My View: Process for West Quadrant plan worked
The recent article in the Portland Tribune regarding the West Quadrant plan is deeply troubling because much of the information provided by the people quoted is misleading at best and dishonest at worst.
The Downtown Neighborhood Association, along with Old Town Chinatown and the Pearl District, not only had representatives on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee, but all of the items we advocated for (multimodal transportation infrastructure to reduce pedestrian/vehicle/bike conflicts, increased density, and more trees in the areas around public housing) were incorporated into the final plan.
Everyone on that committee and everyone who followed the process knew who owned which parcels of undeveloped land. Further, when a zone change was proposed for a parcel adjacent to the South Park Blocks, I personally represented the neighborhood's position and testified in opposition; the SAC listened and declined to change the zoning requested by the developer-owner.
In sum, the process worked. Eighty-seven percent of downtown residents are renters and our interests were fully represented. All of the stakeholders successfully worked together to create a plan that accurately reflected consensus on what Portland should look like in 20 years.
It is deeply troubling that people who have a long demonstrated history of being unwilling to collaborate with others are successfully derailing years of work on the Central City 2035 plan. It is not a secret that Wendy Rahm was one of the authors of the ombudsman complaint.
It might not be as well known that the West End pieces of land she is fighting the hardest to keep below 100 feet are sites that would directly impact the views from her condo, which also qualifies as a conflict of interest — one that she has no desire to disclose. Michael Mehaffy and others on the Goose Hollow Foothills League board have spent years attacking the former GHFL board members, especially the developers, who did not oppose the Block 7 proposal. They also clearly have an ax to grind and a financial interest in protecting the views from their condos.
While it is important for people to be honest about their financial conflicts of interest, it is unreasonable to dismiss the work of a large Stakeholder Advisory Committee that spent countless hours researching, discussing and reaching consensus on a long-term development plan for the West Quadrant. It is even worse to see that people who refuse to participate productively within the system are succeeding at undermining it, regardless of the cost to everyone else in Portland.
In short, please don't legitimize bad actors on the pretext that the entire process was flawed. While the process around conflicts of interest can and should be improved, it also is important to know that the process worked and consensus was reached.