Portland has launched 2 major planning activities – the Portland Plan and the Central City Plan (CCP). Both will chart a future for Portland over the next 25 years. This will compliment Metro’s 2040 Plan. The Portland Plan has a high level look at 9 issues of importance to city residents, such as economic development and education. On the other hand, the CCP will review land use and zoning and propose changes in both to City Council. The Central City area includes the Lloyd District, Rose Quarter, Lower Albina, and a portion of Eliot between Broadway and Russell. More information on the CCP can be found on the City web site www.portlandonline.com/bps/cc2035. Information about the Eliot portion of the CCP can be found by clicking on the “N/NE Quadrant Plan.”
The CCP will take roughly 3 years from start to finish. The process is guided by a Steering Committee that will oversee plans in 4 “quadrants” of the central city, including the N/NE Quadrant including Eliot. The first meeting of the N/NE Quadrant citizen advisory committee was September 16th. The current plan is for the advisors to meet as a group once a month for at least 18 months. Additional meetings are scheduled for public comment and review and for subcommittees.
The CCP has two sponsors, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the City. ODOT is sponsoring this part of the Central City Plan because it wants to “fix” problems it has identified with I-5 between I-84 and I-405 in the heart of Eliot. As a result, the N/NE advisors to the CCP were selected jointly by ODOT and the City. Eliot is fortunate to have two residents on the committee, myself and Pauline Bradford.
The initial advisory meeting was kicked off with “welcome” speeches by key managers. Managers from ODOT and PDOT both indicated this was a “freeway planning” process, much to my dismay. Worse, one of them characterized the area before the Coliseum as one “in transition then as it is today,” implying its destruction by the City was somehow “normal.” Fortunately other City staff indicated it was a community planning process, although this split between freeway and community interests was evident throughout the meeting. In fact, the initial plan is to split the advisors between two subcommittees, one dealing with “transportation – meaning freeway” issues and another for “land use.” This plan was not embraced by many of the advisors and may be revisited. This was encouraging, as ODOT has stacked the committee with pro-freeway and other like minded representatives. Stakeholders such as those from the Blazers and Lloyd Center may lean towards more transportation enhancements rather than residential interests.
This is a concern in Eliot because the most recent proposals by ODOT to improve the freeway through Eliot included expansion of the freeway and demolition of a number of large buildings for new lanes and exit ramps. Improvements to the freeway and the Broadway ramps are necessary, however those changes need to enhance the area rather than debase it. The need for improvements will be discussed at the October meeting. The November meeting will cover products from the Rose Quarter planning process. Rumor has it that the Mayor and planning staff have expanded that effort to include the school district building and private property between it and Broadway. These concepts will be introduced to the Rose Quarter advisory committee at its next meeting September 28th. Watch this space for future updates and visit the Eliot website and the web site noted above for more timely and complete information.