‘SE 122nd Avenue Pilot Study’ concludes

Here’s an update on a study that was designed to create a healthy, sustainable, and viable ‘20-minute neighborhood’ in a special area of outer SE Portland. Did they succeed? See for yourself …

Christina Scarzello with the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, says this study of outer SE Portland was called for by the East Portland Action Plan.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
What’s happened to the “122nd Avenue Pilot Study” that began in 2009? That’s what members and guests of the Midway Business Association learned at their February 8 meeting.

> To see our story about the 2010 public meeting detailing the projects progress, CLICK HERE.

Speaking to the 20 folks who attended the meeting, Christina Scarzello, City Planner/East District Liaison, City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, started off by defining the geographic area of the study.

This illustration depicts the study’s focus area.

“This study was a one-year project designed to consider elements of neighborhood planning along SE 122nd Avenue, from a little beyond SE Division Street to the north to SE Foster Road to the south,” Scarzello began. “It was an ‘action item’ defined in the East Portland Action Plan.”

According to printed information Scarzello passed out, “The East Portland Action Plan identified this area as a place to initiate a Portland Plan pilot project to test new concepts for land use and development, transportation and connectivity, and infill design, with an eye toward creating a more healthy and sustainable “20-minute neighborhood” – as envisioned by the Portland Plan, an update of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan that is now underway.”

“In addition to typical neighborhood planning concerns,” Scarzello said, “we looked at issues through a ‘heath lens’ – that is, considering health implication of decisions that are made, thanks to partnering with public health experts. The idea is to help promote wellness and health by the way we create the physical environment.”

This study wasn’t compiled by experts shut up in board rooms, she pointed out. “There’s been a lot of community involvement – including public meetings, and two neighborhood walking tours.”

Also, a Youth Planning Group from David Douglas High School conducted a survey, interviewing young people on the street and on bike paths and at transit stops. “Their results are incorporated in the feedback document.”

The study defines several key topic areas, Scarzello says.

Reviewing the content of the SE 122nd Avenue Study Report and Recommendations released in February, Scarzello said the study designers and participants identified five key topic areas:

  • Accessibility, Connections, Pedestrian Comfort and Safety;
  • Convenience and Availability of Services;
  • Employment Opportunities;
  • Residential Infill Development and Design; and,
  • Community Amenities and Livability.

In her brief presentation, Scarzello could only touch on a few of the many recommendations contained in the weighty, 44-page report.

> To download a PDF file of this report from the City’s website, CLICK HERE.

In general, the recommendations in this report are designed to make this area of outer SE Portland a “more complete and balanced community” in the future. The idea is that, as the area continues to grow and change, it will be able to retain features valued by community members while providing for incoming residents and businesses.

Much of City planning has to do with zoning ordinances, Scarzello explained. “Actually, this is a good time to be looking at zoning. If we find there is lower density here in the area, it has to go somewhere else in the City. The City has to maintain a 20-year supply of commercial and residential land. We can’t ‘make’ more land, so the City will have to add density. The bulk of that increased density, we believe, can be accommodated in the downtown City core.”

Elements from this study may affect the overarching Portland Plan, now in development, Scarzello says.

The study was slated to be presented to the Portland Planning Commission on February 22.

“Actually, it’s known as a ‘briefing’,” Scarzello said, “because there is nothing to ‘adopt’. Hopefully, the study will encourage adopting a budget that will allow for the Bureau to make some zoning changes to include in the Portland Plan.”

UPDATE: After the meeting February 22 meeting, Scarzello told us, “Members of the Portland Planning Commission showed great interest in the project.”

Annette Mattson, David Douglas School District board member, Jean DeMaster, executive director of Human Solutions, and Mark White, president of the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association all testified at the meeting, along with long time outer East Portland City planning bureau liaison Barry Manning.

“The Commissioners asked many good questions,” Scarzello added. “And, they said they’d like to have a work session to discuss issues that affect the area, talk about potential actions/solutions, and include Portland Development Commission in the discussion.  “

Learn more about the Midway Business Association
Come find out about this business group dedicated to helping neighbors and businesses improve the southern end of Outer East Portland.

On March 8, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman speaks. Actually, he says he’s coming to listen – to concerns of business people and neighbors in southern outer East Portland.

Visitors are welcome, and the presentation is free (but you’ll pay for your own lunch, if you choose to purchase one). Their meeting runs from 11:45 AM until 1 PM at Bill Dayton’s PIZZA BARON Restaurant on SE 122nd Avenue, just south of Division Street. For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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