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Summary Meeting Notes: May 16, 2013 Neighborhood Centers PEG Meeting

Meeting #12 Summary Notes

Neighborhood Centers Policy Expert Group

Meeting Date: May 16, 2013

Time: 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

PEG Attendees: Kate Allen, Ivy Dunlap, Kristin Cooper,Allen Field, Denver Igarta, Bob Granger, Brett Horner, Carol Mayer-Reed, Jennifer Moore, Dora Perry, Mark Raggett, Nick Sauvie

Key Points and Outcomes

  • The Neighborhood Centers PEG Memo is headed in the right direction, but needs stronger language about prioritizing investment in centers with deficiencies, engaging and empowering communities through center planning and implementation, and broadening language about employment in centers to include business incubation and living-wage jobs.
  • The Gentrification and Displacement Report highlights that displacement risk varies across the city and that different situations will require different approaches and responses.
  • A key goal of a range of Comprehensive Plan policies should be to create places where people want to live and have the choice to stay.

Welcome, Introductions and Updates (8:00 a.m.)

Presenter: Steve Faust, Facilitator and Bill Cunningham, BPS

Summary: Steve Faust welcomed participants and guests and gave a brief overview of the meeting agenda.  Steve invited PEG members to comment on the North Portland centers site visits which included St. Johns, Mid-Lombard/Portsmouth, Kenton-Lombard and East Hayden Island.  PEG members’ observations included:

  • St. Johns Town Center has benefited from a lot of community support and energy.  New, energetic residents have connected with longer-term residents.  The St. Johns Town Center serves as a focus of activity for the surrounding area, has a strong sense of identity and a diversity of shops and housing.  The community center has seen some demographic changes and different needs from the population they serve, such as increasing numbers of alternative families and single parents.
  • The Lombard corridor has been evolving, with increased commercial vitality extending along Lombard from Interstate, and with a revitalized Kenton main street to the north.
  • The St. Johns and Lombard areas have many aspects that reflect Comp Plan themes, such as civic amenities (library, community center, parks) in the St. Johns town center, the expanding North Portland greenway system, and community partnerships that made possible a green grocer in New Columbia providing access to healthy foods.
  • In light of complications with the Columbia River Crossing project,Hayden Island should be seen as a place of great possibilities.  More could be done to cultivate it as a mixed-use center with a major housing component and as a prominent gateway to the city.

Review of Draft Neighborhood Centers PEG Recommendations Memo (8:15 a.m.)

Presenters: Bill Cunningham

Summary: Bill explained that the draft PEG recommendations memorandum was prepared using content from the February through April meeting summaries, based on those suggestions that were identified as having broad PEG support.  The recommendations are divided into "major recommendations" that are more substantive in nature, and a listing of other recommendations for relatively minor edits.  PEG members had the following comments about the recommendations:

Suggestions with broad PEG support:

  • #1 – Policies related to public investments in centers should encourage community involvement, partnerships, and community benefit agreements.
  • #1a – Clarify to convey that the priority with limited resources is to invest in areas of need where there are infrastructure and other deficiencies, such asEast Portland.
  • #1 – Include consideration of zoning as part of efforts to improve areas with deficiencies.  This should include consideration of zone changes to match current uses, where appropriate, to address non-conforming uses that may contribute to neighborhood vitality. 
  • #2 – Encourage a broad range of employment uses in centers, rather than just offices.  Add language about encouraging business incubation and empowering the community through providing living wage jobs in centers. 
  • #3 –Area-specific planning should be identified as an opportunity to target infrastructure improvements and to be strategic with investments.  Area-specific planning should also be considered an opportunity for community engagement and refinement at a local scale.
  • #3 – Add language about the need to respond to the distinctive character of each area, but not at the cost of excluding historically marginalized populations. 
  • #8 – Policies should address geographically-concentrated poverty, but remove the statement “there will always be areas with concentrated poverty.”
  • #8 – Make sure that policies reflect that “opportunities” is more than about affordability, but also includes livability factors such as services, quality of life, schools, and public safety.
  • Following from the gentrification discussion, a key policy priority should be to create places where people want to live and have the choice to stay.  It is critical that everyone should benefit from the improvement of centers and not be displaced as areas become more desirable.

