At the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission hearing last Tuesday night, we were all exposed to, among other things, a briefing on the current Portland Plan, by Eric Engstrom and Alex Howard. They addressed the 11 commissioners appointed by the Mayor, and laid out their visions for how Portland might best serve its communities within the next 25 year period.
Presented as "The Portland Plan", it includes nine major policy areas which will be affected throughout phases of the project. These main areas are: Prosperity & Business Success, Education & Skill Development, Sustainability & the Natural Environment, Human Health, Food & Public Safety, Transportation, Technology & Access, Equity, Civic Engagement & Quality of Life, Design, Planning & Public Spaces, Neighborhoods & Housing, Arts, Culture & Innovation.
The first phase of the project was basically to listen to what people had to say about what they envisioned the process being like. They were able to define their needs and values, and communicate to each other the ways in which they would like to see their own communities develop and grow.
The next phase will be to begin implementing some of these plans and achieving the directives they set forth for each area.
While learning of these plans, and seeing how well articulated and prepared the plans are, it occured to me that this system does indeed seem fairly utopian compared to some of the readings I've interpreted over the last few weeks.
In particular, my mind seems to gravitate toward the readings of Davis and his descriptions of the fall of the Los Angeles area into urban sprawl. As and after effect of failing to plan very well, and their obvious inability to come to some consensus before actual groundwork was laid and foundations were built, they ended up having very little green spaces or parks for recreational purposes, and became considerably drab with regard to their aesthetic value as neighborhoods.
WE here in Portland are lucky not to have that problem. This planning process is a prime example of what TO DO in order to avoid our city turning into a gnarly grid of neverending asphalt.