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Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

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1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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PSC News: September 13, 2016 Meeting Recap

Mass Shelters and Housing Zoning Code Update — hearing/recommendation; Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Code Changes — hearing


  • Mass Shelters and Housing Zoning Code Update — hearing / recommendation
  • Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Code Changes — hearing

Meeting files

An archive of meeting minutes and documents of all Planning and Sustainability Commission meetings are available at

Swimming Beach Study analyzes five potential sites for river access in the Central City

Results indicate the Hawthorne Bowl is most suitable for swimmers of all ages and abilities

At the center of the city, the Willamette River is the heart of Portland. And as improvements to the City’s wastewater and stormwater systems have made the Willamette much cleaner, people want better access to the shore and into the river. Groups of fitness swimmers can be spotted crossing the river on summer mornings, but easy access into the water is limited — especially for the casual swimmer or children.

To determine the feasibility of creating a family-friendly beach that’s safe for all skill levels in the Central City, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and Portland Parks and Recreation led development of the Draft Central City Potential Swimming Beaches Study. A consultant team (including an avid Willamette River swimmer) assessed the suitability of five sites for future beaches. Four are on the west bank and one is on the east bank of the river:

  1. The Zidell property in South Waterfront
  2. “Poetry at the Beach” beneath the Marquam Bridge
  3. Hawthorne Bowl in Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park
  4. Eastbank Crescent south of the Hawthorne Bridge
  5. McCormick Pier north of the Steel Bridge

Based on characteristics of successful river beaches in other Pacific Northwest cities, evaluation criteria were identified focusing on public safety (gentle slopes into the river and ease of access) as well as desirable beach attributes, such as good sun exposure.

After scoring each site against the criteria, the evaluation team identified the Hawthorne Bowl as the site with the most favorable conditions for a new public beach. 

Read the August 16, 2016, story about the study in the Portland Tribune

The final study will be sent to the Portland City Council for their consideration in early October along with design ideas for the Eastbank Crescent, one of the sites assessed in the study. The study will guide city decisions about funding and developing beach access in the Central City.

For more information, visit the project website or call Lori Grant at 503-823-7849. 

RICAP 8 Discussion Draft is now available for public review and comment

Code improvements address land divisions, property line adjustments, trees, removal of Historic Resource Inventory listings and more

Portland’s Zoning Code is anything but static. Public input, new land use plans and policies, and code updates ensure that the City’s regulations meet the needs of current and future residents.

A new package of code amendments is now ready for public review and comment. The regulatory improvement code amendment package (RICAP) 8 Discussion Draft contains 49 items that are being evaluated for possible regulatory improvement. The scope of RICAP 8 was shaped by community requests submitted via the Regulatory Improvement Request (RIR) Database and/or identified by City staff as needing resolution.

Read the Regulatory Improvement Code Amendment Project (RICAP) 8 Discussion Draft

Summary of Potential Amendments

Many of the items in the RICAP 8 Discussion Draft reflect simple code corrections or clarifications to ensure that regulations are implemented consistently with the original policy intent. Ten items resulted in no proposed amendment after Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff researched and analyzed the issue. The remaining items include either minor policy or more substantive changes.

Highlights include:

  • Creation of a 120-day delay for the removal of ranked structures from the Historic Resource Inventory.
  • Clarification of how water features, like drainageways and wetlands, should be defined and protected in land divisions.
  • Reduction of the ability to create lot lines in land divisions and property line adjustments that are not straight.
  • Increase in flexibility for some loading standards on local service streets.
  • Clarification on how tree protection requirements apply when a portion of the root protection zone extends onto an adjacent property or right-of-way.
  • Increase in the allowable fine for unlawful damage or removal of a Heritage Tree on private property.
  • Addition of authority for the City to levy liens and utilize other mechanisms for unpaid fees tied to tree code violations.

The comment period for the Discussion Draft ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, October 14, 2016.

Please submit comments by mail to 1900 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201, Attn: RICAP 8; by FAX: 503-823-7800; or by email

Next Steps

Staff will consider comments on the Discussion Draft to create a Proposed Draft, which will be presented to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) at a public hearing in December 2016. The PSC will consider public testimony and then forward a recommendation to City Council for consideration and additional public review before final adoption next year.


Regulatory improvement code amendment packages are intended to continually update and improve City building and land use regulations. RICAPs address technical matters and clarifications or refine existing adopted policy, typically in a one-year revolving work plan. 

