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Summary Meeting Notes: January 7 and 8, 2013 Infrastructure Equity PEG

Summary Meeting Notes

Infrastructure Equity Policy Expert Group 

Meeting Dates: January 7, 2013, 9:00 to 11:00 a.m.
January 8, 2013, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Note: Due to the holidays, the regular meeting on the first Wednesday was replaced by two meetings with identical agendas.  These Summary Meeting Notes capture information from both meetings.

PEG Attendees: Susan Aldrich, Roger Anthony, Roger Averbeck, Matt Brown, Alex Deley, Liz Gatti, Karyn Hanson, Celia Heron, Jeff Leighton, Kathryn Levine, Jackeline Luna Acosta, Karen Meyer,Midge Purcell, Olivia Quiroz, Michelle Rudd, Joe VanderVeer, Randy Webster. 

Other Attendees: Michele Crim, Bob Glascock, Joan Frederiksen, Michelle Kunec & Chris Scarzello (Bureau of Planning & Sustainability); Courtney Duke (Portland Bureau of Transportation); Argel Jimenez & Ali Ray (contract translators).

PEG Lead: Bob Glascock

Facilitator:  Andrée Tremoulet, Commonworks Consulting

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

Welcome and Introductions (10 minutes)
Presenter: Andrée Tremoulet, Facilitator
Summary: Andrée Tremoulet welcomed participants, reviewed the meeting purpose, which was to “get brief introduction to the Working Draft of the Comprehensive Plan Update and start to discuss draft infrastructure language,” and led the group through an icebreaker.

Introduction to Organization of Working Draft and Process (25 minutes)
Presenters: Michele Crim and Bob Glascock, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
Handouts: Comprehensive Plan Update Process Summary
Comprehensive Plan Working Draft Table of Contents
Summary: Michele Crim reviewed the process and timeline for the development of the Comprehensive Plan Update and highlighted the role of the IE PEG in improving the working draft.  She also reviewed the proposed table of contents to orient the group to the plan’s organization.  Highlights of her presentation included:

  • IE PEG members will receive an e-mail with a link to an electronic version of the Discussion Draft in mid-January and a hard copy at the February IE PEG meeting.  IE PEG members may instead pick up their hard copy of the plan once it is available in late January.
  • IE PEG members are encouraged to attend one of the community workshops scheduled for February/March.  All of the workshops will cover the same basic information, plus some workshops may also have break-out sessions dealing with additional specific issues. The content and design of the workshops are still being developed; additional information will be sent once it is available. The role of IE PEG members is to observe and listen to what is said at the workshops and be prepared to bring that information back to future meetings of the PEG.
  • A second set of draft materials, including the List of Significant Projects, the Citywide Systems Plan and the Transportation System Plan, will be available in Summer 2013 and be followed by a second round of community workshops.
  • The target date for adoption of the Final Plan is Fall 2014.
  • The Plan serves several important functions for the City, including the following:
    • It describes the goals and vision for the City
    • It informs land use decisions and can be used as the basis for an appeal
    • It helps to inform the scope of projects
    • It is used to support grant applications
    • It is a way to communicate with important partners, such as Oregon Department of Transportation and Metro, about the City’s goals and intentions. 

Comments/questions and responses included the following:

  • How can we find out what the other PEGs are doing and saying? Review the Summary Meeting Notes online for the other PEGs.
  • Meeting notes should be more detailed. Now that we are at the point of providing feedback on the Working Draft, we will provide more detailed meeting summaries.
  • How will feedback on the Working Draft be tracked?  The system for doing this is still under development, and an update will be provided at a future meeting.
  • To what extent are these goals and policies incorporated into the City’s budgeting process?  For the five-year Capital Improvement Plan, staff are instructed to address the Comprehensive Plan.
    • Recommendation: Institute a more formal link to the Comprehensive Plan in the annual budgeting and CIP process.  The process could require a new section requiring a narrative describing how the budgeted items are in concert with the Comprehensive Plan
    • Recommendation: The Comprehensive Plan should be a touchstone that bureaus use to select and justify projects.
  • In the Table of Contents, why is the Urban Design Framework placed before Goals and Policies?  It seems like it should be the other way around; Goals and Policies should drive Urban Design Framework. Items were placed in that order because the Urban Design Framework provides definitions and information on concepts that appear in the Goals and Policies. The intent was to make the Goals and Policies easier to understand by placing the Urban Design Framework first. However, if it appears to readers that the Urban Design Framework is driving the Goals and Policies, we may want to give additional thought to this order.
  • What is the Commentary and what role does it play? The commentary provides background information and context for the Goals and Policies.  It is not a formal part of the Plan for legal purposes and is not formally adopted by the City Council.

Public Comment
No public comment was received at this meeting.

Review of Draft Infrastructure and Transportation Goals (80 minutes)
Presenter: Andrée Tremoulet, Facilitator
Handouts: Comprehensive Plan Draft Infrastructure Goals

Summary: Andree Tremoulet explained how to use the worksheets. There were prompts to identify the goal’s assumptions, potential impacts (positive or negative), and missing items or needed changes. This exercise focused only on goal statements. More directive policy statements related to these goals will be provided in the Working Draft available later in January. 

IE PEG members were given time to individually review the draft goals and respond to the three questions intended to prompt analysis of the goals through an infrastructure equity lens. Then IE PEG members shared their observations through a group discussion.

