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BPS E-News: From our director, Susan Anderson: Looking back, looking forward

In 2012, Portland moved forward on many fronts — and I am pleased with the substantial accomplishments that were made in collaboration with BPS and dozens of community, business, nonprofit, academic and other partners. Here is a sampling of our progress:

  • Together, we adopted the Portland Plan, our strategic plan for a prosperous, educated, healthy, equitable and resilient future.
  • Through the expanded composting and recycling program, Portland residents reduced the amount of garbage we send to the landfill by nearly 40 percent — in just one year. No other city in the world has done this much in such a short period of time. And all that food and yard waste tripled the production of nutrient-rich compost for farms and gardens.
  • We updated our zoning code to make it easier for people to grow, sell and buy locally grown food here in Portland.
  • Through our Sustainability at Work program, we helped more than 900 companies save money, use greener products and technologies, cut costs and gain efficiencies.
  • We rezoned SE 122nd, a major thoroughfare in East Portland, so that over the coming years residents will be able to enjoy more of the retail and commercial amenities found in our inner neighborhoods.
  • Closer to the Willamette, we completed a plan for the future of the northeast quadrant of the Central City, a place rich with history and development potential.
  • In 2012, we made significant progress implementing the Climate Action Plan. In Portland, total carbon emissions are now down 6 percent below 1990 levels. This compares to an increase of more than 12 percent for the rest of the United States. Clearly we are headed in a different direction.
  • In the Cully neighborhood, we celebrated the opening of a green street and developed a new plan to address community needs for more neighborhood-serving commercial development and improve the safety and accessibility of Cully’s neighborhood streets, as more people move to this neighborhood and discover its charm.
  • We instituted a policy banning plastic bags and applauded as Portlanders increased their use of reusable bags by 300 percent.
  • We launched the Killowatt Crackdown, a friendly competition to inspire energy efficiency in Portland’s largest commercial buildings.
  • In collaboration with several city bureaus, we officially came into compliance with Metro’s Title 13, Nature in Neighborhoods. The approach features both regulatory and non-regulatory actions to protect and enhance thousands of acres of regionally significant natural resources.
  • On a more personal note — BPS staff are known for volunteering in the community, and even raised more than $5,000 for the Oregon Food Bank at our annual winter auction. All in all, it’s been an extremely productive year.

 

So what’s next?

2013 brings new City leadership and the opportunity for new vision and collaboration. A major effort underway for BPS is the development of our new Comprehensive Plan. As a once-in-a-generation update, it is a comprehensive task requiring all hands on deck! Dozens of community, business, academic and neighborhood leaders are working on this project as part of the Policy Expert Groups. These advisory groups are focused on such topics as housing, economic development, watershed health, community involvement, infrastructure, neighborhoods and transportation. Their work will be stitched together within the new Urban Design Framework, which forms the basic structure for the physical components of the Comprehensive Plan.

As you’ll read further on, the Comprehensive Plan – Working Draft Part 1 has recently been published, and public feedback is needed. We hope to see some of you at workshops around the city in February and March. Or visit us at www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/pdxcompplan and tell us what you think.

Many other efforts are underway this year:

  • The annexation ofWestHaydenIslandis moving toward a decision by the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC). Staff is working hard to support the commission as they devote several meetings from now until April to further understand and consider the many complex environmental, economic and social issues related to the annexation decision. The PSC is scheduled to make a recommendation to City Council in April.
  • A new code improvement project is underway to make it easier for homeowners in our historic and conservation districts to make minor improvements to their homes.
  • We’re also working on a concept plan for the future of Barbur Boulevard, in cooperation with Metro.
  • Elsewhere on the Westside, we’re launching the Central City West Quadrant Plan to address longstanding issues in places like Goose Hollow and Old Town/Chinatown, and take advantage of the energy and investments occurring in the education district around PSU, theNorth Pearland South Waterfront.
  • And, we will begin the Central Eastside Quadrant Plan, including a focus on the challenges and opportunities related to industrial, commercial, transportation and housing issues, and transit–oriented development as part of Milwaukie light rail area planning.
  • We are in the early stages of improving garbage and recycling services for renters, to ensure that all residents, whether they own their home or rent, have access to the same information and quality of service for their household.
  • Parking for new apartments being built in the inner eastside neighborhoods continues to be an issue. A proposal will be brought to the PSC and City Council that will likely include some additional parking requirements and options to help ensure better access for people with disabilities.
  • We’re preparing options to help create a more resilient community through a Climate Adaptation Strategy, which includes recommendations on how the City and the County can minimize the impacts on our community of climate-related risks, such as extreme weather, floods, droughts and heat waves.
  • And we’ll continue to provide technical assistance to other bureaus on how to cut energy costs in City facilities. Projects over the past two decades have resulted in more than $40 million in electricity and natural gas savings, while total savings for 2012 were more than $5.5 million.
  • We will wrap up the first three years of our partnership with Clean Energy Works Oregon with energy efficiency improvements in more than 5,000 homes.
  • For residents, the Fix-It Fairs continue to be hugely popular events held in neighborhoods and serving more than 2,000 households each year.
  • And businesses can take advantage of a new service offering free energy assessments and financial incentives for energy efficiency improvements. In addition, we will continue to offer onsite assistance to hundreds of companies focused on waste reduction, energy and water efficiency, solar and transportation options.

So as you can see, 2012 was a busy year, and we have much exciting work ahead. We hope our efforts, and our business and community partnerships, have provided a benefit to your household, neighborhood or business. Let us know how we can work with you to build a more prosperous, healthy and resilient community.

 

Susan Anderson Signature

Susan Anderson, Director 

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

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