Current trends in Land use

Trends In Land Use – March Edition
By: Bob Kellett

The amount of new development in the SE Uplift coalition neighborhoods has been significant over the past year. Apartment buildings are seemingly springing up left and right, homes are being demolished and replaced by something different, and the splitting of lots is continuing to take place. Our quadrant is clearly a place where people want to live and where developers are eager to cash in on that desire.

house3One issue that has sprung up from this new development is the impact it can have on the solar access of neighboring properties. You’ve probably seen examples of this where a single story older home is right next to a recently built modern home that is much taller and bigger in scale. The difference in height and the placement of the new home effectively blocks the older home, and its backyard, from light it used to get prior to the new home’s construction.

For many of us, access to light seems like it should be a right and when it has been taken away it feels like our rights have been violated. The Doctrine of Ancient Lights, based on English law, essentially makes that case by saying that after a number of years the owner of a long-standing building has the right to maintain her home’s level of illumination. If a neighbor wants to build something that obscures the light, the neighbor must get permission.

This doctrine has been rejected in the U.S. courts, most notably by the Florida Appellate Court in the landmark Fontainebleau Hotel Corp. v. Forty-Five Twenty-Five, Inc. case in 1959. The court ruled that a property owner does not have the legal right to the free flow of light and air across the adjoining land of his neighbor.

Even with this ruling, there are regulations that cities can enact to try to protect solar access. In fact, Portland once did this very thing. Back in 1986, Portland City Council passed ordinances that prohibited new houses from casting shadows on their neighbors. The impetus at that time was to encourage the use of a solar energy.

The regulations were met with strong resistance from the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland who argued that they limited the types of homes that could be built and drove up the cost of doing business. After three years of contentiousness, a compromise deal was reached with most of the solar access regulations being removed. What remains in the zoning code today is very little in terms of solar protection.

SolarAccess-FortCollinsThe current pace and form of new development has led to a renewed interest in exploring ways to protect solar access. For some people, solar access protection means limiting the building heights of adjacent properties. That certainly would be one option that could be explored. Some cities have had success with regulations that require developers to orient and design lots so that structures of a certain height will not block solar access to adjacent lots. This often takes the form of requiring buildings to have “step downs” in height as it gets closer to an adjacent property.

Another approach is to create “solar setbacks” for new development. These are determined by a formula that considers the height of a building, the angle of the sun when it is at its highest point, and the topography of a lot.

Other municipalities have processes for obtaining solar access permits or recording solar easements, which can establish the right to solar access for an existing or planned lot (this usually is done to protect solar panels from being blocked). A few cities have used a concept of a “solar fence” which is a hypothetical opaque fence that encircles a property at up to a certain height above the ground.

While some of these options would be difficult to implement in an urban environment like what we have in our neighborhoods, it seems that they might be at least worth considering as our city continues to try to accommodate new development while also trying to maintain the existing character of the neighborhoods.

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Ways to save energy and money this winter


Headline: Easy ways to save energy—and money—this winter


As temperatures begin to drop, heating bills across Reed will begin to rise. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical U.S. family spends at least $2,000 a year on home utility bills. Unfortunately, a lot of that money is wasted when heat escapes through leaky windows or ducts, walls and ceilings without insulation, or by inefficient heating and cooling systems.


Luckily, there are many things North Reed neighborhood residents can do to prepare our homes for the cold months ahead. An energy-efficient home will keep your family comfortable while saving you money—and in the long-term, energy upgrades increase the value of your home.


What can you do right now to help your home run more efficiently and feel more comfortable? Here are four easy energy-saving steps that are good for both pocketbooks and the environment.


  • Take advantage of winter sun. The sun does come out in Portland in the winter. When it shines, be sure to open south-facing window curtains, drapes and blinds during the day, as sunlight can naturally heat your home. Close window coverings at night to keep the heat in.


