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Summary Meeting Notes: January 17, 2013 Neighborhood Centers PEG meeting

January 17, 2013 from 8:00 to 10:30 a.m.

PEG Attendees: Kate Allen, Lisa Bates, Jason Barnstead-Long, Andre Baugh, Kristin Cooper, Alan DeLaTorre, Betty Dominguez, Justin Douglas, Ivy Dunlap, Allen Field, Gabe Genauer, Ryan Givens, Bob Granger, Carol Mayer-Reed, Rick Michaelson, Jennifer Moore, Nick Sauvie, Alison Stoll.

Key Points and Outcomes

  • Need to provide more context for the Urban Design Framework, such as highlighting its relationship to major policy goals, the growth and change that will be happening, and its implications for future implementation.
  • Find ways to relate the Urban Design Framework and its elements to how they can improve peoples’ lives and how they will address the needs of future Portlanders.
  • PEG members had a range of thoughts on the issue of the design and scale of apartment developments, but did not generally have concerns that 4-story buildings were inappropriate in centers and corridors.  Rather, they expressed concerns about the relationship of future growth and goals for expanding housing opportunities to implementation approaches related to design and scale transitions.

Welcome, Introductions and Overview 

Presenter: Steve Faust, Facilitator; Bill Cunningham, BPS

  • Following introductions, Bill talked about the Comprehensive Plan discussion draft and companion handouts. Bill asked for PEG members to pay special attention to the Centers Policies Compilation and review it in advance of the next meeting. PEG members should consider whether or not the policies reflect Centers PEG input, if there is anything missing and what cross-PEG issues should be addressed in future meetings.
  • Bill shared the schedule of public workshops on one of the handouts. Seven workshops will be held in various locations across the city from February 19 to March 14. BPS hopes that PEG members can participate in at least one workshop as it will be a good opportunity to hear directly from the community. Outreach efforts for the workshops will be discussed by the Citizen Involvement Committee next week.  In the meantime, district planners are reaching out to the community through their channels.
  • Steve mentioned that some PEGs are cancelling their February meetings to allow members more time to attend public workshops. Centers PEG members indicated that they do not want to cancel the February meeting.

Meeting Handouts and Presentations

Urban Design Framework 

Presenters: Lora Lillard and Bill Cunningham, BPS
Summary: Lora presented a draft of the Urban Design Framework. Bill built on Lora’s presentation, focusing on the Centers element of the Framework. Bill asked PEG members for initial feedback on Framework elements and input on approaches to presenting and supporting public discussion of the Urban Design Framework at the public workshops. PEG comments and discussion included:

Urban Design Framework – General Comments

  • Provide more context for the Urban Design Framework, such as highlighting its relationship to major policy goals, the growth and change that will be happening, and its implications for future implementation.
  • Show projected growth across the city and what growth and change could look like. 
  • Encourage workshop participants to talk about their neighborhoods today, then in terms of future growth/density and how these concepts could be implemented to improve their neighborhoods.
  • Consider labeling major streets on the diagram.
  • The diagram is too focused on the needs of people who live here now rather than those of people who will be here in 20 years.
  • Clarify what the implications of the diagram might be, such as in guiding growth and focusing improvements in centers with deficiencies.
  • If you use a map or diagram at the meeting, people will want to draw on the map rather than discuss the policy concepts.
  • Ask workshop participants to rank their priorities.
  • At the workshop, we want people to think from a citywide perspective rather than having neighborhood by neighborhood discussions focused on only one part of the city.
  • Ask people what they want for the future of their community and where they want to live.
  • Use images of streets/corridors to help illustrate concepts. 

Pattern Areas

  • Pattern areas are too descriptive and focused on what exists today.  Illustrate the potential for change and focus more on future possibilities and what can be enhanced, versus just keeping things the same.
  • Highlight that we want things like healthy communities, safe connections and centers across the city, but that the form of these connections and centers may vary in the different pattern areas. 
  • Call out residential areas in the Industrial and River area, especially Hayden Island.  They present important opportunities that are different from the industrial and natural components of that pattern area.


  • Concerned about the use of “households” for the population targets for centers.  How does this impact East Portland, which has more families and larger households? 
  • Concerned that the center circles are creating false expectations.  We do not have much control over where retail decides to cluster. Every use will not be found in every center.
  • Gateway is underdeveloped, despite its designation as a regional center.  Are we looking at the right locations for centers?  How can targeted city investments encourage new development?
  • The map is not catered to the user.  It should show the radius needed to meet 80% of residents’ needs, not the radius needed to support commercial.  Larger concentric circles could show expanded access to services.
  • Ask workshop participants four questions: 1) Are urban centers the desired future?  More urban or suburban? 2) What are desired and needed uses? 3) How are they arranged/what is their design? 4) In what locations?
  • The diagram seems too focused on what currently exists.  What about places that do not have centers?
  • Showing the smaller neighborhood centers will be important.
  • Focus on “how you get there,” ideas for implementation; how centers and other elements will happen (density, zoning, investments, etc.)

Meeting Handouts and Presentations

Design and Scale in Centers and Corridors 

Presenters:  Bill Cunningham, BPS
Summary: Building off the December discussion of parking requirements for multifamily developments, Bill led a discussion about the design and scale of new multifamily development in centers and corridors. PEG comments and discussion included:

  • It is important for us to understand where these developments are and who is speaking out against then.  We need to hear from renters of these buildings in addition to homeowners in nearby single-family houses.
  • There should be some basis for objections to these buildings, especially if they align with city goals and objectives.
  • It is difficult to translate community character into design standards.
  • Strengthen neighborhood contact requirements for developers.  At a minimum, developers should respond to neighborhood concerns.
  • Principles regarding appropriate building height-to-street-width-ratios are culturally based.  Buildings taller than street width can be fine, and ratios of 2-to-1 or greater are considered appropriate in some places.
  • Consider possibilities for expanding where design review applies and options for requiring discretionary design review.
  • Commercial zoning in centers should allow development deeper than the current 100 feet that applies along many main streets.
  • 4-story buildings are not a problem.  Instead of preventing them, should do more to show the public positive examples of growth, showing images of what buildings of this scale look like and how building step-backs can relate to neighborhood scale.
  • Who gets to live in these buildings is a more important issue than their design.  Access to housing should be the main focus.
  • This group should be focusing on the long-term vision for the city and include perspectives from various parts of the city.
  • Neighborhood plans provide opportunities for a more nuanced approached to height, such as allowing taller buildings at key corners.  We need a commitment in our policies to undertake neighborhood plans.
  • Consider a requirement for ground floor retail.

Meeting Handouts and Presentations

Public Comment 

  • As part of providing context for the Urban Design Framework and the Comprehensive Plan Update, we should show how the burdens and opportunities of growth are being distributed across the city. We need people to see the citywide picture of where growth is happening, so that they are not focused just on their own part of the city.  Accommodating future growth is a shared responsibility.
  • How can we preserve the unique features of various neighborhoods while accommodating growth?
  • At the public workshops, we need to let participants know what the venue is for providing neighborhood-specific input on growth, centers, housing location, etc.
  • Need more of a focus on implementation tools, such as how to address affordable housing, senior housing, how to improve design and scale.
  • Need to address the employment component of centers.
  • Would be good to show the public what growth and density looks like by having images of places with a given amount of population, such as the population densities proposed for town centers and neighborhood centers.

Next Steps 
Presenter: Steve Faust
Summary: The next Neighborhood Centers PEG meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 21st at 8 am.



For more information, please contact Bill Cunningham, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-4203 or or Steve Faust, Facilitator at 503-278-3456 or