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Summary Meeting Notes: September 27, 2012 Watershed Health and Environment PEG

Watershed Health and Environment Policy Expert Group 

September 27th, 2012 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

PEG Attendees: Ann Beier, Judy Bluehorse Skelton, Claire Carder, Corky Collier, Sallie Edmunds (BPS), Don Hanson, Marla Harrison, Mike Houck, Roberta Jortner (BPS), Noelwah Netusil, Bob Sallinger, Jonathan Soll, Jennifer Thompson, Marie Johnson Walkiewicz (BES)

Other Attendees: Tom Armstrong (BPS), Shannon Buono (BPS), John Cole (BPS), Linda Dobson (BES), Joan Frederiksen (BPS), Barry Manning (BPS), Nan Stark (BPS), Mary Vogel

Facilitator: Dena Marshall, Solid Ground Consulting

View the original agenda, including materials, for this meeting.

Key Points and Outcomes 

  • Draft Policies.  PEG members (1) urged the use of stronger, affirmative action language in the Draft Policies, (2) recommended explicitly rolling into the Comp Plan other framework policies including among others, the Parks Plan, Tree Plan, and Regional Conservation Strategy, and (3) suggested deeper integration of the concepts of carrying capacity (re State Goal 9), minimum daily requirements for nature, and resiliency.
  • PEG members shared their enthusiasm for the Design with Nature approach that is being proposed for the Comprehensive Plan, and also discussed the significant costs that may be avoided by doing things in such a manner that aligns our built environments with nature.
  • WHE PEG members reviewed several scenarios to help offset the industrial lands shortfall, including expanding and intensifying the current use of existing industrial lands, brownfields conversion, and other possible scenarios.
  • Balance and integrate goals. Seeking to balance the need for development with the need to protect our natural spaces is a recurring theme, explored through discussion of ecosystem functions, equity considerations, and quality of life.

 Introductions and Review Agenda
Presenter: Dena Marshall, Solid Ground Consulting
Summary: Dena welcomed the group, opened the floor up for any comments or questions on the August meeting, and then invited PEG members to share a little bit of information about themselves.

 Feedback on Draft Watershed Health and Environmental Goals and Policies and Presentation of the Design with Nature Discussion Paper
Presenter: Sallie Edmunds, Shannon Buono, and Roberta Jortner, BPS

Summary: Sallie and Shannon solicited input from PEG members on main concepts that might have been missed in this draft: “Now is not the time to worry about the why or how behind these policies, but rather the statement of what the policies should be.”

  • Anticipating the possibility of future conflicts between maintaining the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) and improving natural habitat in an urban area, PEG members acknowledged the tension and expressed a willingness to engage in discussion where the issue is not currently addressed in the draft policies.
  • Identifying a need for a Comp Plan vision statement, several PEG members volunteered to work on a vision statement that addresses aspirational goals for the Comprehensive Plan.
  • PEG members noted that we need to go beyond Ian McHarg’s approach which focused on where development should and shouldn’t go, to how nature will be woven into development through out the city, highlighting the importance not only to watershed health but to human health and well being. 
  • PEG members expressed concern for terms that are open to a wide interpretation, such as “convenient” and “reasonable protection,” and agreed that more detail and specificity in the language would provide an adequate basis for making findings and establishing legal standing. Specificity doesn’t lock us in.
  • PEG members suggested the policies were somewhat redundant and could be tightened up, while also clarifying general intention. 
  • PEG members expressed appreciation for the draft policies, especially those presented in Design with Nature draft policy discussion paper and Access to Nature section. They suggested incorporating goals from Portland Parks 2020 plan and better addressing the economic and cost-avoidance benefits of incorporating Design with Nature concepts into urban development schemes.
  • PEG members noted that the intrinsic value of natural resources and systems needs to be recognized in policies as contributing to a healthy community and food access, and the costs of losing resources.

