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PSC Spotlight: Kat Schultz

Schultz shares her thoughts on the City’s top priorities and why ‘smart growth’ strategies can be the first wave of 21st century urban planning.

PSC Spotlight: Kat Schultz

Since assuming the role of Chair of the Planning and Sustainability Commission, Kat Schultz's keen perspective and input has driven forward-thinking decision making that has helped shape the framework and implementation of many of the City’s signature planning packages. 

The Chair shares her thoughts on the City’s top priorities and why ‘smart growth’ strategies can be the first wave of 21st century urban planning.

What are Portland’s biggest challenges right now? 

It’s the issue that is on everyone’s mind: housing. The 2035 Comprehensive Plan was a great exercise for helping us think about how the city should grow for our current populations and future residents. We’ve also created innovative tools and opportunities to create more housing. But I’d like us to go a step further with our smart growth strategies that allow us to explore the idea of ‘cities within cities’. I often wonder if our communities would thrive more if their built environment was denser yet yielded more housing, access to jobs and daily amenities? Is that model sustainable? I find this to be an enticing concept in terms of big vision planning, but should it be thought of as the next steps of 21st century planning in order to accommodate our expected growth?

What led you to the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC)?

I actually started by serving on the City of Portland’s Design Commission. It was a great growth experience – I learned how to find my voice, quickly coalesce my thoughts and become comfortable sharing my perspective in front of the public. It prepared me for my position on the PSC. Both opportunities have helped expand my understanding of the City’s challenges and provided a broad evaluation of the needs of our communities.

Have you faced any challenges as Chair of the PSC?

Personally, I’ve had challenges with trying to understand an area of our work that I’m unfamiliar with and how to very quickly make a recommendation that I believe is sound and in the best interest of Portlanders. I can’t know everything, say, about transportation, but I trust that my fellow commissioners can facilitate a healthy conversation and move beneficial policy forward. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues and really value their perspective. I may not always agree with them on a particular issue but I very much rely on their vast experience and knowledge that they bring to the table. The diversity of thought is what makes being a part of the PSC such a rewarding experience.

What motivates you to give your time to the PSC?

I was born and raised in Portland. I’ve traveled all over the world, but I always want to come back home. I feel very fortunate to live here and experience all of the charm and changes – I embrace all of it and am equally excited by it. But I also want to sustain the core of what makes Portland such a livable city. I like being a part of that kind of the work and the PSC has been a great avenue to venture into exploring the evolution of the urban environment here.

You have helped shape signature planning packages like the 2035 Comprehensive Plan that will greatly define the city’s future. 20 years from now, when that plan is actualized, how do you envision Portland?

I love to walk through different quadrants of Portland and study the diversity of that particular built environment. I often ask myself, why is certain zoning applied in some areas and not others? Should mixed-use zoning be applied everywhere? I believe the future of planning must be geared towards quality of life for Portlanders. We should be able to access our daily needs easily – meaning more walkable neighborhoods with quick access to grocery stores, transit stations and employment hubs. Corridor development is a critical strategy that should incorporate sustainability, health and other important factors for facilitating high quality of life for everyone.

Has your identity or professional career influenced your contributions to the PSC?

I work in the development industry which is private-market driven. The nature of my work provides me with really diverse experiences that help paint a full picture of the benefits and challenges of smart growth in Portland. I often reference my work scenarios when approaching projects being reviewed by the PSC to help inform my colleagues and the public about how the development side responds to opportunities for growth.

In terms of my identity, I’ve had a couple of instances where I felt there was a bias against me because I was the “only girl” in a room full of male developers. I strive to listen to and value all voices around the table, coalesce and move the conversation forward into meaningful action. I’ve read those qualities may be “female traits”, but I take it as just who I am and the qualities I bring to my profession.

Kat graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Architecture. She serves as Chair of Portland’s Planning and Sustainability Commission and previously was a member of the Design Commission. She enjoys mentoring through Benson Polytechnic High School’s Job Shadow Program and traveling internationally. 

Central City 2035 Update: Recap of April 11 work session and preview of final PSC Work Session on CC2035 Plan

The Planning and Sustainability Commission prepares for final vote on the Central City 2035 Plan on May 23.

