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Washington Park Reservoir Project: Land Use Hearings Officer Approves Conditional Use, Environmental, and Tree Reviews Application

By Lindsay Wochnick

In order to comply with federal and state mandates, and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Portland Water Bureau is moving forward with a project to update the Washington Park reservoir site.

On December 4, 2015, the City of Portland Land Use Hearings Officer approved the Portland Water Bureau’s Type III Conditional Use, Environmental, and Tree Reviews application for the Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project.

Previously, a public hearing was held on November 2, 2015, where the Hearings Officer reviewed the Type III application and considered city staff recommendations and public testimony.  The Hearings Officer then decided to hold the record open for the submittal of new evidence, responses, and the Water Bureau’s final argument related to the Type III application.

The record closed November 16, 2015. The Hearings Officer’s decision is final unless appealed to City Council. If it is appealed, City Council will hold a public hearing in late January or February 2016.

Project Details
The Water Bureau’s Washington Park Reservoir Improvements Project proposes 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 basin and the slope west of it are needed to provide landslide abatement; the slope will be restored to its pre-reservoir condition.

Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland habitat area/bioswale and a reflecting pool are also proposed in the Reservoir 4 basin. Work will primarily be within the Historic District.

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

Background
The project includes three Land Use Reviews (LUR). Detailed information, including dates, decisions, and next steps, are included in the chart to the right.

1. Type IV Demolition Review application: The 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.

2. Type III Historic Review application: The application describes historic preservation and rehabilitation actions and proposes construction of a covered reservoir, reflecting pools, lowland habitat area/bioswale, and walkways.     

3.  Type III Conditional Use/ Environmental/Tree Reviews application: The application addresses development impacts to the site, park, and surrounding neighborhoods, tree protection, natural-area restoration, and construction and traffic management for the project. 

A courtesy copy of the Type III Conditional Use/ Environmental/Tree Reviews application submitted to the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) is posted on the Water Bureau’s project webpage at www.portlandoregon.gov/water/wpreservoirs/LURIIICU. Note that BDS maintains the official case record, which tracks updates and revisions over time.

Before work permits are issued or construction begins, all land use review applications must be approved.

The applications are a result of a robust public involvement process that included multiple public open houses and nine Community Sounding Board meetings that guided design for the required visible features of the Washington Park project.

Additional Information & Contacts
For detailed project information, visit the project webpage or contact Water Bureau Public Information staff at 503-823-3028 or by e-mail

Visit the Bureau of Development Services’ website or call 503-823-7300 for more information on the land use review application process.

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