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BPS E-News Issue 3, December 2009

Seasons Greetings from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability


As we head into a new decade, its time to reflect on our first year as the new Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

It’s hard to believe it’s already December! It’s been a tremendous year with a long list of achievements and milestones. Here are a few highlights of projects that are worth celebrating and a preview of some great work on the horizon.

Portland Plan: This fall, we launched the first round of community workshops, kicking off a 15-month process to create the city’s strategic plan for the next 25 years. The plan aims to ensure the city is thriving, prosperous, sustainable and provides opportunity for all residents. 1980 was the last time the City developed a comprehensive plan, and half of us weren’t even here then. By working with nearly 20 cross-jurisdictional partners (including Multnomah County, Metro, PSU, the school systems and others) the Portland community is helping to define priorities and guide investment of public dollars.

The Portland Plan will address issues that affect our every day lives — things like health, safety, environmental quality, affordable housing, walkable neighborhoods, education and much, much more.

The Portland Plan workshops are off to a great start, with each one attracting 100-200 people. Energy has been high as residents engage with the new information Mayor Sam Adams has been presenting, the real-time polling and group discussions. Participants include parents with young children, youth and an increasingly diverse crowd, who are coming to the workshops because they care about the future of their city.

Each of the seven workshops around the city has been recapped on the new Portland Plan Web site (www.pdxplan.com), which also includes detailed information about each district and comprehensive background reports on subjects ranging from housing and infrastructure to health and education. These reports are summarized in a Draft Handbook, complete with lots of pictures and visuals to help tell the story of where we’re at and how we need to approach our future. You can also fill out a survey online and request a special group discussion with staff.

What’s more, we’re using Flickr, Facebook and Twitter to spread the news, present compelling facts, pose discussion-worthy questions and engage the techno-savvy.

This is just the beginning of the process to create a strategic plan for Portland. In the coming months, the City will be hosting two more rounds of workshops that will focus in greater detail on the choices we have to make and the priorities we need to set to achieve our goal of a thriving and sustainable city. Please go to pdxplan.com and give us your best ideas.

Official Review of the Portland Plan: From November 2009 through January 2010, staff will make presentations about the Portland Plan background reports to official “review bodies,” including the Landmarks, Design, and Sustainability Commissions. On Jan. 26, 2010, the Planning Commission will hear staff present background information for the Portland Plan and periodic review of the comprehensive plan.

Climate action now! After a three-month public comment period and eight Town Hall events, City Council adopted the 2009 Climate Action Plan in October, setting our city’s goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by the year 2050. The draft Climate Action Plan was released for public comment in April 2009. More than 400 people participated in the town hall meetings, where residents, businesses and community organizations had an opportunity to review and discuss the plan. An additional 2,600 comments and suggestions were received through an online comment form, by e-mail or in letters. You can read the final plan here: www.portlandonline.com/bps/climate.

The City also participated in many local events, including the 350 Day of Action and Earth Hour. This spring we’re looking forward to rolling out a climate action campaign to help educate the community about how to take everyday actions to reduce our impact on climate change. Stay tuned!

City sells carbon credits: This summer BPS completed the final phase of two carbon-reduction projects funded through carbon-offset revenue from The Climate Trust between 2002 and 2009. The first improved the energy efficiency of more than 15,000 apartment units by working with owners and managers to weatherize multifamily buildings. As a result of the project, tenants saved a total of more than $2 million each year.

The second project optimized the timing of traffic signals to improve traffic flows, reducing fuel wasted through unnecessary vehicle idling and acceleration. Carbon offset revenue funded the timing on more than 15 area roads, including SE 39th Ave., N. Williams/Vancouver, SE 82nd Ave. and outer SE Division. The improved signal timing is expected to save Portland motorists two million gallons of gasoline and $5 million in fuel costs each year.

The City of Portland received more than $1.6 million in carbon credits to implement the projects, which together avoid more than 400,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions over their lifetimes.

