BDS Land Use Services Supervising Planner Sterling Bennett and City Planner II Nan Stark were invited by Portland State University Professor Ellen Bassett to speak to a class in the School of Urban Studies & Planning on Land Use Implementation. One focus of the graduate level course are the tools that planners use to implement land use objectives. The zoning code is one of those tools to direct use and development in a city. The topic for this week of the class was "working the counter - a practitioner's perspective".
As a supervisor for 10 years of BDS Planning & Zoning Section, Sterling was able to provide a lot of information and knowledgeable experience to the students. In addition he was able to add the expertise of Nan who is currently working in the Title 33 Land Use Review Section and continues to work one shift per week in the Development Services Center providing zoning information and reviewing plans over the counter.
The presentation began with Sterling giving an overview of the duties of the Planners who "work the counter" in the DSC and provided an example of a current plan under review for a new commercial building. He highlighted the issues that Planners look at including setbacks, height, building coverage, parking layout, landscaping, main entrance location, and, in this case, conformance with the approved design review.
Nan, a graduate of the PSU Masters of Urban Studies & Regional Planning program, recounted her journey to the Planning profession and inspired the approximately 40 students with her enthusiasm for planning as a profession. She emphasized a Planner's role as a steward of the urban and natural environment, as well as that of facilitator, communicator and advocate of the public interest.
As an example of her work in development review, Nan showed the PowerPoint presentation of a land use review case she had just recently presented in a hearing before the Land Use Hearings Officer that morning. A number of the students had attended the hearing as well. This particular case involved the redevelopment of a former gas station into a community service facility offering programs for seniors and youth. The project emphasized the re-use of the existing building and featured a number of "Green" building elements. All of the students were interested in the process that incorporates the code, approval criteria, and findings leading to a recommendation to the hearings officer and had lots of questions as they were given a look at an area of Planning that is often overlooked or downplayed in its importance to creating a more livable Portland.
BDS appreciates PSU incorporating them into their study curriculum and looks forward to the continued partnership.
For more information contact Supervising Planner Sterling Bennett at (503) 823-5378 or Outreach Program Coordinator Tiffani Penson at (503) 823-1109 to schedule future presentations.