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Summary Meeting Notes: February 13, 2013 Equity Work Group meeting

February 13, 2013

Attendees: Karyn Hanson; Justin Douglas; Noelle Dobson; Sara Schooley; Carol Gossett; Roger Anthony; Ivy Dunlap; Michelle Kunec-North; Will Fuller; John Cole; Sandra Wood; Michele Crim; Eric Hesse; Patricia Neighbor; Linda Nettekoven; Joe Hertzberg; Desiree Williams-Rajee; Judith Mowry; Joe Zehnder; Helen Ying

Welcome and Introductions

  • Judith Mowry (Office of Equity and Human Rights)  set the context for the meeting by outlining the goal that the meeting is an opportunity to work and think together about the equity issues participants are seeing coming up in their PEGs.
  • Noelle Dobson gave an overview for the group of some of the ongoing work being done related to health-equity issues that overlap with many of the Comp Plan issue and policy areas. They are focusing a great deal on implementation and decision making.
  • Judith reminded the group about the upcoming public workshops. There will be an opportunity at the workshops for public participants to comment on improving equity through the Comp Plan.

Group Discussion

  • Attendees presented some ideas, concerns and thoughts they had about the Working Draft and/or the PEG discussions to date.  Areas of discussion included:


  • How do we ensure the goals and policies are going to lead to the equity outcomes we are seeking through implementation?
  • We need to pay attention to the implementation part of the plan – how is the City going to be held accountable


  • There are maybe two ways of getting at the implementation…can you write policy language that directs or prioritizes investments…or, do you create outcomes that you measure against?
  • The Portland Plan will still live, after the Comp Plan adoption. The City is focused on trying to institutionalize/operationalize the outcome measures outlined in thePortlandPlan…which is why outcomes are not outlined in the Working Draft. There is a connection – it just isn’t explicit
    • Part of the challenge is also that the Comp Plan has traditionally been focused on a “professional audience” (e.g. planners and others that need to write findings)…however, that also makes it less accessible by the general public. Which continues to forward an imbalance in power in decision-making (e.g. if it isn’t accessible to everyone, how can they engage in the decision-making that happens).
    • At public workshops, we need to be clear about the changes we need to make to address inequities. We need to have frank conversations with the public about what needs to happen (e.g. we can’t continue to invest in Parks in one part of town if we are serious about addressing Park deficiencies in another area). (Staff response: The second round of workshops will more explicitly frame these clear choices.)
    • We need to get indirect costs (e.g. environmental justice impacts) into the broader decision-making systems and frameworks.
    • How often when there was a list of public facilities that included stormwater and not sanitary sewer. BPS Staff need to make sure that sanitary sewer isn’t left off when it needs to be listed (especially outside of Chapter 6).

Decision Making:

  • How will the “Integrated Goals” be used in decision making? The role of the Comp Plan is to find some balance between setting a long-term direction…while also ensuring there is enough direction to ensure implementation is moving us in the right direction in the short-term. To also help these intentions survive political and budget cycles.
  • The Comp Plan is a decision making tool. We have never had a decision-making hierarchy – the City is trying to set up decision-making rules (Integrated Goals) that over-arch over the chapter policies.
  • There are some other components of the Comp Plan that will support the goals and policies (e.g. Community Involvement Program). There are a lot of things that are going to impact decision making – not just the goals and policies. However, that being the case…the way decisions need to get made isn’t really clear. That needs more work

Connecting to the Portland Plan:

  • The Portland Plan had a framework of equity – the sense is that the equity frame doesn’t exist (come through) in the Comp Plan. We haven’t arrived yet…needs a lot more work to make it hold it all together. There is a tremendous amount of work.

Applying the Equity Lens

  • Curious about centers…wondering if an equity lens has been applied to the concept of centers? How do we know that the Centers growth strategy will address inequities?
  • For industrial lands…there are some assumptions about growth and needed industrial land supply. Why do we have to base everything around the assumption that industrial lands will be important (that history determines the future)? There are some key issues related to impacts of industrial lands on communities of color. We need to figure out what it looks like to really invest in ways (e.g. brownfield remediation) in ways that support small business development in communities of color.
    • In the environmental justice realm…how do we balance regional benefit with local impacts?
    • It would be helpful if the BPS staff took  some issues and ran them through the Comp Plan and an equity lens – create some case studies and talk through them with the Equity Group.

Directing Investment

  • The centers concept is not clear in terms of which centers require a higher degree of investments. Don’t see how that leads to decisions to on where to invest.

Integration/Unintended consequences:

  • We should apply the equity lens at a variety of scales…not just look at a single policy, but also look at a suite of policies (and the Comp Plan as a whole) to determine if it supports equity.
  • Part of the challenge is it is hard to review the goals and policies in absence of some of the other Comp Plan components that haven’t been shared yet (e.g. growth scenarios).
  • The Integrated Goals sit at a higher level than the any policy that might be used. So one key place to ensure equity filters down through to integration is to ensure that Integrated Goal gets it right.
  • We need to fix the Comp Plan along the way (through implementation) so that it remains a relevant and useful tool.
  • Chapter 4: There are three goals, one including environmental justice. There are policies that match up against all of the goals except for environmental justice. It would be easier to read, if the policies lined up under the goals.
  • It would be a good exercise for BPS to do – to make sure that there are actually policies that back-up the goals.

Future Equity Group Discussion

  • Has there been discussion to of including “Disparate Impact Statement” tools to inform decision-making? How does this type of implementation tool get incorporated into the policy document?
  • Explore how to make the decision-making flow chart/process more clear and explicit in the Comp Plan (how the Integrated Goals are higher than the other chapter goals and policies) Capital Improvement Projects
  • How implementation happens…this is an area of concern, confusion and tension. Maybe a case study in reverse…taking implementation and work it backwards to get to the goals and policies.
  • If there are specific pieces staff is struggling with. The Equity Group wants to be helpful to staff.
  • Debrief around what was heard at the public workshops (both content and format).