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Summary Meeting Notes: February 6, 2013 Infrastructure Equity PEG Meeting

Summary Meeting Notes

Infrastructure Equity Policy Expert Group 

Meeting Dates: February 6, 2013. 10:00 a.m. to 12:00

PEG Attendees: Susan Aldrich, Roger Anthony, Matt Brown, Justin Dollard, Liz Gatti, Karyn Hanson, Celia Heron, Jeff Leighton, Kathryn Levine, Jackeline Luna Acosta, Karen Meyer, Shoshanah Oppenheim (replacing Danielle Brooks as OMF ADA Compliance Officer), Olivia Quiroz, Steph Routh, Michelle Rudd, Joe VanderVeer, Sara Weiner-Collier, Randy Webster. 

NOTE:  There are two bureau staff changes on the IE PEG.  Shoshanah Oppenheim replaces Danielle Brooks (as the City’s ADA/Title VI Compliance Officer). Susan Hartnett replaces Celia Heron (from OMF Policy Team).

Other Attendees: Michele Crim, Bob Glascock, Joan Frederiksen, Michelle Kunec & Chris Scarzello (Bureau of Planning & Sustainability); Patricia Neighbor (Portland Bureau of Transportation); Ali Ray & Anna Chinberg (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 and reviewed the meeting purpose, which was to discuss and provide feedback on the policies and goals in Chapter 6 (Public Facilities and Infrastructure), and, time permitting, Chapter 1 (Community Involvement).  She led the group through an icebreaker.

Announcements (10 minutes)
Presenters: Bob Glascock, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
Summary: In response to questions at the last meeting, Bob Glascock explained how feedback from the IE PEG would be captured and presented to staff to inform the next iteration of the Plan.  He said that more detailed meeting notes are being taken.  These notes will provide the basis for the consultant to draft a report for committee review and comment by the IE PEG as it concludes its work this spring.

He also reminded IE PEG members of the community workshops and encouraged each member to attend one and bring feedback from that meeting to the group as a whole.

Public Comment 

No public comment was received at this meeting.

Review of Draft Infrastructure Goals and Policies
Presenter: Andrée Tremoulet, Facilitator
Handouts: Comprehensive Plan Working Draft January 2013 Worksheet
Summary: Andrée Tremoulet explained the exercise.  She invited IE PEG members to review Chapter 6 goals and policies with an equity lens, write comments or concerns about them on Post-It Notes, and bring Post-Its to the front of the room. 

Staff grouped related comments together and assigned a topic heading. A copy of all the comments received appears as Appendix A to these Meeting Notes. Discussion followed. 

The following major themes emerged from this process:

  • Policy Shift: The goals and policies should more strongly support a culture and policy shift toward integrating equity in all decision making, and prioritizing investments in underserved communities. Additional discussion by the IE PEG may help to identify specific opportunities where language could be added or modified to more strongly support this policy shift.
  • Priorities and Tradeoffs: The Discussion Draft does not give clear enough direction to City departments about how to balance competing needs and concerns and make trade-offs. Ideally, the draft should help departments choose projects and develop budgets in ways that promote greater equity.
    • Be intentional in the use of action verbs such as prioritize, require, encourage, balance and consider. Fit verbs to situations. There needs to be a term that describes how to make choices/tradeoffs among non-equivalent outcomes.
  • Costs of Services: How the costs of services will be distributed is a key component of equity. Ability to pay needs to be considered. Cost recovery is mentioned with respect to some services but not others; is this intentional?
  • Equity and Accessibility are Missing or Meaning is Unclear: Be more intentional about when equity and accessibility are included in a goal or policy, and when they are not. Give consideration to how they are included.
    • Look at policies that specifically call out certain communities.  For example, consider whether it is appropriate to prioritize community policing services for historically underserved communities (Policy 6.74.a) when the same communities are not called out as being prioritized for other services (parks, sidewalks, etc.). 
    • Accessibility should be integrated into Policies 6.64-6.67 (Park improvements, Trails system, Natural areas and Community centers) instead of through a separate policy (6.69 Special recreational facilities). Should also be integrated into 6.81 (Public safety/Emergency response in City facilities).
    • The terms equity, equitable and equitably need to be defined in a way that helps staff operationalize equity.  The Portland Plan should be the source of these definitions.
    • Equity should be better integrated into the policies, rather than stand alone. For example, Policy 6.16 might be amended to read as follows: “Consider community health impacts, equity outcomes, and watershed health risks equitably when planning, designing and funding capital improvements.”
    • Flexible design (Policy 6.25) should include proactive communication with people with disabilities.