  • Cover drafty windows. Tape a do-it-yourself, clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame. Installing window treatments, such as blinds, drapes or shades, can also help reduce heat loss.

  • Adjust the temperature. Set the thermostat 10 to 15 degrees cooler when you’re not home to use less energy and lower utility bills. You can also lower the temperature slightly at night and add an extra blanket to the bed for a comfortably warm night.


  • Get a free home energy assessment to remove the guesswork and pinpoint more energy saving opportunities. Clean Energy Works will send a certified contractor to your home to identify ways to make it more efficient. Get a customized report that includes which energy efficiency upgrades will help generate the most energy savings. Those savings may be worth an additional $2,000 in incentives, and Clean Energy Works also points you to the best financing options for the upgrades.  Get started with your free energy assessment here:


Whether you take simple steps or use the whole-house approach—making your home perform better will stretch your investment and comfort in your older home.


About Clean Energy Works

Clean Energy Works (CEW) is a non-profit, public-private partnership that accelerates total home performance across Oregon. The organization brings together local contractors, lenders, governments, and utilities to make it easy and affordable for Oregonians to improve the comfort and health of their homes, while lowering energy waste by a third or more. Learn more online:


District Mapping Sessions- Definitions / Acronyms

District Mapping Sessions Definitions and Acronyms May/June 2013

The following are definitions and acronyms of commonly used terms related to district mapping conversations:

1. Comprehensive Plan Update and Periodic Review – Portland’s Comprehensive Plan helps the City prepare for and manage expected population and employment, as well as plan for and coordinate major public investments. The Comprehensive Plan has been amended several times since it was adopted in 1980 but it has never been updated as a whole. Portland is now updating the entire Comprehensive Plan for the next 20 years. Portland is updating its Comprehensive Plan, as required by the State of Oregon, through a process called “periodic review”. The fundamental purpose of periodic review is to ensure that cities’ comprehensive plans are:

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• • •

Updated to respond to changes in local, regional and state conditions, Coordinated with other comprehensive plans and investments, and In compliance with the statewide planning goals, statutes and rules.

2. Transportation System Plan (TSP) – The TSP includes the City’s 20year plan for transportation improvements and transportation policies. The purpose of the TSP is to guide the maintenance, development and implementation of Portland’s transportation system. It also implements State and Regional plans and regulations.

3. Citywide Systems Plan (CSP) – A list of significant projects that describe major public facilities, such as streets, sidewalks, stormwater systems and parks, needed to support future development.

4. Urban Design Framework – A map of the city that illustrates the direction and future aspirations for the city’s physical environment, identifying areas of change and future connections, along with major built, natural and cultural features.

5. Pattern Areas – Portland is defined by five broad “pattern areas” defined by characteristics such as: topography and physical features, streets and block patterns, form and intensity of development, character of landscape, time period in which the area was developed, and land use.




Town Centers – Town centers serve a number of neighborhoods, or districts, providing a wide range of commercial, employment and community services. Town Centers also play an important role in accommodating growth. Many town centers in Portland are already designated in the Metro 2040 Growth Concept.

Neighborhood Centers – Neighborhood centers are smaller and primarily serve adjacent neighborhoods and provide opportunities for additional housing and lowrise commercial and mixed use buildings. Neighborhood centers have aPage 2

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District Mapping Sessions Definitions and Acronyms May/June 2013

central role in helping achieve more “complete communities” where Portlanders have the option of meeting their daily needs within a walking distance of home.


8. Civic Corridor – the city’s most prominent streets, and often the widest. They connect centers, help unify the city and region, and have the potential to be distinctive places of community pride.

9. Neighborhood Corridor connect neighborhoods with each other and with other parts of the city. Some Neighborhood Corridors serve as the anchor of activity within a Town or Neighborhood Center

10.Greenways – make up an accessible system of pedestrian and bikefriendly green streets and trails that link centers, parks, schools, natural areas, and other key community destinations.

