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November 30, 2010 West Hayden Island Public Outreach and Involvement Summit


Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Bob Sallinger, Tom Dana, Pam Ferguson, Andre Baugh, Corky Collier, Duke Shepherd, Bob Hillier, Jacob Brostoff, Bob Tackett, Patti Howard, Ann Beier, Roger Staver, Chris White, Victor Viets, Andy Cotugno, Barbara Quinn, Cheryl Lund, Mike Rosen, Amy Ruiz. BPS staff: Mindy Brooks, Chris Scarzello, Phil Nameny and Rachael Hoy.

Commissioner Fritz offered opening remarks for the summit and BPS staff did an overview of the project, public involvement plan and summit agenda. The main objectives for the meeting were to:

  • Determine all relevant audiences
  • Define best tools and strategies for outreach and involvement
  • Gather input on methods for public input and creating a good feedback loop

Prior to breaking into small groups for discussion the group was asked if they had any general questions or comments related to the project. Below is a summary of comments raised by the group:

  • Concern was raised that this project may already be a done deal with the parameters set by City Council to study 300 acres industrial and 500 acres of open space
  • It will be important to include the Port of Vancouver in the project discussion to determine if there are other marine industrial lands available
  • This project is of state-wide importance. Other cities, counties and the state would benefit from a marine terminal. Conversations with other jurisdictions should be part of the process
  • The project process seems confusing and disorganized with input from all over and it is hard for the public to know who is running the project.
  • Framing questions for the public to respond to will be very important
  • It is important for the city to lay out what type of involvement they want and questions can be framed accordingly to get meaningful input
  • The first phase of the project still had many unanswered questions. We need creditable answers to the questions. The city needs to take the time to get good information and data and not rush the process.
  • There was a huge scheduling problem during Phase I of the project. There are multiple additional studies to complete this time. There is concern that the timeline will slip and we won’t get through all of it in a timely fashion.
  • There wasn’t enough interactive feedback on the reports during the Community Working Group process in phase 1. People need more time to digest and provide meaningful feedback.
  • City staff should schedule workshops now and the commitment to stick to that schedule.

The participants broke into 4 small groups of 5-7 people and discussed a set of questions prepared by City staff to help guide the discussion. Below is a summary of all comments received on the individual questions.

Small Group Discussion

1) Given the controversial nature of this project and that City Council has directed staff to look at a development alternative (300 acres industrial/500 acres open space), what strategies would you suggest to minimize polarization, engage the public in the review of technical studies, actual conceptual design and involve those people who would prefer to see no development occur on WHI?

  • Get people at a table to work on a mutual problem
  • Face-to-face is better
  • Give people a problem to solve
  • Ask people to come to the table with an open mind
  • Give people things to do – responsibilities in the process so that they have accountability
  • It is important to set the tone that this is about balancing environment, jobs, etc.
  • Extremes are not helpful in any conversation
  • The council directive is a good place to start
  • Acknowledge the zoning history and long-standing intention of industrial use
  • Need solid, independent, peer-reviewed, credible data, put together by a credible consultant who is independent of the Port and the city, and does a complete analysis including costs and other impacts
  • Need to provide enough time for the public and the advisory groups to review and discuss (“kick-around”) the analysis/studies
  • Identify the needs for development and alternatives if the development can’t occur on WHI
  • Provide information about environmental impacts and mitigation - how and where will the mitigation occur?
  • Identify community impacts and check them with the community
  • Looking for input too early may increase polarization because questions might be too open ended at that time. It may be better to have outreach after certain products are out so people have something specific to react to.
  • Focus during the initial outreach and technical study review should be on how we can make a mix of uses work, since that is what staff is attempting to achieve.
  • Staff should recognize that the public figures with the greatest interest in the reports will be those with a position in the outcome.
  • Public needs to know about the island. Many people do not know it exists or understand its value. This may encourage participation by the community in the project.
  • People need updates on the project to understand that this is not a done deal.
  • People need to understand the trade-offs of development/no development to have a meaningful discussion
  • Show people current work that is being done by the Port and how impacts are mitigated. Bringing this level of discussion to serve as an example could provide people with what we’ve learned from other experiences and how we’ve mitigated for them.
  • Offer examples of other Port’s on islands and how they have been developed. Look at smaller footprints.
  • Develop a set of questions we want answers to in order to frame discussions with the community. There needs to be questions from all sides, analyzing all aspects for fairness of information, for example:
    • Can you make 300 acres work for a marine terminal and how do you improve the 500 acres to make it function better as a natural environment?
    • What are the relative merits of having a terminal on the Vancouver side of the river vs. in Portland?
    • What is the economic gain of a Port facility in Portland, both short and long term?
    • Look at different types of development scenarios, don’t portray one type of development as the only one that will work
    • What would you like to see on West Hayden Island in terms of natural environment, recreation, or development?
    • What do you know about Hayden Island as a whole?
    • What do you know about imports and exports in Portland?