There was insufficient time to discuss Chapter 1 at this meeting; this discussion will take place at a future meeting.

Wrap Up (5 minutes)

When asked which discussion approach they preferred, a majority of IE PEG members indicated that they preferred the less structured discussion used today over the worksheet approach used at the January meeting. Some IE PEG members expressed concern that they did not feel that they had sufficient time to review the policies because they had just picked up their hard copy of the Working Draft at this meeting. IE PEG members asked where they should focus their review in preparation for the next meeting.  Andrée Tremoulet said that she would meet with staff and provide further information in the next week or two.

Bob Glascock reminded everyone to attend a community workshop and the next meeting of the IE PEG on Wednesday, March 6, from 10 to 12 noon in the same meeting room.

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

Appendix A:  Notes from Brainstorming Session about Chapter 6 Concerns

Note:  Because the brainstorming session resulted in numerous specific suggestions and concerns that are not fully captured in the “major themes” summary above, they are listed here to provide further information to staff responsible for editing specific goals and policies. 

TOPIC:  Equity is Missing (or unclear)

  • Integrated Goal 1. Equity—Define “access to opportunities” to include public services.
  • Chapter 6 should define equity, equitable and equitably.  How to codify?
  • Equity is called out separately, when it should be integrated.
  • Make sure that ALL city agencies continue to maintain across-City standards for water and all other utilities (so no area is neglected).
  • Goal 6A—Provide ALL Portlanders with optional levels of service.
  • Goal 6.E—Should reference Equity as the BES Strategic Plan does.
  • Policy 6.12 (Asset Management)—Suggest rewording, as “…cost effectively provide and equitably distribute economic, social, and environmental risks and benefits.”
  • Policy 6.16 (Health and equity impacts)—Suggest rewording, as “Consider community health impacts and watershed health risks equitably while planning, designing  and funding capital improvements.”
  • Policy 6.16 (Health and Equity Impacts)—The term ” equity outcomes” in the policy is not a commonly understood or agreed upon term and so is not particularly effective as criteria or guidance.
  • Policies 6.30, 6.31, 6.32, 6.33—Should use equity language used in our (BES) strategic Plan, and should reference BES levels of service.
  • Policies 6.34, 6.35, 6.36, 6.37, 6.38, 6.39, 6.40 – 6.48:  These should reflect BES levels of service and Strategic Plan language on equity.
  • Policy 6.74 (Community Policing) specifically addresses “historically underserved communities”; is this good or bad?  If a good phrase, should it apply to all public facilities and services (in which case, it could be removed, here)?

TOPIC:  Proactive Inclusion

  • Policy      6.11 (Service deficiencies):
    1. Assume disparities in services and facilities, and ways to identify them.
    2. It is a burden to identify and champion disparities.
    3. Add this language—“proactively identify”.
  • Policy 6.34 (Subsurface disposal):
    1. Assumes locations are chosen “equitably”.
    2. Areas of concentrated low income/ people of color may be at risk for more disposal.
    3. Add language to use “criteria to determine fairness”, or something like that.
  • Policy 6.93 (Broadband disparities)—Need to acknowledge the wide range of needs (linguistic, disability, or equipment-oriented).

TOPIC:  Unintended Results

  • What if proposed solutions don’t effectively resolve deficiency?
  • Provide direction to analyze, identify and discuss deficiencies, as well as address them (proactive inclusion).
  • It seems costly and also seems likely to result in lots of small centers.
  • Policy 6.11 (Service deficiencies)—Assumes knowledge of where service disparities exist, and what they are.
  • Policy 6.17 (Environmental sustainability)—Assumes we want to reduce energy use. Actually, we want clean energy use. Total energy use may increase if we are successful in economic development.
  • Policy 6.22 (Uses of rights-of-way)--Unclear on the legality of using right-of-way for “other appropriate public services and objectives”. May create unreasonable expectations re what can legally be done within a public right of way before the “right of way” has effectively been vacated. The sub policies seem to clarify but the main policy could be problematic.
  • Policy 6.28 (undergrounding, in rights-of-way)—Assumes it’s best to place utilities under ground. In the future, there may be other options (at least for telecomm), and you don’t want to use up the right-of-way if you  don’t have to.
  • Policy 6.57 (Water rates)--The requirement to develop water rates annually is an old administrative decision, not something that belongs in Comp Plan.
  • Policy 6.67 (Community Centers)—Is this truly feasible (a community center w/in 3 miles of every house)?
  • Policy 6.70 (Public/private opportunities and partnerships, for parks)—Assumes that private involvement works at no cost to public access. Private funders may expect prioritized access (e.g., Buckman field or Grant Bowl).  Include language about preserving/ensuring public access.
  • Policies 6.88 & 6.89 (co-location & shared use)—May cause competition for resources that will likely impact people of color and people with disabilities.
  • Policies 6.88 – 6.91 (School facilities)--The 1979 City School Policy likely needs review and revision if it is informing this policy section. It is likely that the policy does not reflect City schools and educational environment in 2013.