Other suggestions:

  • #3 – Caution urged about creating specific regulations for each center, as regulations need a broader context and there are costs to regulatory complexity.
  • Add language about the need for future implementation efforts to provide incentives, such as height and density bonuses, for developers who provide community benefits such as affordable housing, accessible units, and open space.
  • Bring equity language to greater prominence in the policies.
  • Need policy support for creating better tools for understanding health and equity impacts.  Having these tools will be essential for carrying out other polices that call for considering such impacts.  Policy 6.16 is a good model.
  • The memo needs pre-amble language emphasizing that centers need to be desirable places that support community livability.
  • Growth scenarios research shows that arrangement of growth by itself will not realize Portland’s objectives, and that investments are needed in deficient areas to achieve objectives such as complete neighborhoods.  This may be an appropriate topic to discuss with the Infrastructure Equity PEG:  Centers such as Gateway or 122nd and Division would be logical places to start with improvements.

Meeting Handouts and Presentations


Gentrification and Displacement Report (9:00 a.m.)

Presenters: Tom Armstrong, BPS

Summary: Tom provided the PEG with an update on the Gentrification and Displacement study being conducted by Dr. Lisa Bates of Portland State University.  The report is currently undergoing final refinements.  The two parts of the study are:  (1) a risk assessment analysis of Portland’s neighborhoods and (2) a policy toolkit to address at-risk areas.  The findings from the study are the starting point for addressing the key question of, “What can we (as the City) do to address gentrification/displacement and how does gentrification relate to other City goals?”

Risk indicators in the analysis include:

  • Vulnerable Populations – concentrations of:
    • Renters
    • Low education attainment
    • Household income
    • People of color
    • Changing Demographics – increasing rates of:
      • Homeownership
      • College-educated
      • Household income
      • White populations
      • Housing Market Appreciation – areas of:
        • Low or moderate value
        • High rates of appreciation
        • Adjacent to high value areas

Tom stated that in addition to this discussion about areas where gentrification/displacement is happening or are at risk of displacement, another conversation is needed about places where vulnerable populations are increasing concentrated and where risk of displacement is less, such as East Portland.  Different situations call for different approaches and responses.  A question to consider is what should be addressed first?  Limiting displacement in inner neighborhoods, or investing in services and other improvements in East Portland?

Selected recommendations from the study:

  • As a response to the risk of gentrification, the City should monitor the risk assessment map and identify projects in areas at risk of displacement.  In these areas, the City should align housing and other resources in partnership with other government agencies and community partners. 
  • The study identifies other potential policies and programs, such as community impact reports, community benefits agreements, inclusionary zoning or other new incentives, and education and technical assistance. 
  • Additional, effective initiatives are needed, such as inclusionary zoning.  The study identifies inclusionary zoning as an important tool and the City may want to play a role in advocating for in the 2014 state legislative session, or could develop incentives-based approaches to encourage affordable housing through voluntary inclusionary zoning.

Feedback from PEG members:

  • The analysis of vulnerable populations lacks consideration of age or disability.
  • How do we integrate the concepts of the report, such as the importance of anticipating risks and taking appropriate action, into the policy framework?
  • Greater depth in the analysis should include people who are driven out of their homes due to factors beyond just housing costs, such as loss of social structures and supports, isolation, and loss of community voice due to community displacement.
  • Also need to think about how poorly-performing schools, unsafe environments and crime can drive people to leave their neighborhoods when they have the means to move elsewhere.
  • The problem is complex because there is risk if you invest in a blighted community and risk if you do not.
  • An ideal outcome is to create places where people want to live, and have the choice to stay.
  • Need to address systems that disempower and create “vulnerable” populations.  “Vulnerable” is not a desirable term to use for people – the emphasis should be on empowerment.  Both the community and institutions need to be part of the conversation.
  • Tools need to be developed and applied early in order to minimize displacement.
  • More collaboration and policy alignment is needed among City agencies.  There should be an inter-agency workgroup to work on gentrification.
  • Decisions about growth and capacity are another nuance to this issue.
  • Tools #15 (neighborhood planning process) and #25 (support community building initiative) require local, area-specific approaches.
  • Cultural and generational considerations also must be taken into account.

Meeting Handouts and Presentations

Public Comment (9:45 a.m.)

  • Policies should protect the historical and cultural resources of a community.  There should be no zoning or incentives that encourage tearing down these important resources. 

Next Steps (9:55 a.m.)

The next Neighborhood Centers PEG meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 20.  Topics will include a Working Draft Part 2 overview and refinements to the Urban Design Framework.  Centers PEG members also are invited to the June meeting of the Networks PEG on Wednesday, June 26, from 2 to 3pm, where they will be discussing parking policies.

Adjourn (10:00 a.m.)

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