More insanity from the city government of Portland, Oregon.
Lashay Wesley reports for KATU News that on Nov. 12, 2019, the City of Portland’s 11-member Planning and Sustainability Commission narrowly approved a controversial change to the design process language to say all property owners must “Provide opportunities to rest and be welcome” to homeless people.
The change was introduced by Commissioner Oriana Magnera (see her LinkedIn page here), who has a B.A. in Women’s Studies and is also the climate and energy policy coordinator of Verde, a local “environmental justice” non-profit. She said: “Just one of the realities of Portland right now is that we have a lot of folks who are unhoused who benefit from some of these spaces that provide weather protection.”
Some are rightly concerned that the change to the city of Portland’s design review process would lead to homeless people camping on private property. Questions were raised even by members of the Planning and Sustainability Commission:
- Commission Chair and architect Katherine Schultz asked: “What does it mean to rest? Am I providing a place to sleep?”
- Commissioner and attorney Jeff Bachrach said: “I’m concerned that this is going to become quite controversial. I think for us to put into design review some loaded words that suggest we want some design commissioners to think about people resting for hours, pitching tents, I think we’re just putting too great of a burden on design review.”
KATU News reached out to each member of the commission, but no one would agree to talk about the proposal on the record, including Magnera who had proposed the idea. Commission Chair Schultz provided this statement to KATU News:
The discussion around ‘Guideline 6: Provide opportunities to rest and be welcome’ was one of the most robust of the Planning and Sustainability Commission’s November 12 work session on the Design Overlay Zone Amendments (DOZA) project. Commissioners discussed how private development can provide places for people to feel welcome and safe, as well as allow space for people to rest, especially in light of our current housing shortage.
The Commission will talk about this further at our next work session and will provide suggested language to the Design Commission that helps clarify the intent of the word “rest.” The Design Commission is the recommending body to City Council for proposed new design guidelines.
The City design review program and guidelines that are the subject of DOZA affect the design of new buildings but do not control the use of properties.
The City of Portland also declined to comment, but provided this letter from the Planning and Sustainability Commission:
Understanding we are talking about private property here, we still want to ensure the openness and welcoming factors contribute to the development.
Specific to the phrasing of the guideline itself, we suggest making it even more clear that development should provide supportive space for people to feel welcome and safe and should allow space for people to rest, especially under our current housing shortage.
The definition of “rest” was quite involved. We think the background should address this more fully and clarify the intent of the word. The PSC will talk about this further at its [Dec. 17] work session and will provide suggested language to the Design Commission after our discussion.
According to BizPacReview, this is not yet a done deal as the motion must pass more committees before a final vote.