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June 30, 2015: City Council Unanimously Approves Type IV Land Use Review Application

On June 25, 2015, the Mayor and Portland City Council unanimously approved the Portland Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project Type IV Land Use Review (LUR) application.

The approved Type IV LUR application proposed the removal of the Weir Building (screen house), portions of lower Reservoir 4’s basin, and upper Reservoir 3’s basin in Washington Park. The gatehouses, dams, and other historic features will be protected and restored.

Proposed Project
The Type IV LUR application is part of the Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project, proposing to build a new below-ground reservoir in the same general footprint as the existing upper Reservoir 3, with a reflecting pool on top.

The lower Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool will be constructed in the basin. Much of the Reservoir 4 basin and the slope to the west are needed to provide landslide abatement; the slope will be restored to its pre-reservoir condition.

The new below-ground reservoir in the place of Reservoir 3 will be constructed so that it is outside of the moving edge of the landslide, which will help protect it from damage.

The project addresses major reservoir issues, including recurrent landslide damage, compliance with federal law, seismic vulnerability, and deterioration of the 120-year-old structures.


  • In December 2014, the Water Bureau submitted the first (Type IV) of three LUR applications to the City of Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) for the proposed Washington Park Reservoir Project.
  • On February 9, 2015, BDS deemed the Type IV LUR application complete, issued a Request for Response, and officially opened the public comment period and set the dates for the Historic Landmarks Commission meeting and the first City Council Hearing.
  • On March 30, 2015, a public meeting was held before the Historic Landmarks Commission to review the Type IV LUR application. During the public meeting, BDS presented the Staff Report and Recommendation, the Water Bureau discussed the project, and members of the public offered testimony. The Commission voted 3 to 1 in support of the initial LUR application and forwarded their recommendation to the City Council.
  • On April 23, 2015, the first of three City Council hearings was held. During the hearing, members of the public had the opportunity to offer testimony. At the hearing’s conclusion, the City Council agreed to allow the record to remain open through May 7.
  • On May 13, 2015, City Council held a second hearing for the purpose of deliberations on the application. The record had previously been closed, and no testimony was accepted. After deliberating, Mayor Charlie Hales and the City Council gave unanimous tentative approval to the Type IV LUR application.  
  • On June 25, 2015, at a final hearing, the Mayor and Portland City Council unanimously approved the Type IV LUR application. Members of the public were welcome to attend. However, no public testimony was heard as the public comment and testimony period closed on May 7, 2015. Opportunity for public input included the Historic Landmarks Commission meeting in March 2015 and the City Council hearing in April 2015.

Next Steps - Type III LUR Application Package
In spring 2015, the Water Bureau will submit a second LUR application package that includes two Type III applications:

The LUR package will propose the construction of a new covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, walkways, and historic preservation and rehabilitation actions. The second LUR application process will also include public comment periods and public hearings to ensure public notification and the opportunity to comment before a final land use decision is rendered.

Before work permits are issued or any construction begins, the Type III LUR application package must be approved.

The LUR applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses, nine Community Sounding Board meetings that guided design for the required visible features of a new reservoir in Washington Park, five public meetings before the Historic Landmarks Commission, and three City Council hearings.