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BPS News: New Solarize projects will help North, Northwest Portland homeowners go solar

Neighbors West-Northwest and North Portland Neighborhood Services collaborate to launch Solarize North and Solarize NW

BPS News

Wednesday January 26, 2010

CONTACT

Christine Llobregat
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
503-823-7007

New Solarize projects will help North, Northwest Portland homeowners go solar

Neighbors West-Northwest and North Portland Neighborhood Services collaborate to launch Solarize North and Solarize NW

Portland, ORE -- North and Northwest Portland area homeowners looking to control their energy costs by using solar electricity have a new helping hand to guide them through the steps of a home installation. Solarize Northwest and Solarize North Portland are two new grassroots, community-based projects coordinated by Neighbors West -Northwest and North Portland Neighborhood Services.

Free workshops makes going solar easy and affordable

Solarize Portland neighborhood projects are designed to simplify the process of going solar and bring cost reductions through volume purchasing. Free workshops make the process easy to understand by covering topics such as the size of system to purchase, budgeting and financing, and how to get started.

The City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the nonprofit organization Energy Trust of Oregon are working together to support the launch of Solarize Northwest and North Portland, and can help any Portland neighborhood associations or groups interested in operating Solarize projects. For these two projects, the City of Portland is providing strategic assistance and coordination, and Energy Trust is providing technical assistance and cash incentives to help lower the upfront cost of the solar electric systems. Also, Solar Oregon is offering educational workshops and providing database services.

Portlanders are confident about solar energy

With almost eight megawatts (MW) of solar power installed across the city (enough energy to power almost 700 homes) - Portlanders have helped prevent 4,000 metric tons of carbon emissions. The City of Portland is nearing its goal for installing 10 MW by 2012. There are currently 600 residential solar electric systems (also known as photovoltaics or PV), totaling 1.6 MW, installed in Portland. The growth of the local residential market has experienced a 400 percent increase in installations from 2008 to 2010.

For more information about the history of the Solarize programs, visit www.portlandonline.com/bps/solarize

About Neighbors West-Northwest Coalition

The Neighbors West-Northwest Coalition (NWNW) promotes direct participation in grassroots democracy by supporting community efforts at the neighborhood level. Our services advance the voices of our constituent Neighborhood Associations as they strive to create livable, sustainable and equitable communities. www.nwnw.org

About North Portland Neighborhood Services

North Portland Neighborhood Services (NPNS), located in the Historic Kenton Firehouse, is the neighborhood office that serves residents in the 11 neighborhood associations in the North Portland district. www.npnscommunity.org

About the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

To create and enhance a vibrant city, BPS combines the disciplines of planning and sustainability to advance Portland's diverse and distinct neighborhoods, promote a prosperous and low-carbon economy, and help ensure that people and the natural environment are healthy and integrated into the cityscape. BPS provides a forum for community engagement and education, and is a catalyst for action. With a city full of partners, BPS develops creative and practical solutions on issues as far ranging as comprehensive, neighborhood and environmental planning, urban design, waste reduction and recycling, energy efficiency and solar technologies. This innovative, interdisciplinary approach strengthens Portland's position as an international model of sustainable development practices and commerce. www.portlandonline.com/bps

About Energy Trust of Oregon

Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and tapping renewable resources. Our services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save nearly $600 million on energy bills. Our work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future. Learn more at www.energytrust.org or call 1-866-368-7878.

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N/NE Quadrant SAC #4: Meeting Summary

The N/NE Quadrant Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee held a successful meeting on Thursday, January 20th, setting the stage to move on to the next phase of the planning process - development of preliminary alternatives for the future of this quadrant of the Central City. Highlights from the meeting include:

  • The project goals and scope were finalized. These will be used to shape recommendations made by the Committee during the planning process. The scope sets parameters for what will be addressed by this project.
  • A preliminary set of Issues, Opportunities and Constraints in the planning area were presented by staff and discussed by committee members. This information represents a synthesis of input received from a broad range of stakeholders, including feedback collected at public events.
  • A discussion of the next phase of the planning process, which will result in preliminary concept alternatives about how the quadrant should grow and change over the next 25 years. Preliminary concepts are expected to be ready for public review and discussion in May.