On April 11, 2017, the Planning and Sustainability Commission met for the seventh CC2035 work session. Commissioners discussed floor area ratio (FAR) for new development in the Central City when Inclusionary Housing is triggered. They also reviewed a policy amendment to support freeway capping and a standard for temporary swimming platforms in the Willamette River.  

Floor area ratio and Inclusionary Housing

Projects that trigger the Inclusionary Housing requirements earn bonus floor area to help offset the cost of building affordable housing. Commissioners and staff discussed three options for calculating the bonus FAR by project. The PSC supported staff’s recommendation. Read more about the options and PSC’s recommendation (click "Download").

Floating platforms in the river

Staff presented a new standard for temporary swimming platforms in the Willamette. These platforms would be anchored offshore for the river swimming season, then removed and stored during the colder months. The PSC had questions about the allowed uses on the docks and who would be permitted to install them. Staff will return to the PSC to discuss this further at their May 23 meeting. 

Last PSC work session and final vote (Note the new temporary location: CH2M Building Lincoln Room: 2020 SW 4th Ave, first floor)

The final planned PSC work session will be on May 23. Project staff will ask the Commission to take a final vote on the entire CC2035 Plan package as amended and forward it on to City Council as their Recommended Draft. Three discussion items will proceed the final vote including:

  1. An existing North Pearl river setback provision.
  2. Additional discussion on temporary floating docks carried over from the April 11 meeting.
  3. A discussion about burying the I-5 freeway on the eastside and its relationship to the Central City Broadway Weilder project. 

You can review the meeting materials and watch the worksession on our YouTube channel (including streaming live).

City of Chicago publishes US EPA's Climate Change website

Portland prioritizes local action on climate change and supports Chicago's efforts at making the EPA's information available to the public

For decades, the City of Portland has valued and prioritized local action on climate change.

“Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, and the most pressing global issue we face. Any vision for the future of our city needs to acknowledge climate change. It isn’t just our planet that’s at stake, it’s our very existence.” – Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler

Partnership with the world’s greatest cities has become more important than ever to influence the global conversations on climate change. Through collaborations like the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, cities are sharing best practices, challenges and successes.

To support this important work, Portland would like to take this opportunity to thank the City of Chicago for publishing the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s website on climate change in its entirety:

“The City of Chicago wishes to acknowledge and attribute this information to the United States Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies for the decades of work that they have done to advance the fight against climate change. While this information may not be readily available on the agency’s webpage right now, here in Chicago we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it.”

Portland’s New Open Data Policy will Improve Public Trust and Build Civic Engagement

City Council’s endorsement sets wheels in motion to create a policy and program to make more City data readily accessible to the community.

On Wednesday, May 3rd, Portland City Council enthusiastically adopted an Open Data Ordinance to establish an Open Data Policy and Open Data Program in the City of Portland, culminating an effort that began with the passage of Resolution No. 36735 in 2009 declaring Portland’s commitment to Open Data.

“In 2009, Portland was the very first jurisdiction to declare its commitment to Open Data,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “Portland continues to be on the cutting edge, now taking this important next step to set up policies to implement an Open Data Program in the City.”

Establishing an Open Data Policy and Program and a system of data governance in the City of Portland will:

  1. Increase transparency and improve public trust.
  2. Build civic participation and engagement.
  3. Improve access to data to inform and improve decision-making.
  4. Reduce staff time devoted to responding to requests for City data.
  5. Grow the likelihood of data-driven innovations in the private sector that increase the social and commercial value of City assets and improve the delivery of City services.

The Open Data Policy and Program are fundamental to the City of Portland’s “Smart Cities” efforts. Shared, standardized systems for collecting, managing, analyzing and distributing data are foundational requirements to meet Portland’s goals to use data to inform decisions, to design and evaluate policies and programs and to partner with the private sector to meet City goals around livability, affordability, safety, sustainability and equity.

“This program will bring a powerful tool to our residents, local businesses and mission-driven organizations,“ remarked Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “Open Data is about fostering transparency and efficiency in government.”

