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Creating new opportunities: Growing and distributing healthy food

BPS E-News Issue 10

The Food Policy Program has a full plate, as you can see by the articles elsewhere in this issue on our Urban Growth Bounty series and food zoning code review. In addition to city planning for better access and educational outreach, we continue to work with residents and businesses to create new opportunities for growing and distributing food. Good health is a cornerstone of sustainability and expanding our options for good food improves personal, environmental and economic health.
 
One notable project is a partnership with Mercy Corp Northwest's Agriculture Project. Nepalese refugees from Bhutan are growing a wide range of organic vegetable crops on city-owned land that had not been used for more than five years. The families are growing food for personal use and selling their produce to Reed College and farm shares through their own Growers Alliance CSA (community-supported agriculture). If you’re interested in a share (pickups are in Sellwood/Brooklyn and Old Town), contact them at 503-896-5076.


In addition to helping urban residents grow their own food, BPS builds awareness of the importance of supporting local farmers and provides technical assistance farmers markets and CSA farms. Several new farmers markets will open this year and you will find them (and a complete list of CSA farms) at www.portlandonline.com/bps/food.


If your group is interested in hearing more about food’s role in our lives, we’d be happy to schedule a speaker. Call Steve Cohen, 503-823-4225 for details.

City Council accepting comments on Citywide Tree Project until March 9

BPS E-News Issue 10

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 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.

Working closely with community stakeholders for more than three years, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability 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. And 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.

On Feb. 2, 2011, the Portland City Council launched a public hearing on the Citywide Tree Project Recommended Draft (dated December 2010). At the hearing, Council heard extensive testimony from Portland residents, neighborhood representatives, developer representatives, community organizations and public agencies. Mayor Sam Adams, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, and City staff introduced a number of amendments to the proposal as well.

City Council is still accepting public testimony on the draft and proposed amendments until Wednesday, March 9 at 2 p.m., when they will continue the hearing and consider amendments to the proposal.

The draft proposal, proposed amendments, written testimony and instructions for how to testify are posted at www.portlandonline.com/bps/treeproject

If you have questions about the Citywide Tree Project or proposed amendments please contact Roberta Jortner (503) 823-7855, Morgan Tracy (503) 823-6879, or Stephanie Beckman (503) 823-6042.

North, Northwest Portland neighbors offer free Solarize Workshops

BPS E-News Issue 10

North and Northwest Portland area homeowners can join hundreds of Portland households controlling their energy costs by investing in solar electricity. And, they now have a 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.

Solarize Northwest

Introductory Workshop
Saturday, March 5

10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Legacy Good Samaritan, Building 2
1015 NW 22nd Ave

Solarize North Portland

Introductory Workshop
Tuesday, March 29

6:30 - 8 p.m.
Kenton Firehouse
8105 N Brandon Ave


The 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.

In addition, any Portland homeowner or business can call our Solar Energy team at 503.823.7581, for free technical assistance when considering a solar installation.

River Plan update

BPS E-News Issue 10

For several years, the City has been working on an update to the Willamette Greenway Plan: the River Plan. This comprehensive plan addresses a broad set of issues for the land along the Willamette River, including supporting harbor Industries, revitalizing neighborhoods, enhancing recreation and ensuring the health of the river’s natural resources.

The River Plan / North Reach was adopted unanimously by the Portland City Council in April 2010. It was subsequently appealed by Gunderson, LLC; Schnitzer Steel Industries; and the Working Waterfront Coalition.

On Friday, Jan. 21, 2011, the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) remanded the plan back to the City. While LUBA did not agree with many arguments put forth by the appellants, it did rule that the environmental zones, the vegetation enhancement standard and the trail area might reduce the City’s supply of industrial land.

LUBA said that the City must quantify the net number of acres, if any, the new regulations may remove from industrial development, and evaluate the impact of any net reduction on the City’s inventory of industrial lands.

The City had an opportunity to appeal this decision to the Court of Appeals but decided it was in the best interest of the City to keep the plan moving forward. Before bringing a revised River Plan back to council, BPS will finalize an opportunities analysis. That analysis will go before the Planning and Sustainability Commission and City Council, likely in the Fall.

In more recent developments, Gunderson, et al, appealed the LUBA decision and filed petitions for judicial review with the Court of Appeals. The City has until March 25 to respond to industry’s arguments.

There have been several stories in the local press about the River Plan, the LUBA decision and appeals, including an op-ed by former Planning Commission Chair Don Hanson. To read it in the Oregonian, visit: http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2011/02/portlands_river_plan_keeps_on.html
 
The overall purpose of the River Plan is to balance economic development and protection with enhancement of natural resources. Until it is re-adopted, the Willamette Greenway Plan will continue to be in effect for river development.

Enhancing community: Urban Food Zoning Code connects you to local food

BPS E-News Issue 10

It’s no secret that Portlanders love their food. Whether from a farmers market, a community or backyard garden, one of the many established or innovative new restaurants, a neighborhood grocery store or a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm, we have many opportunities to enjoy the bounty of our region. This fertile environment for producing and sharing food has raised some questions about the zoning code and whether it still serves the interests and values of the community.

The Urban Food Zoning Code Update is the City of Portland’s first comprehensive look at how zoning code regulations affect traditional and emerging ways of producing and distributing food. Through a dynamic community discussion, this project will establish zoning code regulations that support Portlanders’ access to healthy food, at farmers markets and community gardens for example, while ensuring that surrounding neighborhoods are protected from impacts such as noise, traffic and pollutants.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) is working collaboratively with the Portland-Multnomah County Food Policy Council, which has studied zoning barriers for food production and distribution for many years. Together, we are leading a Project Advisory Group (PAG) that will help develop project proposals and engage the larger community. The first PAG meetings in January and February have focused on five topic areas:

  • Urban Food Production
  • Community Gardens
  • Farmers Markets
  • Community Food Distribution Sites
  • Animals and Bees


Multnomah County has awarded a Community Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) grant to BPS and Oregon Public Health Institute (OPHI). These funds will help to ensure health and equity are considered in this project and that decisions related to urban food production and distribution maximize public health benefits.

Join us for food code discussions

The next PAG meeting will review the summaries from these topic-area discussions and prepare for a citywide public review of the issues and possible solutions in April and May. PAG meetings are open to the public, and announcements and agendas are posted at: www.portlandonline.com/bps/foodcode.

 

How to Stay Informed

  • Get on the project mailing list for updates and announcements.

  • Follow our project news RSS feed.

  • Visit the project website for updates and public review opportunities.

  • Participate in or follow the discussions of the Project Advisory Group.

Project Contacts

Julia Gisler, Process Manager/Public Involvement
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
503.823.7624

Steve Cohen, Food Policy and Programs
Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
503.823.4225