Phase 1 of the Design Overlay Zoning Assessment project is complete

Staff and consultant research reports now available online, including best practices from other cities

The Design Overlay Zoning Amendment (DOZA) project has reached the end of Phase 1. The DOZA team is now sharing the results of a Research Report that outlines the City’s current tools and processes to carry out Portland’s design overlay zone (d-overlay). The report includes:

  • A brief history of the d-overlay and its relationship to the Comprehensive Plan and Central City Plan.
  • Maps ­­of current and proposed d-overlay zones
  • A summary of Zoning Code, design guidelines and the processes that implement the d-overlay.

As part of this research, several helpful links have been compiled in one place, where you can learn more about design standards and guidelines, review procedures and fee schedules.

Peer Cities Report

To augment the staff research report, project consultant Walker Macy was asked to research and compile a Peer Cities Report, which documents several approaches to discretionary and nondiscretionary design review from other U.S. cities. The purpose of this research is to learn from other jurisdictions and share how they have used design-related tools and processes to achieve planning goals and desired outcomes.

The purpose of the DOZA project is to evaluate and improve the design review process. For more information, please visit 

New Sustainable City Government blog: Inside the City that works green

BPS advisors encourage colleagues to keep working green

The Sustainable City Government (SCG) program, hosted by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, helps City bureaus save money, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier more equitable workplace through technical assistance and advocacy. By investing in energy efficiency, the City has saved more than $50 million in utility bills since 1991. Emissions from City operations have fallen 32 percent since FY 06-07 (our baseline year.) Over the next 15 years, the City’s goal is to reduce emissions from operations 53 percent below FY 06-07 levels.

“The Sustainable City Government program draws on the knowledge of BPS staff to help City bureaus achieve the 2030 Environmental Performance Objectives that were reaffirmed by City Council in 2015,” said Andria Jacob, senior manager of energy programs and policy at BPS. "SCG is small but mighty. With less than 2 FTE, we leverage the expertise of BPS's best brains to help keep the City working green."

Sustainable City Government Team
Clockwise starting top left: Kyle Diesner, Andria Jacob, Danny Grady, Paul de Block, Pam Neild.

Meet our sustainability experts:

Paul De Block
Sustainability Advisor, Sustainability at Work

Waste not, want not

BPS Sustainability Advisor Paul de Block is a key member of BPS’s business outreach program, Sustainability at Work. As a small but effective part of this role, Paul provides technical assistance to City bureaus, facilitates the Waste Subcommittee and supports the coordination of recycling and waste prevention projects. With more than 10 years of experience supporting large Portland-based organizations such as Providence and Portland State University, Paul really knows his stuff, and, more importantly, how to get rid of it in the most environmentally responsible way.

I’m most proud of the city offices and bureaus who have achieved Sustainability at Work certification.

Pam Neild
Program Coordinator, Sustainable City Government and Green Team Chair

Analyzing currents for safe passage

Pam Neild, aka “The Skipper,” maps out program strategy for Sustainable City Government, designs communications materials and leads city-wide green team activities. Pam is most proud of the SCG 2030 Environmental Performance Objectives. She steered numerous stakeholder meetings and multiple rounds of drafts to develop objectives for City operations that are clear, comprehensive and measurable.

I’m a guide like any other. I’m a trusted friend who responds with accurate and timely information. I navigate staff through sustainability rapids and we survive the journey unscathed, most of the time.

Danny Grady
Senior Energy Specialist, Sustainable City Government

Taking good energy to City bureaus

As senior energy specialist, Danny sparks City bureaus to save energy and to create energy from renewable energy sources.  Swift like an electrical current, he offers technical assistance, identifies funding opportunities for energy projects, and advises city operations staff on issues relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Since entering into his role last August, Danny is most proud of the continued development of a strategic plan with the OMF Facilities’ Strategic Planning group. He has worked closely with this team to incorporate strategic energy management, utility billing tracking, and capital planning efforts into a comprehensive energy strategy for City Facilities.

Kyle Diesner
Policy Analyst, Sustainable City Government

Oceans of experience

Kyle is a policy analyst on the clean energy team at BPS. He provides policy analysis, long-range planning, and program development for a variety of programs, policies, and actions under the umbrella of the City/County Climate Action Plan. Kyle also coordinates the community-wide greenhouse gas and consumption-based emission inventories for Portland.

For Sustainable City Government, Kyle guides the development of the carbon emissions inventory used for tracking progress towards the City of Portland’s Sustainable City Government goals. He also provides technical support to bureaus who want to quantify carbon emission reductions and their contributions to achieve Climate Action Plan goals.

A frequent presenter on our climate and energy work in the community, he has served on diversity and equity committees and brings a social equity lens to all of his work.

Learn more about the Sustainable City Government program at