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Learn about the Comprehensive Plan Update. Find out more through news items, meeting announcements and summaries.

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.

Final Public Hearing for 2014 on Draft 2035 Comprehensive Plan Draws Large Crowd

More than 75 Portlanders give testimony on draft policies, processes and more; work sessions to begin

2035 Comprehensive Plan Update Proposed DraftOn Tuesday, November 4, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) welcomed a full house of community members for a presentation on the Transportation System Plan and testimony on the Comprehensive Plan Proposed Draft.

For almost four hours, close to 80 Portlanders provided comments on a variety of subjects, from demolition to institutional zoning, transportation policies and the public engagement process. This was the last public hearing for 2014; additional hearings on the Comprehensive Plan Update will be held in early 2015. To view the video of the hearing, read the minutes and peruse the written testimony, please visit PSC News.

Testimony accepted until March 13, 2015

Written testimony is still being accepted until March 13, 2015, but community members are encouraged to submit their testimony as early as possible because the commission will be considering testimony and formulating recommendations during upcoming work sessions, which start November 18, 2014.

This first work session will be devoted to developing agendas for upcoming work sessions in 2015. Subsequent work sessions will begin on January 27 and conclude on March 24 (based on the current schedule). Each agenda will be dedicated to one or more themes or topics.

On or before November 18, staff will release an outline of tentative agendas for the upcoming work sessions. This will help community members know how to best time the submittal of their written input to be considered during the relevant work session. For example, if issues related to public involvement policies are scheduled for a February 10 work session, submitting testimony related to that topic by the end of January will allow staff time to review the testimony and acknowledge it in a staff report. This will help ensure it is considered in the PSC’s deliberations.

For updated information about the work sessions and other PSC meetings, please see the PSC tentative agenda. Better yet, see a previous article about the entire Comprehensive Plan Update process moving forward.

Watch This Video: Creating Great Places

See why the Centers and Corridors growth management strategy creates healthy, connected neighborhoods

Centers and corridors are the anchors of healthy connected neighborhoods — concentrating convenient and essential amenities within a compact, walkable area. Did you know that neighborhood hubs like Multnomah Village, Kenton and Montavilla are centers, along with the more obvious town centers like Hollywood and St Johns and the regional center at Gateway?

And corridors? You guessed it: Sandy, Powell and Barbur Boulevards, MLK/Grand and SE Division are just some examples of bustling main streets and thoroughfares, with lots of businesses, mixed use development and access to good transit.  

Preserving Single-Family Neighborhoods

mapCenters and corridors used to be called “nodes and noodles.” You can see why when you look at a map; lots of lines and circles surrounded by residential areas. Concentrating population and business growth in these higher intensity places preserves single-family neighborhoods while providing access to goods and services to more people who live in or near more compact development.

It’s a growth management strategy that has helped make Portland the livable, walkable city it has become. It’s how Portland has become such a great place to live, work and play.

Portlanders Tell All

Now you can learn more about what makes cities like Portland such great places. In this third episode of the Centers and Corridors video series, you’ll watch Portlanders from all over the city share what they love about their center or corridor — and what they’d like to see improved. Hear from Mayor Charlie Hales, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability Director Susan Anderson, local business owners, community leaders and residents as they talk about how the Comprehensive Plan and Centers and Corridors strategy can help fill in the gaps in our neighborhoods and bring the “ingredients” of vibrant places to all Portlanders.