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More neighborhoods going solar

BPS E-news Issue 6

Solarize Portland neighborhood projects around the city are installing solar electric (photovoltaic) panels at record rates. Thanks to volunteer-driven community efforts led by three Portland neighborhood coalition offices (northeast, southeast and southwest), renewable solar energy has become a reality for thousands of Portland homes. The combined neighborhood projects expect to install enough panels to generate nearly 1 megawatt of power.  Portland really is sunny enough for solar!
Solarize Portland neighborhood projects helps neighbors decide who to hire, what to budget, and where to start. Interested neighbors come together to choose a contractor, purchase and install solar as a community, and save significant costs as a result of bulk purchasing of solar electric panels.

When communities run their own volume purchasing programs, they reduce costs associated with a traditional solar installation. Job grouping, a defined project timeline and community-led marketing can contribute to an additional 15-20 percent savings.  This, coupled with Oregon’s already attractive tax credits and cash incentives, can reduce the cost of a solar electric installation by approximately 90 percent.

Northwest and North Portland neighborhood groups considering Solarize projects in northwest and north Portland, there are two neighborhood groups who are gauging interest in future Solarize Neighborhood Projects: Neighbors West-Northwest Coalition ( and North Portland Neighborhood Services (  If you live in one of these neighborhoods and would like to encourage these groups to move forward with a Solarize Neighborhood project, here’s how to show your interest:

Northwest Portland
Send an e-mail to

North Portland
Join the North Portland Facebook page

Don’t live in a Solarize Portland neighborhood?
If you don’t live in a Solarize Portland neighborhood or have missed the deadline for your neighborhood project, you can still install solar at competitive prices.  The cost of photovoltaics has never been better, and Oregon has some of the best tax credits and cash incentives nationwide.  To learn more about a home solar installation outside of a Solarize Neighborhood Project, visit to find qualified solar contractors through our program partner, Energy Trust of Oregon.

From our director, Susan Anderson: Planning through the lens of equity

BPS E-news Issue 6

Portlanders who lived here in 1980 won't ever forget the eruptions of Mt. St. Helens. Though somewhat less dramatic and explosive, many also will remember 1980 as the first time Portland created a long-range plan for its future.  

A lot has changed since then.  Thirty years ago, the big issues were a crumbling downtown, the OPEC oil crisis and a struggling economy based on natural resources. Now, our economy is more diverse—but still troubled. Our worries about oil shortages have grown to include climate change. And we now face an aging and more diverse population and educational inequities.

We clearly recognize that the face of Portland is changing. We are now home to immigrants from all over the world. Many of these residents live in East Portland, where it’s less expensive to rent or own a home. Much of East Portland was incorporated into the city relatively recently, and in terms of access to transit and amenities, educational opportunity and public safety, there are significant differences from the rest of the city.

East Portland represents only one area where Portlanders experience disparities, whether because of income, race, or ethnicity. Inequities also cross geographic lines and affect people because of their age, gender, sexual orientation and physical ability.

The issue of equity has been the focus of many recent news articles and editorials—a few examples include the OpEds by Carmen Rubio, Latino Network and Gerald Deloney of SEI as well as coverage of the report from the Communities of Color Coalition.

Throughout the Portland Plan and visionPDX processes to date, Portlanders have made it clear that our long-term plan for the community must include concrete actions that advance our equity goals and reduce the glaring disparities in educational, housing and economic opportunity, to name a few. During the recently completed Phase Two of the Portland Plan, community members were challenged to look at equity issues in all nine of the Portland Plan action areas, from education, housing and economic prosperity to transportation, sustainability and public health.

But what exactly do we mean by equity? According to the Coalition for a Livable Future, equity is the right of every person to have access to opportunities necessary for satisfying essential needs and advancing their well-being.

As we move forward with the Portland Plan, what will distinguish us in the future will not just be our land use policies, transit-oriented development and green economy, it will be our ability to sustain all Portlanders regardless of race, income, sexual preference, ability or age.  

We intend for all programs and projects at BPS—not just the Portland Plan—to use an equity lens to help shape their planning and implementation. Like the term “sustainability,” equity has social, economic and environmental meanings. At its core, it is about fairness and opportunity for all.


Susan Anderson

City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

In other Portland Plan news…

The community workshops for Phase Two have ended and roughly 500 people participated in this round of workshops, which featured live music, door prizes, healthy food, childcare and many special guests, including Neisha Saxena, Disability Rights of Oregon; Diane Hess, Fair Housing Council of Oregon; Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Portland City Council; and Tony DeFalco, Verde NW.  Mayor Sam Adams hosted the events, with the majority of workshop time devoted to group discussions around the nine action areas and the issue of equity.

