State approves Comp Plan update, appeal planned
The controversial update of Portland's Comprehensive Plan moved closer to taking effect on Tuesday when the state Department of Land Conservation and Development rejected all objections filed against it.
The department notified Mayor Ted Wheeler it had approved the update — technically known as periodic review tasks 4 and 5 — in a Dec. 5, 2018 letter.
After the annoucement, Mayor Ted Wheeler said, "Portland's new Comprehensive Plan builds on the efforts of the past while guiding Portland to a prosperous, healthy, equitable and resilient future. This Plan will ensure the city will have more housing for Portlanders of all ages and incomes. We will continue to increase family wage jobs, while protecting our environment and addressing climate change. Portland's plan will build healthier neighborhoods and focus on the needs of Portlanders who have long been ignored.
In the press release announcing the approval, department director Jim Rue said, "Portland is an attractive city with lots of people moving there each year. The city council had to make difficult choices about how to best accommodate the expected growth. Our review found the plan to be consistent with the state's requirements for efficient, managed use of land."
The Multnomah Neighborhood Association, which filed one of the most significant objections, is already preparing to appeal the approval to the appointed Land Conservation and Development Commission that oversees the department. The association must file its appeal within 21 days of the approval. The commission could consider the appeal at its March 15-16 meeting in Salem.
The commission's decision can be appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
The association and Northeast Portland neighborhood activist Margaret Davis had objected to the so-called missing middle housing policy inserted in the update late in the planning process by the City Council. It calls for creating a process for the council to consider rezoning large portions of most single-family neighborhoods to all such smaller multifamily developments as duplexes, triplexes and cottage clusters.
Among other things, the association and Davis argued the policy was introduced too late in the process for adequate public comment, as required by state land use planning laws. They also argued the council did not sufficiently justify the need for such housing.
Department staff rejected both arguements, the council received public comment and documentation on the need for the policy before adding it to the update.
"The objections do not demonstrate that the local decisions fail to rely on an adequate factual base or are unreasonable based on the evidence in the whole record," Rob Hallyburton, the department's
community services division manager, wrote in a Dec. 5, 2017 letter to Mayor Ted Wheeler. "All objections to the submittal are determined to be invalid or are rejected. The submittal is approved."
After receiving the letter, association Land Use Committee Chair James Peterson emailed other association members and critics of the proposed policy, saying, "We are reviewing the DLCD review to file an appeal to the DLCD Commission."
The council anticipated the appeal and recently voted to day the effective day of the update from Jan. 1 of next year to May 24.
The missing middle housing policy to be presented to the council is being developed by the Residential Infill Project within the city's bureau of planning and sustainability. Although it is still being written, the appointed Planning and Sustainability Commission that oversees the bureau is scheduled to holds its first hearing on it on May 8. The council is expected to vote on the final version of the policy by the end of next year.
You can read the deparment's letter at www.oregon.gov/LCD/docs/periodic_review/Portland/Portland_Task4-5_ApprovalOrder_001982_final_20171205.pdf.
You can read a recent Portland Tribune story on the issue at portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/380509-266953-critics-demand-public-vote-on-infill.