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Tigard ponders expanding downtown planning team

City Center Development Agency may draw on experts rather than just council


Have an interest in the future of downtown Tigard? The agency that regulates the downtown is considering opening up its ranks.

That group — the City Center Development Agency — is comprised entirely of members of the City Council.

As the CCDA, the council oversees revitalization efforts downtown as well as the city’s urban renewal plan.

For close to a decade, those decisions have been the responsibility of the City Council members, but Councilor Marland Henderson says he’d be interested in changing the way it and the City Center Advisory Committee — a group of downtown residents and business owners who make recommendations to the CCDA — are put together.

Councilors floated the idea at the CCDA’s meeting on Tuesday, but did not reach any final decision.

In 2006, voters approved an urban renewal district in the downtown area, and the CCDA oversees land-use planning in the district.

The council has been performing as the CCDA since its inception in 2006, but Henderson said he would like to see more experienced urban planners on the board.

“I just don’t see us being able to make those decisions, and I would allow a better, professional group to take over that,” Henderson said.

Henderson’s suggestion would be to get the councilors out of the development business all together, replacing them with a cadre of local professionals, including members of the banking community, real estate agents and lawyers.

The council would have final say over any final decisions.

“I don’t know that we as the council are the qualified people to be doing this,” Henderson said.

That idea didn’t draw much praise from other council members, though they did agree to consider expanding the CCDA’s membership.

The council could opt to keep the CCDA and CCAC exactly as they are.

If they do, they’ll be in line with the majority of the cities in Washington County.

According to Sean Farrelly, downtown’s redevelopment project manager, the majority of urban renewal boards around the Portland area are comprised of sitting city councilors.

“Behind all of this are the resources that these people bring to the table,” Henderson said. “We (city councilors) don’t bring any resources to the table, we just bring an opinion.”

The idea, said Tigard Mayor John L. Cook, is to expand the field of experts that the city draws from on matters of redevelopment and revitalization in downtown.

The group is also considering a similar change to the City Center Advisory Committee, a group of citizens which make recommendations to the CCDA about redevelopment projects downtown.

The CCAC currently includes local residents and business owners as well as one member with expertise in real estate development, urban planning or affordable housing, Farrelly said.

The councilors could opt to increase the number of professionals with experience in redevelopment areas.

The council is expected to take up the matter in January.

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