The meeting agenda and materials are available here. Full notes from the meeting will also be available on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee's (SAC) page on once they're approved at the next SAC meeting.

Upcoming meetings include joint meetings of the Land Use and Transportation Subcommittees on February 9 and March 2 (tentative), and the full SAC on March 10. See the calendar for times and locations.

Special thanks to the Calaroga Terrace Retirement Community, which donated the meeting space and refreshments for this meeting. Calaroga Terrace is located within the N/NE Quadrant Project's planning area.

Portland City Council considers overhaul of tree regulations

February 2 hearing gives Portlanders a chance to comment on new proposal to protect trees

In response to neighborhood concerns about the state of Portland's tree rules and loss of trees to development, the Portland City Council launched the Citywide Tree Project in 2007.

On Wednesday, February 2 at 6 p.m., City Council will hold a public hearing on the Citywide Tree Policy Review and Regulatory Improvement Project (a.k.a. "Citywide Tree Project"). Council will consider the recommendations of the Urban Forestry Commission and Portland Planning Commission (now the Planning and Sustainability Commission), as well as input from Portland residents and community organizations.


Working closely with community stakeholders for more than three years, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) led a multi-bureau effort to review and revamp the existing rules for trees.


Last year, the Portland Planning Commission and Urban Forestry Commission held a public hearing on an initial draft proposal.  The commissions heard broad community support for stronger tree protection and replacement requirements. Developers expressed concern about the potential impact of the rules on project cost and housing affordability. 


The two commissions subsequently worked with City bureaus to further hone and streamline the proposal. As a result, the proposal before the City Council:

  • Consolidates the city's tree rules into a single new code title, which makes them easier to find, understand and administer.
  • Strengthens tree preservation and planting requirements the City applies when new development is proposed.
  • Includes specific exemptions and added flexibility to minimize development costs and make it easier to preserve trees on development sites. 
  • Standardizes and streamlines the existing tree permit system to encourage retention of large healthy trees where practical, and to ensure that larger trees are replaced when removed anywhere in the city.
  • Provides for enhanced customer service through a single point of contact for public inquiries and permit processing, a 24-hour tree hotline and a community tree manual.

"The City estimates that the Tree Project proposal will generate more than 100 acres of future tree canopy per year," states Susan Anderson, director of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, "helping to clean air and water, capture greenhouse gases, reduce energy demand and improve overall quality of life for Portlanders."


"There were certainly challenges with the existing tree code," writes David Nielsen, chief executive officer of the Homebuilders Association of Metro Portland, in a letter to City Council dated Jan. 24, 2011. "One of the goals of this process, as outlined by BPS, was to establish a clear, cohesive, consistent regulatory framework. I believe much progress was made to that end and that our few remaining, but very important, policy and code issues can be addressed to provide a better balance between tree preservation and development needs."

A "natural capital asset," Portland's trees provide benefits worth millions of dollars per year, and their replacement value is roughly $5 billion, according to a recent Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau study. Other studies show that neighborhood trees can increase home resale values, lower crime rates and improve physical and mental health.


In response to the fiscal constraints both the public and private sectors are facing, the Planning and Urban Forestry commissions recommended that the City Council phase the implementation of the proposal to provide time to ramp up, conduct public outreach, train staff, and manage and sequence project costs. 


"Regulations are one important tool, and this is a step in the right direction," says City Forester David McAllister, "but the City also needs to invest in public education, technical assistance, planting and maintenance to sustain the urban forest."


"Given expected population growth," Audubon Society's Conservation Director Bob Sallinger points out, "Portland needs stronger tools to preserve and refresh that canopy through the development process . What's on the books won't cut it."


"Dramatic increases in tree planting efforts over the past decade are a positive step toward increasing Portland's tree canopy," says Scott Fogarty, executive director of Friends of Trees and member of the project stakeholder committee. "But it's not enough. The City needs a strong regulatory framework to preserve and enhance the trees we already have." 

To read the Citywide Tree Project Recommended Draft to City Council, including a new project summary, please go to www.portlandonline.com/bps/treeproject. An updated set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) is also available. If you have trouble accessing the online documents, please request a CD or a set of report documents at the phone number and email address below.


For more information, please call 503.823.7855 or email BPSCTP@portlandoregon.gov.

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