Youth planning program:
Our youth planners are busy with two major projects to help Portland grow and empower youth to get involved. The program is releasing the Youth Engagement Manual, and the youth planning team is developing training to help youth empower other youth, and teach adults how they can support youth directly. The youth planners are also developing a youth engagement strategy for the SE 122nd Ave. Pilot Project to get youth involved in making the area a youth-friendly 20-minute neighborhood. They are currently developing focus groups to get youths' detailed opinions of the neighborhood, as well as collecting surveys from youth that live in or are familiar with the area. So far they have collected over 100 surveys. For more info visit www.portlandonline.com/bps/youth.

East Portland Action Plan implementation: The East Portland Action Plan(EPAP): a guide for improving livability in outer East Portland, was adopted by Portland City Council in February 2009. The action plan outlines dozens of action items and strategies for improving livability in East Portland, several of which were funded as part of the City’s 2008-09 budget, including:

  • The EPAP allocated $115,000 to the City’s storefront improvement grant program for storefront improvement matching grants to businesses along SE Division Street east of SE 120th Avenue. The effort, administered by the Portland Development Commission, improved facades and leveraged private investment in the area.
  • Funding from EPAP created an advocate position for East Portland, situated in the East Portland Neighborhood Office, to coordinate EPAP committee activities, improve outreach to the diverse community and advocate for completion of other actions. Lore Wintergreen (503.823.4035 or lore.wintergreen@ci.portland.or.us has been successful in her new role, which is a candidate for continued funding in 2009-10.
  • The Gateway Green open area concept (located between I-84 and I-205) got a boost with a $45,000 EPAP grant for the nonprofit "Friends of Gateway Green," which has continued planning studies for the proposed bike recreation area and been awarded an Oregon Solutions project designation to further implement the concept.
  • The City's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability initiated the SE 122nd Avenue Pilot Project to look at infill development, transportation connectivity and service issues; it is exploring opportunities to create a more convenient and livable "20-minute neighborhood" for the area. The $30,000 in EPAP funds were leveraged by a grant from the Northwest Health Foundation, which provides funds to consider the health implications of urban development issues, and PDC funding from the Lents Urban Renewal Area.
  • The City leveraged $50,000 in EPAP funding and was awarded a $330,000 grant from the Oregon Transportation Growth Management (TGM) program, to initiate development of the Outer Powell Boulevard Concept Design Plan, which is scheduled to begin in Winter 2010. The TGM program is a joint program of  the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD).
  • A $60,000 EPAP allocation will allow the Portland Bureau of Transportation to engineer and construct three median island crossing improvements on busy arterial streets (NE 102nd Ave at Tilamook, SE 122nd Ave at Stephens, and SE Division at 156th).serving school children and other pedestrians. The funds are being complemented by investments in green infrastructure by the Bureau of Environmental Services at two of these locations.


Oregon Sustainability Center, the first of its kind: The Oregon Sustainability Center team made significant progress this year toward securing funding to begin development of the world’s most sustainable large scale building. As the first net-zero water and energy high-rise urban building, the OSC will house research, education, economic development efforts, nonprofit and government entities in the PSU EcoDistrict. Following the 90-day feasibility study, the OSC group, led by the Portland Sustainability Institute, is focused on an in-depth analysis of building costs, development of the leasing and ownership structures, code updates, kicking off the schematic design and continued fundraising.

Green homes, green jobs! This year we launched a groundbreaking new program called Clean Energy Works Portland, a green jobs program that provides significant financial benefits to residents, while reducing energy use and related carbon emissions. In its pilot phase, the program will help up to 500 qualified Portland homeowners finance and install energy efficiency upgrades.

Just two months after City Council endorsed Clean Energy Works Portland, the program has completed dozens of home energy assessments and signed 30 loans ― with a goal of 500 loans for the pilot. The CEWP team is also working with many community partners who recently signed a Community Workforce Agreement to ensure that minorities and women have access to jobs, good wages and small business support. This effort was strengthened through a partnership with the national green jobs leader, Green For All.

