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Summary Meeting Notes: June 20, Neighborhood Centers PEG meeting

Meeting #13 Summary Notes

Neighborhood Centers Policy Expert Group

Meeting Date: June 20, 2013
Time: 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

PEG Attendees: Jason Barnstead-Long, Lisa Bates, Andre Baugh, Kristin Cooper, Ivy Dunlap, Allen Field, Gabe Genauer, Ryan Givens, Bob Granger, Brett Horner, Denver Igarta, Rick Michelson, Jennifer Moore, Mark Raggett, Nick Sauvie, Alison Stoll.

Key Points and Outcomes

  • More clarity needs to be provided to the public on the implications of Town Center and Neighborhood Center designation to support community discussion of the mapping.  Do the differing levels of growth/population of these two types of centers have a bearing on City priorities and levels of public improvements and amenities?  Greater clarity on expectations for centers will also allow deficiencies to be identified and addressed.
  • Implementation priorities for centers need to be based on their needs.  For example, the focus for inner neighborhood centers should be on affordable housing and minimizing displacement, while there should be a greater focus inEast Portlandcenters on addressing infrastructure deficiencies and incentivizing development.
  • Need to be strategic with center improvements, focusing on larger centers with major deficiencies.  Suggestions for centers and corridors that merit early attention included:  Gateway, Lents, the Jade District, 122nd & Division, and the Barbur Corridor.
  • Besides identifying centers, consider mapping smaller commercial nodes that can serve an important role in providing local access to services. 

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 then reviewed the PEG’s upcoming meetings including:

1.  Cross-PEG meeting with the Networks PEG on June 26th from 4 to 5pm in Room 2500A.  The purpose of the meeting is to discuss issues of mutual interest.  The following issues were discussed:

  • Parking policies found in Chapter 7 (policy 7.22)
  • Centers as hubs of active transportation networks
  • TSP Pedestrian District designation for centers
  • “Safe Routes to Centers”/greenways
  • Corridors policies

2. Cross-PEG meeting with the Residential Development & Compatibility PEG to be scheduled for early August.  Potential topics include the transitions between centers and existing neighborhoods, how far the edges of centers push into those residential areas and building design.  Staff will follow up via email with possible dates and times.

3. Request to move the July Centers PEG meeting to Wednesday, July 24 from 3 to 5pm in Room 2500A.  PEG members indicated that the move was acceptable.

Comprehensive Plan Update Part 2 Overview (8:15 a.m.)

Presenters: Michelle Kunec-North, BPS
Summary: Michelle Kunec-North provided an overview of Part 2 of the Comprehensive Plan Update. Part 1 consisted of primarily of Comprehensive Plan narrative and policies.  Part 2 explores spatial issues, opportunities and proposals which will result in maps and a list of capital projects and investments.  Public workshops to look at spatial relationships across the city are scheduled for the Fall. Specific elements of Part 2 will include the refined Urban Design Framework, Comprehensive Plan land use map, and the Citywide Systems Plan (CSP) and project list. The CSP looks at the ability of existing water, sewer, stormwater and transportation infrastructure to meet future residential and employment needs. The CSP also updates the existing public facilities plan. The Transportation Systems Plan will be a later focus of the Part 2 work

Part 2 looks at how policies translate into investments, including the list of capital improvements to address infrastructure deficiencies and equity issues over the next five years.  A fiscally constrained list is based on revenue and need and includes near-term investments, priorities and phasing and how the projects will be paid for.  In addition to new capital investments, Part 2 looks at ways to reduce demand.  PEG member comments included:

  • PEG members agreed that it would be helpful to study a specific area to learn about what infrastructure and amenities exist and what investments and partnerships are needed.  This also would help the group to view area projects through various lenses (e.g. equity).  
  • A matrix of centers and needed improvements would help to compare and determine priorities.  A capital improvement plan graph with the percentage of investment by neighborhood also would be informative.  Michele mentioned that the city budget office reports on city investments at the neighborhood coalition level.
  • One PEG member suggested that, rather than trying to locate new parks within ½ mile of residences, BPS should be looking at opportunities to shift development to areas where parks already exist or are planned. 

Meeting Handouts and Presentations

Urban Design Framework Discussion (8:55 a.m.)

Presenters: Bill Cunningham, BPS
Summary: Bill provided some background on development of the Urban Design Framework concept and diagram, focusing on centers and corridors. The firstPortland“nodes and noodles” concept came from work on the 1980 Comprehensive Plan, before East Portland became part of Portland.  Metro’s 2040 Growth Concept took the concept further in identifying areas of focused growth across the region. It includes regional and town centers and more than 157 miles of corridors. Today’s centers concept looks at being more strategic about focusing housing growth in places close to concentrations of commercial and community services, and in cultivating these locations as hubs for active transportation to support their roles as hubs of activity and people. The draft center types include:

  • Central City;
  • Regional Centers (Gateway);
  • Town Centers - anchor a broad area of the city (such asSt. Johns’ role in the North Portland peninsula andHollywoodin northeast), typically with connections to high capacity regional transit and with a significant employment component;
  • Neighborhood Centers – smaller centers that serve adjacent neighborhoods with a range of commercial and community services (employment is mostly related to these services).

