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BPS E-News, October 2013
Local governments have always struggled to convince people to come to a town meeting — and especially night meetings in the rain!
In Portland, while we have a culture of vibrant civic engagement, it’s still hard to convince people to leave their home and show up for a public discussion. In response, we have created a new, technically-responsive and fun community engagement tool.
The new tool is the online Map App. It is one of the first planning tools of its kind in the nation. This interactive map was created entirely in-house by our geographic information system (GIS) team. As BPS staff share this dynamic and engaging web-based mapping platform with the community, I am happy to see the level of discussion and the new ideas that are being proposed.
Four years ago, the newly formed Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) embarked on a strategic planning process, including a goal to find new ways to engage and inspire the community. The Map App is one way we are delivering on that goal and walking our talk.
The interactive series of maps show the geography and location of various policy proposals. Visitors to the Map App can view a variety of maps, overlay information layers, see areas of concern or change, make comments and view comments from others.
With our vision for a prosperous, healthy and equitable city, and our in-house expertise, BPS has created an opportunity within the Comprehensive Plan Update process for our work to be more accessible and relevant to all members of the community. For example, in mid-October we brought together about 50 members from the Comprehensive Plan Policy Expert Groups (PEGs) to discuss issues that overlap in order to align potential solutions. For example, they could discuss such integrated trends and issues as the overlap among: (1) park development, transportation needs, and income, or (2) housing projections, population growth and transit.
The Map App can be used in group settings, or from the comfort of your own home anytime of the day or night. The Map App has been picked up by some of Portland’s most active blogs, while local journalists have been immersing themselves in the maps, revealing an appetite for the data-rich content.
Within the Map App, you can make comments and leave them for staff and others to review. You can also share your comments via email, Facebook and Twitter (@PortlandBPS), including the specific maps where you have left comments. This is really an unprecedented opportunity for all members of the public to express their ideas clearly and offer feedback from home, or at their neighborhood or community meetings, and at whatever time and place is convenient for them.
Of course, the Map App doesn’t mean an end to community meetings. We will still be available to meet with your neighborhood or group. (See the Comprehensive Plan story to learn about upcoming Map App conversations in your area.) I hope you will engage with the Map App soon. Play with the various layers; combine content and geography and demographic characteristics; and then use the commenting “pins” to tell us what you think. Thousands of people have taken a look so far, we hope you will join the conversation soon.
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
BPS E-News, October 2013
The City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability recently announced a new contest to promote its garbage collection day email reminders. For every 1,000 Portland residents who go to www.garbagedayreminders.com to sign up for the free email reminders, the City will hold a drawing to select winners to receive a prize of a $100 garbage bill credit.
The contest is open to all single-family and smallplex (two- to four-unit) households and runs from today through March 1, 2014, or until ten winners are selected. To sign up for the reminders and be automatically entered for a chance to win, visit www.garbagedayreminders.com.
The collection day email reminder system was developed by the City of Portland as a resource for residents to help take the guesswork out of which containers to set out on collection day. The free, simple reminders are delivered to the resident’s email the afternoon prior to collection day. To date, over 6,000 households are registered to use the email tool. The goal of the contest is to increase that number to 17,000 registered households.
“It’s one less thing to try to remember every week. I signed up for the weekly reminders because I got tired of going out to the street in my pajamas to see which containers my neighbors set out,” said John Vincent Lovell, a Northeast Portland resident. “Now, I get a short email the afternoon before pickup day, set out my containers and I don’t think about it again until the reminder comes the next week.”
When residents sign up at www.garbagedayreminders.com, they can also find information about what goes into each container, how-to videos on composting and more.
“Congratulations to Portlanders for reaching a 70 percent recycling rate citywide,” said Charlie Hales, mayor of Portland. “These email reminders are one more way to make green choices even easier.”
It has been two years since Portlanders started adding food scraps to yard debris in the green Portland Composts roll cart and switched to every-other-week garbage collection. Almost 80 percent of Portland households are adding their food scraps to the green roll cart, which is converted into nutrient-rich compost that is used by local farmers and community gardens. Since the start of the program, 156,000 tons of food scraps and yard debris have been collected and household garbage headed to the landfill has decreased by an additional 37 percent.
BPS E-News, October 2013
The final step in the Comprehensive Plan Update process will be the adoption of priority measures to implement the new Comprehensive Plan, including a package of City Code and zoning map amendments. The scope of this task will be confirmed in late 2013, and work will proceed through July 2015.
Thanks to a grant from our partner agency Metro, plus additional funding from the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Department of Land Conversation and Development, several Comprehensive Plan implementation projects have been identified and advisory committees are being recruited (see Comprehensive Plan Update story), including:
Transportation System Plan and Related Work. The Transportation System Plan (TSP) is the long-range plan to guide transportation investments in Portland. The TSP Update will also satisfy Metro obligations to ensure consistency with the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).
Mixed Use Zones Project. The Mixed Use Zones Project will develop new mixed use planning and zoning designations that can be applied to implement the Centers and Corridors concepts that emerged with the Portland Plan and are proposed in the Comprehensive Plan. The project will focus on the city’s commercial and central employment zones as well as the places outside the Central City where these zones are applied. This project is supported by a Metro Construction Excise Tax (CET) Grant. The City was also recently awarded a State Transportation and Growth Management (TGM) Grant to examine parking management policy in these same areas. That grant is being managed by the Bureau of Transportation but will be closely coordinated with the Mixed Use Zones Project.
Institutional (Colleges and Hospitals) Zoning Project. This project will develop new campus institution zoning procedures and standards and identify infrastructure investments that could facilitate institutional employment growth.