On behalf of the state, we recently applied for a $75 million competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to make this program available throughout Oregon. It’s exciting to see the partnerships we’ve formed with PGE, Northwest Natural, Pacific Power, Energy Trust of Oregon, Shorebank Enterprise Cascadia, Multnomah County and the State of Oregon to ensure the success of this venture.

Now the Clean Energy Works Portland program is seeking homes heated with electricity: If you own a home heated with electricity from Portland General Electric or Pacific Power, Clean Energy Works Portland would like to hear from you. The pilot offers homeowners access to low-cost financing for energy efficiency home improvements, like new insulation or the installation of a high efficiency furnace or water heater. To help decide which upgrades and financing options make sense, participants will receive the assistance of a qualified Energy Advocate throughout the process.

We have experienced an overwhelmingly positive response to this pilot and accumulated a lengthy list of interested parties. At this time, we don’t anticipate accepting new applicants that use natural gas as their primary heating fuel until March 2010. Keep tabs on the program and watch for new application openings at www.cleanenergyworksportland.org.

More public art: Thanks to the persistence and advocacy of the art community and others, it will be easier to place mural art on the outside of buildings. That’s because we changed the City’s code so that mural art is now regulated separately from signs and the Regional Arts and Culture Council Public Art program. Original art murals meeting specific definitions and placement requirements will be allowed through a new mural permit, administered through the Bureau of Development Services, which will not be based on the content of the mural, so as to protect existing rights of free speech.

2009 Fix-It Fairs break all records! If you haven’t been to a Fix-It Fair before, you should know that they are terrific (and free!) events for Portland residents to access resources that help you spend less and stay healthy! Earlier this year the January and February ’09 Fix-It Fairs attracted more than 1,700 participants to two events, and our first event of this season broke all previous records with 800 people in attendance!

Join us at a Fix-It Fair next month to see for yourself. The City of Portland’s 23rd annual Fix-It Fair season will continue in January in outer SE and NE Portland. View exhibits from community partners and attend workshops led by local experts about water and energy savings, home and personal health, food and nutrition, community resources, recycling and yard care, lead testing and more. All fairs offer free childcare and lunch.

All Fix-It Fairs run from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Saturday, January 9
David Douglas High School
1001 SE 135th Ave

Saturday, January 30
Parkrose High School
12003 NE Shaver St.

For more information about scheduled workshops, visit: www.portlandonline.com/bps/fif. Send an e-mail to fix-itfair@ci.portland.or.us to receive an event reminder.

More than $7 million in federal grants fund energy efficiency, help clean up our air: In October the U.S. Department of Energy approved a $5.6 million grant to the City of Portland under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. The funds provide a major boost to implementing several key elements of the new Climate Action Plan. More than $1 million will support the Clean Energy Works Portland residential retrofit program, creating jobs and reducing energy use and homeowner utility bills. Funds will also support SmartTrips and Safe Routes to Schools, helping residents reduce transportation costs and carbon emissions. A third set of projects will reduce energy use in City facilities, including lighting upgrades at the Montavilla, Fulton and Hillside Community Centers, highly efficient windows at the Peninsula Park Community Center, and a micro-hydropower system in the Vernon Water Tower.

In May BPS was awarded $1.6 million for a “Portland Clean Diesel Partnership” from the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance program through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). When combined with other related grant funds from the EPA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the City expects to receive nearly $2.5 million to spend on public and private clean diesel projects in Portland, Multnomah and Salem over the next 18 months. According to the DEQ, construction equipment emits 37 percent of diesel air toxics in the Portland area, severely affecting the health of Multnomah County residents.

The future of Rose Quarter and Memorial Coliseum: The announcement in April that Major League Soccer was coming to Portland’s PGE Park set off a chain of events inspiring the current effort to find the best ideas for the reuse of Memorial Coliseum and revitalization of the Rose Quarter. A call for proposals from the public is being held open through the end of the year. Working with the Mayor’s office and the Portland Development Commission, the public steering committee guiding the process will evaluate concepts and make key recommendations. The reuse and redevelopment plan will be further developed and incorporated into the upcoming Central City Plan and northeast district quadrant planning efforts beginning in spring of 2010.

