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Summary Meeting Notes: November 8, 2012 Residential Development PEG

Summary Meeting Notes

Residential Development and Compatibility Policy Expert Group  

Date: November 8, 2012

Time: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

PEG Attendees: Matt Davis, Tamara DeRidder, John Gibbon, Anyeley Hallova, Michael Hayes, Gabe Headrick, Gordon Jones, James McGrath, Rod Merrick, Stanley Penkin, Emily Sandy, Eli Spevak, Irma Valdez

Staff/Presenters:  Barry Manning (BPS PEG lead), Dante James and Judith Mowry, Office of Equity and Human Rights

Other Attendees: Taylor Miron, Olivia Wickstrom, Alex Luciani, Jim Brown, David Sweet; BPS staff: Julia Gisler, Debbie Bischoff, Julia Gisler, Chris Scarzello, Deborah Stein, Lora Lillard, Desiree Williams-Rajee

Facilitator: Deb Meihoff, Communitas

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

Welcome, overview, introductions 

Equity Fundamentals / RDC Issues Through an Equity Lens

Presenter: Dante James /  Office of Equity and Human Rights

Summary: Dante James discussed why equity important in the planning process, why Portland is using a racial equity lens, and strategies for moving forward. The group participated in an exercise exploring issues that prevent Portlanders from talking about racial equity.

Facilitated Discussions - Equity Issues with Residential Development

Facilitators: Dante James and Judith Mowry / Office of Equity and Human Rights; Desiree Williams-Rajee / BPS 

Summary: The PEG broke into two smaller groups to discuss the role of assumptions that are made when reviewing Residential Development and Compatibility policies and implementation strategies. The facilitated discussion centered on two questions: (1) When you think of ‘single-family’ residential, what does that mean and look like?  (2) How might ‘maintaining character’ mean different things for different neighborhoods?

Key themes from the facilitated discussions:

  • “Single family residential” term is generally perceived as an architectural / planning style, not a statement on the number or relationship of occupants within the structure. Portlanduses the term “single dwelling residential” in order to clarify that issue.
  • Single dwelling neighborhoods mean different things to different people, often based on where and when one grew up (for instance, some from the east coast think of single dwelling neighborhoods as rowhouses, others conjure up an image from a time when it meant multiple children, no sidewalks and very large lots - that is different from the predominant view today).
  • To some a house is a major financial investment, which would suggest a desire to conservatively secure the investment (sameness may be highly valued).  Others see a house as a home, a place to live, which would likely stress a place for self-expression (not necessarily sameness).  Still, others may view a house as both investment and place to live.  These perceptions shape how residents perceive changes in their neighborhoods.
  • Different neighborhoods are different - a diversity in building types, architectural styles, and evolution of our neighborhoods should be allowed, within the context. Sometimes ‘eclectic’ character defines a place - maintaining the eclectic nature of structures or allowing a place to evolve may be more important than remaining static.
  • There is a constant tension in trying to ‘maintain’ character, as our neighborhoods are always changing. Paying attention to physical context (massing, setbacks, etc) is more important than maintaining a particular architectural style.
  • Need to be aware and acknowledge the history of using government functions, such as zoning or deliberate disinvestment, to discriminate against citizens based on race.

Discussion Wrap-up

Summary: PEG members shared key themes from each of the discussion groups.  Further, they raised the issue of where to go next with the question of equity.  PEG members wish to have more discussion about equity as it relates to the draft policies they have been considering.  They would also like to explore what policy tools are available to address the identified equity issues.

[There were no public comments]

PEG Process Updates and Feedback


  • PEG members stressed the need for adequate time to review the entire draft policy document before discussing. They would also like a summary of the policies they worked on as a group - where they are in the document and the draft language being published.
  • It was noted that at some point, BPS and/or others need to stand back and review the policy implications as a whole - determine appropriate implementation measures and make sure the policies are driving toward desired outcomes as well as avoiding unintended consequences.

Next Steps

Next Steps:

  • Draft of policies is anticipated to be released for public review and comment in December, followed by public workshops and engagement events after the first of the year. In order to allow a complete review prior to discussion, the PEG will hold off discussing the draft together until the January meeting.
  • December meeting will include the presentation on gentrification (postponed from October’s meeting) and a presentation of growth scenarios in the city. PEG is invited to participate in the new online discussion board.

For more information, please contact either Barry Manning Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-7965 or or Deb Meihoff, facilitator at 503-358-3404 or