In Attendance: Beverly Bookin, Mike Coleman, Elizabeth Decker, Tamara DeRidder, Justin Fallon,Dollard, David Ellis, Rebecca Ocken. Dave Johnson, Sharon Maxwell, Jill Punches, Marty Stiven, Mike Warwick,Tom Armstrong, Steve Kountz, Mark Raggett, Douglas Hardy, Rodney Jennings, Rachel Hoy, John Cole
1. Greeting, Project Background and Goals
The healthcare and higher education employment sectors have been experiencing solid growth over the last business cycle, both nationally and inPortland. Under State land use laws (Goal 9) the City is obligated to provide enough development capacity to meet the expected growth in campus institutional jobs. The City’s adopted Economic Opportunities Analysis estimates that the City’s colleges and hospitals will be able to accommodate 81% of the projected development need over the next 25 years. At the same time both institutions and community representatives have expressed frustration around the existing standards and review process. The Comprehensive Plan Update Draft Policies provide some context for accomplishing the desired support for employment opportunities while protecting the surrounding neighborhoods from off-site impacts.
The Campus Institution Zoning Update (CIZUP) advisory group will assist staff in considering development code changes and recommendations for a public infrastructure invest program that implement these policies.
3. Round Table Discussion
The following is a synopsis of the comments made at the first advisory group meeting. Similar concepts have been combined for clarity. While there appeared to be some consensus surrounding certain issues, the comments below represent individual participant’s opinions and experiences.
Contrasting opinions regarding the existing Conditional Use Master Plan (CUMP) and Impact Mitigation Plan (IMP) processes were expressed.
In support of both the CUMP and IMP; they are overseen by the Hearings Officer, who is recognized as an independent, impartial authority who considers applications and renders decisions based on evidence submitted in a public process and on the applicable the law.
Concerns expressed regarding the current review process included: the expense involved in preparing and submitting an adequate application; the institution/neighborhood conflict such reviews generate; the recurring and complex nature of the reviews makes it difficult for both the institutions and the neighborhood associations to understand the rules. In the end there is no permanence in the decision and legally the entire institutional operations are up for review every 10 years.
Many college and hospital campuses are located in areas that have a historic and current impact on Portland’s communities of color. Like a lot of projects that the City engages in, it is important that representatives of these communities are aware of such undertakings and have an opportunity to participate.
Institutional land holdings often extend beyond the boundaries of the formally recognized master plan boundary. Although uses on these satellite facilities comply with the underlying zoning, they act as extensions of the campus, generate a particular traffic impact and should be included in good neighbor agreements.
The Institutional Residence (IR) zone is applied to a number of campus institutions. This zone and the accompanying Impact Mitigation Plan (IMP) review with an emphasis on transportation impacts were implemented as a means of improving the conditional use master plan process. The IR zone has had limited success and some institutions who decided to use this option question whether they would make such a decision again. Some of dissatisfaction with the Impact Mitigation Plan process is its requirement for a type II land use review for (most) subsequent development on the campus.
Development thresholds that trigger a Type II or Type III review are set to low to allow for the flexibility under both the CUMP and IMP processes.
Both conditional use master plans and impact master plans make it difficult for institutions to respond to constantly changing demands. These demands may be the result of changes in the industry, unexpected funding opportunities or even requests from neighborhood representatives. Institutions must be nimble to successfully take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves.
Institutions seek a sense of certainty that is not at the discretion of hearings officer or recurring review process.
Institutions are quite different from each other, particularly the differences between hospitals and colleges. It is likely that more than a single set of regulatory standards will be necessary to meet the needs of the different institutions and their surrounding neighborhoods.
In this regard the current process succeeds. It may be burdensome but issues are big and thorough analysis needed. Improvements might include a longer vesting period, limiting consideration to new development and those buildings and activities that are proposed to change.
The actual design of individual buildings, particularly those located towards the interior of a campus are of lesser concern to neighbors than are the related parking, traffic and other spillover impacts such as lighting and noise. More flexibility in the core is an achievable and desired objective.
Buildings at the periphery of a campus are of interest to the surrounding neighborhood. Blank walls and parking structures present a hostile edge. Opportunities exist for land use, building design, orientation and landscaping to contribute to an improved presence on the street.
Broader public outreach including better public notice would improve the review process. Some Neighborhood Associations are not reflective of the larger neighborhood sentiment. An activist neighborhood association can obstruct campus upgrades that are more broadly supported by the community while some neighborhood associations are viewed as captured by the institution.
Participants indicated that they would benefit from a better understanding of what our obligations and parameters are under state law.
Much has been said about the (negative) impacts of institutions on their surrounding neighborhoods but little is said regarding the positive impact such institutions bring such as open space, access to community facilities and programs not to mention jobs and services. The conditional use process does not recognize these contributions. Appeals turn into what is fundamentally a political process when a development standards based review would be more transparent.
4. Project Schedule, Future Meetings, Conduct of Business
The Advisory Group will meet approximately once every two months through the spring and summer in order to help develop and provide input on any proposed zoning map or zoning code changes. Subsequently, a staff recommendation together with any alternative positions expressed by the advisory group will be presented to the Planning and Sustainability Commission and finally to the City Council at the end of 2014 for their consideration and adoption.
Meeting packets will be sent out in advance of each meeting. A project website www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/institutions will also be maintained throughout the project which will contain the background and advisory group meeting materials.
John Cole is available to meet with advisory group members individually in between meetings to answer any questions you may have or to take input between meetings.
Staff will prepare additional materials on the existing campus institutions, issues surrounding their current development approvals and the alternative regulatory structures currently available to hospitals and colleges in the City of Portlandfor our next meeting on February 13th. Staff anticipates that the PAG will complete the discussion of Existing Conditions, Need and Opportunities at this meeting and begin to explore alternative regulatory strategies.