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Formerly the home of Beaumont-Wilshire Neighbors for Responsible Growth, the Portland Land Matters blog explores citywide land-use concerns, such as home demolitions, with the belief that development should create an improvement.

Friday, January 30, 2015

How do you "redo" a meeting? We're about to find out

Is the bloom off the Rose City? Not if the
mayor's words turn into action.
The Bureau of Development Services, its Development Review Advisory Committee (DRAC), and so-called "business partners" (i.e., developers) have operated above the law for so long that I about fell out of my chair receiving this message yesterday from city ombudsman Margie Sollinger:

"The Bureau of Development Services has indicated they are going to re-do the January 8, 2015 demolition subcommittee meeting."

Further, Sollinger wrote: "Going forward, it's my expectation that all subcommittee meetings will comply with the Public Meetings Law, including proper notice and providing minutes 'within a reasonable time after the meeting.'"

The redo is scheduled for 8 to 10 a.m. Feb. 3 at 1900 S.W. Fourth Ave., Room 4(A). This time the public can come to observe, and possibly participate in, matters of the public's business.

As recently as Jan. 15, DRAC was proclaimed as "good public process." Is it? Now that the bureau and DRAC plan to follow Oregon's Public Meetings Law, that could begin to be true. But DRAC still has vacancies; among others, the spot for "low-income housing developers" remains empty, tellingly so during much of this demolition mess.

In the State of the City speech today at the City Club of Portland, Mayor Hales came out with support (starts at 22:19) for "new rules on neighborhood infill" and for making "demolition a less attractive option." He reasoned, "We should take care of what we have and invest in the plans and hopes of Portland neighborhoods that they've established for themselves." Hopefully the rest of city leadership and staff was listening—and is willing to help make these neighborhood-centric goals a reality.

Rumor has it developers already are threatening legal action, presumably to the delight of their high-dollar lawyers. It seems like the time and effort could be better spent sending thank-you notes (or apologies) to the neighborhoods where they trashed local heritage and affordable housing for fat profits that usually went straight out of town. The gravy train may be coming to an end; trash-and-build developers ought to be grateful it came, and neighbors will be grateful when it's gone. For a city that prides itself on sustainable, thoughtful planning, we can—and the mayor says we should—do better.

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