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City Council takes next steps on River Plan

BPS E-news Issue 9

On December 1, 2010, the Portland City Council took the next steps toward making the River Plan a reality for the North Reach of the Willamette River. The River Plan is the first update to the Willamette Greenway Plan in over 20 years. 

The River Plan / North Reach provides certainty for industrial development in the working harbor. It also helps ensure that the location and design of development has the least impact on natural resources and the applicant first avoids, then minimizes and finally mitigates for impacts that occur as a result of the project.  

Industrial stakeholders requested that the River Plan include an option of paying a fee in lieu of environmental mitigation to allow them to maximize on-site development potential. On December 1 City Council accepted a report that outlined how these in-lieu fees would be calculated.

The Bureau of Environmental Services is currently in the process of developing detailed pre-design cost estimates for two river restoration sites (Swan Island beaches and Doane Creek). The final in-lieu fees will be based on these sites and will be the subject of another City Council hearing in spring 2011.   

These optional in-lieu fees will be in place for two years or until a mitigation bank is developed. A mitigation bank manages land for natural resource values and sells credits created by resource enhancement.

At their meeting City Council also approved a conservation easement with the Siltronic Corporation, a mitigation plan for a portion of the University of Portland property and a new effective date of July 1, 2011 for the River Plan / North Reach.  

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is also beginning the update of the River Plan / Central Reach as part of the update of the Central City Plan. For more information on either of these projects please contact Sallie Edmunds: sallie.edmunds@portlandoregon.gov.

Portland's urban design issues, explained

BPS E-news Issue 9

This fall, the Urban Design Studio worked closely with BPS’s Central City team to release Design Central City, Volume I. Prepared as part of a trio of documents for phase one of the Central City 2035 Plan, this report is a starting point to discuss some of the key urban design issues facing Portland’s central city today.  Highlights include connections to the Willamette River, opportunities for places on the east and west sides of the river, and more diversity within streets and public spaces.

The vibrancy and financial success of Portland’s Central City can be attributed to coordinated and intentional urban design, land use and transportation planning. Future urban design efforts in the central city must be built on the solid structure of this past work while embracing new approaches to address a series of new challenges and pportunities, like climate change and an aging population.

Design Central City is intended to:

  • Frame and assess the existing urban design context of the central city.
  • Identify current urban design issues, tools, challenges and opportunities.
  • Suggest three guiding themes — reclaim the river, elevate the east side, and transform the public realm — to stimulate public discussion on the development of a new urban design concept for the central city.

Key findings from Design Central City:

  • One size does not fit all. The central city’s current urban design strategies are no longer adequate to address the complexity of today‘s urban design challenges.
  • There are opportunities for ‘intervention’ and ‘invention.’ Within the central city’s existing built fabric there are numerous infill sites ready for new interventions as well as larger unbuilt areas where new paradigms — inventions — should be encouraged and tested.
  • Urban design implementation tools should be recrafted. Currently, the public sector’s set of urban design implementation tools have become out of date, overly complicated, redundant, or ineffective.

To learn more about the report, visit the Urban Design Studio’s website. You can weigh in on these and other urban design issues for Portland’s Central City in March, 2011 as part of the CC2035 Symposium Series (see article in this issue of e-news). For event updates, visit www.portlandonline.com/bps/cc2035.

Rising energy costs motivate businesses to generate their own electricity with solar

BPS E-news Issue 9

Did you know that Portland businesses are increasingly finding successful ways to go solar? There are currently 131 commercial solar installations in Portland. The BPS Solar program provides free information about technology and incentives to guide businesses that are considering switching to solar for their energy needs.

One recent example of a local business going solar is Cloudburst Recycling. This local Portland hauler has tapped into the sun to generate electricity at their North Portland facility near the Fremont Bridge.  Installed in June 2010, the 23,900-watt solar energy system is anticipated to meet over 60 percent of the total annual electric load at the facility with clean, pollution-free electricity. Over the course of each year, the system will avoid the emission of over 10 tons of carbon emissions.  The system includes 104 photovoltaic modules manufactured by SolarWorld in Hillsboro, OR, and was designed and installed by a local solar contractor. In addition, they installed a water wash-down system, designed to help keep the panels clean for maximum efficiency.

“Through a combination of solar power generation, collecting waste vegetable oil to be used for biodiesel production, and conservation we hope to eventually produce most of the energy we consume in the course of providing our Waste Collection and Recycling services,” said David McMahon, founder of Cloudburst Recycling.

From their beginnings in 1975 as one of the first recycling companies in Portland, Cloudburst continues to be a leader in the environmental field and strives towards becoming energy self-sufficient. The solar installation and Cloudburst’s conservation practices highlight great steps for businesses to incorporate that save costs, support the local green economy, and help meet the City of Portland’s Climate Action Plan goals.  

Visit www.solarnoworegon.org/business.html for general information. Contact Jaimes Valdez at 503-823-7109 for technical assistance, information about technology and incentives, as well as on-site guidance visits .

Tree project goes to City Hall

BPS E-news Issue 9

Portlanders are surrounded by stunning natural beauty and many residents enjoy the city’s canopy of trees. But did you know that trees in your neighborhood actually increase property resale value, help reduce crime and improve mental and physical health? These are just some of the reasons why the City — in partnership with neighborhoods leaders, developers, arborists and others — has been working to foster the long-term health of our trees through the Citywide Tree Project, which goes before City Council in early February 2011.  

Inspired by community residents concerned about preserving neighborhood trees and making the Portland’s tree regulations more consistent, City Council launched the Citywide Tree Project in 2007. Council directed city bureaus to work up a proposal to make Portland’s tree rules more understandable, consistent and effective in protecting and enhancing this valuable natural asset. Now, after extensive collaboration with stakeholders and between City bureaus — and unanimous approval by Portland Planning Commission and Urban Forestry Commission — the Citywide Tree Project Recommended Report will soon be published for City Council consideration and adoption.

Council will hold a public hearing on the proposal Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2010, at 6 p.m. (time certain) in City Council chambers, City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Ave.

The Citywide Tree Project will establish a cohesive, consistent regulatory framework for trees in Portland — a framework that will protect and enhance the urban forest and support the City’s environmental, social and economic sustainability goals by:

  • Consolidating tree regulations under a new single tree code (Title 11, Trees).
  • Standardizing and streamlining Portland’s tree permit system, and creating a simpler permit process for homeowners.
  • Improving standards for tree preservation and planting when development is proposed, without causing undue increases in permitting timelines or development costs.
  • Improving customer service with a new 24-hour tree hotline, single point of contact for public inquiries, community tree manual and an online tree permit tracking system.
  • Generating more than 100 acres of future tree canopy per year through improved tree preservation and planting requirements.


The Citywide Tree Project proposal includes estimated costs and a budget to fund administration and enforcement of the updated regulations and the customer service improvements. A phased implementation strategy is proposed to provide time for public outreach, development of the tree manual and other informational materials. Project implementation is also tied to City budget stabilization, but the majority of the ongoing implementation costs can be supported through modest development fee increases.

The Citywide Tree Project Recommended Report to City Council will be published in mid-December and posted at www.portlandonline.com/bps/treeproject. The City will also be holding a public meeting to go over the project proposal and answer questions in early-mid January. If you have questions or are interested in being on the project mailing list, please notify project staff at BPSCTP@portlandoregon.gov.