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Summary Meeting Notes: August 23, 2012 Watershed Health and Environment PEG

Watershed Health and Environmental Policy Expert Group 

August 23, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

PEG Attendees
: Ann Beier, Corky Collier, Ben Duncan, Sallie Edmunds, Renee Hackenmiller-Paradis, Marla Harrison, Mike Houck, Roberta Jortner, Maryhelen Kincaid, Thomas Puttman, Bob Sallinger, Jonathon Soll, Jennifer Thompson, Marie Walkiewicz, Jeri Williams

Invited Attendees:
Radcliffe Dacanay - BPS, Tom Armstrong – BPS, Carmen Merlo –Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM), Rachel Whiteside – Bureau of Development Services (BDS)

Other Attendees:
Andy Jansky, Jeremy O’Leary, Mary Vogel, Mary Ann Schwab, Jerry Grossnickle- Forest Park NA, other members of Forest Park NA, Corbett-Terwilliger-Lair Hill NA member, Michele Crim – BPS, Nan Stark – BPS, Marty Stockton – BPS, Joan Frederiksen – BPS, Bob Glascock – BPS, Sandra Wood – BPS.

Dena Marshall, Solid Ground Consulting
View the original agenda, including materials, for this meeting.

Key Points and Outcomes 

  • BPS Staff Radcliffe Dacanay gave a brief presentation on Portland demographics to enhance PEG members’ understanding of equity considerations in land use planning. PBEM Director Carmen Merlo and BPS Staff Roberta Jortner gave a presentation on Natural Hazards policy issues and preliminary draft goals and policies. PEG members also received a presentation from BPS staff Tom Armstrong, lead of the Economic Development PEG, on policy regarding development of industrial lands.
  • Overall, PEG members urged Staff to strengthen draft policies regarding reducing risks and impacts of natural hazards, and staff to strengthen policy language to ensure commitments to action.

Introduction and Review Agenda
Presenter: Dena Marshall, Solid Ground Consulting
Summary: Dena welcomes the group, requests any photos or bios that have not been submitted, and then asks the PEG to consider a 3:30 to 6:30 time frame for the September 27th meeting.

Background on Demographics 
Presenter: Radcliffe Dacanay, BPS
Summary: When considering Comp Plan policy recommendations through an equity lens, PEG’s and City planners are encouraged to study the regional distribution of racial demographics, income, education levels, and poverty distributions throughout the city.

  • Education, income levels, and racial demographics are closely tied together, and sometimes correspond with natural hazard zones.
  • A regional hub,Portlandcentral city will see increased plans to develop infrastructure and public transportation.

Natural Hazards
Presenters: Roberta Jortner, BPS; Carmen Merlo, PBEM
Summary: An important objective of The Comprehensive Plan is to incorporate goals and policies that will reduce the risks and impacts of natural hazards on people, property and ecological systems. The current Comprehensive Plan does not contain a cohesive set of policies addressing natural hazards.  While existing City codes (flood, seismic, fire) do address natural hazards considerable risks continue to exist. 
Staff drafted new policies to protect natural resource systems, reduce structural and non-structural hazards, address infrastructure constraints, and promote emergency preparedness. The intent is that these policies will help inform future plans, codes and investments to make the City more resilient in the event of a natural disaster.  In addition, the City needs to consider balancing livability factors (e.g., trees in neighborhoods) with promoting effective access to emergency services.

PEG comments:

  •  General consensus to use stronger language in policies: e.g. replace “encourage” with stronger words; use words such as reduce, avoid, commit.
  • Regarding specific policies, see matrix and detailed discussion in Flip Chart notes at end of this summary.

Other questions and comments:

  • Are there things that we would want to embody in this plan that would help us though something catastrophic? Take a more proactive response on some of these policies. Do we need a policy on how we incorporate new information on hazards?
  • Need to provide for alternatives in emergency and hazard planning. Important that we recognize varying levels of risk and it’s not a one size fits all approach to these hazards.
  • Need to try to align investments that don’t create new problems, but are designed to solve problems with compatible strategy; multiple problems overlap and our strategies should address as many problems as possible. 
  • Do we have an inventory of what has been mitigated due to development, and cost? This may inform a lot of what was said.
  • Creating partnerships when we talk about flood control. How do we utilize that and fit it into the inventory of lands available?  How do we handle multiple hazard zones?

Meeting Handouts and Presentations:

Background on Economic Opportunities Analysis and Industrial Land Shortfall
Presenter: Tom Armstrong, BPS
Summary: Portland is the regional job center with 39% of the regional jobs and 26% of the population. BPS is attempting to plan for 147,000 new jobs to the city over the next 25 years. The EcDev PEG has been discussing the issues of shortfalls of available land in industrial and institutional areas.  The WHE PEG is encouraged to consider what can be done to encourage development on existing industrial parcels? What can we do to expand that industrial land capacity?

PEG comments:

  • Concern that by the time the Watershed PEG has their next meeting the EcDev PEG will have already weighed in on their recommendations.
  • “I think it’s really important that we challenge what’s been said, instead of just accepting the algorithm. Any percent growth compounded over time isn’t sustainable. You cannot grow continually in a finite space. How do we generate wealth without consuming another part of our wealth (Hayden Island, etc)?”
  • If you have incentives to develop green fields then how are we ever going to recover the brownfields?
  • Another concern: “the economic analysis is based on how we did things in the past. I’d really like to see paradigm shifts…I’d like to see a little more explanation of the assumptions that were made for the current analysis.”

Meeting Handouts and Presentations:

Parking Lot

  • An e-mail will be sent out to schedule a 3:30 - 6:30pm meeting on September 27th.