Recycling is up, garbage is down:
It’s been over a year since the blue and green roll carts came to town. So, how are they performing? Results indicate they are a great success, with residents recycling and composting 14 percent — or 10,000 tons — more. Meanwhile, residential garbage decreased by almost nine percent, or 9,000 tons. Overall, Portland’s households and businesses are recycling and composting 67 percent of the waste that we generate. This compares with a U.S. average of 33 percent. Our combined actions save energy, money and natural resources while helping curb carbon emissions. We’re also closer to our goal of stopping growth in the waste stream and raising the recycling rate to 75 percent by 2015.


River Plan / North Reach Recommended Draft released: The River Plan / North Reach Recommended Draft was released Nov. 18, 2009. The draft contains five volumes with policies, recommendations, zoning code revisions and background information. To view or download these documents, visit the Recommended Draft web page. Contact the River Team at 503-823-2281 or riverplan@ci.portland.or.us to get a hard copy or CD of the draft plan.

The City Council public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010, at 2:00 pm. The hearing will be held at City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Ave., in Council Chambers. Please submit written testimony at the hearing or by Jan. 28, 2010, to:
 
Council Clerk
1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 140
Portland, OR 97204
Fax:  (503) 823-4571
Email:  kmoore-love@ci.portland.or.us
 
The River Plan is a multi-objective plan for the land along the Willamette River in Portland that will update the City’s Willamette Greenway Plan. The River Plan is being carried out in three phases, each focusing on a different stretch of the Willamette River. The first phase of planning has focused on the North Reach — generally, the area between the Fremont Bridge and the confluence with the Columbia River. Once the North Reach is finished, staff will move on to the Central and South Reaches.

Planning for the North Reach has been underway for more than three years. During that time, staff engaged property owners, members of interest groups, city, state and federal agencies, and the general public. In June 2009, after 11 meetings, the Planning Commission forwarded the plan to City Council for consideration.

The River Plan / North Reach includes new and revised zoning code regulations and proposes a suite of new programs and investments to support objectives in five topic areas: economic prosperity, watershed health, access, riverfront communities and working with our partners.

City staff continue to work on the implementation aspects of the plan, including improving city, state and federal agency coordination; developing tools to facilitate off-site mitigation and improve watershed health; and developing an evaluation process for the plan, including a stakeholder oversight committee.

For more information, check the River Plan www.portlandonline.com/bps/riverplan or contact Sallie Edmunds, River Planning Manager, at 503-823-6950 or sedmunds@ci.portland.or.us.

Good Land, Good Food, Urban Growth Bounty Classes Return:  This year, our sustainable food program was very busy: launching the first year of Urban Growth Bounty gardening classes, helping plant the City Hall Better Together Garden (harvesting 250 pounds within just a few months!) and securing ownership to a property on SE Sherrett St. for local food production by immigrant farmers in partnership with MercyCorps.

Sustainable food courses offer practical resources for 2010
More than 700 local residents learned how to transform their yards into “urban farms,” preserve their harvest and keep chickens and bees thanks to the City of Portland’s 2009 Urban Growth Bounty classes. The overwhelming response has led to a tripling of course offerings for the 2010. The expanded roster includes more cheesemaking and cooking, advanced chicken and beekeeping, innovative gardening and healthful food on a budget classes.

New partners and well-known experts are on board for the 2010 series, including Oregon Tilth, Naomi Montacre, Monique Dupre and the creative hands at Salt Fire and Time and Abby’s Kitchen. Classes for all skill levels are offered from February through November and held at locations all over the city.

As food prices climb, salmonella stalks the supermarket, and fresh and local stake their place at the table, city dwellers are getting back to the land by opening their back doors. With visions of Victory Gardens and sugar snap peas in their heads, urbanites are rediscovering how to turn their lawns and landscapes into lunches and making the most of the region’s bounty.

