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The joy of planning: How to “cook up” some really good Centers and Corridors

Key ingredients of Portland’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan revealed through computer-generated imagery, people-on-the-street interviews and footage of Portland’s unique neighborhoods.

At the core of Portland’s plan for the future is a growth management strategy. By that we mean a way to absorb the inevitable population and business growth in ways that can enhance our neighborhoods, protect our natural resources and spread the wealth of opportunities to more Portlanders throughout the city.

A land use plan can do that by focusing people and jobs in places that either already provide access to amenities, services and transit — or that are poised to become that kind of place; vibrant neighborhood centers like Hollywood or St Johns, Multnomah Village and Montavilla or bustling corridors and streets like Sandy or Barbur, Lombard and 82nd Ave. This approach helps improve access to transit, preserves single-family neighborhoods and more land for jobs and open space — while creating great places to live, work and play.

As the draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan makes its way through the Planning and Sustainability Commission,  BPS urban designers, graphics and communications staff have been working on a series of videos to show the benefits of Centers and Corridors while illustrating the essential ingredients of these great places.

Each video features interviews with Portlanders on the street in their neighborhoods, as well as Mayor Charlie Hales, BPS Director Susan Anderson, community leaders and developers. The videos also showcase the bureau’s urban design talent in the form of animated maps and renderings, and computer-generated imagery that help us envision the Portland of the future.

Urban Design Studio Lead Mark Raggett summed up the purpose of the videos when he said, “We wanted to show people the benefits of higher density places, where more people could be closer to the things that we like to do and that create a strong sense of community. We wanted to use our visualization skills in a new way to show people how exciting these places can be.”

Fellow urban designer Lora Lillard emphasized how the use of video was a natural progression for the Urban Design team. “Video gives us a better tool to reach a broader swath of people more quickly. We wanted to find new ways to communicate dense and complex topics in a matter of minutes. So we’ve added it to our toolbox.”

The team just released Episode 3: Creating Great Places, the crux of the series because it describes in detail the elements of Centers and Corridors, including shops, restaurants and other amenities; libraries, parks and open space; housing and transit — places to meet our daily needs on foot or by bike. They also provide places to gather and eat, drink coffee (or beer), play or relax — essential elements for a strong sense of community.

So grab the popcorn and enjoy watching Portlanders talk about what they love and would like to see improved about their special places in Portland. And for fun, see if you can catch a glimpse of your neighborhood center or civic corridor.

Eight options to help you find the right kitchen compost container

For small or large households or anyone in between, these tips will help you find a system that works

Metal, plastic, ceramic and bamboo containers

Whether you are new to food scrap collection, are in a new home, or just need a new system, these tips can help you find a kitchen compost container that works for you.

For a smaller household, an empty quart-sized yogurt container works well and cleans up easily in the dishwasher.

A large bucket with a lid can work for a bigger household. Store it under the kitchen sink or next to the garbage can.

Look for something that fits your space and style. Options abound in the housewares department of many local stores.

Just about any container with a lid will work for collecting your food scraps. They key is to choose a size and location that make it easy to use, to empty (into the green composting roll cart), and to keep clean. Remember, you can line the container with newspapers, a paper bag or approved compostable bags.

View how-to videos on food scrap collection, lining your container, keeping your containers clean, or read even more information on composting.

Need help remembering garbage day?
Sign up for free email reminders at www.garbagedayreminders.com.

Have a question for our Curbside Hotline Operator?
Submit your question online or call 503-823-7202.

Meet the Makers: Urban Designers Turn Movie Moguls

Get to know the creative force behind the Centers and Corridors video series

“Centers and Corridors are awesome!” That’s the mantra of Urban Designer Lora Lillard. Now a self-taught video director, Lora leads the team that is creating the video series about Portland’s Centers and Corridors growth management strategy as part of the Comprehensive Plan Update.

But how did a group of urban designers – admittedly a creative bunch – go from drawing maps, rendering streetscapes and building volumes, and discussing urban form … to making movies?

To answer that question, we have to go back to the Portland Plan, which focuses on creating Healthy Connected Neighborhoods. But what does one of those actually look like?

