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Planning and Sustainability Commission Moving Through Long Work Sessions for Comprehensive Plan While Considering Other Projects Too

To attend a recent Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) meeting is to witness public service at its finest. Last fall the PSC held four public hearings throughout the city on the Comprehensive Plan Proposed Draft. And since January 27 of this year, commissioners have been holding long work sessions to review public testimony and staff recommendations as they move through the outstanding issues of the draft plan.

They’ve dug into the details of proposals for housing, addressing displacement, residential down-designations and densities, and nonconforming uses. They’ve had spirited discussions about centers and corridors and how the Transportation System Plan (TSP) would serve the additional people, jobs, housing and businesses in these growing areas. They’ve revisited West Hayden Island and considered strategies to create and intensify employment land to provide more jobs for Portlanders yet to come. And they’ve reviewed how the policies in the new Comprehensive Plan would guide decision-making and make the City’s public involvement efforts more inclusive.

Many of the PSC’s 11 members have served on the commission since the Portland Plan days (six years or more) and will continue on until they have recommended the Comprehensive Plan to City Council. Normally they meet for two to four hours twice a month, but the scope and complexity of the draft Comprehensive Plan, the update to the Central City Plan and other long-range plans, code amendments and special projects have meant more and longer meetings. To cover this much material and provide thoughtful and thorough guidance to the City Council, commissioners have spent countless hours preparing for and engaging in sometimes four and five-hour meetings every two weeks. You can read the meeting minutes and watch the video of each meeting on the PSC website.

Who are they?

These dedicated volunteers represent a broad spectrum of the community. They’re busy people whose love of Portland and commitment to making it better for everyone is reflected in their hard work on behalf of all Portlanders.

Take Chris Smith, digital marketer for Xerox who serves on the Portland Streetcar Inc. Board of Directors as well as many other advisory committees and commissions. And Michelle Rudd, a partner with Stoel Rives who was just named one of Savoy Magazine’s 2015 Most Influential Black Lawyers. People like Karen Gray, superintendent of the Parkrose School District. Or Don Hanson, principal at OTAK, who also served on the commission back when it was the Planning Commission. Teresa St Martin of Windermere and Margaret Tallmadge with the Coalition of Communities of Color, are the commission’s newest members. Mike Houck, executive director of Urban Greenspaces Institute, and Gary Oxman, retired Chief Health Officer for Multnomah County, look after our human and environmental health. Then there are vice chairs Howard Shapiro, who also chairs the Community Involvement Committee for the Comp Plan, and Katherine Schultz of GBD Architects. At the helm is André Baugh, a consultant with Group AGB Ltd, perhaps the commission’s most passionate equity advocate.

As a group, they have a variety of viewpoints, and together they work to balance and realize the goals of a prosperous, healthy and equitable city. In addition to working on the Comprehensive Plan, they’ve been holding hearings, briefings and meetings about Central City’s West Quadrant Plan, energy performance in commercial buildings, urban renewal areas and a proposal to build a propane transport facility at the Port’s T6 terminal.

What’s next?

In the next couple of months alone, they’ll be holding public hearings on the updated Economic Opportunities Analysis (April 28) and revised Growth Scenarios Report (May 12) for the Comprehensive Plan as well as the T6 code amendment (April 7), the RICAP 7 package (also April 28) and the SE Quadrant Plan (May 26). In addition they’ll hear briefings on the Powell-Division Transit and Development Project, something BPS is working on in partnership with Metro and TriMet. Please check the PSC calendar approximately one week prior to each tentative meeting date for specific agendas.