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Social justice is essential for a prosperous, healthy and equitable city

Planning and Sustainability Director Susan Anderson reaffirms commitment to equity, inclusion, and climate action to ensure Portland is a healthy and resilient place for everyone.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve observed the profound impact national leadership and policies are having on many of our community members, businesses and partners.

Many recent national policy, administrative and executive decisions have been in direct conflict with BPS commitments to promote equity and inclusion, climate action, and healthy, resilient neighborhoods throughout Portland.

At BPS, we are now reminded on a daily basis that efforts at the local level are more important than ever, if we are to successfully promote urban prosperity, health and environmental quality.

We recognize that we can only achieve those results if social justice is also at the forefront. Our policies, programs and services will always welcome and serve all people, and recognize that many people are faced with discrimination and targeting because of their gender, faith, race, national origin or immigration status.

If we want to succeed as a community, we know that advancing racial equity and inclusion will enhance all of our efforts, as we can’t truly succeed if we leave portions of our community behind.

In response, we are learning new ways to do our work. We commit to building new partnerships, and collaborating with a broader spectrum of Portland residents and businesses. 

For decades, we have been known nationally and even internationally for our work on land use, climate change, urban design and environmental protection.  Our efforts to understand and serve the needs of a diverse community will ultimately enhance the quality of our city creating more opportunities for better health, housing, jobs, recreation and quality of life for everyone. 

I look forward to working in collaboration with you.

Signature of Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson

Director, City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

PSC News: Youth Position Opening on Planning and Sustainability Commission

Commission seeks youth member to fill upcoming vacancy

About the Planning and Sustainability Commission
Formed in 2010, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) has specific responsibility for the stewardship, development and maintenance of the City's Comprehensive Plan, Climate Action Plan and Zoning Code.

The PSC includes 11 volunteer members with expertise in a range of areas. The Commission’s main role is to advise City Council on Portland’s long-range goals, policies and programs for land use, planning and sustainability; they do so by holding public hearings and discussing issues and proposals. Their recommendations aim to create a more prosperous, educated, healthy, resilient and equitable city. As a group, they have a variety of viewpoints, and together they balance a variety of City goals.

Proposed Youth Position
To continue to increase the diversity of the PSC, one position will be filled by a younger community member. We are seeking someone who is enthusiastic about innovative urban solutions, new technologies, community building and efforts to make Portland a thriving, livable city for all.

The PSC reviews numerous long-range planning projects, and a youth perspective is especially important since today’s youth will be those inheriting our efforts. Engaging youth on the PSC provides a new perspective and opinion on issues that will help shape the future of the city.

Applicants should have a true personal interest and commitment to the work the PSC is responsible for overseeing. The position will have the same duties and responsibilities as all PSC members and is a voting position.

Typical time commitment includes two 4-hour monthly meetings, reading/preparation time prior to each meeting, as well as possible additional time on sub-committees.

Applicants for this position should:

  • Be able to serve a 2-year term.
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 25 at the beginning of the term.
  • Understand and support efforts to promote inclusion and equity.
  • Have knowledge of current Portland issues and/or government. (preferred)

To indicate your interest in serving on the Planning and Sustainability Commission please complete an application form and return it to the City's Office of Neighborhood Involvement at 1120 SW 4th Ave, Suite 110, Portland OR 97204. Please include a letter of recommendation from a personal or professional reference with your application. The PSC values diversity and encourages everyone who is interested in this position to apply.

Applications will be reviewed by BPS and Mayor's office staff beginning on March 10, 2017. A final selection and appointment will be made by the Mayor in April. Applications for those who apply that are not selected will be kept on file for two years for consideration when the position is again open or vacated.

CC2035 Work Session Recap: Summary of January 24, 2017, Planning and Sustainability Commission discussion

Commissioners covered bird-safe design standards, eco roofs and a cost analysis of new and/or updated regulations for future development

On January 24, 2017, the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) held a work session for the Central City 2035 Plan. Commissioners discussed bird-safe glazing, ecoroof regulations and the cumulative cost of new regulations on future development.

Bird safe glazing 

Research shows that up to 1 billion birds die every year in the United States from flying into windows. This is mainly due to the reflection of street trees and other vegetation onto glass, which creates a habitat “mirage.” Most birds are killed on impact when they collide with windows at full speed.  

In Portland, the surface area of buildings that poses the highest risk of strikes is the first 60 feet from the ground. Windows (or glazing) adjacent to an ecoroof and/or the river and areas near groups of trees also create high risk areas.

Seeking to reduce the number of bird fatalities, City Council directed Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff to establish bird-safe design standards in 2013. Based on public testimony, project staff worked with the bureaus of Development Services and Environmental Services to develop and modify new regulations to reduce the number of bird strikes.  

Revisions included:

  • Applying the standard across the entire Central City rather than only in areas with high tree canopy.
  • Applying a 30-percent glazing threshold for triggering the standard. This will capture predominately residential and commercial buildings with more glazed surface while exempting most traditional industrial development.
  • Creating an administrative rule to easily add to the list of available glazing options in the future.
  • Requiring special glazing on ground floor windows to help meet City goals for active ground floor use.  