TOPIC:  Accessible Design

  • Goal 6.K—What about emergency response for technology access? What happens if an individual with hearing loss needs to call 9-1-1 while at a park? There is no accommodation available, except having to call pager with text messages.
  • Policy 6.15 (Context-sensitive infrastructure)--What about universal accessibility? Is this included in documents elsewhere?
  • Equity seems missing from two rights-of-way (Policies 6.22 – 6.29) and water (Policies 6.49 – 6.60).
  • Policy 6.25 (Flexible design)—Universal accessibility?
  • Policy 6.25 (Flexible design of rights-of-way):
    1. Assumes adequate communication with organizations of people with disabilities.
    2. Allow- is too vague- no action.
    3. “Actively identify” for….
  • Policy 6.63 (Park acquisition)—Should include increased accessibility.
  • Policies 6.66 & 6.64 (Natural areas and Improvements)—Develop a plan to retrofit inaccessible parks and recreation areas to provide universal access, included in long-range park capital improvements program per Policy 6.62.
  • Policy 6.81 (City facilities)—add “accessibility” and “equitable distribution of resources”.

TOPIC:  Community Role in Achieving Goals

  • Goal 6A—Assumes that diverse communities seek their support from public institutions such that public investment in private institutions.
  • Policy 6.71:  Public Safety and emergency response.  After an earthquake occurs here in Portland and its outside boundaries, how safe will the water be? What type of preparations should community members do now? And, in the next 20 years?
  • Policy 6.79—Connect community preparedness and neighborhood+ social resilience (support community resilience) in 6.79 with providing community centers & recreation services and programs (6.67 + 6.68).

TOPIC:  Who Pays?  Shared Costs

  • More clarity needed re: how priorities are developed and who pays. How will this be addressed?
  • Goal 6.F (Water)—This ignores the City’s skyrocketing water costs. There needs to be a discussion of revenue streams, pardon the pun.
  • Goal 6.G (Parks, natural areas and recreation)—Goal assumes that park enjoyment is a universal value. However, there exists a segment of our population for whom destruction, not creation, is paramount. Others would rather keep their taxes lower. How to reconcile?
  • Policy 6.14 (Shared Costs):
    1. Assumes all use equal.
    2. Potential burden to people of color + people w/ disabilities, which historically have higher unemployment rates + lower incomes.
    3. Benefit is not defined.
  • Policy 6.14 (Shared costs)—New public facility investment should be prioritized where there are gaps in levels of service.  Assumption is that all of the users who benefit should help pay (6.14c +b) No differentiation of ability to pay. Potential on equity, based on ability to pay--if one neighborhood  can afford an LID to pay their share, but another cannot afford the LID, does the neighborhood that can’t afford it get no improvement?
  • Policy 6.14 (Shared costs):
    1. Assumes business resources are available for funding facilities and services.
    2. May make it difficult for MBE/WBE firms with low capital to get started.
    3. B.14b – Add language about create partnership with organizations to provide supplemental funding, as necessary.
  • Rates (Policies 6.39, 6.48, 6.57)—Underlying assumptions:
    1. Everyone has similar abilities to pay/afford rates.
    2. Affordability of City utility services--are they affordable to all?
    3. Need policy that City needs to find ways to provide affordable rates to disadvantaged.
  • Policies 6.39 & 6.48—Sewer and stormwater policies seem to far exceed financial capacity of City residents.
  • Policy 6.68—Cost recovery should be applied to all sectors where appropriate (transportation, BES, Water).
  • Policy 6.68a.—Balance public/private benefits through public funding and cost recovery policies that guide setting recreation participation fees.

