‘Portland Plan’ participation pitched to outer East Portland residents

What is this “new” plan – and why should you care? Read this, and you may find yourself marking down a Portland Plan Workshop on your calendar …

The Vice-Chair of Russell Neighborhood Association, Bonny McKnight, and Portland Planning Bureau East Portland District Liaison Chris Scarzello, listen to the concerns of neighbors regarding the Portland Plan.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Many NE outer Portland neighbors got their first introduction to The Portland Plan process while attending the Russell Neighborhood Association meeting, at Western States Chiropractic College’s Hampton Hall on October 15.

Bonny McKnight, Vice-Chair of the Russell Neighborhood Association, introduced Chris Scarzello, the East Portland District Liaison from the Portland Planning Bureau, to the 14 attendees.

“Overall,” Scarzello began, “my role is to advocate for those who live and own property in outer East Portland. But, we’ve been asked to provide outreach services for the Portland Plan. District Liaisons have not been immersed in the Portland Plan to date. So, we are not the experts, but I’m here to take questions, and if I don’t know the answers, I’ll find out and get back to you.”

Chris Scarzello, the East Portland District Liaison for the City, introduces the Portland Plan process.

Portland Plan in a nutshell
According to the information Scarzello provided,

The Portland Plan will be our City’s strategic plan for the next 25 years, ensuring that Portland is a thriving and sustainable city and our people are prosperous, healthy and educated.

The public is invited to these workshops to work together with the City and their neighbors to discuss challenges, define priorities and guide investments for the future. All Portlanders are welcome, and we look forward to your input. (Outer East Portland workshop dates and locations are listed at the end of the article.)

“It starts with the ‘Comprehensive Plan’,” Scarzello informed the group. “It generates the need for what we’ve called the Portland Plan. It lays out how the City will develop. The State of Oregon has required we create one; Portland didn’t adopt a Comprehensive Plan until 1981. It assures that all property owners will be treated equally; and moreover, that all will be able to have a role in developing and following the plan. And, the plan has to change with the changing needs of the community.”

The State mandates a review of a city’s Comprehensive Plan, Scarzello added, so that it’s updated every 20 years. “We are a little behind updating our Portland Plan.”

Laying out ‘the way we live’
The plan lays out zoning regulations, Scarzello said, but also deals with issues of transportation, air and water quality, and stormwater disposal. “It lays out how we live and function in the city. From the Comprehensive Plan, we develop rules. Whether the rules change a lot or a little depends on the adopted Plan.”

“Outer East Portland was annexed into the City of Portland after the Comprehensive Plan was adopted,” McKnight pointed out.

Scarzello agreed, saying that the City is larger and more populous than it was in 1980.

“The Portland Plan is more conceptual than a strategic plan. It looks at our aspirations for the next 20 years. It also includes information about demographics, and our business sector.”

Bonny McKnight says the Portland Plan must accommodate differences found in neighborhoods across the city.

Vice chair urges participation
“Participating in the Portland Plan process is far more important in this than in any other single program,” commented McKnight. “There are significant differences between this (Russell) neighborhood and Roseway, or a neighborhood in southwest Portland. We must make sure it fits with who and what we are in outer East Portland.”

McKnight asked, “How can we, in neighborhoods, make sure decisions coming from this process – and the resulting Plan – include protections and infill methods that don’t cause problems for existing residents, and continue to support our current livability?”

Scarzello replied, “That’s a very good question. The simple answer is to become involved in the Portland Plan.  Speak up.  You don’t have to go to meetings; you can view it online and comment that way, for example.”

Most of the “community plans” set forth for the annexed outer East Portland neighborhoods haven’t been reviewed,” McKnight noted. “And, the City hasn’t been supporting concepts that don’t fit into their one-size-fits-all programs.”

As the discussion turned to specific neighborhood concerns, McKnight urged citizen participation, saying, “We need to be involved in the Plan – and have more input than just voting, every four years, when [Portland City] Commissioners are running for office.”

City Planner Chris Scarzello urges all citizens to become involved in the updating of the Portland Plan.

Step up and be heard
To become involved, a good start is to attend a meeting at which elements of the Portland Plan will be discussed.

November 19

  • This outer East Portland “Portland Plan Workshop” will run from 6:30 until 9:00 pm at the David Douglas High School Cafeteria (North), 1001 SE 135th Avenue, Portland, OR 97233.

December 5

  • An inner SE Portland “Portland Plan Workshop” will run from 10:00 am until 12:30 pm at the Mt. Scott Community Center Auditorium, 5530 SE 72nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97255.

For more information about the Portland Plan and the workshops, please contact Marty Stockton by email at Marty.Stockton@ci.portland.or.us, or call (503) 823-2041.

Or, for more information online, CLICK HERE to visit the City’s official information website.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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