Archive for March, 2010


Meeting Summary 3/23/10

March 23, 2010

“Why is a banana not like a tree?”

That was perhaps the most entertaining piece of testimony this evening. The answer: all the value in a banana is contained inside the skin, while the value of a tree spreads all over the neighborhood.

The testimony tonight on the proposed tree plan split into two camps:

Majority – trees provide lots of value, let’s get more, this proposal is the path to that end

Minority – This is solution in search of a problem, my land, my trees, leave me alone

Of course, that’s a gross simplification, and folks did provide a great deal of detail on specific concerns and issues that need to be addressed. Staff will come back to the combined commissions (we met in joint session with the Forestry Commission and will again for the next hearing) on April 13th with suggestions on how to proceed. The public record remains open and in-person testimony will be accepted again on the 13th.

There is one undeniable fact – in the current budget climate, it is very unlikely that the additional staff projected to be needed to enforce the new code provisions could be funded. So it’s possible we’ll arrive at an interim step, perhaps consolidating the disparate code sections into a new title as suggested and maybe producing the new tree manual, but not ramp up some of the implementation items. We’ll see.

Stay tuned, there’s still a lot to be discussed…


Tree Trade-offs

March 22, 2010

Written testimony is beginning to come in about the proposed tree plan – in advance of tomorrow night’s hearing.

While the bulk of submissions are very supportive, a number call into question whether increasing the tree canopy could crowd out some other uses, including:

  • Dense housing
  • Rooftop solar installations
  • Backyard gardens

What do you think? Do we  have room for trees and all the other things we want? Come out tomorrow and tell us!


Coming Up on March 23rd

March 18, 2010

Official Agenda

Trees, it’s all about trees.

We’re holding a joint hearing with the Forestry Commission, to take testimony on the proposed new tree policy.

This is an attempt to rationalize multiple sections of the City Code that deal with trees. Perhaps more significantly to some, it will seek to regulate a larger portion of the trees in the City, including some tree in the backyards of single-family homes. I expect that some people (including me) will think this is a big deal.

Come out and tell us if you think the benefits are worth the additional regulation.


Phase II Portland Plan Workshops

March 11, 2010

The dates for the Phase II workshops are set!

This phase is all about setting direction:

In this phase, we will consider where we want to go. What are our targets, and how might we get there? What are the things we could do to move in the right direction?

Don’t miss the workshop near you:

April 26, 6:30–9 pm
Central Catholic High School, Cafeteria
2401 SE Stark Street
Portland, OR 97214

April 29, 6:30–9 pm
Beaumont Middle School Cafeteria
4043 NE Fremont Street
Portland, OR 97212

May 1, 10 am–12:30 pm
University Park Community Center
Multi-purpose Gym
9009 N Foss Avenue
Portland, OR 97203
*childcare provided in Cesar Chavez room

Central City
May 10, 6:30–9 pm
University of Oregon, White Stag Block
Rooms 142 & 144
70 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR 97209

May 15, 10 am–12:30 pm
David Douglas High School, Cafeteria (North)
1001 SE 135th Ave
Portland, OR 97233
*childcare provided in room #122

May 18, 6:30–9 pm
Jackson Middle School Cafeteria
10625 SW 35th Avenue
Portland, OR 97219


Get Your Geek On

March 9, 2010

For those of you who are pining for the last set of Portland Plan workshops and can’t wait for round 2 (more on that later) we’ve got a fix for you.

There’s a technical team for each of the 9 subject areas in the Portland Plan, and they’re holding workshop meetings that you can sit in on, and informally discuss the topics with the team.

Here’s the full set:

To prepare for Phase II, we have established nine Technical Action Groups (TAGs), one for each of the Portland Plan action areas. The TAGs include staff from City bureaus and our 19 partner agencies. They have synthesized the thousands of comments from the public meetings and surveys, the data from the VisionPDX process and information from the Portland Plan Background reports ( The result of this work will be the basis for the information shared during the Phase II workshops in April and May.