2) There are a number of technical reports that City Council has asked for in this next phase of the project. We would like to create a framework for public input on these studies that encourages input that can feed back into the decision making process. As you look at the list of reports to be accomplished, we would like your feedback on: a) the reports that you feel will have the highest level of public interest, and b) any specific questions you would like the public to consider while reviewing these studies.

  • Traffic impacts, particularly to North Portland
  • Public costs and benefits – what is the cost of different options and what are the benefits - not just money, DO NOT forget social impacts.
  • It would be good to spell out exactly what the studies will and won’t include and how they will be used – then there can be a discussion with the public about expectations
    • Example – What all will be looked at in the public costs and benefits work? Does the public have an expectation that some things will be included but the scopes-of-work for the reports don’t actually include those things?
    • Maybe provide a mini-explanation for each study
  • Spend time with the public on the non-standard studies – those without set methodologies
  • Results of some of the studies may help people determine the cost and benefit of moving forward and the positive and negative effects.
  • Studies need to have their scopes, drafts and final report vetted and understood by key audiences (technical experts) before moving forward. Technical ‘vetting’ would help gain trust in the process and the materials, especially if comments are addressed early in the process.
  • How will the state, federal and other jurisdictions be involved in the reports? ESA, railroad, etc.
  • There is a large number of reports with very brief descriptions for this meeting. It is overwhelming, too abstract, lack of specificity to decide which reports would have the most public interest.
  • Would prefer to see a report that lays out scenarios/analyses for specific uses - one page analysis for each scenario (including impacts). Cover worst-case scenarios (highly polluting uses with lots of impacts), include transportation impacts, # of jobs created, environmental impacts, etc.
  • Concern about potential industrial uses - in a way, the unknown of the uses is more concerning than the actual # of acres that could be developed/natural area destroyed (pollution and mitigation are big concerns)
  • Can the reports include a one-page executive summary that describes the findings clearly and in plain English?
  • Studies of interest to the public will include:
    • Analysis/Explanation of existing marine industrial land supply and needs
    • Transportation Analysis/CRC Coordination
    • Analysis of Vancouver/Port of Portland Coordination
    • Natural Resource Inventory
    • Public Costs and Benefits
    • Updated Cargo Forecast
    • Local Impacts Report
    • Consider all of these for the land supply question and updated cargo forecast.
  • Some questions around these studies to consider include:
    • Traffic studies: how will traffic from a marine terminal impact existing truck and train traffic?
    • What do we have to lose in environment (connects to the review of the Natural Resource Inventory)?
    • How do we upgrade resources, functional value? What do we have there today in terms of value on 800 acres? 500 acres?
    • Public costs/benefits report: Where should we be spending our dollars? Economy? Community? What will result in the most jobs?
    • Are there new lands that can be brought in for industry?
    • What are the benefits and costs to Vancouver coordination? What are the trade-offs? Economics but also infrastructure and tax revenue.
    • What do you get out of 300 acres for a marine terminal? 800 acres total value? Impact of 300 acres of development on the 500 acres of open space?

3) Our suggested public outreach strategies include open houses, workshops, office hours, and neighborhood meetings. Are there other strategies we should be considering to reach the identified or additional audiences and fulfill our public outreach/involvement goal? Do you have suggestions about creative ways to engage groups/people who are not typically engaged in the planning process?

  • People need to feel that their input is influencing the process – if they feel they are being heard early and often then they don’t have to yell loudly at the end of the process
  • People work better with a concept – something to touch and change
  • Make more use of press releases to keep people generally informed – lots of people read the newspaper
  • Take people out to the site, give them a tour, provide objective information (no Port presentation, for example).
  • Involve high school students from the nearest public high school - provide a tour, information, have them use the project as an example of civic discourse.
  • Provide a forum, either on the site or at an indoor facility where stations are set-up for various topics/subjects and people can walk around to get information (sort of a fancy open house).
  • Ask the stakeholders to step-up their share of the outreach, since it’s their job to reach out to their members.
  • Don’t substitute quantity (of materials, information) for quality.
  • The “public process” should not just be a “presentation”, it should be really meaningful input.
  • Just put a referendum on the ballot and let everyone vote.
  • Rules should be clear about what we want comments on and what we want the public to focus on during outreach sessions. Conversations should be steered to these focus areas.
  • City should consider creating “focus groups” to discuss key subjects or studies.
  • People want some certainty in outcomes which is why there may negative reactions to not having a specific terminal or use in mind. It may be worthwhile to clarify specific development that we know we don’t want.
  • City should work with Port to hold open houses on WHI and open the island up to anyone interested in exploring a tour during a daylong event. Other possibilities could include kayak tours of the island.
  • City needs to involve the recreation advocates (mentioned that canoe club was invited). Another option is the Marine Board.
  • Offer public tours, lead by the City, both land and water –include people from the island to talk about industrial impacts that could impact them
  • The project discussion with the public should be framed around a real facility, or actually use an example of a type of facility to have discussions around.