Meet the makers

“At the time,” reflects Urban Design Studio Lead Mark Raggett, “the economy was slowly coming out of a long slump, and places like Division and Belmont were just starting to pop. We wanted to show people the benefits of higher density places, where more people could be closer to the things that we like to do and that create a strong sense of community. We wanted to use our visualization skills in a new way to show people how exciting these places can be.”

Urban designers Courtney Ferris, Marc Asnis, Lora Lillard, Graphic Designer Leslie Wilson and Urban Design Studio Lead Mark Raggett collaborated on the Centers & Corridors videos.

People on the Street

Turns out Portland actually has a lot of good examples, which Lillard & crew began filming. At night and on the weekends, riding in their cars, on public transit or on bikes, pulling ivy in Forest Park, taking their kids to the playground, and staffing the Mixed Use Zones “walkabouts” all over the city.

“The community walks were the perfect opportunity to film people on the street,” says Lillard. “We wanted to get Portlanders in their own neighborhoods talking about what they liked about it and what they wanted to see changed.” People like Yu Te of Hollywood in Episode 1, or PCC Cascade student Eddie and Portsmouth’s Karen Ward in Episode 3. “A lot of people put their stamp on this video,” Lillard notes.

“Now we shoot video wherever we go,” says her fellow urban designer Marc Asnis. “But when we first started out, we really didn’t know what we were doing. At one of the first neighborhood walks, the camera fell off the tripod. The last video will be the out takes,” he jokes.

Graphic designer and newly minted video editor Leslie Wilson concurs. “I had to coach these guys: Rest your iPhone on a stable surface like a car or a newsstand! Otherwise the footage is so wobbly I can’t use it.”

Mastering a New Craft

The urban designers weren’t the only ones who had to come up to speed fast with new technology and communications tools. When Wilson’s supervisor asked her if she was up for learning Premiere Pro (movie editing software), “I said I’d try, and three days later I had an assignment,” she recalls.  

Many concept maps, story boards, scripts, computer-generated renderings and interviews later, the team has hit its stride. They all agree they’ve gotten better at the craft of video production – and more efficient.

“I think we’re getting a handle on our approach, and we have a huge library of footage,” says Lillard. “Video gives us a better tool to reach a broader swath of people more quickly. We wanted to find new ways to communicate dense and complex topics in a matter of minutes. So we’ve added it to our toolbox.”

15 Minutes of Fame

So for those who can’t or don’t want to take the time to read the entire 300+-page Comprehensive Plan Proposed Draft, pore over the land use map or ponder a list of infrastructure or transportation projects, “At least maybe they’ll watch a three-minute video about why Centers and Corridors are such great places,” says Lillard.

And the next time you see an intrepid planner on the street shooting video with their phone, “Come up and talk to us!” the team encourages. It just might be a shot at your 15 minutes of fame.

Preliminary Zoning Concepts for Mixed Use Zones Released

Draft concepts shared at two community workshops; document available online for review

The Mixed Use Zones Project team has released a draft Preliminary Zoning Concept, which it shared and discussed with the public at two recent workshops. The draft concepts include four new zones for discussion, with information about potential development standards. A new Centers Overlay Zone is also being considered.

With more public feedback, the zoning concepts will be refined and eventually incorporated into the Zoning Code to implement the new Comprehensive Plan.
Mixed Use Zones Project: Preliminary Zoning Concept

Read the Mixed Use Zones Project: Preliminary Zoning Concept - DRAFT

At the workshops on November 5 (downtown) and November 6 (at Jefferson High School), community members participated in small group discussions and shared their thoughts on height, transitions and massing of new development; street-level design issues; and incentives and bonuses for community benefits. 

The Mixed Use Zones Project team is incorporating this and other feedback, which will be reflected in more detailed zoning parameters at a second concept workshop planned for early 2015. After that, proposed zoning codes will be fully developed; a proposed draft is planned for public review in spring 2015. The proposed zoning code will be considered by the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission at a public hearing in mid-2015, followed by a recommendation to City Council.

The Mixed Use Zones Project is an early implementation project for the Comprehensive Plan Update. For more information, go to www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/mixeduse.