11.Habitat Corridors – are a system of habitat connections and linked tree canopy that benefit people and wildlife by weaving nature into the city and connecting large natural areas. Habitat Corridors range from streams and the associated tree canopy to broad swaths of habitat such as Forest Park.


12.Urban Center Stations provide access to a mixeduse center or corridor. These areas are the greatest priority for housing development because they provide access to both highquality transit and services.

13.Neighborhood Stations provide access to a primarily residential area with highdensity housing. Areas within 1⁄2 mile of the stations are the focus for housing development to expand opportunities for people to live close to high quality transit.

14.Employment Stations provide access to employment areas, serving areas with concentrations of jobs and commercial uses. Residential development is not an important component.

15.Commuter Stations provide multimodal connections to light rail (bus connections, bike access, parkandride facilities, etc) but do not play a major role in accommodating residential or employment growth.

16.Destination stations provide access to regionally important places, such as the Portland Zoo, the Airport, or Cascade Station. Housing and employment is not an important component.

Summary Notes from the Comprehensive plan conversations

Summary Notes Comprehensive Plan Update District Mapping Conversations Southeast District Meeting 1 –June 1, 2013 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Next SE District Mapping Session: June 22, 2013, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at SE Uplift 3534 SE Main

Twentyfive community members in attendance: Peter Stark (Central Eastside Industrial Council, Comprehensive Plan Citizen Advisory Committee), Bob Kellett (SE Uplift), Rober McCollough (Eastmoreland), Melissa Bockwinkel (North Tabor), Tony Jordan (Sunnyside), Doug Klotz (pedestrian advocate, Richmond), Terry Griffiths (Woodstock), Gene Dieringer (Woodstock), Linda Nettekoven (HosfordAbernethy, Comprehensive Plan Citizen Advisory Committee), Steve Schmunk (SellwoodMoreland), Gabriel Frayne (North Tabor), Brian Posewitz (SellwoodMoreland), Meg Merrick (Eastmoreland), Rod Merrick (Eastmoreland), Mat Millenbach (SellwoodMoreland), Steve Szigethy (Brooklyn), Julia Goode (Sunnyside), Jean Baker (DivisionClinton Business Association), Lew Scholl (Montavilla), Travis Diessen (Portland State University), Heather Flint Chatto (Richmond), Don MacGillivray (Buckman), Susan Pearce (HosfordAbernethy), Nancy Chapin (Community and Neighborhood Business Organizations Coordinator, BrentwoodDarlington), Bob Stacey (Metro, Richmond)

Four Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff in attendance: Matt Wickstrom, Tom Armstrong, Spencer Williams, Ken Kalynchuk

1. Materials. Attendees were provided with an agenda containing three working assumptions related to the SE District mapping session. These working assumptions were: Citywide:

A. Current Comprehensive Plan Map designations provide adequate capacity for housing and commercial uses to accommodate projected population growth.

B. Current Comprehensive Plan Map designations do not provide adequate capacity for industrial and institutional employment lands to meet projected growth in the next 25 years.


C. In all existing and potential centers and corridor areas, there is enough Comprehensive Plan Map capacity for residential and commercial growth. The discussion in SE is about place making – identify/reaffirm, refine and make more complete through land use, infrastructure projects, other implementation programs, etc.

Discussion questions were also included on the agenda. They were:

A. What does more “complete communities” look like for SE? What are each area’s assets and what’s missing in these different areas?

B. What are the key places you’d like to see connected within SE and to other destinations outside of SE? How might existing connections be improved?What types of new connections are desired and where might they be located?

C. What principles should guide planners as they consider possible land use changes to address each of these situations:

• • •

Nonconforming commercial uses in residential zones Differentlydesignated Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Map areas Split map designations on individuallyowned parcels

Attendees also received a list of definitions and acronyms (attached) related to the district mapping conversation. Maps were displayed throughout the room including the District Assessment map, a gentrification neighborhood typology, Portland Plan study areas, habitat corridors and unimproved streets.