The TAGs are convening additional work sessions during March to review information that will help shape the development of the Phase II workshops. Each of you has special expertise in different arenas. We would appreciate your involvement in these workshops to help us set direction for the next steps for the Portland Plan.

Please join us at one or more of the meetings listed below. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves!

Sustainability and the Natural Environment

Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

1900 SW 4thAvenue, Portland, Oregon 97201 – Room 2500A (2nd Floor)

Human Health, Food and Public Safety

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 6:00-8:00 p.m.

1900 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97201 – Room 2500 (2nd Floor)

Neighborhoods and Housing

Thursday, March 18, 2010, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

1900 SW 4thAvenue, Portland, Oregon 97201 – Room 2500B (2nd Floor)

Education and Skill Development

Wednesday, March 24, 2010, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

1900 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97201 – Room 2500 (2nd Floor)

Transportation, Technology and Access

Thursday, March 25, 2010, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204 – Room C (2nd Floor)

Arts, Culture and Innovation

Monday, March 29, 2010, 6:00-8:00 p.m. Tuesday, March 23, 2010 6:00-8:oo p.m.

1900 SW 4thAvenue, Portland, Oregon 97201 – Room 7A (7th Floor)

Prosperity and Business Success

Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 7:30-9:30 a.m.

1900 SW 4thAvenue, Portland, Oregon 97201 – Room 7A (7th Floor)

Design, Planning and Public Spaces

Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center “Ecotrust” – Billy Frank, Jr. Conference Center

721 NW 9th Avenue, Portland, Oregon  97209

Equity, Quality of Life and Civic Engagement

Thursday, April 1, 2010, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

1120 SW 5th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204 – Room C (2nd Floor)

For more information, please visit:


Meeting Summary – 3/9/10

March 9, 2010

12:30pm Briefing on Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Conceptual Design Report

Just a warm-up for the hearing next month (April 13).

1:14pm Hearing on Portland Plan background documents

Some of the testimony points toward a conflict point we’re likely to see later in the process: environmentalists lining up to support natural resource protections, and economic interests arguing for lighter regulation.

3:04pm Hearing on rezoning of Oregon Sustainability Center site

No public testimony and an affirmative vote on rezoning from RX to CX after a quick briefing. The only policy question was the impact of reducing the residential requirement and the staff report makes clear that plenty of capacity has been created in the Central City recently to offset the potential loss on this site.


Coming Up on March 9th

March 7, 2010

Official Agenda

12:30pm – A briefing on the Conceptual Design Report for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project. A warm-up for a hearing on the same topic in April.

1:15pm – A hearing on land supply assumptions for the Portland Plan. How much space for housing will we need? How much for industry? Offices? Come out and question our assumptions!

This is the last of our three hearings on the background reports for the plan. Don’t miss your opportunity to resolve any doubts…

2:15pm – Hearing on a zoning change for the proposed new sustainability center. Essentially, we’re being asked to remove the requirement for housing from this site. The report suggests that recent increases in zoned density in the North Pearl and other locations more than offsets any loss of housing under the City’s “no net loss” policy.


ADUs Get Easier

March 3, 2010

Two City Council actions this week will make building Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs – aka “Granny Flats”) much easier.

Today City Council voted to waive system development charges (SDCs) for ADUs for the next three years. They received testimony that SDCs can be up to 20-25% of the cost of an ADU project.

Tomorrow Council will (I hope) finalize the RICAP 5 project which includes increasing the maximum size of ADUs from 33% of the size main dwelling to up to 75% of the size the main dwelling (an overall maximum of 800 sq. ft. still remains, so this means that smaller houses can now get ADUs).

I hope this will raise the number of ADUs being built annually from about two dozen (at least those that are legally permitted) to a considerably higher number. In my view ADUs are a very good thing because:

  • They create affordable housing
  • They leverage existing urban infrastructure to increase density with very little community impact
  • They help homeowners pay their mortgage