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Summary Meeting Notes: May 1, 2013 Infrastructure Equity PEG meeting

Summary Meeting Notes

Infrastructure Equity Policy Expert Group
Meeting Date: May 1, 2013
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

PEG Attendees:  Susan Aldrich, Roger Anthony, Roger Averbeck, Alex Deley, Susan Gibson-Hartnett, Karyn Hanson, Jeff Leighton, Kathryn Levine, Karen Meyer, Shoshanah Oppenheim, Midge Purcell, Joe VanderVeer, Randy Webster.

Other Attendees:  Courtney Duke & Patricia Neighbor (PBOT), Chris Scarzello (BPS).

PEG Lead: Bob Glascock

Facilitator:  Andrée Tremoulet, Commonworks Consulting

View the original agenda, including materials, for this meeting.

Welcome (5 minutes)
Presenter: Andrée Tremoulet, Facilitator
Summary: Andree Tremoulet welcomed everyone.  An observation was made that that the City Auditor’s office appears to be doing an audit related to levels of service for East Portland. No additional information is available at this time. Andree reviewed the purpose of the meeting: to review the rough draft of the Infrastructure Equity PEG summary report and to introduce Part 2 of the Comprehensive Plan Update (mapping and implementation of policies).

Discussion of First Draft of IE PEG Summary Report (85 minutes)
Presenter:  Andrée Tremoulet, Facilitator
Handout: IE PEG Summary Report, Draft 1
Summary: PEG member provided initial thoughts and feedback on the draft report.

General Comments:

  • The report should recognize the role of private development activities in implementing service provision.  Currently, the memo focuses on public projects. It isn’t clear that these recommendations sufficiently acknowledge how the policies may play out with private development.
  • “Equity” isn’t consistently used in the memo. For example, “infrastructure equity” is defined in the beginning but that doesn’t necessarily carry through in the rest of the document. Also, “Environmental Justice” might be a clearer term to use rather than “equity” in some cases. No policies in the Working Draft address the goal of environmental justice.
  • Bureaus should consult with the disability commission early in the design stage of a project.
  • Universal design should be stressed, including audible sidewalks.
  • Use the data we have available currently about locations of populations of color and low income households to inform investments and growth scenarios, and strive to improve the data that is used to evaluate equitable levels of service in the future.
  • Incorporate (into the summary report) feedback and discussion from the April 3 IE PEG meeting on assumptions and data feeding into growth scenarios, maps, etc.
  • The report was on target; it did cover what was discussed and the discussions were captured appropriately.
  • Need further detail on the action verbs: how is it going to be done, who decides it, and when/how will the PEG be able to see the results?
  • Too many verbs have ambiguous meanings.
  • Themes #1 and #6 were particularly useful and really seemed to capture the ideas of many PEG members.

Comments on specific themes:

