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Southwest neighbors want Comp Plan approval delayed

Photo Credit: COURTESY BUREAU OF PLANNING AND SUSTAINABILITY - Artists rendering of how Southwest Barbur Boulevard could appear under the draft if the Comprehensive Plan update is adopted.Southwest Portland residents are continuing to push for a delay in the scheduled votes on the update of the Comprehensive Plan that will guide development in Portland for the next 20 years.

The Planning and Sustainability Commission has held four hearings on the draft update, and will hold the first of several work sessions where public testimony will not be allowed on Tuesday, Nov. 18.

Representatives of the Multnomah Neighborhood Association and others have repeatedly testified before the commission that the current schedule does not allow city residents to fully understand the update before it is adopted. They are especially concerned that the details about new Mixed Use Zone where most development will occur will not be finalized until after the update goes to the City Council for approval next year.

Now the association has sent a letter to Portland officials formally requesting that the commission's scheduled March 2015 vote on the update be postponed and the council's expected approval of it be pushed back from November 2015 to February 2016.

"The timeline modifications allow citizens to comment on the complete 2035 Comprehensive Plan before it goes to City Council," reads the Nov. 14 letter, signed by Multnomah Neighborhood Association Chair Carol McCarthy.

The letter admits the changes would need to be approved by the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, but says the association believes it would be granted.

The letter is addressed to Mayor Charlie Hales, commission Chair André Baugh, and Susan Anderson, director of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, which wrote the draft update. It is copied to the rest of the council.

The draft update calls for most new development to be concentrated in designated centers and along major transportation corridors over the next 20 year. Bureau staff is recommended the creation of four new zones to tailor the scope of development to specific locations. They are titled “Mixed-Use Dispersed,” “Mixed-Use Neighborhood,” “Mixed-Use Civic Corridor” and “Mixed-Use Urban Center.”

Despite the specific names, the details of the new zones are still being written by a group called the Mixed Use Zone Advisory Committee. It is not scheduled to release its concept plan until January, two months after the last public hearing on the draft update.

When he testified at the last commission hearing on the plan on Sept. 4, James Pederson, chairman of the Multnomah Neighborhood Association Land Use Committee, said, “We just want people to be able to see the whole plan before they testify on it.”

In response, bureau staff said the two-stage process was mandated by state land use regulations. They require that the Comp Plan update be approved before the new zones. The employees noted that written comments will still be accepted until March 13 of next year, two months after the mixed zone concepts are released.

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