2. Warmup Mapping Exercise. Attendees were asked to identify on maps one (or more) places or attributes in SE Portland that are special to them in 5 words or less. Responses included: Parks, sweet commercial centers, large tree canopy, access to transit, Springwater Corridor trail, Brooklyn area, Eastmoreland, Woodstock/historic gateway (community center, walkability, neighborhood feel), lots of walkability, abandoned lot, bike paths, 69th exit community garden, gardens, riverfront esplanade, Ross Island, Oaks Bottom, treelined streets, Sellwood Park, Sellwood Gap, Westmoreland business district, railroad yards, 3100/3200 block of SE 25th Avenue, centers on corridors, Division Hardware, Woodstock and Cesar Chavez Business District.

Attendees were also asked to refer to a District Assessment Map presented at the Comprehensive Plan Work Draft SE Community Workshop in March, and to add comments to the map.

3. Comprehensive Plan and Overview and Urban Design Framework Presentation. City staff gave an overview presentation of the Comprehensive Plan and the District Mapping Sessions. The presentation shared information about key Comprehensive Plan policy concepts and the intent of the mapping sessions to gather feedback and ideas to help shape proposals for the next working draft of the Comprehensive Plan to be released in summer 2013. A key focus of the mapping session is the 30% draft of the Urban Design Framework map. Please find the presentation at this link (the Urban Design Framework map can be found on slides 21 to 34):

4. Introduce Maps and Begin Mapping Discussion. Attendees (sitting at 3 separate tables) were provided with a base map showing zoning in SE Portland as well as 3 layers of transparencies showing:


Existing and proposed centers and station area designations a. Existing town center b. Proposed town center c. Potential neighborhood center

d. Neighborhood station e. Employment station f. Urban station g. Neighborhood business districts


Existing and proposed corridors


a. Civic corridors b. Neighborhood corridors c. Greenways d. Recreation trails

Existing and proposed high frequency transit (MAX, streetcar and potential rapid bus)

a. MAX lines b. MAX stations c. High frequency transit (under study) d. High frequency transit stations (under study) e. Existing streetcar f. Candidate streetcar g. Possible streetcar

Attendees at each table discussed information on the transparency maps and added comments to the maps and overlays with a particular focus on the SE Mapping Discussion Questions (above). Themes of comments include:

• Locations for potential neighborhood centers – not already shown on transparency maps (72nd & Flavel, 68th & Foster, Powell & Milwaukie, Westmoreland, Tacoma Station area, Powell & Foster, 42nd & Division, 52nd & Belmont,

• Locations of candidate or possible streetcar lines • Ideas for potential BelmontHawthorneDivision town center to include

areas east of Cesar Chavez and Clinton • Improvements for potential civic corridor (Cesar Chavez) • Attributes of station area (Holgate) • Questions of how to encourage historic reuse • Location for potential town center (82nd & Stark) • Considering smaller “corridor nodes” rather than neighborhood centers

(Division) • How much commercial is the right amount and how can ground floors of

buildings accommodate residential or commercial as dynamics change? • More street activity and vibrancy on main street (Woodstock) • Bicycle and pedestrian improvements to transit stations, potential

neighborhood centers, transit streets and the Willamette River (82nd & Stark, 30’s and Powell, Ladd’s Addition area, Bybee Station, Brooklyn, Springwater Corridor Trail, Reedway across heavy and light rail tracks, Clinton Station, Eastern neighborhoods and MAX Green Line).

• Stormwater and habitat corridors. • Industrial lands opportunity near MAX orange line and Holgate.

5. June 22nd district mapping session. The maps, comments and discussion questions will be a basis for the next district mapping session on June 22nd. Below is a tentative agenda:

• Review of input from June 1st SE district mapping session • Focus on SE district mapping discussion questions and maps • Overview of Transportation System Plan and connection to Urban Design

Framework • Next steps and how input will be used