Advancing an Open Data policy for the City of Portland has been part of the City’s partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities (WWC) initiative, which helps cities enhance their use of data and evidence to improve residents’ lives. Portland’s selection to the initiative was announced in September of 2016. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) has been leading the Open Data effort in partnership with the City Budget Office (CBO). BPS and CBO worked with technical experts from two of WWC’s partners, the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University and the Sunlight Foundation, to develop the Open Data Ordinance.

By adopting the Open Data Ordinance, City Council:

  1. Established a general Open Data policy: The City will be committed to the publication, accessibility and equitable and widespread sharing of data collected and generated by all City bureaus and by private sector companies, non-profit organizations, academic universities and other parties working on behalf of the City. The City will strive to make data open by default.
  2. Created an Open Data Program to implement the policy.
  3. Established a Data Governance team, which will include representatives from multiple bureaus, to determine the overall direction of the Open Data Program, develop more specific data-sharing policies, and to engage external stakeholders in program design and implementation.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will be tasked with the initial implementation of the program, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, the City Budget Office, the Bureau of Technology Services and other City bureaus.

“I think what is really before us here today is another way to advance the core values of our City around access and transparency, empowering the public, and ultimately being accountable,” commented Commissioner Nick Fish. “And when we get those right, there is greater public trust in our work.”

Mayor Wheeler added, “This is an essential first step to democratizing our data.”


Green Loop and Untitled Studios bring the community together at Design Week PDX

Excitement about and interest in the proposed six-mile linear park around the Central City shows that this urban design concept has arrived!

As the main attraction at Design Week PDX, the Green Loop concept didn’t just meet expectations for community engagement, it knocked them out of the ball park. It seemed that the work of Untitled Studios was a perfect fit for the DWP Headquarters in the Central Eastside’s The Redd.

The group of young designers and architects filled the 20,000 square foot space with myriad displays, interactive exhibits and plenty of opportunities to learn about and comment on the proposed loop for walkers, strollers and bikers of all ages and abilities.

Throughout Design Week, people could wander through the Headquarters building and experience Untitled Studios’ at their own pace.


Think about it: What would you like to see happen along the Green Loop route?


In addition to the displays, interactive maps and a life-size mockup of the loop, DWP featured several presentations and discussions focusing on the Green Loop. Hundreds of Portlanders came to listen, learn and workshop how the Green Loop is “a new type of civic ecology,” “a tool for social good,” and the subject of “Branding Strategies for Public Space.”

The University of Oregon held a design charrette with dozens of participants about how the Green Loop could serve as a new type of civic ecology for Portland.

Beer and virtual reality tour feature the Green Loop

And as if that weren’t enough, Portland’s own HUB brewery developed a special edition IPA just for Design Week PDX. The Green Loop IPA was on tap at the opening night party, where more than 800 people enjoyed the beer, cotton candy, dancing, speed portrait drawing and a virtual reality experience of the loop.

This is what it looked like from the outside …

And from the inside (with goggles) …

Participants said the VR experience made the case for the Green Loop. “After experiencing the VR version of the Green Loop, I felt like we have to do this! It really made the case for it,” said one participant. Others expressed similar feelings: the VR experience made an abstract concept real and arguably a good thing for the Central City.

Lots of ways to stay involved

If you missed Design Week, no worries …

You can still experience the Green Loop and help make it happen! We’ve got a new Green Loop website and map app, with lots of information and ways for you to engage moving forward. Learn more about the Untitled Studios exhibition, explore the loop and make comments on the map app, join Friends of the Green Loop, watch a video featuring Mayor Ted Wheeler and others, and then sign up for email updates.

Then read more coverage of the Green Loop at DWP.   

Next steps

In the next few weeks, Untitled Studios will compile all the comments and ideas they collected at DWP to share with the Green Loop team.

Meanwhile, the Planning and Sustainability Commission will vote to recommend the Central City 2035 Plan to City Council on May 23. The Green Loop is such a “Big Idea” in the CC2035 Plan that the PSC will vote separately on it that day. City Council will hold public hearings on the Recommended Draft in early August. Portlanders are invited to testify in person or in writing.

Learn more at