  • Theme #1:
    • Use similar kinds of services together (not sidewalks and streetcars).
    • Strongly disagree that water and sanitary sewer have relatively equitable levels of service. This is an oversimplification and isn’t necessarily true.  We aren’t yet at a full understanding of the equity implications of our current service levels for our current systems. An evaluation needs to be conducted before a conclusion such as this can be made. Other PEG members felt that this is a relatively appropriate comment as it relates to the Water Bureau’s services.
    • Need to map out basic levels of service for all infrastructure systems, and look at equity patterns.
    • The definition of “basic level of service” for each bureau and how you measure it is not clear. We don’t want to send the wrong signal in terms of what our goals are (e.g. don’t want to set too low of a bar). We should aspire toward a relatively high standard for a “basic level of service” – this should be more clear and/or explicit.
    • Levels of Service: We need to be clear about the definitions, who develops them (which bureaus), what barriers exist, and what strategies should be employed to overcome those barriers. Aspirational statements (that we all deserve it) do not go far enough.
    • Should we/how could we address desired service levels for services that the City does not provide, such as transit?
    • Recognize how standards for one type of service can impact the ability to provide others (e.g. stormwater and transportation) – and the equity implications that might result. Identify ways to resolve disparities jointly, such as through flexible standards.
  • Theme #2:
    • Chapter 8, Administration and Implementation, lacks “equity lens” or “equity framework” language. This is important, and it seems to be missing.
    • Need to look at how this gets implemented using goal based budgeting. Chapter 8 should include language about goal based budgeting and equity lens/standards. If we want to take equity seriously and ensure it is implemented throughout, that needs to be revisited in Chapter 8. This chapter presents the best opportunity to ensure this work gets carried out.
    • Where are we better able to achieve better equity outcomes?  That may drive investment choices.
  • Theme #3:
    • Equity should be an overarching concern and framework.  However, in Theme #3, the recommendation to make the inclusion of equity intentional/consistent/targeted seems inconsistent with making equity an overarching goal. It’s a challenge to effectively and consistently incorporate equity (it also applies to other topics/issues, not just equity).
  • Theme #4:
    • Chapter 1 should go further in making it easier for people to become involved and get background information.
  • Theme #5:
    • Cost of basic services bullet: Replace the buzz word “robust” with the word “better” [or, higher”].  Add examples of basic services and distinguish from higher-level services.
    • Change the wording; instead of the costs of infrastructure, it should be about the affordability of the costs of infrastructure. There is a difference. This section could be strengthened by acknowledging more clearly that cost recovery and affordability can be divergent goals.
    • Portland has a water and sewer utility fee, but not a street maintenance fee.  Other jurisdictions in the region have transportation maintenance fees.  Should PBOT continue to rely on other funders’ project criteria?
  • Theme #6:
    • The discussions about gentrification and economic opportunity should address business stability and equity. We often focus on families and residential impacts of gentrification, but we should talk about businesses as well.
    • Should be more explicit about policy tools to mitigate gentrification (community development block development grants, affordable housing mix as part of a redevelopment plan, rent stabilization, inclusionary zoning {when/if it becomes legal}, form based codes, etc.).
    • Add inclusionary zoning as a potential tool to address gentrification and help move people to desirable locations with abundant services, in anticipation of the lifting of the state ban.
  • Theme #7:
    • Physical accessibility should be added to the statement about “invest in affordable fair housing…”
  • Theme #8:
    • Bullet two (setting a higher priority to projects that complete a network or connect travel modes) seems, potentially, in conflict with Theme #1, providing a basic level of service. The language here needs to be clarified so the meaning is more defined and clear. What is the appropriate size of the gap?

Public Comment 

No public comment was received at this meeting.

Comprehensive Plan Update, Part 2 (30 minutes)
Presenter: Michelle Kunec-North, BPS
Materials: Comprehensive Plan Update:  Introduction to Working Draft Part 2
Summary: Michelle Kunec-North gave an introduction to the Working Draft Part 2 to help orient the IE PEG to the materials and discussions that will be coming in the future months.

Comments and questions from the IE PEG included:

  • The City should look at the Portland Public Schools public facilities plan, which is also a State requirement.
  • Suggestions for district mapping conversations:

1)     Use demographic information to enable an equity conversation. [Yes, this can be made available.]

2)     Use historical information to inform where we might want to go in the future. In particular, this historical view might help us better understand what has led to inequities we see today. This could/should also be discussed in the annotations on the map. This could also help challenge some assumptions (e.g., annexation history has resulted in XYZ). [Good suggestion.  We will consider it.]

3)     Use a density layer.

4)     Show where revenue comes from, by district (e.g. can we make connections between where revenue comes from and existing prosperity and disparities?). [This information is available on the City Budget Office website, as Budget Maps.]

  • Why are some Centers missing from the Urban Design Framework map? (e.g. West Portlandcenter). [Answer not known.]
  • How will new/additional plans be incorporated (e.g. citywide transition plan)? [Answer not known.  Let’s consider the plans, and how they may fit it.]
  • Coordinate with Metro’s livability study work.

IE PEG’s suggestions for upcoming agendas on Part 2:

  • Let’s bring back the level of service maps and discussions;
  • Project prioritization and criteria and if/how an equity lens is used;
  • How the growth scenarios play out (and the associated data and performance measures) – continuation of April meeting discussion;
  • More about the mapping discussions – maybe seeing the preview/beta versions of the district working maps.

Wrap Up

For more information, please contact Bob Glascock, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, at 503-823-7845 or Bob.Glascock@portlandoregon.gov or Andrée Tremoulet, Facilitator, at 503-267-9255 or andree@commonworksconsulting.com