SNA LUTC Proposed Comprehensive Plan Resolutions: A Primer

If you’re new to discussions about the Comprehensive Plan and you have read over the SNA’s proposed comments, you might have some questions.   Feel free to ask them, of course, but here we will break them down a bit for you and answer what we think will be some common questions.  Let’s start with the first three:

  • To accompany new residences along the corridors, the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association (SNA) Board urges the City to develop community design guidelines for southeast Portland, direct corridor development applications through the Portland Design Commission or southeast Portland community design guidelines, and provide neighborhood notification.
  • To accompany new residences along the corridors, the SNA Board urges the City to increase inner southeast open spaces areas, including pocket parks and a community center.
  • To accompany new residences along the corridors, the SNA Board urges the City to increase pedestrian crossing improvements across Belmont and Hawthorne, and along Cesar Chavez Boulevard.

It’s expected that the Belmont, Hawthorne, and Division areas will grow another 800-2000 households combined over the next 20 years.  These three resolutions ask that the city help develop design guidelines and plans to grow these inner southeast corridors in a well planned fashion and with neighborhood input.  We want the city to create more open spaces for our residents to recreate and relax, and we want the city to make it safer to get across our busy streets on foot. Now for the next two:

  • To accompany new residences along the corridors, the SNA Board urges the City to immediately update the Historic Resource Inventory and apply historic preservation tools to the commercial section of Belmont between SE 33rd and 35th.
  • To accompany new residences along the corridors, the SNA Board urges the City to immediately update the Historic Resource Inventory and apply historic preservation tools to the residential section of Belmont between SE 35th and 37th.

We love “downtown Belmont Street” and we know many of our neighbors do too.  We are asking the city to protect the character and potentially historic buildings along this core of Belmont.  Buildings added to the Historic Resource Inventory gain some protections from demolition and redevelopment.  The city may also provide incentives to landowners to protect structures or maintain historic elements during redevelopment. The next two:

  • To accompany new residences along the corridors, the SNA Board urges the City to only allow building height bonuses if developers provide the community benefit of below market-rate housing units.
  • To accompany new residences along the corridors, the SNA Board urges the City to develop tools to encourage the building of family friendly units

In the new mixed-use zoning being proposed along our corridors, developers could build three stories by right, but to build an additional one or two stories they would need to provide community benefits. Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff is exploring whether community benefits would be affordable housing, historic preservation, green building features, open and public spaces, etc.  We are concerned about the reduction in affordable housing as redevelopment occurs and would like to see the city push for below market-rate units with more vigor.  We also see value in a mix of housing types, multi-room units for families should be incentivized. And now onto the technical details:

  • The SNA Board urges the City to apply a Comprehensive Plan mixed-use designation along Belmont and the north side of Hawthorne between SE 28th & 49th to support local businesses thereby increasing employment and the dollars to remain in our neighborhood.

There are gaps in the commercial fabric along Belmont St. and on the western edge of Hawthorne Blvd. within our neighborhood. Changing the multi-family residential zoning to mixed use commercial zoning makes it more likely that we will develop vibrant commercial corridors. Since the new mixed-use zone requires a residential component, we would still be adding housing along with more jobs and room for businesses.

  • The SNA Board urges the City to apply a Comprehensive Plan mixed-use designation along the north side of Hawthorne between SE 28th & 49th with implementing zone maximum height of 5-stories and fourth and fifth floors recessed so as not to create more than a 3-story wall along the street.

The city has proposed two types of mixed-use zones to implement their proposed Comprehensive Plan mixed-use designation along Belmont St. and Hawthorne Blvd. The type 1 mixed use zone is being proposed to allow for smaller developments, 2 stories with the potential for a 3rd story bonus.  The type 2 mixed use zone is being proposed to allow 3 stories with, potentially, a 4th or 5th story bonus.  Under the proposed mixed use zoning for these two corridors, buildings will be required to have a setback on the 4th and 5th floors, giving them the primary appearance of a 3 story building from both sidewalk level and the rear of building. We see value in new development along Hawthorne Blvd. being 3 stories, with the potential for a setback 4th or 5th story bonus, to activate this “main street” of southeast Portland with additional housing and room for businesses.

