‘Action Plan’ continues to address community-identified issues in outer East Portland

Read on, and learn what this unique program is doing to fulfill its mission to create a more livable East Portland …

The East Portland Action Plan general meetings each begin with dinner, for participants and guests.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While looking for a way to address problems specific to outer East Portland, then-Mayor Tom Potter, then-State Representative Jeff Merkley, and then-Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler called for a gathering of representatives from neighborhoods, businesses, government services, and the faith community back in December of 2007.

While this trio of local civic leaders have gone on to other things, but the effort has continued – and the “East Portland Action Plan” (EPAP) emerged in February of 2009, after a lengthy series of meetings.

To read our prior article – with numerous links to others of our stories – which details how EPAP came about, CLICK HERE.

Participants gather in the David Douglas School District for the December meeting.

EPAP Co-Chair Katie Larsell brings the meeting to order, and reviews the “Four Principals Principles for Improved Livability”.

At the final meeting of the EPAP Co-Chair, Katie Larsell, started off by recapped “Four Principles for Improved Livability”. These include:

  1. Mitigate Negative Trends – This is accomplished, first, by stabilizing negative trends that affect the area’s quality of life, in both real and perceived ways. Beyond the immediate goal of stabilizing East Portland, the Action Plan also identifies strategies and actions to improve the quality of life, or livability.
  2. Attain and Sustain Equity – This addresses the “universal concern” whether or not East Portland is receiving a “fair share” of resources and attention by policy makers. Beyond this, the EPAP seeks to sustain the effort, because type and complexity of issues facing East Portland will not be solved with “quick fixes or one-time efforts”.
  3. Build on Community Assets and Connections – These assets have been identified and include a wide array of housing, a range of employment opportunities, diverse school choices, and distinct community pride. In particular, the area has a special focus on families and cultural diversity that other areas are trying to create. The Action Plan seeks to tap into these assets and promote them to the region.
  4. Capitalize on East Portland’s Place in the Region – This starts with recognizing that the area is served by two light rail lines, two freeways, and a network of streets and transit routes – all of which provide exceptional connectivity in the Portland metropolitan region. The Gateway Regional Center, the Lents Town Center, and other places, present opportunities to accommodate new jobs, retail, services, and housing. It also places a high value on protecting and enhancing parks, open space, and significant natural areas.

Powellhurst Gilbert Neighborhood’s Tom Barnes, representing the East Portland Graffiti Clean-up, and Mark White, neighborhood association president (and candidate for Portland City Council), listen as ROSE Community Development Executive Director Nick Sauvie makes a point.

Participating David Douglas High student Julie Braet listens, while MAXaction Committee Chair Mike Vander Veen points out a fact.

When asked about the plan, EPAP Advocate Lore Wintergreen is quick to point out that all of the work is done, and progress is being monitored by community members who have arranged themselves into committees and subcommittees, based on individual and collective interests. These include Bike, Civic Engagement, Communications, Grants Review, and Housing committees.

This year, the EPAP developed “Action Plan priority guidance” for the City of Portland:

  • Set the goal that East Portland reach parity with other parts of the city in public facilities and capital spending, and encourage City Bureaus to prioritize projects in East Portland.
  • Adopt the “East Portland in Motion” strategy.
  • Institutionalize geographic mapping of City spending.
  • Integrate the East Portland Action Plan into the Comprehensive Plan, including zoning and design standard recommendations developed in the “122nd Zoning Project”, with applications throughout East Portland.
  • Fund East Portland Action Plan implementation: Advocate positions, projects, and operations.
  • Establish policy and practice that balances the regional affordable housing supply and promotes fair-share across Portland.
  • Fund the “Outer Powell Conceptual Design Plan”.
  • Enhance safety in East Portland through active commitment to gang-prevention partnerships, with emphasis in the Centennial/Rosewood area.
  • Take the next steps to implement the “Gateway Education Plan”.
  • Establish policies and practices to address timing, permit notification, and funding of services, when development occurs: Include schools, parks, streets, etc.
  • Provide development regulation information in multiple languages; assist speakers of all languages to understand the process.
  • Establish incentives to upgrade materials and design quality used in multi-dwelling development.
  • Maintain funding for the East Portland “Enhanced Housing Inspection” position.
  • Implement existing Park master plans for Parklane, Beach, and Clatsop Butte.
  • Increase energy assistance for low-income residents.
  • Increase opportunities for minority home ownership.
  • Initiate pilot projects for development of high-quality housing, compatible with existing development and natural features – and a housing rehabilitation program to improve the safety and appearance of existing housing stock.
  • Formulate equity and criteria that establishes “Children’s Lev”  fund distribution based upon Free & Reduced Lunch and racial/ethnic disparity demographics.
  • Eradicate invasive plants and species in public and natural areas.
  • Increase street-tree plantings.
  • Engage ethnic communities in neighborhood activities; provide translation/language services to remove barriers and to improve messaging and invitations.
  • Develop a prioritized list for improvements to existing transit stops.

Guests are invited to attend the next EPAP meeting, scheduled for January 25.

If you’re interested in learning more about the EPAP, or even in joining with them, contact Wintergreen at (503) 823-4035; e-mail her at lore.wintergreen@portlandoregon.gov – or, to see their official website, CLICK HERE.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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