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Summary Meeting Notes: January 10, 2013 Residential Development and Compability PEG

Summary Meeting Notes

Residential Development and Compatibility Policy Expert Group  

Date: January 10, 2013
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

PEG Attendees: Tamara DeRidder, John Gibbon, Michael Hayes, Gabe Headrick, Rodney Jennings, Rod Merrick, Stanley Penkin, Emily Sandy, Eli Spevak 

Staff/Presenters: Barry Manning / Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) and PEG lead; BPS staff presenters Tom Armstrong, John Cole, and Bill Cunningham

Other Attendees: Jim Brown, Sue Carter Low, Bob Low, Don McGillivray, Linda Nettekoven, Lee Perlman, David Sweet; BPS staff: Debbie Bischoff, Julia Gisler, Lora Lillard, Phil Nameny, Chris Scarzello

Facilitator: Deb Meihoff, Communitas

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

Key Points and Outcomes

  • February and March meetings of the RDC PEG will be devoted to reviewing and commenting on the Working Draft of Comprehensive Plan goals and policies, including consideration of equity discussions and gentrification trends.
  • Staff from the Neighborhood Centers and Economic Development PEGs presented on work to date, with particular focus on issues that overlap with the Residential Development and Compatibility group.
  • Generally speaking, having neighborhood centers, employment, industrial, and institutional campuses nearby residential areas is a benefit for residents of the city. However, there are many issues that come with mixing uses in close proximity that need to be addressed better than they are today - noise, traffic / parking, freight movement, pedestrian connections, and encroachment into residential areas.

 Welcome, overview, introductions 

Update on Working Draft and Public Workshops 

Presenter: Barry Manning

Summary: The working draft of Comprehensive Plan goals and policies is expected to be published the third week in January. PEG members will be notified by email once the document is available; those wanting a hard copy should contact Barry. The publication will include the working draft of goals and policies along with a ‘companion guide’ and executive summary that will help to describe the contents of the document. The February and March PEG meetings will be devoted to reviewing and commenting on the working draft. Public workshops will be held in February and March (see handout for details). The Bureau is also working with business and industry partners to schedule a special business-focused workshop in March.

Handout: Comprehensive Plan Update - Winter Workshop Schedule

Neighborhood Centers PEG Issues Briefing

Presenter: Bill Cunningham, BPS

Summary: Bill presented an overview of issues and policy topics being discussed in the Neighborhood Centers PEG, the new Neighborhood Centers framework, and conversations the Centers PEG has had with regard to housing opportunities in centers, transitions of scale toward less dense / intense residential areas, age-friendly housing and neighborhoods, and the ‘five Portland / pattern areas’ concepts. Information presented: 

  • The Neighborhood Centers PEG (NC PEG) has been exploring refinements of a Portland “centers” concept based on the  Metro 2040 growth framework, with the potential addition of new :’town centers’ as well as ‘neighborhood centers’: envisioned as smaller and less intense than the  town and regional centers of the framework.
  • The staff and PEG are also considering defining new types of corridors: the ‘civic corridor’ that provides services and housing in addition to being a transportation facility, and ‘greenways’ and ‘habitat corridors’.
  • The NC PEG has developed a consensus that off-street parking standards for multi-family housing development needs to be modified. [note: BPS is currently engaging the public and policy-makers on near-term approaches on this topic.]
  • The NC PEG is looking at the ability of neighborhood centers to provide significant capacity for future growth and increase in housing opportunities, alleviating infill development pressure from existing predominantly low density residential areas.
  • The NC PEG has stressed that they do not want new policy to result in all centers looking the same - each center would vary in its design and implementation approach (example: Hillsdale integrating natural features, such as creeks, into development)
  • Implementation measures that could support the new neighborhood centers policies will be developed at a later date, but could include: mapping changes to support increased development capacity in the centers, center-specific standards to address design and scale, building in flexibility for ground level uses, strategic direction for infrastructure investment, economic development recruitment and funding approaches. 

RDC PEG questions and comments included:

  • Consider transition of intensity as well as building scale between centers and residential areas. Maybe allow more flexibility of what happens inside residential structures - home occupancies, duplexes and triplexes - with adjacency to centers to act as a buffer. This would need to be approached carefully, so that inequities between areas are not compounded.
  • Interested in BPS considering the role of cottage-cluster housing as part of developing an age-friendly city.
  • Need to plan for enhanced and multi-modal connections between residential areas and centers - especially difficult in west and east Portland.
  • Need to include employment as a key component for centers, not just an after-thought.
  • Rather than focusing high density along transit corridors, consider a strategy that looks first at building density around parks and public spaces (not just recreational, but also places that provide quiet, livable areas).
  • Housing quality is extremely important - whatever is built should be a place we would all be comfortable and proud to call home.
  • Be cautious in relying too heavily on density capacity as a method to designate new centers. For example, the Lents area’s designation as a ‘town center’ is more aspirational than based on how the area currently provides services and housing. Think about ways to transition into higher density at centers (increasing density / intensity in existing buildings).
  • City should consider an implementation strategy directed at showing developers, through maps, types of housing that is needed, areas with gaps and those with opportunities, tailored to each center. Staff noted that BPS has developed market analyses for many centers to support developers’ needs. The “20-minute Neighborhood Report” from the Portland Plan is also a great resource.
  • The centers designations need to be reconciled with current and future light rail stations and those areas likely to serve as neighborhood hubs - examplesWoodstock, Sellwood,60th Avenue station area, Brooklyn/Powell Blvd, and West Portland town center. BPS staff to work with neighborhood associations and district coalitions when mapping the centers in phase 2 of the comprehensive plan update.