Additionally, members of the former Economic Development Policy Expert Group (PEG), the Watershed Health and Environment PEG and other community members have formed an Industrial Land and Watershed Health Working Group. The Working Group has been advising BPS on the Comprehensive Plan policies and implementation approaches to meet both the economic development and watershed health goals in the Portland Harbor and Columbia Corridor industrial areas. This work could lead to changes in the zoning map or development code for prime industrial employment land.
Metro is also funding the Inner Powell-Outer Division and Development Project, which is not part of Comprehensive Plan implementation. This project will be similar to the Barbur Concept Plan in that it will create a vision and development strategy for key investment focus areas and identify a preferred transit mode and alignment — in preparation for high capacity transit along the corridor.
BPS E-News, October 2013
This year some Portlanders might take advantage of an online mapping tool that allows neighbors to say whether or not they will hand out Halloween treats. A new feature provided by the social media platform for neighborhoods and their associations, Nextdoor.com, the “Halloween Treat Map” takes trick-or-treating to a new level of community awareness.
The Map App is an interactive series of maps showing the geography and location of various policy proposals. Visitors to the Map App can view a variety of maps, overlay multiple map layers, see areas of concern or change, make comments and view comments from others.
For example, at a meeting in mid-October of Comprehensive Plan Policy Expert Group (PEG) members where the Map App was unveiled, participants used the tool to help answer questions about new town centers in East Portland and Southwest. With the Map App, they were able to see how transit and infrastructure improvements in East Portland need to be coordinated, and cautioned against putting all the right things in an area (sewer, parks, sidewalks, etc.) without providing access to transit. For Southwest, they were able to confirm with the demographic map layer that many residents are aging in place and recommended providing services that address their changing needs.
A new Urban Design Framework is also visible in the Map App and shows Portland’s future proposed physical form. The draft framework focuses growth in neighborhood centers and along travel corridors, identifies key transportation connections, and fosters a system of habitat corridors — all while being sensitive to the unique geographies and characteristics of different parts of the city.
The Map App is designed to solicit answers to questions, such as:
Part 2 of the Comprehensive Plan Update also includes the Citywide Systems Plan (CSP), a 20-year coordinated infrastructure plan that updates the City of Portland’s 1989 Public Facilities Plan.
Staff have been sharing the Map App and the CSP with the community through information and brownbag sessions. But to get at more locally specific issues, the District Liaisons and other staff members will be holding Mapping Conversations in East, West and North Portland in November, where they will be using the Map App.
“This is really the most transparent we can be,” said Marty Stockton, community outreach coordinator. “Giving the community the same information, the same overload of information we struggle with, and saying, ‘This is your story too. You can work with it and interact with it as well.’”
Sunday, November 3
1 – 4 p.m.
Conversation to cover proposed town centers and dispersed industrial lands.
Saturday, November 16
9 a.m. – noon
Multnomah Arts Center
7688 SW Capitol Hwy [Google map link]
Conversation to cover proposed town centers and where growth is appropriate given infrastructure constraints.
Wednesday, November 20
6:30 – 9 p.m.
University of Portland
Chiles Center, Hall of Fame Room
6605 N Portsmouth
Conversation to cover proposed centers and potential key land use changes.
Since its inception, public involvement for the Comprehensive Plan Update (CPU) has been guided, monitored and evaluated by an advisory committee of dedicated community members. Convened during the early days of the Portland Plan, the Community Involvement Committee (CIC) is in need of new members, particularly youth, older adults and people of color.
“The Community Involvement Committee is Portland being Portland,” said CIC member Peter Stark, a local architect. “No other metropolitan city would spend as much effort working directly with its community members and businesses to ensure they have a voice in planning their own future. We are not a watchdog committee; we collaborate directly with city staff, creating effective positive changes.”
The CIC reviews and provides input on the public involvement efforts for the Comprehensive Plan Update. This advisory committee also makes recommendations to project staff and to the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) to ensure outreach efforts for the plan are as inclusive and effective as possible. Learn more about the committee and application process.
Applications will be accepted through Friday, November 1, 2013. Final consideration and appointments will be made by the Mayor and approved by City Council by November 2013.
BPS E-News, October 2013
At an open house in the 1900 Building last week, the West Quadrant Project Team shared with the public new urban design principles and draft concepts for the Central City’s west side. Spanning distinct districts from Goose Hollow to China Town, the maps were developed from the week-long June Charrette, direction from the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC), and input from numerous meetings, workshops, interviews, a public survey and public testimony. Roughly 50 people attended the event, chatted with staff and filled out feedback forms.
The eight urban design principles -— or organizing ideas — for urban form are rendered in elegant, simple hand drawn maps and describe ways to strengthen and connect places, embrace the river, design with nature, expand housing, grow employment, extend the retail core, and shape the skyline along the Central City’s west side.
As Project Manager Karl Lisle told The Oregonian at the open house, planners, stakeholders, business people and the community would like to see more people living along the waterfront, creating neighborhoods at the river’s edge. “We've got [Waterfront] park," Lisle said. "But couldn't it be more?"
But how exactly does the City do that? The tools that planners use can help determine land use emphases, attractions and special places, maximum building heights, street and development character, open space and parks, and green systems — all of which are shown in the draft concept layers.
These layers — along with four modal concept layers (transit, pedestrians, motor vehicles and bicycles) from the Portland Bureau of Transportation - were discussed at the September and October SAC meetings. Project staff are seeking input from a wider audience to further refine and develop a preferred approach.