 Meeting Handouts and Presentations:

Industrial Land Shortfall
Presenter: Tom Armstrong, BPS
Summary: Tom reviewed the Economic Opportunities Analysis (EOA) and the projected shortfall of 720 acres of industrial land in the city by 2025. The Economic Development PEG and an Industrial Lands subcommittee have both been reviewing this issue in greater detail. The Watershed and Environmental Health PEG is asked to weigh in on the tradeoffs related to industrial land and watershed health.

  • PEG members immediately pointed out that our economy is directly related to the value of our natural resources, as evidenced byPortland’s reputation for parks and outdoor recreation among tourism and commercial interests.
  • PEG members identified several recent industrial land conversions (McCormick and Baxter site, South Waterfront, Zidell, and T1), noting concern for the heightened need to further expand the industrial land growth.  In response, PEG members suggested increasing efficiency and intensity of use in existing lands, use of brownfields, and possible conversion of various golf course sites to industrial land. Members expressed openness for further consideration of golf course sites conversion to a mix of industrial land and protected open spaces. They also expressed interest in providing manufacturing jobs in neighborhoods, pointing at the Joinery onWoodstockas an example.
  • Looking ahead, PEG members reflected general agreement to plan for 50 years in the future, considering long term projections before more industrial land is converted to other uses.
  • WHE PEG members reiterated the need to incorporate environmental justice issues and equity considerations into the Comp Plan policies; noting that draft policies do not adequately address the issues.

 Meeting Handouts and Presentations:

 Public Comment 

  • Mary Vogel, Plan Green/Community Member – Appreciated the Design with Nature discussion paper; concerned that designers may not have proper training to adequately put in place the policy recommendations. Suggests that the City offers training in order to bridge that gap, similar to what was offered for the Stormwater Management Manual.

 Flip Chart Notes

Draft Policies: Big Ideas / Issues Missed

Today: “what” not “how’s” or “why’s”

Oct. 1:          Draft to BPS

December:    Final Draft

  • Role of commentary – explanation where/how policies were drafted

Comp Plan Vision Statement: aspirational, goals oriented. Some WHE PEG members will work off-line on this (Marie, Mike, Corky, Linda)

-         Do not need a roadmap, priorities

-         Prepare us for the conversation about conflicts over natural resource enhancement / industrial lands

-         Integration is the reality

  • Look out for repetition of unrefined concepts; provide more description, coherence
  • Look out for “convenient”, “reasonable protection”, “all Portlanders” - clarify as guiding principles
  • Pull the language back to reflect discussion papers
  • Need more regional coordination - think at the landscape level
  • Articulate all the costs, not just dollars
    • Costs of loss of species as much as loss of roadways, wetlands, aquifers, lives, housing, generations (e.g.)
    • Quantifiable and non-quantifiable
  • Healthy natural systems leads to healthy economy, balance with how people operate in an urban environment.
    • Need to evaluate the language – to what it means to our community
  • Environmental justice, Food justice  Equity
    • Do not overlook FOOD. Integrate food into WHE policy, including salmon, not solely community gardens

 Design with Nature

  • Design with Nature: look to other countries, communities
  • Make the case for the costs of loss of nature - quantify the commoditization of the natural world
  • Watershed health and environment is the economy here; people come here for the quality of life, not for higher income.
  • Carrying Capacity: Recall Goal 9 - development consistent with carrying capacity of air, land, water – what are regional solutions
    • Be open to expanding the UGB
    • Look at the entire river system
  • Do not yet have a Goal 9 type policy
    • Planning ahead to meet future needs of the growing population
    • Forecasting demand on natural resource system
    • Minimum daily requirement – incorporate into Comp Plan policy
    • Health – relationship between community building, neighborhood cohesiveness, greenspace and nature - work into the Comp Plan
  • Need reference to Portland Parks 2020
  • Refer to Regional Conservation Strategy - gives regional context
  • Cost avoidance of doing things right: “decrease burden on ratepayers by doing things right with respect to the environment.”
  • Push back on Metro – regional perspective, not just political boundaries.
  • Use McHarg’s Design with Nature concepts as basis and move beyond it.
  • Resiliency with Design with Nature – what can we learn from nature to adapt and respond to unknowns – human resiliency
  • Access to nature: intended as an equity policy – be more explicit about what we mean
  • Green infrastructure – recall definition “sustainable future” to sustain activities of future generations
  • Specificity / enforceability in Comp Plan: must be in the Comp Plan to be enforceable. However, specificity does not necessarily back us into a corner, not being able to do the better thing
  • Upload into the Comp Plan: Parks Plan, Tree Plan
  • Add meaning and depth – be more efficient

