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The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

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Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

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New Planning and Sustainability Commission defines work, looks forward

BPS E-news Issue 9

In early October, the new Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) held their first retreat. The group discussed how the new Commission will work together and their workplan priorities.  They met with various City bureau directors, as well as with Mayor Sam Adams. One key topic of conversation was defining “sustainability” and how the PSC will integrate the components of equity, environmental and human health, and economic factors into their work.

The Commissioners agreed on a shared definition of sustainability and to adhere to two main concepts to guide their work and recommendations: 1) That everything is connected; and 2) That whatever we do today affects tomorrow.

Commissioners also noted the importance of engaging people who think of sustainability as a barrier, emphasizing the need for urgency and the time dimension of “borrowing from the future” and including cultural sustainability (the ability to remain connected to one’s cultural identity, values and beliefs) and creating space in the city that is inclusive of the range of cultures.

The primary functions of the 11-member Commission include ensuring sustainability principles and practices are incorporated into policy, planning and development decisions. The PSC will serve as an advocate for community concerns and robust public involvement.  It will advise City Council and bureaus on social, economic and environmental topics and act as the stewards of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Climate Action Plan.

Looking ahead, the PSC will remain focused on integrating all aspects of sustainability into its recommendations and will advocate for projects from which all Portlanders can benefit.

Making recycling easier for businesses

BPS E-news Issue 9

Did you know Metro area businesses throw away more than 20 tons of paper, bottles and cans every 30 minutes? Any Portland business or not-for-profit organization may collect free resources such as desk-side recycling boxes, break-room recycling boxes, posters and stickers from Recycle at Work Distribution Centers.

Located throughout the City, Distribution Centers are businesses, community centers and non-profit organizations that have partnered with Recycle at Work to make recycling easy. The following organizations have resources available to local businesses who want to do their part by recycling in the workplace. See a map view of the Distribution Centers here.

University Park Community Center

9009 N Foss Ave

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
721 NW 9th Avenue Suite 350

Bureau of Development Services
1900 SW 4th Avenue
*Please call first - Janette 503-823-7018 or Chris 503-823-7105

Portland Business Alliance

200 SW Market St., Suite L150

Southwest Community Center & Pool
6820 SW 45th Ave

Allstate Insurance
2100 NE Broadway, Suite 109

Columbia Corridor Association
6015 NE 80th, Suite 125
*Please call first – (503) 287-8686

Central Northeast Neighbors (CNN)
4415 NE 87th Ave

2915 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
*please call first - 503-294-0769 x1

Southeast Uplift
3534 SE Main Street

Climate Action Plan Progress Report received at City Council

BPS E-news Issue 9

Portland just released the Year One Progress Report for Portland and Multnomah County's Climate Action Plan. The Climate Action Plan is a three-year plan to put Portland on a path to achieve a 40 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030, and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.
The report finds that Portland and Multnomah County have made substantial progress in carrying out the actions identified in the plan. Local emissions have dropped 15 percent since 2000, sharply countering the national trend. Despite rapid population growth, local greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 were two percent below 1990 levels, the baseline year referenced in the Kyoto Protocol. On a per-capita basis, emissions in Multnomah County have fallen by 20 percent since 1990.
Adopted in October 2009, the Climate Action Plan contains over 100 specific actions to be completed by 2012. These actions include efforts ranging from building bicycle infrastructure to collecting food-scraps from homes for composting and from weatherizing homes to planting trees and restoring natural areas. In general, meaningful progress has been made on the majority of the actions in the plan. Just over half the actions are on track for completion; another one-third percent are underway, but face obstacles or are just getting started; four percent of the actions have been completed; and the remaining 10 percent have not yet been initiated.

Highlights outlined in the report include:

  • Establishing Clean Energy Works Portland, a program to finance building energy efficiency and create quality jobs. The program improved the efficiency of more than 300 Portland homes in 2009 and also resulted in creating a new non-profit organization, Clean Energy Works Oregon, to expand the program statewide.
  • Accelerating the number of residential solar installations to nearly 400 systems in 2010, meeting Portland's three-year goal in one year.
  • Construction of sidewalks, 15 miles of Neighborhood Greenways, and the east-side streetcar.
  • Completing a wide range of energy-efficiency projects in City facilities, and installing several large photovoltaic systems, including the Water Bureau's 267-kilowatt system at the Columbia South Shore Well Field.
  • Planting more than 47,000 trees and 64,000 shrubs, and working to restore and revegetate thousands of acres.
  • Launching the "Be Resourceful: Get More of the Good Stuff" thoughtful consumption public outreach campaign.
  • Starting a pilot of a residential food-scrap collection program with 2,000 households.
  • Developing a new public outreach effort called Portland Climate Action Now! to help residents and businesses change their behavior in ways that reduce carbon emissions.

