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Look who was named to LO planning panel

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Former Metro Councilor Brian Newman quietly assumed a post on the Lake Oswego Planning Commission Tuesday, taking the volunteer position after an eight-month hiatus from public life.

Newman formerly represented urban Clackamas County at Metro, the regional agency governing land-use, where he served from 2002 to 2007. He resigned from the Metro Council Oct. 6, 2007 to become the director of campus planning and development for Oregon Health and Science University.

He was appointed to the Lake Oswego Planning Commission during a city council meeting Tuesday, which he did not attend.

Newman said he was recruited for the planning commission by Mayor Ju-die Hammer-stad after an-nouncing his resignation from Metro last fall.

'Judie encouraged me to apply and, to be honest, she contacted me the week I announced my departure from Metro and said, 'Hey, have I got a gig for you,'' said Newman.

At the time, the two had been serving on a Metro committee that directed work on the proposed Portland-to-Lake Oswego streetcar line.

On the Metro Council, Newman was a strong advocate for mixed-use developments along major transportation corridors, a major component of the agency's 2040 Concept for managing future growth.

Newman also worked with TriMet, along with Portland, Milwaukie and other governments, to increase transit to Clackamas County.

His political roots in the community - he began his political career by serving on the Milwaukie City Council from 2000 to 2002 - helped result in three new transit lines in the county that are either under construction or in the active planning stages.

Those lines include TriMet's new light-rail line along Interstate 205, the planned light-rail extension between downtown Portland and Milwaukie, and the proposed line between Portland and Lake Oswego.

Newman co-chaired the committee working on the Portland-to-Lake Oswego line with Rex Burkholder, on which Hammerstad also served.

At OHSU, Newman is now responsible for planning the new 20-acre Schnitzer campus in the South Waterfront area and other development projects.

He collaborates with a transportation planner at OHSU but does not oversee transportation projects at the university, where the Portland Streetcar is likely to make a stop and the Portland-to-Lake Oswego line is expected to connect nearby.

'As a planning commissioner, I'm an advocate for the streetcar and would continue shaping Foothills and the downtown to support (the) streetcar,' Newman said.

But he said his role in the process will be only a supportive one.

'I just want to be a member of the planning commission and play no larger a role than as a community volunteer,' he said.

Newman left the Metro council for the career opportunity at OHSU. A professional planner, he previously worked at the downtown Portland office of the Parsons Brinckerhoff planning firm.

Though he is occasionally wistful for public life, Newman said the appointment to the Lake Oswego Planning Commission should not be viewed as a political comeback.

Newman now lives in the unincorporated area between Lake Oswego and Rivergrove, commonly referred to as Indian Creek, where he is focused on work on his house, raising his three-year-old child and taking graduate-level courses in real estate development at Portland State University.

His appointment to the planning commission is one of five to recently fill recent vacancies on the seven-member board. Others include Mary Olson, Adrianne Brockman, Philip Stewart and Julia Glisson, who will serve a second term.

City rules require the volunteers have a background in planning and either live inside Lake Oswego city limits or in the adjacent area that relies on Lake Oswego for sewer and water services and parks.

Lake Oswego City Councilor John Turchi was one of three people to interview Newman for the post. He said the city requires previous planning experience for commissioners because each must know how to read and interpret land use codes.

'These are not light weights. Not that any of our committees are light weights but these people have to know what they're talking about,' Turchi said.

He called Newman's ap-pointment a 'fantastic' opportunity for Lake Oswego, one that brings regional expertise to an upcoming review of the city's guiding vision and to talks about density and transportation.