 Economic Opportunity Analysis (EOA) 

  • Economic value of nature – need language in policy, in multiple chapters
  • River Policy – related to economy, system-wide integration
  • Ecosystem services – quality of the natural environment is key toPortland’s long term economic prosperity
  • Activities inPortlandalso impact fisheries in the region and other regional economies
  • Tourism is also impacted – acknowledge
  • Quality of life – needs to be explicit in policy
  • Recall historically – watershed health and environment is the economy
  • Address environmental justice issues: air quality, water, noise, etc.
  • How to reconcile projected deficit with availability of industrial land opening up / conversion. E.g. McCormick and Baxter, Zidell, T1, South Waterfront
  • Strategy – to use smaller industrial parcels to meet non-harbor needs
  • Look for flexibility of use – office buildings / docks  - to increase efficiency of use, so as not to tap into additional lands - consider specific needs for some facilities, ships
  • Look for efficiency of use as well as intensity
  • Flexibility of use as well as intensity
  • Expand to think 20 – 50 years ahead
  • Current harbor access availability – what is the percentage increase? 770-plus acres out of 12,000 total
  • P.4 No. 5: how to address shortfall: stop living on the interest while drawing down the principal - find the land out of the existing 12,000 acres
  • Where is Goal 9 analysis, “carrying capacity”?
    • In the economic goals
    • Aspirational goals – need more detail on environmental goals as in economic goals
  • Need to address earthquake hazards in the Comp Plan
  • Address climate change especially with regards to land within the 500 yr floodplain
  • Does the EcDev provide…
    • Guidelines for community partners among the business community
    • Environmental justice considerations / conversation
    • Base policy and incentives on behavior types rather than industry. (e.g. The Joinery, a good example of business partners concept – identify practices employed and attempt to set guidelines- draft policies and incentives to promote other business practices)

 Public Comment

  • Provide training for designers to design in concert with policy, goals


Draft Policy



Protect, Enhance, Restore upland natural resources; how to prioritize and develop policies around natural resources inventory

 Cultural, spiritual health, ecosystem service: insert “intrinsic value of nature”



 “Reasonable protection” definition? Policy for green systems and others - be more specific
4.6, 11, 12, 13, 14  Look out for redundancy, and focus on critical elemental changes, new policy
7  Climate change impacts – what are we trying to anticipate?
“adapt” not “withstand”
Goal 4.C  Bring the intentional through – get more to the point, be more plainspoken
Plans to Refer to / Upload  Upload into the Comp Plan: Parks Plan, Tree Plan, Portland Parks 2020, Regional Conservation Strategy; Goal 9
Concepts to incorporate  Carrying Capacity; Cost avoidance of doing things right; Goal 9 type policies, minimum daily requirements; integration of community and human health with community building; intrinsic value of nature; quality of life; environmental justice and food justice; Equity; Earthquake hazards; climate change (especially regarding land within the 500 year floodplain)


  • Tom A. EcDev will provide technical appendix (350 acres – 720 acres – 1100 acres) to WHE PEG and Noelwah N.
  • Marie W., Mike H., Corky C., Linda S. will meet to discuss Comp Plan vision statement

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