Eliot Land Use and Transportation Committee
Meeting Minutes: July 15, 2013
Submitted by Chair, Mike Warwick
DRAFT – NOT YET APPROVED
Members present: Mike, Lee, Clint, and later Allan and Laurie
Guest present: Ben Kaiser and Paul Van Orden and concerned neighbors he invited
Call to Order
The meeting began at approximately 6:40, however, the formal LUTC could not be called to order as scheduled due to the lack of a quorum; however the meeting agenda included as a first order of business a discussion of procedures to engage with Ben Kaiser on plans for development of his site on North Williams and Fremont now that the Rx zone change has been approved.
- Engagement with Ben Kaiser
- Review of Kaiser “model” of North Fremont/Williams area
- Review, discussion, and approval/disapproval of Eliot Plan policies
- Continuation of Comp Plan discussion
Absent a quorum, Mike proceeded to initiate discussion of the first item. To facilitate that discussion Ben was present along with a number of neighbors that contested his zone change request. Working with affected neighbors was a condition of the zone change approval and a necessary component of the design review condition Ben agreed to. Although Ben wants to work with concerned neighbors, he does not want to be responsible for bringing neighborhood representation to the negotiating table out of the legitimate fear he may not include all concerned and could later be accused of biasing the process.
Mike identified three options the LUTC could take:
- Do nothing and leave the process to Ben and the parties to figure out,
- Use the LUTC and LUTC meetings for these negotiations,
- Create a subcommittee of the LUTC to “host” the negotiation and report back to the LUTC and through the LUTC to the Board,
- Delegate the issue to the Board, per provisions in the LUTC Rules for “controversial” issues.
After considerable discussion (and the arrival of sufficient LUTC members to constitute a quorum), Lee moved that the LUTC form a subcommittee with representatives from its membership to facilitate negotiations between Ben and “interested parties.” Clint provided a second and that motion passed. The expectation is that at least two LUTC members will be available to participate drawing on a pool of LUTC volunteers that includes all of the LUTC members present as noted above. The role of the LUTC representatives is to be a liaison to the LUTC and Board rather than to lead the negotiations. The roles and expectations of subcommittee participants in the negotiation process will need to be the first order of business when they first meet.
An LUTC role in these negotiations was deemed to be appropriate by the LUTC and Ben because the Council sees this as a potential prototype process. Accordingly, there is an expectation of official neighborhood involvement in public processes. Among those is the possibility concerned neighbors may decide to appeal the Council decision to LUBA. Typically, such an appeal would involve the local neighborhood and therefore, the LUTC needs to anticipate such a request. Because it is premature to act on such a request, but it is reasonable for appellants to seek neighborhood support, it is inappropriate for the LUTC to take a position on a future LUBA appeal at this time. Mike pointed out that the basis for an appeal would be the Council decision. The LUTC supported the Rx zone change “with conditions,” as did the Council. Although neighborhood appellants could appeal the granting of the zone change or anything else they choose, from an LUTC perspective the basis for support of an appeal would rest of differences over these “conditions.” As Ben pointed out, the conditions are specific to the design of the building, which is not currently known. Regardless, Mike pointed out that by the time they are known the right to appeal may be lost, so it isn’t unreasonable for opponents to try to preserve the option by filing before the deadline passes. This presents a risk to the development timeline and project scope that Ben expressed concern about, in particular, the risk that participants in the current meeting or future meetings of the subcommittee may have unstated motives that would support a LUBA appeal or otherwise disrupt project development. After polling the room it was determined that none of the individuals in attendance were personally pursuing a LUBA appeal at this time. Ben anticipates the first meeting would not be for two weeks and it was the understanding within the group that the LUBA appeal would need to be filed before then. Therefore, all parties (Ben, the LUTC, and interested neighbors) assume that the subcommittee being formed will act in good faith. Ben will provide the subcommittee with at least a one week notice of proposed meeting times. The subcommittee will provide Ben with an email list for his notices and maintain/update that list. Arrangements for meeting locations is TBA and will need to be addressed by Ben and the subcommittee, both where and who will arrange for meeting space.