These centers are often nodes of focused activity along Civic or Neighborhood Corridors (such asHollywood, Roseway, and Parkrose along Sandy Boulevard). 

PEG members organized into three groups discussed the following questions:

  1. Our strategy is to focus growth in and around centers and in key nodes along corridors, where residents can be close to concentrations of services and amenities.  Does this centers and corridors strategy as it is shown on the map make sense, and are we identifying the appropriate locations?
  2. Are we achieving the right balance between being strategic with our focus while striving toward an equitable distribution of centers across the city?
  3. Are there particular centers or corridors where we should consider focusing our implementation efforts in the near term?

Key Themes

Following the group discussions, the full PEG shared key themes and issues:

  • The strategy makes sense, but there is a need to distinguish nodes along corridors since corridors cannot support a consistent level of development/activity along their entire length.Need clarification on what the implications are for Town Center designation versus Neighborhood Center.  Are there implications for public investments and priorities?
  • What does the neighborhood center designation mean in terms of size and scale?There are too many neighborhood centers shown.  Need greater prioritization and need to link investments to achieving desired densities.
  • Use center designations strategically.  Consider designating neighborhood centers only where improvement is needed (do not need to designate places as centers that are already thriving).
  • In inner neighborhood centers, the City should not take an active role in incentivizing development (the market is taking care of this on its own).  The focus in inner centers should be on affordable housing and minimizing displacement.
  • City investments should be focused onEast Portlandto address deficiencies and incentivize development.
  • Three focus areas should be Gateway, Barbur, and Lents.
  • Other suggestions for places that should be an initial focus for center improvements were the Jade District and 122nd & Division
  • Need to prioritize connecting people to jobs, such as to those in the Columbia Corridor, which are close to residents in Northeast andEast Portlandbut lack transit and other active transportation connections.
  • Some of the Town Centers (such as Belmont/Hawthorne/Division and the Albina area) that include multiple main streets, each with their own distinctive character that should continue.

Group Discussion Notes

The following is a compilation of discussion notes taken by each of the three groups.  These notes expand on the themes listed above.

General Comments

  • Need to rethink the circle graphics.  The circles are too large.  Use a smaller circle with another band around it.  Ellipses may be better to signify centers that are more linear.
  • Circles do not capture the differing character of places that are more of a broad urban district, likeHollywood, versus places that are composed of linear main streets, like Belmont-Hawthorne-Division.
  • Need a clearer definition of what a center is.  Does designation mean zoning will be all mixed use? 
  • Need a clearer expectation of what components centers should have, allowing deficiencies to be identified and prioritized.
  • All centers should have good street connectivity.
  • What are the implications of being designated a neighborhood center?  Does it mean 4 story buildings with housing?
  • Link levels of infrastructure to density.
  • Issues vary by center.  Some have lots of housing but deficient services, while others have lots of services but limited housing options. 
  • Need to achieve density to get services and improvements.
  • Need to consider a range of tools for centers, such as zone changes and waiving SDCs where development is needed.
  • Zoning does not acknowledge incremental development.  Need to be sensitive to what can happen near term versus long term.


  • The Williams/Fremont center should be aTownCenter.  Its multiple main streets (MLK, Williams,Mississippi) make it an urban district, as with the Northwest District and Belmont/Hawthorne Division.
  • The Williams/Fremont center circle needs to be bigger to reflect that it is a large urban district with a number of distinct subareas. 
  • Belmont, Hawthorne, and Division are three separate Neighborhood Centers.  Each of these main streets has its own distinct character. 
  • The Cully, NE 42nd, and Roseway centers need to be fostered as distinct places, but also need to be considered in relationship to the nearbyHollywoodTownCenter.
  • Focus on employment in Cully and improving transit and other transportation connections to the Airport and other Columbia Corridor jobs.
  • Need to make more efficient use of Columbia Corridor industrial lands, providing more jobs close toNortheast Portlandresidents.
  • Is Gateway really aRegionalCenter?  Maybe it is just aTownCenter.
  • Gateway has assets such as light rail access, lots of space for development. 
  • Need to be more nodal with compact development on long corridors like 82nd Avenue.  It is not realistic to expect compact urban development all along 82nd
  • The City has been focusing on Lents, but the freeway ramps make it difficult for it to function as a center.  More organic centers have been emerging at 82nd & Division and at 122nd & Division.  Why is this happening?  Should Lents and Gateway continue to be the focus?
  • There needs to be a focus in Gateway on reducing barriers to development.
  • The Rosewood/Glenfair andParkrosecenter areas have high densities but low services.
  • It is important to foster smaller commercial nodes to fill in service gaps.  Two important commercial nodes in East Portland are 122nd & Sandy and 122nd & Halsey.
  • Consider additional Neighborhood Centers at 122nd & Foster and in Argay.
  • There are large swaths of the city without a center, even though density is available.  Every neighborhood should have a neighborhood center.
  • Additional neighborhood centers should include:  SE 72nd & Harold, SE Holgate & Foster, SE 122nd & Foster, SE 26th & Clinton, SE Gladstone & 39th, SE 72nd & Flavel, NE 60th & Glisan.


Meeting Handouts and Presentations


Next Steps (9:55 a.m.)

The next Neighborhood Centers PEG meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 24 from 3 to 5pm.  Topics include the Comprehensive Plan Map and Citywide Systems Plan.

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