  • The SNA Board urges the City to apply a Comprehensive Plan mixed-use designation along Belmont between SE 28th & 33rd with implementing zone maximum height of 4-stories and the fourth floor recessed so as not to create more than a 3-story wall along the street.
  • The SNA Board urges the City to apply a Comprehensive Plan mixed-use designation along Belmont between SE 37th & 42nd with implementing zone maximum height of 4-stories and the fourth floor recessed so as not to create more than a 3-story wall along the street.
  • The SNA Board urges the City to apply a Comprehensive Plan mixed-use designation along Belmont between SE 42nd & 49th with implementing zone maximum height of 4-stories and the fourth floor recessed so as not to create more than a 3-story wall along the street.

Belmont St. is more narrow than Hawthorne Blvd. and designated a neighborhood corridor rather than a civic corridor. In light of this, the SNA is proposing the Mixed Use Zoning workgroup consider limiting Belmont St. to 3 stories by right and up to 4 stories with a bonus, eliminating the 5th story bonus.

SNA To Comment on City Proposed 2035 Comprehensive Plan

NOTE: There is an updated draft of the resolutions as of 1/6/2015.  Click here to review the latest proposal.  The updated document primarily combines similar resolutions, adds a request for a planning process, extends the request for historical review to Hawthorne and one more block of Belmont, and adds an additional section on affordable housing strategies.

After many months of work, the SNA Land Use and Transportation Committee (LUTC) made a presentation to the board on December 18th of the city’s most recent proposed 2035 Comprehensive Plan draft, specifically commenting on the proposed Comprehensive Plan map changes.

The scope of the proposed Comprehensive Plan is massive and there are many ways for individuals to get involved before it is adopted by city council.   In particular we urge neighbors to review the proposed draft and make comments directly to the city through their online map application.

With the limited time available as volunteers and the complexity of the questions posed by this process, the SNA LUTC has focused its proposal on Comprehensive Plan map designations along Belmont St. and Hawthorne Blvd.  The city’s Comprehensive Plan map designations are focused on these two corridors and not the single family residential on either side of them.  Among the most noticeable of the City’s proposed changes is the creation of new Mixed Use Comprehensive Plan map designations to be implemented by new Mixed Use Zones that will replace much of the commercial zoning that currently exists on our corridors.

The impetus behind the City’s proposed Comprehensive Plan map update is a desire to accommodate Portland’s projected population growth in the coming decades and to provide a variety of housing options in areas with plentiful housing, commercial uses, public facilities, transit, and other services close-in to downtown.  Encouraging development in these areas is felt to be critical in meeting the goals of Portland’s Climate Action Plan.

The SNA LUTC felt that the city proposal was largely appropriate, but also decided on a series of suggestions which have been referred to the board.  These resolutions advocate for additional City actions, services and resources to accompany the expected increase in households.  The resolutions ask the city to take care in protecting the historic character of a core segment of Belmont St.  The resolutions aim to produce a consistent commercial corridor along Belmont St. and Hawthorne Blvd. with new residences above that accommodate a mix of incomes and household sizes.

Here is a PDF document containing these proposed resolutions.  (See above for an updated document)  It may be helpful to review these proposals with a map of the neighborhood handy. The SNA LUTC has published a companion article you may find informative, Comprehensive Plan Resolutions: A Primer.

The SNA LUTC will present these resolutions at the General meeting, January 8th from 7-8PM at Southeast Uplift ( 3534 Southeast Main Street) in the Fireside Room.  There will be time for public comments on the proposal at this time.  Immediately following the General Meeting, the SNA Board will meet from 8-9PM in the same location to deliberate and vote on these resolutions.  The public is welcome to attend both meetings.

Comments can be sent prior to the meeting to board@sunnysideneighborhood.com.

Road Maintenance and Safety Funding

In my article in the August Sunnyside Neighborhood News, I proposed a plan of action for the SNA in coming months.  At our August meetings, Land Use and Transportation on August 10th, and the General and Board meetings on August 14th, a substantial allotment of time will be spent on the topic of road maintenance and safety funding.

This is a complex topic and there was not enough space available in the newsletter to explain the position I am asking the SNA board to take.  In this post (and perhaps a few others to come) I will go into the details and provide supporting resources and information for those who want to learn more.