“Portland residents know that growing and preserving their own food is great for our personal, environmental and community health,” says Portland Mayor Sam Adams. “The Urban Growth Bounty classes are a great value. There’s always more to learn about how to grow, preserve and eat sustainably on a budget.”

For detailed Urban Growth Bounty 2010 information and registration details:
www.portlandonline.com/osd/ugb | food@ci.portland.or.us

Portland showcasing its national leadership:  April 2009 was a busy month for the bureau. Portland was chosen to host the first annual Green Cities Conference with the National League of Cities. BPS provided numerous workshops and tools to more than 700 local officials and community leaders from around the country who came to Portland to learn about sustainable solutions that bolster the economic, social and environmental health of cities. At the event, Portland was also presented with a Solar America Cities Award.

Also in April, BPS hosted the 17th Annual BEST Awards, celebrating excellence in sustainable business practices. With an inspiring keynote from NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the Hilton ballroom was filled with more than 530 attendees to honor the 10 winners and 79 applicants. All year long the BEST Business Center provides Portland businesses with free technical assistance to cut costs, improve efficiency and implement sustainable business practices. Visit www.bestbusinesscenter.org.

SE 122nd Avenue Pilot Project connects health and land use: The newly launched SE 122nd Avenue Pilot Project is a starting point for exploring how to enhance the physical environment of our communities in order to improve community health. The project is a joint effort between the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and the Northwest Health Foundation, and focuses on the areas along and near SE 122nd Avenue between SE Division Street and SE Foster Road. This unique project and partnership aim is to create a more vibrant, sustainable and healthy SE 122nd Avenue corridor and test ideas for linking land use planning to healthy lifestyles.

A kickoff meeting was held in July 2009, followed by a series of Neighborhood Walks in July and September. A community workshop in December focused on neighborhood businesses and services, and ways to make getting around in the area safer and more convenient.

A workshop focusing on the design of new buildings and development is tentatively scheduled for February.

For more information on the project and the upcoming community workshop, contact the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-7700 or visit the web: www.portlandonline.com/bps/se122study.

Green building is all over town: 
It’s been a busy year for BPS' green building program. Our team's accomplishments include:

  • Awarding $425,000 in Green Investment Fund grants to high performance buildings and site development projects.
  • Updating the City of Portland's Green Building Policy for its own facilities.
  • Hosting the eighth annual Build It Green! Home Tour and Information Fair. This year's tour featured 18 new and remodeled green homes that represented a variety of conservation strategies, including water and energy efficiency, renewables, sustainable stormwater management and the reuse of salvaged materials.
  • Finishing updates to Portland's Green Tenant Improvement Guide for businesses seeking to save energy, improve comfort, minimize waste and reduce carbon emissions. The guide will be available at www.portlandonline.com/bps/greenbuilding in mid-January.


BPS’ green building team looks forward to working with you on your next construction project. For green building resources, incentives and technical assistance, contact our free regional hotline, 503-823-5431 or online at www.buildgreen411.com.

And so much more! There are lots more projects still to mention, and you can read about many more at www.portlandonline.com/bps. At BPS we focus on partnerships to harness the energy of Portland residents and businesses to shape our city's future. Together we offer practical solutions and services to help companies and families save money and reduce their environmental impact -- and develop long-range plans and implementation strategies like the River Plan, Portland Plan and Climate Action Plan to ensure a more sustainable, functional and beautiful city in the future.

2010 offers so many exciting opportunities for BPS, such as the next three phases of public involvement for the Portland Plan, an expansion of our Clean Energy Works program, a residential food scrap composting pilot, continued efforts to reduce our carbon emissions through community engagement and education, as well as many neighborhood and district planning efforts.

I continue to be energized and encouraged when I think about the tremendous scope and quality work that we can do working together with committed citizens, businesses and a community full of partners. Thank you for joining us. We look forward to a healthy and sustainable year in 2010.

Happy New Year!

susan signature

Susan Anderson, Director
City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability