Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Planning and Sustainability

Innovation. Collaboration. Practical Solutions.

Phone: 503-823-7700

Curbside Hotline: 503-823-7202

1900 SW 4th Ave, Suite 7100, Portland, OR 97201

More Contact Info

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View Less

Summary Meeting Notes: May 22, 2013 Watershed Health and Environment PEG meeting

Summary Meeting Notes
Watershed Health and Environment PEG - WHE PEG

Meeting Date: May 22, 2013
Time: 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Location: 1900 SW 4th Ave,Portland, Conference Room 7A

Attendees: Claire Carder, Corky Collier, Mike Houck, Maryhelen Kincaid, Noelwah Netusil, Emily Roth, Bob Sallinger, Judy BlueHorse Skelton, Jennifer Thompson, Jeri Williams, Paul Ward.  Staff: Mindy Brooks, Sallie Edmunds, Joan Fredericksen, Roberta Jortner, Christina Scarzello, Marie Walkiewicz, Shannon Buono, Nan Stark. Guests: Derek Breniman (student), Pablo Martos (Oregon Department of State Lands & Community Member), Peter and Annie Sallinger, Mary Vogel.  Facilitator: Dena Marshall, Solid Ground Consulting, assisted by Kazmiera Taylor

 “How do we get from ‘let’s put 20 houses on the side of a hill and keep them from sliding down’ to ‘let’s not put 20 houses on the side of that hill’ and instead put them in a low-income neighborhood where there’s no stormwater risk?”


Introductions, Announcements and Updates

Facilitator Dena Marshall and staff lead Sallie Edmunds opened the meeting, with brief introductions and an overview of the upcoming meetings and PEG process. There will be no July WHE PEG meeting.

  • BPS District Planners will conduct 8 District Planning Conversations in June 2013.  PEG members are encouraged to attend.
  • Announcement: Portland voters recently passed a 5-year, $15 million levy to manage and restore natural areas and parks.

Working Draft Part 2 Mapping Exercise

Presenters:  Joan Frederiksen (South Portland district liaison), Christina Scarzello (East Portland district liaison), Roberta Jortner, BPS

  • District liaisons have started “Community Conversations” to gain familiarity in the neighborhoods and solicit early feedback on key Comp Plan mapping options.
  • Goals for this meeting: To elicit PEG feedback on areas where the City is looking to encourage growth and approaches to address development-related issues affecting watershed health.
  • Options and choices presented for PEG consideration included potential changes to the Comprehensive Plan map (density and zoning), priority infrastructure projects, future code changes (e.g., impervious area limits) and programs (eg. green infrastructure, code revisions , tree canopy policy updates).

SW Portland

Overview (Joan Fredericksen)

Example #1:  Sylvan-Highlands/ArlingtonHeights/SW Hills Stormwater Area of Concern.

  • Issues: This area has multiple issues and constraints including steep slopes, lack of infiltration capacity, landslide hazards and unprotected headwater streams.  There is also development potential with a mix of residential zoning. Can stormwater and landslide constraints be remedied?  It would be prohibitively expensive to develop a stormwater pipe  system, like in SE communities, and this approach would also deprive natural resources of the water they need.  Some retrofit technologies are available.
  • Options discussed: (1) reduce density, especially in areas where infrastructure investment is not warranted (2) waive minimum density (3) update environmental zoning for unprotected resources (regulatory or voluntary) (4) add impervious area limitations (5) design approaches (5) transfer of development rights (6) ecodistrict of a different kind, not focused on intensifying development. 

Example #2: West Portland Town Center, Barbur Boulevard/I-5. (see above link)

This is a designated town center in Metro Region 2040 which is an area to focus future growth. It is also designated a high capacity transit corridor.


  • Relative lack of natural areas; existing environmental zoning applied to streams is inconsistent. This area already has extensive impervious areas and transportation challenges; there are redevelopment opportunities with potential to increase greenspace.
  • Gentrification.  This area has more diverse income and racial diversity.  If there are infrastructure and other investments to support this area as a town center, gentrification is an issue that needs to be addressed. Comment: “When I was raising my kids in SW in a low-income project, I noticed that all of [the low-income housing was] at the bottom of the hill. I’ve been working with a lot of Somali communities up off ofBarbur Boulevardthat would love to see multi-generational housing built up there so that they could live together. And transit.”
  • Streams. Stream headwaters protection is important in this area.


  • Socioeconomic impacts. Planners are considering demographic and socioeconomic layers with respect to infrastructure investments and prioritization in certain areas, including access to jobs and nature.
  • Redistribution of poverty.  Redistribute lower income housing throughout the City.
  •  Emphasize design standards and resource enhancement improvements.
  • Eco-districts. Consider eco-districts where efforts focus on micro-level designs to address local stormwater issues (eg. Lents,Lloyd District).
  • Refinement projects to update overlay zones; strengthen Comp Plan language to reflect this principle.
  • Effective use of investments.  if we’re going to focus where investments will pay off then it should be on areas like this that are already disturbed, and where there are opportunities to make a better place.
  • Conservation easements and TDR’s (transfer of development rights) – explore how this tool could help address stormwater and other watershed issues, while achieving desired development potential. 
  • A voluntary option - example of Damascus pilot project to protect headwaters to the Clackamas using tax credit incentives.  Look at geography and ownership patterns to identify areas where transfers are possible, incentives could be used.

For further consideration:

  • How to direct infrastructure investments to improve capacity where development is appropriate and meets equity priorities.
  • Explore development / impervious area standards for reducing stormwater runoff.
  • How to balance development with protecting headwater streams.
  • Place strict design standards on areas with natural hazard constraints and invest in resource enhancement improvements.

East PortlandNote: For policy background see 2007 East Portland Review, East Portland Action Plan.

  • Overview (Chris Scarzello).East Portland is experiencing a downward cycle of poverty. “High need population” includes many families with young children.  Infrastructure poor: lacking good transit, street connectivity, improved streets.  Other major issues include lack of family-wage jobs, lack of commercial zoning in many areas, stormwater and natural resources constraints. Increased crime has come with more density and concentrations of poverty.
  •  Infrastructure. There are a number of areas with existing stormwater constraints that are not adequately represented on maps of areas along Powell Butte and south of Johnson Creek .
  • Constrained rights of way - insufficient sidewalks, bicycle paths – create barriers.  Also when there is limited right-of-way, stormwater must be conveyed underground by pipes – a more expensive way.
  • City plans to construct bio-swales along 122nd, a creative solution for stormwater management, and to widen rights of way in some areas to accommodate pedestrians. PBOT and BES are working together on this. Important to address some flexibility in standards in order to include ped and bike facilities.

Tree Canopy: Springwater / Powell Boulevard (see above link)

Overview (Roberta Jortner): This area is an example of where existing substantial tree groves that provide important watershed benefits and neighborhood identity are at risk of development. The is considerable development potential, with higher density zoning – an infill area.

  • While the new tree codes (when fully funded/implemented) would encourage preservation, development would result in loss or reduction in trees, groves, and overall tree canopy. 
  • Some options to consider: (1) Amend Comp Plan map to reduce density or modify minimum density requirements; (2) Allow zero front property line setback , (3) Prohibit flag lots, (4) Encourage courtyards and other multi-family housing design options, (5) Tree easements, (6) Encourage willing-seller acquisition / TDRs (Staff will put this on the list).
  • See  “Out of the Mud” Portland Bureau of Transportation program allows an LID to designate the ability to put in a narrower street.
  • Is R2.5 zoning appropriate in this area?  If yes, are there alternative design frameworks to avoid loss of trees?
  • Explore: Make the street right of ways smaller, make the lots wider.  Check with PBOT. Would this allow for tree preservation?
  • Comment:  The Planning process should prioritize equity issues over tree preservation when considering redevelopment options in East Portland, noting that new trees can be planted.  Staff responded that tree canopy is also a key equity issue that was raised by the public during the Citywide Tree Project and the Portland Plan.   There are also stormwater management considerations.
  • Comment: infrastructure equity includes sidewalks, sewers, water, stormwater—tree canopy is integral to dealing with stormwater issues here.

“What We Heard” Memo from the WH/E PEG

Summary of WHE PEG discussion items and policy considerations on the Draft Comp Plan policies.

  • Staff request comments on the draft Memo within two weeks.
  • In addition, there will be a summary of public comments collected through workshops, surveys, written comment.

Next WHE PEG meeting is Wednesday June 26, 2013, 3p-6p, 1900 SW 4th Ave, 7th Floor.

  •  The meeting will begin at 3pm to include an hour with the Networks PEG, followed by the regular 4-6pm WHEPEG meeting.  The mapping exercise will continue with overviews and examples from north and northeast Portland.  Staff requests PEG members to draft questions for the upcoming meeting with the Networks PEG. Please send any relevant questions to Sallie Edmunds.

For more information, please contact Sallie Edmunds, Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, 503-823-6950 or, or Dena Marshall, 503-740-7123 or