First, for some background.  In 2013 the City of Portland was awarded a grant entitled Parking Analysis and Tool Kit for Neighborhood Centers and Corridors from ODOT to conduct a study to “identify parking strategies and transportation demand management approaches applicable to mixed use multimodal places” (https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/64623).  In short, the city is making plans to provide neighborhoods with more permitting options, and likely the placement of meters on more commercial corridors.  I think this is a good opportunity, as curbside and publicly owned parking lots are a valuable and finite resource. The historic decision to provide most curbside parking for free has had profound effects on how our cities have grown and how livable, walkable, and sustainable our communities are. I will address this in more detail in my next posting.

Concurrently, as we are all aware, Commissioner Novick and Mayor Hales have conducted a controversial campaign to raise revenue for street maintenance and safety through a street fee.  This is a hot topic and I am not asking the SNA to take a position on whether the approach or  amount desired is appropriate.  I do believe that the city is being rather unimaginative in the sources of funding it is considering which is why I am asking the SNA to endorse a statement in the spirit of the following:

Given that:

  • Commissioner Novick, Mayor Hales, and PBOT have presented a need to increase funding for road maintenance and safety up to an additional $50 million dollars a year.
  • It is politically unlikely that the entirety of this amount will be raised through savings gained by cuts to existing programs.
  • The city is likely to levy some variety of fee or tax on the citizens and businesses of Portland to raise some or all of this desired revenue.
  • The city is likely to use the results of the Parking Analysis and Tool Kit for Neighborhood Centers and Corridors project to develop and implement programs which will generate additional revenue for PBOT via parking meters and permit programs.
  • Parking fees are a fair and sustainable mechanism for funding street safety and maintenance as they are a reasonable proxy for actual usage, rather than an estimate, and they capture revenue from out of town businesses and visitors.

The Sunnyside Neighborhood Association requests the following:

  • Revenues from future expansions of parking management programs* be earmarked for street maintenance and safety.
  • Potential parking revenue should be estimated and included in the discussions currently taking place regarding the structuring of any fees and taxes to raise desired street maintenance funds.
  • Any fees or taxes levied on Portland residences and businesses should be reduced proportionally as revenue from these parking management programs becomes available.

* including but not limited to permit programs, meters on commercial corridors, performance pricing of metered spaces, and fees or taxes on private parking lots.

I recognize that this might be seen as a big step for the neighborhood to take, however, I am specifically  not advocating at this time for any particular action regarding parking to be taken. My intention is to compel the city to signal its intentions on the generation of additional revenues from parking. If the city does implement these programs, it is important to ensure that the revenue isn’t simply thrown into the general fund, but is used to reduce any financial burdens we will experience as a result of the proposed street fee.

I want to hear from you.  Please comment here or email me at tony@sunnysideneighborhood.com  I will bring this conversation to our neighborhood nextdoor.com site and our facebook page.  I have initiated a conversation with our neighborhood business associations as well in the hopes that they might support a similar proposal.  Please keep your eye out for more information on this topic.

Neighborhood Elections – Thursday May 8th

What are your favorite things about our neighborhood?

Maybe you’re thinking of the Sunnyside Piazza street art, the neighborhood cleanup, all that bike parking on Belmont, the hundreds of freshly planted street trees, or the awesome Belmont Street Fair.  Your Sunnyside Neighborhood Association plays a part, sometimes big and sometimes small, in all of these things and many more.

This week we’ll celebrate another year of working to maintain a thriving, safe, and truly amazing neighborhood.  Join your neighbors, share a beverage, and talk about your ideas for Sunnyside, find out what we’ve been working on, and learn how we can work together in the coming year.

Help us as a neighbor* by joining us on May 8th at 7:00 p.m. and  voting in our new leadership. Even if you haven’t been to a meeting before we feel that it is important to involve as many neighbors as possible in the selection of our board members.  Not only will you play an important role in our elections, you’ll also be privy to insider information; getting the scoop on what’s happening in the neighborhood and across the city.

If you’re the hands on type, consider making a commitment to get involved in one of our many committees.  From helping with the newsletter to advising the city on land use decisions to keeping an eye on the (thankfully) small amount of crime in Sunnyside, there is a place (of varying time commitments) for everyone.

If you have ever spent time volunteering, you know that it takes all kinds of hard working and dedicated people to make things happen. Projects don’t complete themselves, issues don’t advocate for themselves, art doesn’t magically appear—people are the driving force. The same is true for our neighborhood,  only in this case neighbors must be the driving force!

*Neighboring isn’t just for residents; if you work or own property in Sunnyside we consider you a neighbor, too!