PSC Action: Supported the proposed staff amendments.

Ecoroofs

Approximately 24 acres of ecoroofs have been installed on top of Portland buildings since the 1990s. Ecoroofs enhance the quality of urban life by providing multiple environmental, economic and human health benefits, including:

  • Reducing the costs of heating and cooling in a building throughout the year by insulating the building’s roof.
  • Improving air quality.
  • Reducing the heat island effect, thus keeping the Central City cooler.
  • Increasing urban green spaces for rest, recreation and beauty.
  • Providing urban habitat for birds and pollinators.
  • Protecting a roof’s membrane from sun exposure while increasing its functional life.
  • Managing stormwater in densely developed areas while also allowing more flexibility in building and site design.

Toronto is well known for its ecoroof requirements for new development, while other cities like Chicago and San Francisco have a mix of requirements and incentives.

The proposed standard for ecoroofs in Portland’s Central City applies to new development in the CX, EX, RX and IG1 zones and only to buildings larger than 20,000 square feet. The building’s roof top must be covered with at least 60-percent ecoroof with a few exemptions for solar panels, mechanical equipment and fire evacuation routes.

Public testimony asked for the regulation to be applied to smaller buildings, to cover more of the rooftop, and to allow more space for tenant amenities, like rooftop patios. Others were concerned about the cost of the regulation and asked the Commission to consider other types of roofs like white roofs or cool roofs.

PSC Action: The PSC supported the requirement in the Proposed Draft, but expanded the stated purpose to include managing stormwater, reducing urban heat island effects and improving air quality.

In addition, Commissioners requested further research to evaluate other types of green roofs, such as roof top gardens and landscaped areas, to see if these could meet the stormwater requirement. They also requested research on the use of ecoroofs on wood frame buildings.

Cost Analysis 
After the Central City 2035 hearings in summer 2016, the PSC requested an analysis of the cumulative cost that proposed new regulations could add to the price of new development so they could consider both the public benefits as well as their potential impact on the feasibility, scale and pace of development in the Central City. Portland Development Commission (PDC) and BPS contracted with EcoNorthwest (EcoNW) to analyze the impact of the following four new policies on future development:

  1. Changes to Parks System Development Charges (SDC)
  2. New Construction Excise Tax (CET)
  3. New Inclusionary Housing Program requirements (IHP)
  4. New green building requirements (including low carbon building registration, and standards for bird safe glazing and ecoroofs)

 Findings from the study indicated:

  • Parks and Recreation SCDs and the CET could add 0.97 and 0.01 percent, respectively, to development costs.
  • New inclusionary housing requirements could add up to 3 percent to development costs. However, the Housing Bureau would offer offsets for projects in the Central City, including a 10-year property tax exemption on all residential units (market rate and affordable). This would more than make up for the additional cost of IH requirements.
  • Green building requirements would make up approximately 1 percent of total project costs but could be 1.5 to 3.5-percent higher, if a project pursues full low-carbon building certification.

Staff indicated that while these additional project costs may have an impact, overall project feasibility is much more affected by construction costs, lease rates, land values and financial costs.

Next Meeting
The next PSC worksession will be on February 14, 2017. The agenda and materials are located here. More information about other work sessions is here

New State Rules Will Prompt Changes to Portland's Historic Resource Protection Program

Administrative rule change upholds mandatory demolition review protection for National Register resources, adds requirement for public hearing before design review can be applied to new National Register listings.

On January 27, 2017, the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) adopted new administrative rules governing how Oregon jurisdictions identify, designate, and protect historic resources. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability participated in the rulemaking process and testified before the LCDC in support of the now-adopted rules. The adopted rules provide legal clarity, additional tools for documenting historic resources, and expanded opportunities for public involvement in the protection of historic resources. While Zoning Code changes will be necessary to implement many of the voluntary aspects of the rule changes, other elements of the rule become effective once the rules are filed with the Secretary of State (anticipated mid-February 2017).

As City staff review the specifics of the rule changes and begin to scope possible Zoning Code amendments, many historic resource owners are asking how the rules may affect their property. Below are common questions and the best answers that City staff are able to provide at this time.

What is the most immediate effect of the rule changes?

Upon the rules taking effect, the City of Portland will no longer automatically apply historic resource review to new listings in the National Register of Historic Places. Historic resource review is a form of design review administered by the Bureau of Development Services and Historic Landmarks Commission intended to protect the physical integrity of historic landmarks and properties within historic districts. All National Register resources in Portland are today subject to historic resource review and will continue to be subject to such review. However, historic resources listed in the National Register after the effective date of the rule will only have historic resource review applied following a public hearing and decision to apply historic resource review to the resource.

Because such a hearing and adoption process does not today exist in the Zoning Code, code amendments will be necessary before historic resource review can be considered and/or applied to National Register resources that are listed following the effective date of the rules. Four Portland resources are currently under consideration for listing in the National Register.

What if my property is already designated?

