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City's 'Comprehensive Plan' unveiled at Franklin High

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Russ Grandgeorge, a Woodstock resident, learns about 'Urban Design Framework' from Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability City Planner Lora Lillard.Many Portlanders took advantage of the open house held by the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability on February 28 to examine the first draft of Portland’s “Comprehensive Plan”.

In the library at Franklin High, after school hours, planners set up stations with color posters that summarized each of the seven chapters of the Comprehensive Plan:

1. Community Involvement

2. Housing

3. Economic Development

4. Watershed Health and Environment

5. Urban Design and Development

6. Public Facilities

7. Transportation

Some visitors toured the main exhibition area, while others entered classrooms to attend Infrastructure Investments breakout sessions on the subjects of equity, maintenance, growth, upgrades, and safety.

“We’re here spreading the word about the new draft of the Comprehensive Plan,” Eric Engstrom, Principal Planner with Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, told THE BEE.

The Portland Plan – the City’s “Strategic Plan” – was adopted by a Portland City Council Resolution about a year ago, Engstrom reminded.

The Portland Plan focused broadly on the different endeavors of government in Portland. The Comprehensive Plan is a “subset”, said Engstrom, focusing on issues relating to development, planning, transportation, and infrastructure – particularly around development issues.

Released this January, the Comprehensive Plan, Engstrom commented, was now revealed in its “first public draft”. “We've described it as a ‘60% draft’. We’re not reinventing the whole Comprehensive Plan; much of it came from the existing, previously-adopted Comprehensive Plan.

“This is the first step in integrating some of the new ideas coming out of the [new] Portland Plan, adopted in spring 2012,” the City Planner explained.

“Over the summer and into the fall, we took key policies from the Portland Plan, and integrated them into the city’s Comprehensive Plan. It’s a more on-the-ground policy-document that has legal weight in areas such as land use and transportation decision-making.”

While many residents won’t read the Comprehensive Plan cover to cover, Engstrom conceded, it does contain specific issues people care about. “Some of these might be like our parking policy – that certainly has been an issue in the news. Also, we’re trying to roll in the policies that came out of the Bike Plan for Portland. There’s certainly a big constituency there, as well.”

The Bureau is also working to make improvements to the Transportation Plan, and the Streetcar System Plan “is something we’re looking at – specifically about how it relates to growth management.”

Engstrom reflected about how many people are talking about the financial feasibility of a lot of long-term plans. “Mayor Hales has been going forward with the idea living with a ‘constrained reality’. Part of the Comprehensive Plan, and the System aspect of it, has to do with ranking the list of projects, and bringing some financial reality.”

So, if a person cares about finances, and taxes, and the city’s financial viability – that is, how the city government is reconciling project lists with financial ability – they should become aware of, and comment on, the Comprehensive Plan, Engstrom urged. “It’s kind of wonky in some ways, but it affects everyone, and how they live.”

Pam Quinlan, an attendee from the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood, looked at the exhibits and had “quite a discussion” with Engstrom, as she told THE BEE.

“My concerns stem from what I saw happening in my old neighborhood, near Richmond – the very ugly, no-parking apartment buildings,” Quinlan remarked. “I’m really afraid this is going to happen in the Woodstock neighborhood.”

For those who couldn’t attend one of the citywide open house events, the Bureau has put many of the open house materials online at: www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/57352.

And, citizens can chime in by taking an online survey that will be open until Tuesday, April 30 online at: www.surveymonkey.com/s/working-draft-part-1.

To prepare for the “Comprehensive Plan Working Draft, Part 2”, Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability District Liaisons will be talking with community stakeholders during this spring to gather district-specific information, comments, preferences, and ideas, to shape draft-maps and to connect the policies with geographically-specific mapping possibilities.

For more information, or to be added to a mailing list for meeting notices, e-mail Christina Scarzello at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..