Next Steps

  • Please help us finish the PEG bios by submitting your statements and photos.

For more information, please contact Sallie Edmunds, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-6950 or or Dena Marshall, Facilitator at 503-249-0000 or

Natural Hazards

PEG Discussion Questions:

  1. Are the proposed goals and policies provided appropriate and sufficient enough to address natural hazards in the Comp Plan?  Doe they contribute positively or negatively to environmental justice and social equity?
  2. What are the implications of directing future development away from hazard-prone areas?
  3. New development vs. redevelopment and alterations?
  4. Separate set of goals for reconstruction after a major disaster?



PEG Comments


  • Balance w/”not negatively impacting job growth in disadvantaged communities”, clarify which natural hazards policy is mitigating for; 404 Floodplain mitigation, other?
  • Design w/nature “supporting development capacity” to not be adversely affected? Or convert to natural stormwater systems? - restore to hydrology. See attachment B – hydrology goal – stormwater management.
  • Add native vegetation, corridors, permeability, connectivity.
  • Needs to be a holistic approach. How is it going to affect the larger area?


New Orleans example – loss of equity. Further, enhance development to make safer à protect existing development in hazard prone areas


  • How to measure resiliency - metrics
  • “Encourage development” - “reduce, avoid development that exacerbates natural hazards”
  • Common terms needed among policy makers at state and local levels.


Highest priority - flood protection


Resiliency language – too soft.  “Consider” needs to be stronger, Rename…to minimize; say “move it” so that development on slopes with high risks are minimized. “Encourage emergency preparedness” - a cross-over policy


  • Tree cover to mitigate
  • Changes to stream systems – look at current zoning in stream systems, consider flood plain delineations in the future
  • Resiliency. Consider resiliency for all impacts
  • What does encourage mean; how will landscape look with climate change.


  • Mitigation banks have been a mixed review. Now, encourage innovation and resiliency in policy.
  •  Wetlands – if unmanaged, become a hazard; need a management plan beyond 5 years, holistic; responsibility to maintain.
  • First step should be to avoid, then find innovative approaches for mitigation.


  • Concern about “innovative mitigation” - need to be mindful of concentrating natural resources on the landscape.  Need a policy to address distribution, dispersal?
  •  See Attachment B “Stormwater Management Plan” - support natural habitat
  • Policies too weak: Change “encourage” a assure or support.
  • Goals and policies include lots of terms such as flood hazard zones - try to use standard terms, local, state, federal
  • Deign with nature, promote native vegetation for connectivity, permeability, resiliency for all impacts
  • Flood storage is a natural feature - protection needs to be addressed more explicitly. Identify need for natural buffers.
  • Built environment - examine and be proactive with viable uses.
  • Policies for a do-over in the event of a traumatic event or natural disaster?  Do we need a policy for incorporating new information on hazards?
  • Priorities for policies do-over, e.g. development in the floodplain.
  • Strengthen language re: Mitigation:
    • Clarify priority to avoid and minimize before mitigating
    • Define and set high standards for mitigation
    • If can’t avoid, then minimize; if can’t minimize, then mitigate; if can’t mitigate, don’t do the project
    • More clearly define what’s being mitigated and what for.
  • Acknowledge that some development needs to occur in hazard areas (thoroughfares, airports in floodplains) à focus land use planning on preparedness.
  • Different approaches / strategies for different hazards: Retrofitting, evacuation, etc.
  • Call for specific language to align concepts and strategies so that they are complementary (not contradictory), where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”.

    • Tree canopy enhancement program to encourage connectivity for wildlife, watershed health
  • Ecosystem service values - untie the knot

    • Watch out for avoiding costs at the outset of a planning process, look at all the different pieces
  • Creating partnerships around flood control projects - how do private partnership mitigation efforts factor into it?
  • How to handle multiple hazard zones?
  • Priority recommendations for PBEM: (1) land use planning, zoning codes, building laws – to minimize impacts of natural hazards.


Public comment

  • Non-native – invasive: focus on invasives
  • Earthquake risk in apartment buildings
  • Centennial neighborhood and others - curb density especially where public transportation does not meet the need.
  • Avoid one problem, one solution model
  • 1A1, 3A: hard to meet both policiesà watch out for conflicting, mutually exclusive policies
  • Increase native vegetation throughout the systems
  • Forest Park NA –creating policy amendment to Comp Plan for wildlife deferral (not forest deferral). The wildlife corridor connects the coast line to Forest Park; we’ve been very proactive in trying to prevent development around the park.

Economic Opportunity Analysis

  • Planning process to consider alternatives to development areas, economic/industrial goals
  • EcDev PEG policy choices: to allow WHE to weigh in on EcDev
    • Sept. 27 WHE meeting to discuss EOA
    • Primer on policy choices and rationale, background info
    • Potential environmental justice issue around brownfield development
    • Question re discounting brownfields
      • Balance w/greenfields so that there is incentive for developing both
      • Treating “p” zones and “c” zones the same? - No, ‘p’ zones dropped from buildable lands.
      • What is the end game? How do we get those extra seven hundred acres we need to make the city function?
      • Revisit planning process in 5-7 years, refresh UGB, trends
      • Planning process should generate wealth – look out for unsustainable growth without using new space in new ways
      • Balance capacity/need for land and nature
      • Metro “Green Spaces Resolution”
        • Utilize remaining buildable lands
        • Protect in perpetuity
        • Urban growth boundary – not an excuse not to protect
        • Shorten timeframe for pushing the issue on UGB
        • Willamette River Greenway setback: 25 or 50 feet? - greenway review is based on existing regs
        • Opportunities to shift the paradigm
          • technological innovations
          • new ways to allow more compact industrial development and projected needs