The Portland Plan Community Involvement Committee presented its report on Phase One public engagement to the Planning Commission on June 8. View the report here

On July 13, staff will present updates to the Factual Basis (some of the background reports) for the Portland Plan and the Buildable Lands Analysis to the Planning Commission and again on July 27. Public testimony will be heard at both times.

Moving Forward
Over the summer, the Portland Plan team will be at dozens of summer fairs and events with an interactive game that will help us create strategies for Phase Three. As we move forward with the plan, we will discuss equity in greater depth and apply its principles to each of the objectives that we pursue. 

Connecting everyone to the Portland Plan

BPS E-news Issue 6

To imagine how Portland will evolve in 25 years, all one has to do is look at the student bodies of our schools: 46 percent of K-12 students in Multnomah County are people of color. Furthermore, 14 percent of Portlanders are immigrants from other countries. That means by 2035—the horizon of the Portland Plan—the demographic make-up of the City will be very different than it is today.

Population shifts are a given in any city over time, and Portland is following a national trend. To take advantage of this potential strength, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) is partnering with the Office of Neighborhood Involvement’s (ONI) Diversity and Civic Leadership (DCL) Program to engage diverse communities in the shaping of the Portland Plan in culturally appropriate, relevant and meaningful ways.  This partnership is also designed to build long-term relationships between the bureau and DCL organizations. Through capacity-building grants from the bureau, each partner organization will develop approaches that are best matched to the needs and interests of their particular communities and to the strengths and missions of each organization.  

The following organizations are participating:

* Latino Network cultivates the Latino community to strengthen community voice and support relationships between community members and service organizations.

* Center for Intercultural Organizing builds a multicultural, multiracial movement for immigrant and refugee rights.

* Urban League of Portland helps empower African Americans and others to achieve equality in education, employment and economic security through a combination of direct services, outreach and advocacy.

* Native American Youth and Family Center works to enrich the lives of Native American youth and families through education, community involvement and culturally specific programming.

* Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization provides employment, family, senior, training, health, youth and community development services for globally diverse immigrants and refugees who settle in Portland.

Since the visionPDX process began in 2005, the bureau has been hearing from Portlanders about the importance of listening to the entire community — not just the people coming to workshops and other meetings. Because DCL works to improve the neighborhood system by fully engaging residents of Portland from all cultural, social and economic walks of life, a partnership with them was key.

“I am excited to see the Portland Plan team working hard to include the voices of those who historically have not been included through addressing equity in the Portland Plan,” said Jeri Williams, DCL program manager at ONI. “I was thrilled to see the mayor’s commitment to equity in this process. I think he is dedicated to hearing from all Portlanders.”

The Portland Plan will be the city’s roadmap for the future, guiding our direction as the city grows and changes. In response to public comments, the staff is placing a high emphasis on the issue of equity for the Portland Plan, and Mayor Adams has tasked Commissioner Amanda Fritz to ensure the Portland Plan team is fully engaging with diverse communities within the city.

Many Portlanders are needed throughout the process of drafting, refining and implementing the Portland Plan, and these community groups will help ensure that Portlanders of diverse cultural and racial backgrounds will have a hand in the creation of the plan.

“Intentional and targeted outreach to these communities through the organizations that have existing relationships to them is key to collecting valuable input and feedback,” said Williams.

For more information about the Portland Plan, visit  

Planning and Sustainability Commission: A New Way to Guide Our Work

The City of Portland has proposed a new Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) as a means to ensure sustainability principles and practices are incorporated into policy, planning and development decisions. The PSC will build on the work of the Portland Planning Commission and the Sustainable Development Commission.

Today, Portland may lead the nation in creative planning and sustainability programs and projects, but we know there is much work to be done to keep our leadership position. In response, a year-and-a-half ago, City Council adopted a new approach, bringing together the Bureau

of Planning and the Office of Sustainable Development, creating the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. This bureau makes Portland distinct from other cities and helps ensure that sustainability is an integral part of all long-range planning and management of the City.

Similar innovations and synergies can be expected from creating the PSC.By bringing the two commissions together, Portland continues to take an integrated approach to looking at long-range planning through a sustainability-focused lens. In addition to environmental, economic and community sustainability, the PSC will ensure equity awareness is incorporated into planning decisions as well.

In the near-term, the Planning and Sustainability Commission will be tasked with guiding the development and future implementation of the Portland Plan, the City’s 25-year strategic plan, as well as monitoring the implementation of Portland’s Climate Action Plan that Council adopted in 2009.

The new Commission will have 11 members. Many of those positions will likely be filled by existing Planning Commission and Sustainable Development Commission members. Individuals interested in applying for one of the remaining seats will be able to do so beginning on June 21.

Interested applicants should visit  the Office of Neighborhood Involvement website for more details and to fill out an application form.