The Planners are Coming! The Planners are Coming!

Portland is a City that likes to plan.  And, it likes to have lots of meetings when it plans.  At least 3 planning processes are getting started that will affect the future of Eliot.  Each will require involvement of the Eliot Neighborhood Association as well as participation from Eliot neighbors.  The three are:

  • The Portland Plan – This is a city-wide plan for how Portland will develop over the next 25 years.  The vision that results will govern future zoning and land use as well as transit decisions.  The last “comprehensive plan” took about 3 years from start to finish and resulted in the Albina Community Plan for north/northeast Portland, including the Eliot Plan for our neighborhood in 1993.
  • The Central City Plan – This is part of the Portland Plan, but it covers only the “central city,” will include reconsideration of zoning, and is expected to take only a year.  It will have more impact on Eliot in the areas it covers, which includes the Lower Albina Industrial Area, but the coverage may include additional land in Eliot.
  • The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) review of I-5 between I-84 and I-405.

In addition to these three, the final decision on the future of the Rose Quarter is due soon.  More intense use of that area will require additional transportation studies.  It is also expected to affect decisions within both the Central City Plan and the ODOT transportation study.

The Portland Plan will build around 9 Action Areas: Prosperity; Education; Arts; Sustainability; Health; Quality of Life; Design; Neighborhoods and Housing; and Transportation and Technology.  Workshops to engage the public, including Eliot residents, in committees to work on each Action Area are scheduled for the next two months.  Subcommittees will continue working after those meetings.

N/NE Portland Plan Workshops:

Northeast Portland
April 29, 6:30–9 pm
Beaumont Middle School Cafeteria
4043 NE Fremont Street
Portland, OR 97212

North Portland
May 1, 10 am–12:30 pm
University Park Community Center
Multi-purpose Gym
9009 N Foss Avenue
Portland, OR 97203

The last Northeast workshop was standing room only, so either come early or try to attend one of the other meetings.  A full schedule and more details can be found on the Portland Plan web site: http://www.portlandonline.com/portlandplan.

The Central City Plan will be a more detailed planning process than the Portland Plan.  It will consider zoning and include transportation planning.  The current proposal is to approach the planning process at two levels: Central City as a whole, and each of the 5 “quadrants” that compose the Central City plan district.  Parts of Eliot are in the Northeast Quadrant.  Those areas include the Lower Albina Industrial District (west of Interstate) and a new area in the Plan that is roughly bounded by Broadway, Russell, and Williams, consistent with the proposed expansion of the Interstate Urban Renewal Area. Committees will be formed to work on both city-wide issues and each “quadrant.”  The Northeast Quadrant is expected to be the first to be addressed, in conjunction with the Rose Quarter development planning process as it concludes sometime later this year.  The Eliot Neighborhood Association has already expressed concerns for plans in this area, which include preservation of historic structures and the character of what is left of the City of Albina and Portland’s early black community.  We have also recommended zoning changes to allow commercial enterprises in the expansion area (basically between Williams and I-5) to thrive.

The Rose Quarter development plan is expected to revive interest in reuse of property in “Lower Eliot,” the area below I-5, mostly south of Russell.  Much of this land is owned by the City or school district, so nothing is likely to happen without current uses and zoning of that property changing.  City planning staff, as well as the Mayor, have expressed interest in seeing some kind or mixed use development in the area.  Private developers have made proposals for projects that look like the Pearl and others that represent new building designs adapted from the “point towers” in Vancouver, BC.  Whatever is proposed will affect future development both in Lower Eliot and Eliot’s current residential core, between Williams and NE 7th.  As a result it will be important for the Eliot Neighborhood Association to come up with its own preferred vision for how that area may develop.  Possible options to consider include:

  • Pearl-style high rise, full-block buildings,
  • “Higher” rise buildings like in South Waterfront but with open space around them,
  • Medium-rise buildings like those at the west end of the Broadway Bridge, or
  • New, “Point Towers” that are very high rise, but have narrow bases at the street; more like scattered trees than a forest of buildings, so light and views are not blocked.

This list is just a start.  More of your voices need to be heard before the Eliot Neighborhood Association has a clear idea what our residents want.

The ODOT I-5 Plan. Eliot has not been approached by ODOT or the City about our involvement in this plan to date.  Historically, ODOT has not been open to community input, as is evident in the Columbia Crossing bridge process.  However, their previous efforts to address this area have included participation by Eliot working through the City.  Also, previous “solutions” have all focused on adding more freeway lanes and expanding the width of the freeway.  That, in turn, would include demolition of buildings along the route.  The City was opposed to those proposals in the past.  Also, whatever is proposed for the Rose Quarter will require a “transportation plan” that the City will control.  It would be expected to address freeway access issues.  So we are optimistic Eliot will be part of this planning process, although that remains to be seen.

The bottom line is Eliot will need more volunteers to participate in the committees that are expected to be formed once the Central City Plan and ODOT I-5 planning processes begin.  In addition, Eliot neighbors will need to participate in the Portland Plan processes to ensure our and your interests are protected.  That should include active engagement in subcommittees that may be formed.

How do I get involved, you may ask.  Respond to the Eliot Neighborhood Association through the Eliot web site http://eliotneighborhood.org, contact the Board Chair at clintlundmark@gmail.com or contact the Land Use Chair at either mike.warwick@pnl.gov or 503- 284-7010.  We are hoping to hear from you and have you join with us to make Eliot better.

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