East Portland Action Plan to be considered by City Council – meeting in outer East Portland

Find out why everyone is talking about the special meeting to be held at Midland Library on December 17 – and why the East Portland Action Plan is unique, in and of itself …

The Bureau of Planning’s Barry Manning, East Portland District Planner, reviews the results and conclusions of the East Portland Action Plan Committee at this late-August Open House.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A big step toward outer East Portland’s gaining parity with other areas of the city may occur when the Portland City Council meets on Wednesday evening, December 17, at Midland Library on SE 122nd Ave.

The East Portland Action Plan has been a year in the making; we’ve followed the progress of this unique process:

  • To read how it started, CLICK HERE.
  • To learn how it progressed mid-year, CLICK HERE.
  • And to read about the committee’s wrap-up meeting, CLICK HERE.

Citizens express aspirations
The purpose of the East Portland Action Plan process was to create a “working document”, said the Bureau of Planning’s East Portland District Planner, Barry Manning, when we asked him to reflect on the year-long project. “It’s designed to look strategically at near-term opportunities to improve livability, as well as long-term strategies to address issues in outer East Portland.”

Manning said he felt that this process enabled the citizens in the area to express their aspirations about what could and should be done in outer East Portland – instead of merely being asked to sign off on a government-generated report. “This is a partnership model we expect to see emerging, in which citizens actively participate in solving community problems, instead of just leaving it all up to the government.”

Outer East Portland folks attend a meeting highlighting the actions resulting from East Portland Action Plan process.

A unique process in four ways
Manning agreed, when we suggested that the East Portland Action Plan (EPAP) appeared to be a novel approach to community problem-solving.

  1. “It is a departure for Portland Planning Bureau,” Manning responded, “in that it’s not focused mainly on land use and development issues, and isn’t resulting in a regulatory implementation mechanism.” He clarified that this means the EPAP doesn’t create zone changes or new regulations, although the plan does identify the need for some changes in those areas.
  2. “It’s also unique in that the EPAP committee included a mix of community representatives as well as elected officials, bureau/agency representatives, and non-profits,” Manning continued. “This mix is somewhat broader than in  many planning processes.”
  3. A third factor he pointed out was that the process had a significant amount of attention, leadership, and backing from elected officials; namely, Portland Mayor Tom Potter, Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard, METRO Councilor Robert Liberty, then-Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley, and former Portland Commissioner Erik Sten.
  4. Except for the Cully-Concordia action plan, Manning added, “I am not aware of many other “action plan” type efforts undertaken in Portland recently. During the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Bureau of Planning and some non-profit organizations hosted similar, smaller efforts that were much more focused – although they did result in action agendas.”

Implementation Group sets action priorities
The first phase of the EPAP process concluded in late August, when the committee held a community meeting and open house to share its findings.

Some EPAP committee members – called the Implementation Group – continued meeting during the fall. In this second phase of the process, they identified and prioritized actions that they felt would best utilize the $500,000 budget allotted by the Portland City Council.

This smaller group identified a dozen feasible, ready-to-go actions to consider for the funding. In an October open house, community members weighed in on these priorities.

Manning asks citizens to review the East Portland Action Plan, then come to next week’s outer East Portland City Council meeting to show support.

Seven actions to receive funding

  • Providing “storefront improvement” matching grants for businesses on SE Division Street east of 122nd Avenue;
  • Hiring an “advocate” to implement East Portland projects and pursue grants;
  • Creating “safer routes to school” by improving pedestrian crossings at key locations on busy arterial streets;
  • Initiating planning for future improvements on SE Powell Boulevard;
  • Funding studies to create “Gateway Green,” a regional green space opportunity;
  • Initiating a Portland Plan pilot study to consider and improve land uses, access, and connections, and development design along SE 122nd Avenue between Division and Foster; and
  • Creating an EPAP grant fund to allow area organizations and groups to propose and initiate projects from the Action Plan.

December 17 will be the last evening Portland City Council meeting will Mayor Tom Potter will conduct before he leaves office on January 5.

City Council to consider adoption on December 17
Tom Potter will convene his last evening City Council meeting as Mayor at Midland Library at 805 SE 122nd Avenue on December 17, at 6:30 p.m., to consider adoption of the East Portland Action Plan.

Come and sign up to testify about the Action Plan, and share your ideas for improving East Portland! Multnomah County Midland Library is located at 805 SE 122nd Avenue. Before you go, check out the Action Plan at CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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