only have a higher level of appearance, they match the residential nature of the community and reflect the historical past of this area.

Finally, developments are often required to provide or upgrade public facilities at their own expense. Developers are not only obligated to provide the water and sewer pipes to serve the new buildings.  They often have to build roads, trails, parks and set land aside as open space.  Examples include the Mt. Scott Nature Park and trail system; the community center, open spaces, and trail system in the Taralon Master Planned Community; and, large open spaces and trail systems in developments such as Jackson Hills and the Reserve.  Fortunately, all residents get to benefit from the public facilities and pedestrian/bicycle amenities added to the community.