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Bureau’s demographer performs invaluable research and analysis

Hailing from New Delhi, Uma Krishnan’s cultural and educational background enriches BPS and the community

Born on the Malabar Coast in the southwest region of India and raised in New Delhi, BPS’ Uma Krishnan cherishes her youth in what she describes as the “most
wonderful urban place to grow up; 8-minute neighborhoods (forget 20-minutes!), good schools, a reliable bus system, affordable housing and low humidity with bearable summers.”

demographer


Uma attended school six days a week (!) and learned English by reading Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekov, Pushkin and others. Then she went to university (take a deep breath).

With a Ph.D. in Urban Planning & Policy Development from Rutgers University, a Masters in Public Administration from Cleveland State University, a B.S. in Economics from Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS), Uma assists her colleagues and the community with her trademark courtesy and friendly nature.

She loves working in the public sector, but her first job was with Central Electronic Engineering Research Institute in Pilani, India. “My job was to take science to the neighboring villages to make their lives easier.”

From there she began her career in public service with the Central Government in India, followed by the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth Commission as a research specialist, and then the County of Santa Barbara, Calif., as a housing specialist.

She became the City of Portland’s demographer in 2006. Her work has contributed to the Portland Plan, the Comprehensive Plan, and the Housing Bureau’s strategic plan. She has also worked on the Limited Tax Abatement affordable housing programs and with the Auditor’s Office on reports like the Service Efforts and Accomplishments reports. Recently, her expertise has been sought to provide data on gentrification and displacement as well as the Housing and Transportation Cost Burden study.

Uma’s analytical assistance has proven invaluable for sustainability program surveys, and energy assistance, solid waste and the sustainable food programs. You can also find her staffing Fix-It-Fairs.

“It is this variety of work and experiences that I find very rewarding,” she says. “The efforts of multiple bureaus to use demographic and housing data to address inequities experienced by communities of color and embrace increasing diversity is a particularly exciting time for me.”

About her home life, Uma jokes that she has “had to forego the pleasure of holding a TV remote in exchange for the ultimate satisfaction of living with men from three different generations:  father/father-in-law, husband and son.”

MUZ Project focuses on mixed use areas

Centers and corridors get a fresh look through the community’s eyes

Can you walk from your home to a grocery store or eatery? 

That’s one simple measure of a convenient walkable neighborhood. These days, more Portlanders want to live in neighborhoods with convenient services, a variety of housing choices and good transit options that offer connections to jobs.

Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan aims to ensure that as the city grows, more residents and businesses will be able to locate in these types of healthy connected neighborhoods. The City’s long-range plan for population and employment growth proposes to focus development and investments in housing, businesses and services in mixed use “centers” and “corridors” throughout the city (see other stories in this issue). This approach will both accommodate future growth and advance goals for creating more convenient, walkable neighborhoods.

But not all centers and corridors are alike, and residents, business owners, designers and developers have been looking for clarity, change and consistency in the code.

Early implementation for Comprehensive Plan

The Mixed Use Zones Project, which got underway in early 2014 and is partially funded by a Metro Construction Excise Tax (CET) grant, will develop new mixed use zoning designations to help implement Portland’s new Comprehensive Plan. The project will revise the City’s Commercial (CX, CG, CS, CM, CO1/2, CN1/2) and Central Employment (EX) zones that are applied outside of the Central City.

The objective is to refine these zones so they can better support thriving business districts and accommodate more households and businesses. The project will also address issues that arise with newer intensive mixed use forms, such as building mass and bulk, design and context, transitions and step-downs to adjacent residential areas, and active ground floor uses in key centers.

Process and participation

The MUZ Project is advised by a 28-member group of community and small business representatives from across Portland, as well as development and design professionals. The project team has solicited feedback from residents and businesses through community “walkabouts” in seven neighborhoods last spring. Staff also held “Designer, Developer and Small Business Roundtables” with technical experts in mixed use development, architecture/design, affordable housing and neighborhood small business.

Upcoming public workshop previews code concepts and more

Soon Portlanders will be able to preview code concepts and issues being addressed at a Code Concepts Public Workshop, tentatively scheduled for early late October/early November. Please visit the website (www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/mixeduse) for exact date, time and location. Additional public workshops are planned for the December/January and spring 2015. So stay tuned!

Public hearing on West Quadrant Plan draws crowd

Community members offer their testimony on the future of the Central City’s west side

On Sept. 9, 2014, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) welcomed testimony on the West Quadrant Plan Proposed Draft at a public hearing. Central City residents, business owners and other interested individuals packed the room to offer testimony – some supportive, some critical – on the current draft.

Building heights, particularly those in the West End, Pearl District and Old Town/Chinatown were the subject of a majority of the testimony. Many residents from those areas requested significant decreases in height limits – both proposed, but mostly existing. Others testified in favor of maintaining and/or strategically increasing heights in some areas of the West Quadrant. Additional subjects of testimony included parking, affordable housing, economic development, historic preservation, equity, bridgehead development and the environment. 

Watch the hearing.

The written record will remain open until Oct. 1, 2014, which means Portlanders can submit testimony in writing until then to psc@portlandoregon.gov.

The Proposed Draft can be found in the Documents Section of the project website. Meeting minutes, written testimony and related documents will be posted to the PSC website when available.

Next steps

A PSC work session on the West Quadrant Plan is scheduled for Oct. 21, 2014. Staff will brief the commissioners on requested information and be available to answer questions as they discuss the Proposed Draft. The work session is open to the public, but testimony will not be taken. A vote on the Proposed Draft may be taken at the conclusion of the work session, or commissioners may ask for another work session if additional time is needed to make a decision.  

Job opportunities in Cully

Two new positions for Living Cully: A Cully Ecodistrict.

Living Cully Partners Habitat for Humanity, Hacienda CDC, and the Native American Youth & Family Center are hiring two new positions for Living Cully: A Cully Ecodistrict.

Funded by the Kresge Foundation, these positions include the Living Cully Communications/Outreach Coordinator and the Living Cully Anti-Displacement Coordinator. Each position is full-time, and we are very hopeful that we can develop a deep, diverse and talented pool of candidates. You can find more information about these job openings and how to apply on Verde’s website.