The City and County have made considerable progress in the first year of implementing the Climate Action Plan. Nevertheless, a number of key actions require attention in the coming years.

Major next steps include:

  • Completing the Portland Plan, the City's strategic plan to create a prosperous, healthy, opportunity-filled community that thrives while producing less carbon emissions.
  • Developing policy options for improving the performance of existing commercial buildings.
  • Preparing an assessment of climate-related vulnerabilities, strengths and resiliency of Portland in the face of a changing climate (e.g. food, water and energy supplies, infrastructure, transportation, floodplains, public health, emergency preparedness, etc.).
  • Developing the tools needed to analyze and evaluate expected carbon emissions from land use policies, investment decisions and scenarios.

Check out the report here.

Your actions count! Here’s a helpful guide to climate-friendly actions you can take at home.

City Council takes next steps on River Plan

BPS E-news Issue 9

On December 1, 2010, the Portland City Council took the next steps toward making the River Plan a reality for the North Reach of the Willamette River. The River Plan is the first update to the Willamette Greenway Plan in over 20 years. 

The River Plan / North Reach provides certainty for industrial development in the working harbor. It also helps ensure that the location and design of development has the least impact on natural resources and the applicant first avoids, then minimizes and finally mitigates for impacts that occur as a result of the project.  

Industrial stakeholders requested that the River Plan include an option of paying a fee in lieu of environmental mitigation to allow them to maximize on-site development potential. On December 1 City Council accepted a report that outlined how these in-lieu fees would be calculated.

The Bureau of Environmental Services is currently in the process of developing detailed pre-design cost estimates for two river restoration sites (Swan Island beaches and Doane Creek). The final in-lieu fees will be based on these sites and will be the subject of another City Council hearing in spring 2011.   

These optional in-lieu fees will be in place for two years or until a mitigation bank is developed. A mitigation bank manages land for natural resource values and sells credits created by resource enhancement.

At their meeting City Council also approved a conservation easement with the Siltronic Corporation, a mitigation plan for a portion of the University of Portland property and a new effective date of July 1, 2011 for the River Plan / North Reach.  

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is also beginning the update of the River Plan / Central Reach as part of the update of the Central City Plan. For more information on either of these projects please contact Sallie Edmunds:

Portland's urban design issues, explained

BPS E-news Issue 9

This fall, the Urban Design Studio worked closely with BPS’s Central City team to release Design Central City, Volume I. Prepared as part of a trio of documents for phase one of the Central City 2035 Plan, this report is a starting point to discuss some of the key urban design issues facing Portland’s central city today.  Highlights include connections to the Willamette River, opportunities for places on the east and west sides of the river, and more diversity within streets and public spaces.

The vibrancy and financial success of Portland’s Central City can be attributed to coordinated and intentional urban design, land use and transportation planning. Future urban design efforts in the central city must be built on the solid structure of this past work while embracing new approaches to address a series of new challenges and pportunities, like climate change and an aging population.

Design Central City is intended to:

  • Frame and assess the existing urban design context of the central city.
  • Identify current urban design issues, tools, challenges and opportunities.
  • Suggest three guiding themes — reclaim the river, elevate the east side, and transform the public realm — to stimulate public discussion on the development of a new urban design concept for the central city.

Key findings from Design Central City:

  • One size does not fit all. The central city’s current urban design strategies are no longer adequate to address the complexity of today‘s urban design challenges.
  • There are opportunities for ‘intervention’ and ‘invention.’ Within the central city’s existing built fabric there are numerous infill sites ready for new interventions as well as larger unbuilt areas where new paradigms — inventions — should be encouraged and tested.
  • Urban design implementation tools should be recrafted. Currently, the public sector’s set of urban design implementation tools have become out of date, overly complicated, redundant, or ineffective.

To learn more about the report, visit the Urban Design Studio’s website. You can weigh in on these and other urban design issues for Portland’s Central City in March, 2011 as part of the CC2035 Symposium Series (see article in this issue of e-news). For event updates, visit