Archive for January, 2010


Updated: First Portland Plan Background Data Hearing – Three?

January 27, 2010

Update: 1/27/10:

The PowerPoint presentation is now online.

Original Post: 1/26/10:

I both enjoyed tonight’s hearing and was disappointed by it.

The disappointment is that only three people testified. As I expressed at the meeting, we can get a room full of people to show up and oppose a project that they don’t like, but when we’re formulating the policy that will set the context for that project and many others, it feels like we’re just talking to ourselves. This is one of the conundrums of citizen involvement. How do you get citizens engaged in the advance policy work? (This is not to diminish the almost 1,000 people who participated in the workshops, but we could use your help when we’re grappling with the details too!)

On the up side, the quality of the testimony was excellent, as was the Commission discussion during and after the testimony.

The meeting began with a staff presentation on the highlights of the Portland Plan background reports. I’ll link to this presentation when it’s available on the web, it’s an excellent summary.

For you video watchers, the citizen testimony began about 38 minutes into the meeting. Messages we heard were:

  • Even though at a whole City level, we won’t need to up-zone to accommodate forecast growth, many citizens would be surprised by what today’s zoning code would allow to be built in their neighborhoods (a good reason to read the Urban Form Report).
  • The hazard (earthquake, landslide, etc.) analysis in the background reports is not up-to-date and should be replaced with the current plans.
  • The population and housing forecasts have changed dramatically over the course of the last two years and some citizens are skeptical about the numbers.

This led to a discussion about Metro’s Urban Growth Report, which is the basis for the forecasts, and how a portion of regional growth is allocated to Portland. We also discussed that Portland Plan policies could impact this allocation.

The Commission also had a lively discussion on factors influencing job growth.

The second of the three hearings on the Portland Plan background reports will be at the February 9th meeting (a 12:30pm meeting, the hearing will be the second agenda item). Citizens are welcome to testify on any Portland Plan topic area at any of the hearings. Tell your friends, let’s have a crowd!


Updated: Meeting Summary – 1/12/10

January 19, 2010

Update 1/20/10:

Here’s the staff description of the schools/parks zoning recommendations.

Original Post 1/12/10:

(3pm) Schools and Conditional Use – Grade Level Changes

Staff presented a hybrid concept in which grades 6-8 could be added to an elementary (K-5) school by right, but adding K-5 to a middle school (6-8) would require conditional use review. Staff recommended a Type II review.

The intent is primarily to provide a review to ensure that the site (particularly in terms of transportation) is safe for younger children.

Planning Commission voted 4-1 to forward the recommendation to City Council but modified the proposal to specify a Type III review with broader outreach and an appeal path to City Council. The Commission also included a recommendation that part of the Portland Plan conversation should include setting up a process by which the City can take testimony on community infrastructure impacts of school closings and grade changes to inform City consultation with the School District. President Don Hanson was the dissenting vote, preferring the less onerous Type II review.

The result is that the School District will need to apply for Conditional Use review for 7 schools that were converted from middle schools to K-8 at a cost of about $75K. The Commission was cognizant of the cost impact on the district but felt strongly that the review was necessary.

(3:55pm) Schools and Parks Conditional Use – Recreational Fields

Planning Commission unanimously endorsed the staff proposal which shifts some fields changes (adding a new field next to an existing one, adding bleacher of a limited size, etc.) from Conditional Use review to a notification and comment process that can result in a Good Neighbor Agreement. The Commission emphasized that the Good Neighbor Agreements can only be successful if the Parks Bureau is serious about using revocation of use permits as a potential enforcement for violations that are not corrected.

(4:50pm) Election of Officers for 2010

President Hanson and Vice President Rudd were re-elected and Commissioner Shapiro was elected to the second vacant Vice President position.

(4:55pm) Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project

The Commission was briefed on station area plans, modal interface issues and development opportunities for the segment from Clinton to Tacoma.

(5:30) Director’s Report

Updates on the Portland Plan and budget processes.


Checking in on the Portland Plan Process

January 14, 2010

A few updates as the effort keeps on keeping on:

  • The city-wide compilation of survey results from the seven Portland Plan workshops is now available online. Over 900 people attended the workshops. While they were NOT representative of the City as a whole (the attendees were less diverse and more affluent than the overall population), the input of 900 motivated citizens is always informative. Transit, walkability and access to greenspaces and trails scored high.
  • You can still take the survey online! The Mayor has extended the deadline to March 31.
  • A new flyer is available for the three Planning Commission Hearings on the “existing conditions” that will inform the Portland Plan. While each hearing has a topic, we want to be clear that citizens are welcome to discuss any Portland Plan issue at any one of the three hearings. And City Council won’t formally adopt existing condition findings until closer to the end of the year, so don’t panic! Keep the conversation going… the first hearing is January 26th at 6pm.

