‘East Portland Action Plan’ reports progress

Since January, folks from all walks of life have been giving their input on how the quality of life in outer East Portland can be improved. Has it been worthwhile? See what some committee members are saying …

Nick Sauvie, executive director of ROSE Community Development Corporation, and Mike Van Der Veen, associate pastor of Parklane Community Church, talk over the progress made by the East Portland Action Plan Committee.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
To find how the East Portland Action Plan committee was coming along – after meeting for three months – we checked in at their open house, held earlier this month at the East Portland Community Center.

“At this point in the development of the Action Plan,” said committee member Mike Van Der Veen, associate pastor of Parklane Community Church in the Centennial neighborhood, “we have selected some near-term actions. We’re formulating how to implement those actions. And, we’re discussing and brainstorming mid-and long-range actions that can address livability issues in Northeast Portland.”

Asked why he was interested in participating, Van Der Veen replied, “I’m very much interested in community-building actions. East Portland is made up of ethnic, religious, socioeconomic, and geographic communities – like a quilt that is poorly sewn together. We have beautifully sewn squares, but they’re not well connected together. I think community building can help to stitch those together.”

Neighbors look at concepts the East Portland Action Plan committee has developed, and write comments for the committee’s review.

Van Der Veen noted that though many areas were annexed into the city, many long-term residents still don’t feel connected with city. “They still feel aggravation over how annexation happened. Short-term residents don’t really know any of this. We’re in an area of town feels they have the least amount of [government] representation.”

About the process, Van Der Veen said he thinks it’s being run well. “The Portland Planning Bureau is doing a good job. They provide a springboard of research and information regarding land use issues and other issues that are driving a lot of the questions – and are learning about issues about which they haven’t been asked.”

Robert liberty, District 6 Metro Counselor, and Jon Turino, Executive Director of the Alliance of Portland Neighborhood Business Associations, share their respective views of the committee’s progress.

Views from Metro and business representatives
“I’m here signaling my interest in this process,” Robert liberty, District 6 Metro Counselor, told us. “I want to make sure that there are resources coming in on a regional level, not just a city level – making sure outer East Portland can flourish. That’s a big job.”

One of the reasons Liberty is on the committee, he said, is how this region affects all of Portland. “It’s the location where two freeways cross, where two light rail lines cross, and it has a lot of advantages. But the last couple years it’s gotten more of the burdens of growth and fewer the benefits of growth.  That concerns me.  It’s very important that this part of this region succeed.”

As an example, Liberty pointed out that the Urban Growth Boundary was expanded about 10 years ago to include about 800 acres in North Bethany. “It’s smaller than the Gateway regional center. But to build the infrastructure will cost $.25 billion – $300,000 per acre. There is no plan to pay for the infrastructure and transportation improvements.  What does a quarter of a billion dollars deliver across East Portland? My point is, there’s a lot of indications that outer East Portland is a great place to invest some money.”

Speaking for himself as a committee member, Jon Turino, APNBA Executive Director, and told us he thought the Planning Bureau has done a “superb job” of bringing the community together.

“My only concern is whether there will be money to do anything with the plans that we’ve developed to this process. The Action Plan portends good things for outer east Portland businesses.”

East Portland liaison, Barry Manning, with the City of Portland Bureau of Planning talks about highlights of the Action Plan committees findings so far.

Midpoint progress report
At the open house, Barry Manning, East Portland liaison for the Bureau of Planning of the City of Portland, told us, “We’re about midway through the process.  We’ve been brainstorming actions on a broad array of topic areas.  Today we’re asking the public to weigh in and give us some sense of their priorities. We’d like to know what’s important to them, and what’s not.”

Manning said he thought the program was going well. “One of the things I’ve learned is that, although there are a lot of actions taking place in city and county bureaus, word about it often doesn’t get out well. And, we’re also getting good ideas from the public, about things we might look at that hadn’t occurred to us.”

East Portland Action Plan categories of actions now include:

  • Parks, trails and open spaces;
  • Natural areas and sustainability;
  • Education;
  • Transportation;
  • Utilities and infrastructure;
  • Housing;
  • Public safety;
  • A safety net and housing services;
  • Community building strategies for action ideas and livability;
  • Equity; and,
  • Commercial areas and economic development.

“We are asking for continued citizen involvement,” Manning concluded. “They can follow the progress of the committee at our online web site.”

For more information regarding the East Portland Action Plan, CLICK HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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