There was continued discussion about how the subcommittee will operate its scope, and its representativeness. Mike disclosed that he and Ben had exchanged a number of emails, which Mike believed he CCed to the LUTC members. In brief, Ben is evaluating a number of uses for the site and those uses will dictate the building design, so chicken and egg. As a result, it is important for Ben to hear what the neighborhood would like to see, and not see, at the site so he can factor that into the design of the building. To stimulate the discussion and establish some context for the building, Ben has developed a “massing” model of the area 3 blocks in each direction. This will reflect existing and currently proposed buildings and “masses” of buildings that could be built given existing zoning. This model will be available at the first meeting of the subcommittee, which is anticipated to be in two weeks. The model will also be available for use by the LUTC for its discussion of the Comp Plan.
Ben indicated the model was not yet available. Accordingly, this agenda item was deleted.
Review of Eliot Plan Policies
The Eliot Plan includes a number of policies (see attached), including “neighborhood” policies and “plan” policies. The latter are included in the current Albina and Comprehensive Plans. The current Comp Plan process will not include the same level of detail as is in the Albina and Eliot plans. Nevertheless, it will be easier to argue in the current Comp Plan process to retain those policies we agree with than it will be to add or change them. With that in mind, Mike proposed the LUTC review the 8 “plan” policies to determine which we “support,” which we “oppose,” and which we may “support with conditions.” A handout with a summary of both neighborhood and plan policies was distributed. Mike noted the “plan” policies are accompanied by a bullet list of specifics that further explain each, but as a first step, it is more efficient to see which we don’t support so we can ignore them. We can drill down into the ones we support later.
Mike solicited votes (and reluctantly comments) from the LUTC members first and then from other attendees. These were as follows:
- Historic Conservation and Urban Design – Both groups “support with conditions,” the primary condition being that design standards be strengthened to ensure compatible design of new structures.
- Neighborhood Development – Both groups “support” as is, but a suggestion it be more clearly worded from the LUTC and again, that development adjacent to existing residential zones be compatible in terms of scale and design.
- Housing – Both groups “support with conditions.” As written it appears to leave out people of “middle age.” Mike indicated that when it was drafted (and probably still) there were not concerns about middle aged people being able to find housing in Eliot, so the intent was to ensure options for people of other ages be able to do so, especially families with children to support local schools and seniors who, at the time, may have feared for their safety. A number of the bullets under this policy need to be changed as well.
- Transportation – Both groups “support” but thought additional attention should be paid to pedestrian safety and access (crossings) and that investment in safety and access be more equitable across the city so that Inner NE can get its “fair share” versus wealthier neighborhoods. Some of the points made are included in the bullets already.
- Employment – There was discussion of eliminating this but both groups ended up “supporting with conditions.” Those included wording that was more reasonable than employment “a few minutes” from homes and similarly, a preference for hiring locally.
- Business and Economic Development – These decisions are largely subsumed in the Central City Plan portion the Council has already endorsed. Both groups indicated “support,” although Clint commented that current uses (mostly distribution/warehousing) are not “highest and best” in terms of providing lots of family wage jobs. On the other hand, changing from an “industrial” to a commercial or employment zone would open the door for advocates of a baseball stadium that would provide even fewer jobs and ones with much lower pay. The section addressing Emanuel should be addressed in our comments on the new “campus” code being proposed by Planning. Finally, there was concern about pollution caused by industrial activities (high pollution levels at Tubman and Boise/Eliot are from NW Portland however) and “issues” (not further explained) regarding cell towers.
- Parks – Support
- Livability – Support
Inasmuch as it was well past 8:30 the further discussion was postponed. It was recommended that we take up the rest of the agenda at the next LUTC meeting and if, at that time, we need more meetings to make the decisions necessary for our Comp Plan input, they could be scheduled after it. There are two presentations, so far, scheduled for the August meeting however.
The meeting was adjourned shortly after 9 PM.