She invited IE PEG members to submit their worksheets (with or without names) so that all of their ideas could be captured.  She also invited IE PEG members to provide feedback via e-mail regarding on the usefulness of the three questions and any suggestions.

Below is a summary of the principal points that arose during the group discussions. NOTE:  the goals have since been renumbered in the Working Draft. The actual goal numbers, below, are posted in [brackets].

Chapter 7 [6]:  Public Facilities & Services

General Goals (7A – 7C) [6.A – 6.C]

  • Many comments that goal statements (aspirations) are not realistic, given existing conditions.  Want some terms defined.
  • These statements seem to assume that high quality infrastructure is the ultimate goal, that all Portlanders have equal access to services, that there is no need to make trade-offs between goals, and resources are unlimited. The statements also seem to assume that the City already has the capacity (in training, information, culture) to make equitable decisions and that legitimate community voices are able to participate in planning processes. Further, the statements seem to assume that community goals align with system needs.
  • What does “optimal level of service” mean?  Is level of service based on performance or on design?
  • Potential impacts or unintended consequences of these goals (for communities of color or people with disabilities) include displacement results from gentrification, cost-of-service pressures on low income households (and people with disabilities),      differing levels of service across Portland’s geographies, service design may not meet needs of communities that can/do not participate in goal-setting, and spatial and temporal impacts of localized infrastructure projects.
  • Things to add to these goals: a hierarchy for investment needs, more guidance to bureau investments on infrastructure.  For investment hierarchy, give priority to Portlanders with less ability to deal with disparities, and/or historically underserved areas; give priority to basic levels of service to all Portlanders before achieving good-to-optimal levels (anywhere in Portland).
  • Which infrastructure systems should get priority investment, and why?
  • All Portlanders deserve equitable levels of service; supporting prosperity citywide means bringing everything up and reducing disparities.
  • Make clear we have a long way  to go, for more equitable outcomes. We need to address the risks of gentrification and displacement.
  • Need to measure services against the goals.
  • Consider life cycle costs, not just initial investment.
  • What is the community’s willingness to pay for different levels of service?  That would tell us where we need to improve, and in what ways.
  • Human and environmental health go together, and are both integral.
  • For Goal C, define the recovery period (24 hours or 6 months?) and consider “functional during a catastrophic event” (by prioritizing communities least able to survive without services, and anticipating those events).

Chapter 8 [7]:  Transportation

  • Consider consolidating several transportation goals (they seem redundant).  Could combine 8A – 8D [7.B – 7.D], then      delete 8A [7.A].
  • Transportation goals seem like a big leap from where we are today.
  • Currently, more dense neighborhoods are less affordable.
  • Define transportation system and relate to City’s partners. Does that system include transit?
  • Should be more emphasis on mobility across different quadrants of the city.
  • Much of our transportation system depends on investments and choices made by partners such as TriMet and ODOT. What leverage do our goals have on what they do? Need to be clearer about what the City is able to do.
  • Goals do not mention the need to address risks of gentrification and displacement (e.g., streetcar potentially leading to gentrification and displacement)
  • Vulnerable populations is not the appropriate term to use; consider underserved.
  • Subtle car-bashing implicit in goals. 
    • For some people, car is only reasonable means of transportation
    • Large low income families are not likely to go to grocery on a bike
    • People need transportation choices
    • Alternatives to the car need to be efficient and affordable
    • Should articulate why there is a need to move away from automobiles
    • Transit relies on high-density neighborhoods, which currently are among the least affordable. \Therefore, those who most need transit access are more likely to live in less dense neighborhoods.
  • Goals 8A - 8C [7.A – 7.C] lack language about accessibility or capacity (e.g., ability to accommodate multiple wheelchairs).  Accessibility is not addressed in these goals at all.
  • Goal 8E [7.E] and Goal 8F [7.F] seem to contradict one another on traffic fatalities. Goal 8E [7.E] would seem to require vehicles to move fast; Goal 8F [7.F] would seem to require vehicles to move slowly.

Goals 8B – 8F [7.B – 7.F]

  • Goal 8B [7.B] assumes there is neighborhood and civic quality of life to reinforce. Assumes community and individual health goals are same for all communities. People will not give up their cars unless alternative modes are more efficient than driving.  How can we account for future transportation changes?  How can the CPU stay flexible and responsive?
  • For Goal 8C [7.C], add safety.
  • For Goal 8E [7.E], regional and national markets are probably more important for most small/local businesses than world markets.

Wrap Up (5 minutes)

Andree Tremoulet asked whether IE PEG members want to cancel the March meeting so that members would have time to attend community workshops; the general consensus was that the IE PEG members wanted to meet in March. She reminded people to send her feedback via e-mail if they have suggestions for improving the three questions used to analyze the goals with an infrastructure equity lens.  Michele Crim asked IE PEG members to pay attention to which sections of the Discussion Draft they want to focus on during meetings; members may be polled at a later date about their preferences.

Bob Glascock reminded everyone that the next meeting would take place on Wednesday, February 6, from 10 to 12 noon in the usual meeting room on the second floor.

The meeting adjourned.

For more information, please contact Bob Glascock, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, at 503-823-7845 or or Andrée Tremoulet, Facilitator, at 503-267-9255 or