The rule changes do not substantively affect properties that are already designated as a historic resource. Properties currently subject to historic resource review will remain subject to that design review protection. National Register resources subject to demolition review (as well as those that are listed in the future) will remain subject to demolition review, albeit with slightly amended approval criteria to be used by the Portland City Council when considering demolition requests.

What if I live in a proposed historic district?

A portion of the Eastmoreland neighborhood is currently being considered for designation as a National Register historic district. If approved by the National Park Service, contributing resources within the district would automatically be subject to demolition review. The application of historic resource review—either as general design review approval criteria or district-specific design guidelines—would require notice, citizen involvement, public hearing(s) and a decision to apply historic resource review to the district.

Because Zoning Code changes will be necessary to create a hearing and adoption process for the application of historic resource review to new National Register designations, the City of Portland would not be able to apply historic resource review to an Eastmoreland Historic District until at least 2018. Furthermore, given resource constraints, best practices for public involvement, policies that prefer district-specific design guidelines for historic districts and neighborhood and City Council priorities, it is possible if not likely that historic resource review would not be applied to an Eastmoreland historic district for several years.

Eastmoreland House
A portion of the Eastmoreland neighborhood is currently being considered for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. If designated, the new rules would automatically apply demolition review to the district’s contributing buildings, but would require a public process before design review requirements for alterations and new construction could go into effect. Eastmoreland house photo courtesy Scott A. Tice.   

How is demolition defined?

The adopted rules include a definition of demolition that applies to permit applications “that destroys, removes, or relocates, in whole or part, a significant historic resource such that its historic, cultural, or architectural character and significance is lost.” Staff in the bureaus of Planning and Sustainability and Development Services are evaluating how best to implement this definition in advance of Zoning Code changes that would more clearly articulate thresholds for actions that are tantamount to demolition of a historic resource.  

Protection of Historic Resources
The new rules provide regulatory clarity for the identification, designation, and protection of historic resources, including definitions and requirements pertaining to demolition of National Register resources. Photo courtesy Scott A. Tice.

Is it true that the rules allow for the creation of local historic and conservation districts?

The adopted rules provide greater flexibility for the establishment of local historic and conservation districts, neither of which have been created in Portland since 1993. Zoning Code changes will first be needed to articulate a process for creation of such districts before they become a viable designation option. It is important to note that the Zoning Code does not currently apply demolition review to local historic resource designations—local and conservation landmark properties/districts are today protected with a 120-day demolition delay period and varying thresholds for historic resource review.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will not have certainty on the processes, fees, or regulations that will apply to new local or conservation districts until 2018.

Map of Woodlawn Conservation District
The Woodlawn Conservation District, established in 1993, provides demolition delay and design standards to better manage change in this unique neighborhood.

What do the rules mean for the Historic Resources Inventory?

The adopted rules clarify that owner consent is not required to survey and inventory potentially significant historic resources. This change opens the possibility of updating the City’s Historic Resources Inventory, last updated in 1984.

When will the Zoning Code changes go into effect?

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is scoping a historic resources code project that would create a process for applying historic resource review to new National Register listings, overhaul the process for establishing local and conservation districts, codify a framework for updating the Historic Resources Inventory, and address staff concerns related to thresholds for and exemptions to historic resource review. The State Historic Preservation Office has advised the City of Portland to delay initiation of Zoning Code amendments until July 2017, however, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff will begin convening stakeholders this spring and summer to develop initial code concepts and begin public outreach and review in fall 2017. It is unlikely that any historic resource Zoning Code changes will be adopted prior to late winter 2018.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability looks forward to advancing the historic resource program in the year ahead with the additional clarity, flexibility, and inclusion provided by the adopted rules.

PSC News: February 14, 2017 Meeting Recap

RW #7652: SW Hall, Lincoln, Grant and Sherman streets at SW Naito Pkwy — consent; RW #7927: NE Couch Ct east of NE 3rd Ave — consent; CC2035 Plan — work session

Agenda

  • RW #7652: SW Hall, Lincoln, Grant and Sherman streets at SW Naito Pkwy
  • RW #7927: NE Couch Ct east of NE 3rd Ave
  • Central City 2035 Plan — work session

Meeting files

An archive of meeting minutes and documents of all Planning and Sustainability Commission meetings are available at http://efiles.portlandoregon.gov/classification/3687.

For background information, see the PSC website at www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/psc, call 503-823-7700 or email psc@portlandoregon.gov.

Meetings are streamed live on YouTube.

Meeting playback on Channel 30 are scheduled to start the Friday following the meeting. Starting times may occur earlier for meetings over three hours long, and meetings may be shown at additional times as scheduling requires.

Channel 30 (closed-caption)
Friday at 3 p.m. | Sunday at 7:00 a.m. | Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

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The City of Portland is committed to providing meaningful access and will make reasonable accommodations, modifications, translation, interpretation or provide other services. When possible, please contact us at least three (3) business days before the meeting at 503-823-7700 or use City TTY 503-823-6868 or Oregon Relay Service 711.

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