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Initial Thoughts on the Portland Plan

November 6, 2011

The Portland Plan “proposed draft” has been on the streets for a few weeks now, and I’ve had the chance to read it twice.

Below are some comments that I have provided to staff, but I’m really interested in what you think. We have three hearings of the Planning and Sustainability Commission focusing on the plan, starting Tuesday. Come out and share your thoughts at one of the hearings:

Portland Plan Hearings (public comments welcome)

Tuesday, November 8
5:30 – 9 p.m.
Jefferson High School

Tuesday, November 15
5:30 – 9 p.m.
Parkrose High School

Tuesday, November 29
5:30 – 9 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Ave., Suite 2500A

Work Session and Recommendation

Tuesday,  December 13
12:30 p.m.
1900 SW 4th Ave., Suite 2500A

To submit written comments by email

Send comments to psc@portlandoregon.gov with the subject line “Portland Plan testimony.”

To submit written comments by mail

Send a letter with your comments to the Planning and Sustainability Commission, 1900 SW 4th Ave., Portland, OR 97201-5380, Attn: Portland Plan testimony.

For more information or if you have questions, please call 503-823-1303.

Here’s what I shared with staff:

Economic Prosperity and Affordability Objectives, p. 35

Under objective #2, Urban Innovation, we might consider calling out creating a transportation system that is affordable both for the users (offering lower cost travel options) and for the City (by being less expensive to maintain). Similarly, we can pursue affordability through reduced need for energy through more efficient buildings and infrastructure.

Under objective #5, Neighborhood business vitality, we have called out transit access as a key enabler. We should equally call out pedestrian and bicycle access as success factors.

Urban Innovation Action Plan, p. 41

Related to the comment above I’d like to see an action item around affordable transportation related to Bicycle Master Plan implementation.

Healthy Connected City objectives, p. 61

This the first of a number of places in the plan where we use the phrase “Transit and Active Transportation”. I’d prefer if we used the language “Transit, Biking and Walking” for several reasons:

  • The former language could be perceived as prioritizing Transit over the other individual modes
  • Not everyone will understand what active transportation is
  • There is some debate about whether transit should be considered within active transportation because transit trips almost always involve some walking

Healthy Connected City Health Actions, p. 65

I think we miss an opportunity by not calling out actions related to active transportation here to make the connection between active transportation and health.

Neighborhood Hubs Actions, p. 69

Neighborhood schools are one of the most important and vital anchors for a neighborhood, but they aren’t mentioned in the actions?

Connections for People, Places, Water and Wildlife Actions, p. 71

The Intertwine is called out appropriately as an important resource for habitat, but its importance as a transportation system could use more emphasis (perhaps it should also be called out in a more transportation-related action area?).

p. 73

“Pettigrove” Street is misspelled (should be Pettygrove). Francis would be upset 🙂

Connections Actions, p. 75

The Civic corridors actions do not call out freight. In fact, freight is found nowhere in the Healthy Connected City section (although it is well represented in the Economic Prosperity and Affordability section). Making transit, cycling, pedestrian access and freight work in concert in both Civic Corridors and Neighborhood Hubs is going to be critical to the success of the plan and we should specifically call out the challenge.

Measures, #5 Growing Business, p. 93

I’m struggling a bit with using our national rank order on exports as a metric. Would something a little more quantitative like the percentage of our regional production being exported be a more consistent and understandable indicator?

Measures, #6, Creating jobs, p. 95

I’m not sure if this is aggressive or aspirational (although it’s certainly vitally important). Could we find a more concrete way to connect the measure to the economic development plan, perhaps by having goals for specific sectors or plan components (e.g., neighborhood economic development versus clusters)?

Local Actions, Central City, p. B-3

It might be useful to include bike share in the “next generation built environment”.

Local Actions, Roseway/Cully, p. B-7

Should the development of Thomas Cully Park be called out here?

Local Measures, Cost-burdened Households, p. C-9

Shouldn’t transportation be called out in the “cost burden” measure? The objective statements earlier in the plan call out the combined costs and we’ll get better policy decisions by looking at both issues together rather than housing alone.

Local Measures, Walkability and Accessibility, p. C-10

I’m having trouble understanding the low score for Northwest for walking and accessibility. I realize that the area mapped includes some hillier sections, but it also includes a designated pedestrian district. Are we sure the score is accurate?

Local Measures, Transit and Active Transportation, p. C-12

I wonder if we need to scale this measure a little differently so it better informs investment choices? Having all but one sector in the same category is not telling us much.

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