Updated: Coming Up on January 12th

January 7, 2010

Update: Staff has released the briefing memos for recreational fields and grade changes.

The staff is recommending against the Planning Commission suggestion to require a conditional use review when changing grades in a school across the elementary school/middle school boundary. I expect a lively discussion.

Original Post – December 27th, 2009:

Official Agenda

3:00pm – Schools and Parks Conditional Use Code Refinement Project: Grade Level Changes (Work Session / Recommendation)

Schools and Parks Conditional Use Code Refinement Project: Recreational Fields (Work Session / Recommendation)

4:30pm – Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project: Clinton Station to Tacoma Station (Briefing)


Readers Digest Version of Portland Plan Documents

January 6, 2010

Earlier in the week I enthused about all the great info in the Portland Plan background reports.

The project team has just put up summary document that takes the executive summary from each background report and combines them in one easy-to-download PDF file for those of you who used the Cliff Notes in college. All that policy squeezed into 75 pages…


How I Spent My Christmas Vacation: Geeking Out on the Portland Plan Documents

January 4, 2010

OK, I’m a wonk. I spent a chunk of my holiday break curled up with two three-ring binders worth of background reports – and found it fascinating.

But you don’t have to wade through thousands of pages to comprehend the issues. The project team has produced a great handbook that lays out the key issues in about 40 pages. I think this is really helpful. We used the handbook approach during the development of the Streetcar System Concept Plan and citizens told us it helped them comprehend the issues.

But I don’t want to diminish the background reports themselves. They are an amazing compilation of the key programs, systems and infrastructure that comprise the City. And they comprehensively and clearly lay out the opportunities, challenges and policy trade-offs that we’re going to have to grapple with. If you’re ready to dig in (or just graze a bit), here’s the full list:

Arts and Culture (PDF)
Arts and Culture – Overview (PDF)
Arts and Culture – Snapshot (PDF)
Economic Development (PDF)
Economic Development – Overview (PDF)
Economic Development – Snapshot (PDF)
Economic Opportunities Analysis (PDF) – Task 1 – Trends, Opportunities and Martket Factors
Economic Opportunities Analysis (PDF) – Task 2/3 – Supply and Demand
Economic Opportunities Analysis (PDF) – Task 4 – Alternative Choices
Energy (PDF)
Energy – Overview (PDF)
Energy – Snapshot (PDF)
Evaluation of Economic Specialization (PDF)
Food Systems (PDF)
Food Systems – Overview (PDF)
Food Systems – Snapshot (PDF)
Food Systems Maps (PDF)
Historic Resources (PDF) – Report 1: Key Findings and Recommendations
Historic Resources (PDF) – Report 2: Data and Maps
Historic Resources (PDF) – Report 3: Understanding Historic Resources in Portland
Historic Resources – Overview (PDF)
Historic Resources – Snapshot (PDF)
Housing – Overview (PDF)
Housing – Snapshot (PDF)
Housing Affordability (PDF)
Housing and Transportation Cost Study (PDF)
Housing Supply (PDF)
Human Health and Safety (PDF)
Human Health and Safety – Overview (PDF)
Human Health and Safety – Snapshot (PDF)
Infrastructure – Snapshot (PDF)
Infrastructure Condition and Capacity (PDF)
Infrastructure Condition and Capacity – Overview (PDF)
Infrastructure Condition and Capacity Maps Part 1 (PDF)
Infrastructure Condition and Capacity Maps Part 2 (PDF)
Natural Resource Inventory (PDF)
Natural Resource Inventory – Overview (PDF)
Natural Resource Inventory – Snapshot (PDF)
Public Schools (PDF)
Urban Forestry (PDF)
Urban Forestry – Overview (PDF)
Urban Forestry – Snapshot (PDF)
Urban Form (PDF)
Urban Form – Overview (PDF)
Urban Form – Snapshot (PDF)
Watershed Health (PDF)
Watershed Health – Overview (PDF)
Watershed Health – Snapshot (PDF)

If you’d like to read hardcopies of these, rather than download them, they’re available in your local library branch or neighborhood coalition office.

My compliments to the staff (in many bureaus) who produced these reports. I doubt that many cities have this kind of comprehensive view available.

As we move through the process, I hope to highlight issues from a number of these reports in future posts!

And these documents are not just informative, they play an official role in the Portland Plan process. Planning Commission and City Council will hold hearings on and adopt this content as the ‘existing conditions’ for the Portland Plan and Comprehensive Plan. Planning Commission will hold a series of three hearings (download the flyer PDF) starting on January 26th. Come out and tell us what YOU think. See you there.