TOPIC:  Growth and Infrastructure

  • Sub-Policy 6.7.a.—Three miles does not account for mass transit. Centers located on frequent services corridors/routes.
  • Policy 6.10 (System capacity)—Assumes physically feasible is appropriate.  Why would you allow patterns of density not physically appropriate?
  • Policy 6.63 (Park acquisition and development)—Assumes that the main priorities for targeting acquisition are two criteria. Should policy include a statement about “historically underserved” areas?
  • Sub-Policy 6.63b—Why prioritize surplus public lands? Potential park lands should  compete on equal footing, based on ability to meet service goals.
  • Policy 6.65 (Trails system)—Add two sub-items: interconnections with regional trails, and support broad regional trail development w/ partners (e.g. complete Intertwine and build trail along West Mountains to Coast).
  • Policy 6.92—Assumes high performance connectivity is needed at every business (i.e. Subway) and every residence (may not need “high performance”). Would you get more coverage with connectivity goal rather than “high performance goal”? Recognize this is an “encourage” rather than requirements, but not sure it is strategic.
  • Policy 6.96 (Capacity and reliability of energy infrastructure)—Investments policy should refer to regional and federal investments in all basic infrastructure.

TOPIC:  Integrating and prioritizing (trade-offs)

  • Be intentional in use of action verbs (require, provide, prioritize, encourage). Fit verbs to situations (prioritize fits apples-to-apples; balance fits apples-to-oranges).
  • Goal 6.B (Multiple Benefits)—What happens when it is not possible to achieve all Identifies three pronged criteria identified here? Will services disparities be reduced?
  • Goal 6.D (Public Rights- of- Way)—Make commentary more specific, to tease out assumptions. The order suggests prioritization and provides enough info to suggest the complexity of trade-offs.
  • Goal 6.E (Sanitary and stormwater system)—Does not provide direction to integrate proposed surface facilities with other infrastructure to avoid degrading service levels (i.e., pedestrian space, urban tree canopy).
  • Policy 6.11—What are the metrics to be uses for prioritizing service deficiencies? See Policy 6.12.
  • Policy 6.11 (Service deficiencies)—Need to develop a strategy of identifying service deficiencies supported by quantifiable metrics (look to 6.12 policy: “Investment decisions consider…).
  • Policies 6.62 & 6.63 (Parks and Recreation)—Apply prioritization under criteria that includes low income populations areas where affordable housing exist.
  • Policy 6.71 (Emergency preparedness and response)—How best to use limited funds (in the next 20-50 years) to prepare for a catastrophic disaster? What about improving the backbone of the City’s water delivery system?

TOPIC:  Meaning is unclear or too narrowly defined

  • Refer to BES’ levels of service policy.
  • Policy 6.7 (Community services)—What does the term “centers” refer to—the center of a neighborhood? Community center?  NOTE:  consider inequities with centers, and      barriers to co-location.
  • Policy 6.15—“Context-sensitive” is ill-defined.
  • Policy 6.16 (Health and equity impact)—Does this policy assume other environmental impacts (air quality, etc.) are already addressed? Why not broaden this from only watershed health risks to include other environmental impacts (air, tree canopy…)?
  • Policy 6.20 (Environmental carrying capacity)—Is there a similar statement in transportation section?
  • Policies 6.33 & 6.61—Find and replace “preventative” (correct spelling is “preventive”).Policy 6.57 (Water rates)—The reference to the AWWA (American Water Works Association) is useful for the water bureau, but is inscrutable to the public. Policies should be more transparent/ understandable on their surface.
  • Policy 6.67 (Community Centers)—“Strive” needs to better reinforcement.
  • Policy 6.69 (Special recreational facilities)—What are special facilities?
  • Policy 6.69—What does the term “special recreational facilities” mean? Does it apply to people with disabilities? Or does it refer to community members who need accommodations for access/use to facilities?  Maybe change the term from “Special” to “Accommodations for recreational facilities”?
  • Policies  6.88 – 6.91 (School facilities)—Why does the commentary refer to the City’s 1979 school policy? It is so dated. Newer docs/ideas should inform. 

TOPIC:  Where Are these Issues?

  • What policy addresses youth access to neighborhood parks?  Several policies overlap (6.61, 6.63, 6.7, and 6.16).
  • Safety in Rights-of-way.