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Meeting Notes: November 19, 2012 Industrial Land and Watershed Health Working Group

November 19, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, Conference Room 7a 

Attendees: Bernie Bottomly, Tom Bouillion, Claire Carder, Corky Collier, Peter Finley Fry, Don Hanson, Jennifer Hudson, Larry Harvey, Mike Houck, Maryhelen Kincaid, Bob Sallinger, Judy BlueHorse Skelton, Travis Williams.
Staff: Tom Armstrong, Shannon Buono, Sallie Edmunds, Roberta Jortner, Steve Kountz
Facilitator: Joe Hertzberg 

Introductions and Purpose of Working Group
Individuals present introduced themselves and briefly described their hopes for the working group. Members affirmed the goal of seeking ways to support a healthy economy and a healthy environment. Both are essential to Portland’s future quality of life. Perspectives included “seventh generation” sustainability, importance of good-paying jobs, concern for neighborhoods, the social contract, “hopeless optimism,” and the relationship between a strong economy and watershed restoration.  Key words included “balance,” “confluence,” and “integration.”

Confluence of Industrial Land & Watershed Health: Why is this area so important for both?
Presenter: Tom Armstrong
The following clarifying questions were raised:

  • What is the appropriate geographic scope? Should we consider industrial uses further down the Columbia?
  • How much investment do we have in infrastructure in the Portland harbor?
  • What is the balance between incoming and outgoing marine terminal needs?
  • What assumptions led to the need for 725 acres? Are there different paradigms and different ways to meet our job goals?

Columbia/Willamette Confluence – Ecological Value and the Importance of Watershed Health
Presenter: Roberta Jortner
The following clarifying questions were raised:

  • Can we distinguish between endangered species, those in steep decline, and those that are not threatened?
  • What is the appropriate geographic scope? Should we consider a larger landscape?
  • What is the impact of the fragmentation of land uses?
  • Can we get quantifiable measures of watershed health and cost estimates for making improvements?

Discussion of the Working Group’s challenge

  • Portland is land-locked. The supply of appropriate land is finite and limited.
  • How long can we continue to subdivide this area? We have already exceeded the carrying capacity of the land, and we are continually asked to add more industrial uses. Even if we find resolution today, won’t we just be back again in ten years? At some point, we may need to say we can’t do this.
  • Is it possible to create jobs, protect the environment, and maintain the urban growth boundary? Economic growth requires either the expansion of the urban growth boundary or more dense industrial areas.
  • The notion that we can’t grow is unacceptable.
  • While everyone expresses support for the triple bottom line, some feel that we have sacrificed our environment, and others feel that we have sacrificed our economy.
  • Does it make sense to consider a larger landscape? Both the economy and the environment go beyond Portland city limits.
  • We should look around the world for innovative strategies and partnerships. Other cities have similar challenges. We need to be explicit about our land stewardship ethic and time frame. People from different cultures might offer different answers.
  • Are we being set up for a clash between us? What is the broader community’s stake in this discussion?
  • In addition to economic and environmental interests, we must also consider the people who live in this area.
  • Can we find strategies for thoughtful development to drive and fund restoration?
  • As we begin our discussion, we should be open to all points of view and approaches. Let’s not declare any ideas invalid or non-viable.
  • We should seek to understand one another’s perspectives.
  • Whatever we come up with will cost money. Someone will have to pay and we must acknowledge and support that.
  • Focus more on redevelopment as much as possible, rather than new development. Intensify uses and increase job density on current industrial land. Build up rather than out.
  • Keep our tax base within the city.

Next meeting
December 12, 2012 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Ave, Portland, Conference Room 7a