4) Although planning is occurring at a local level, a future marine facility (if developed) would be a regional asset. How would you involve the voices of non-local stakeholders in this conversation?

  • Generally don’t think it matters - would they really be interested in the natural resource aspect of the island, or just care about the economics?
  • This question (and part of #1) shows that the use (marine terminal) is predetermined.....
  • The question (“is no-build option on the table?”) needs to be answered truthfully.
  • Trade offs should question what the alternative locations are in the Metro Area for terminals.
  • Work should involve Port customers and consider what their long term alternatives are if expansion isn’t possible (i.e. Eastern Oregon Grain Producers).
  • The City should analyze what the benefits are of our port facilities both on a statewide and Pacific NW level.
  • Should consider whether there can be a simplified financial formula, based on tax revenue that can show the regional benefit of having a marine terminal versus keeping the area as open space? Does the income from a terminal positively impact regional citizens tax responsibilities?

5) Are there other audiences that staff should keep informed regarding this project (that are not currently shown on the Key Audience handout in the PI Plan)?

  • Cowlitz (Washington)
  • Vancouver Freight Alliance
  • Portland Business Alliance
  • Portland Trade Committee
  • Longshoreman – Jeff Smith
  • Add BNSF
  • homeowner associations
  • State/local Chambers of Commerce (Gresham, Hillsboro, Hispanic Chamber)
  • Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations (APNBA)
  • Oregon Business Association
  • Associated Oregon Industries
  • East PDX Chamber
  • Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME)
  • Westside Economic Alliance
  • East Metro Economic Alliance
  • State of Oregon Agricultural Community
  • Portland Plan Advisory Committee
  • St John’s Main Street Coalition
  • Friends of Baltimore Woods
  • Loaves and Fishes
  • Dog Owner Community
  • Columbia River Yacht Association
  • National Association of Minority Contractor of Oregon – NAMC of Oregon 

Addendum to notes: Additional comments received by participants after reviewing draft notes:

  • West Hayden Island is an ISLAND. This is an extremely important fact to consider. As such, it is incredibly unique and falls into a category of it's own regarding all things considered, i.e. real estate value, flooding issues, rare sandy beaches, resting point for wildlife, birdlife, home for unique flora and fauna that will not survive elsewhere. Also, consider the fact that all animals, birds, reptiles, etc. that are displaced cannot just "go down the road" to the next piece of forest. First, they are bounded by water, second, there is no other place. Everywhere else is already taken by the other wildlife displaced from every other developed area. This is something most people don't understand. When you see a deer walking down mainstreet, or a beaver crossing a parking lot, it is not cool or fun, it is a tragedy that animals are pushed into these areas. They become lost like rats in a maze and get deeper and deeper into trouble. West Hayden Island is an island in the city. What other cities in this country can say they have such a treasure like this in their midst? Look what happened to Ross Island. It will always be a shell of itself. We have the opportunity to take something rare and beautiful, an ISLAND PARADISE, and make it such. West Hayden Island's uniqueness as an island in the city cannot be underestimated and it's value as such must be determined. What brings people to Portland to live and work? Places like West Hayden Island once they know about it. How many permanent jobs will be created by SAVING West Hayden Island for wildlife habitat, education, recreation, etc? Finally, we must consider West Hayden Island (Hayden Island) is the gateway to Portland and to Oregon. What does a gateway of cranes, asphalt, outbuildings say about us? What does a gateway of lovely beaches, beautiful scenery, greenery, wildlife habitat, sustainability, walking neighborhoods say about us?
  • What I see missing for the entire conversations is the issue of sustainability. Contained in the Climate action plan is the following statement which I find very relevant form 2030 Objective #7 "Central to the efficiency of the freight system is the location of industrial areas and the integration with the regional transportation system. The Portland area is a major freight hub, with strong shipping, rail, barge and highway interconnections. Minimizing emissions from freight movement requires protecting these facilities and continuing to connect them to the transportation system." My questions which I don't have the answer to is how do citizens evaluate West Hayden Island potential opportunities relevant to this objective?