Presentation: Neighborhood Centers overview

Related resources: 20-minute Neighborhood Analysis of the Portland Plan  

Economic Development PEG Issues Briefing

Presenters: John Cole and Tom Armstrong, BPS

Summary: Tom and John presented issues and policy topics being discussed among the Economic Development PEG, including policy direction regarding institutions and relationships between industrial and residential areas. Information presented:

  • Roughly 5% of employment activity in the city takes place in residential areas.
  • Looking at trends and land capacity, the City estimates there is excess capacity for employment uses in the Central City and neighborhood commercial areas; significant deficiency in the Columbia Harbor area and a modest amount of deficiency in centers (mostly related to limited capacity for growth of institutions). Projection of deficiencies include consideration of brownfield redevelopment potential, freight infrastructure needs, strategies to use land more intensely or efficiently (example: adding shifts to existing facility), etc.
  • Staff would like to hear more about examples of areas where transitions and buffers between residential and industrial uses work well.
  • When looking at expanding the uses in industrial areas to commercial or even living quarters, the City has to pay particular attention to the effect zoning has on land values - increasing zoning too much drives up land costs beyond what industrial users can afford which affects employment capacity in the city.
  • A subgroup of the Economic Development PEG is focusing on campus institutions, colleges and hospitals; specifically looking at campuses that are greater than 10 acres in size and have at least 100 employees on site. There are 19 campuses within the city that meet these criteria.
  • City is projecting the need for campus space to accommodate an additional 25,000+ employees by 2035. Most campuses are currently located amidst residential areas and there are not currently Comp Plan policies that address the interface. The PEG subgroup is focused on a policy response for potential conflicts between campus development / expansion and neighborhoods. RDC PEG members were asked to review policy 4.7 (revised to 3.44) in the working draft.
  • Creating development standards and revised procedures for campus development is likely to be one of the first implementation measures addressed following adoption of the updated comprehensive plan.

RDC PEG comments and questions:

  • City should have different policies for ‘dispersed industrial’ areas and industrial districts, including different zoning approaches.
  • Consider increasing allowable commercial uses in smaller dispersed industrial areas - especially commercial that provides services for nearby residential areas - 3000 sq.ft. maximum is too small. Central Eastsideis an area where the blend is working well and nearby residents are finding employment and services.
  • Noise from dispersed industrial areas are impactful to adjacent residents; consider additional mitigation options for addressing noise.
  • The buffer overlay is ineffective and not working well; need a better regulatory tool to address impacts between industrial and residential uses.
  • Rose City Park industrial area with direct access to 60th Avenue works well; internal industrial areas that require freight traffic to travel through residential neighborhoods do not work.
  • Area between SW Barbur Blvdand I-5 (commonly referred to as ‘Barbur islands’) may be best suited to completely transition to an industrial area that provides a noise buffer from the interstate freeway.
  • McLoughlin Boulevard up to the city limits with Milwaukie provides a good opportunity for an employment center (not necessarily heavy industrial).
  • Look at ways to encourage greater intensity of uses in industrial areas - upper floor office space, light manufacturing / assembly-type businesses, warehousing
  • Campus bus service continues to be a problem - the way institutional users manage their buses and parking on campus has direct impacts to the surrounding residential areas, especially on-street parking. City and institutional users should investigate whether or not campus shuttles can be made available for residents of adjacent neighborhoods, leveraging campus services for broader community benefit.
  • Need to find ways to make campus transportation demand management (TDM) work more effective and efficient. TDM can be a good tool for phasing in improvements and tailoring to the unique situations of each campus, but it is almost impossible to enforce the TDM standards with the current procedures.
  • Need to preserve the neighborhood’s voice and input into campus master plans and conditional use processes.
  • Consider directing future campuses toward centers.
  • BPS needs to also prioritize implementation measures for residential development and compatibility issues the PEG has discussed - address major issues that were exposed in the last housing market run-up.

Presentation: Economic Development Overview

Public Comment 

  • Bob Low and Sue Carter Low presented an overview of their experience with short term lodging in a residential area and concerns about lack of adequate permitting policies and standards to legally operate in an era of ‘air b&b’ and other similar short term lodging alternatives available for visitors. The Low’s presented their estimation of the loss of lodging tax revenues due to the restrictions on short-term rentals (estimated at $1million annually). Those who are offering rooms in their homes for short term rentals want to comply with City codes, but they do not currently have a viable pathway. The Low’s have spoken to Commissioner Saltzman’s office and community groups and requested the PEG consider this issue in their policy discussions.
  • David Sweet addressed the PEG regarding buffers from industrial uses. He said that the noise code is made to protect not only neighbors, but also ‘noise makers’. Noise emissions are fairly permissive within industrial areas, but the conflicts occur where industrial districts abut residential uses. The City regulates noise by zone, not use. Allowing residential uses in industrial zoning districts creates the conflict. Example: the Pearl District is mostly zoned as a mixed employment district and has many industrial users still operating in the neighborhood. Noise standards adhere to the employment zone, not the more restrictive residential standards.
  • Linda Nettekoven asked the PEG to think also about the need for better sound-proofing within mixed use, multi story buildings, especially between the ground and upper floors. Ground floor tenants have the potential to change frequently over the life of a building - what is a quiet office today could be a nightclub down the road. It is extremely difficult to address these types of noise issues after the structure is built. 

 Next Steps

  • The Working Draft of goals and policies will be discussed at the February and March PEG meetings.
  • The RDC PEG will take up discussion of economic activities in residential areas at a future meeting, following review of the Working Draft document.

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