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I received a survey late last week from Portland Parks and Recreation asking for help in prioritizing services to help them plan for budget cuts.

“As we all know – the economic downturn is hitting us all.  Portland Parks & Recreation is planning for significant budget cuts in the next several years and needs your help.

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Members of the MTCY&NPG meet with Susan McKenney from the Bureau of Development Services.

Members of the MTCY&NPG meet with Susan McKinney, Supervising Planner for the Bureau of Development Services.

I was able to participate in the meeting with the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) yesterday, September 10, to discuss whether or not the construction of a new maintenance yard and nursery is “accessory” or “non-conforming” use.  There was much back on forth on what the different categorizations mean to this process, so my understanding is only one point of view.  This is what I got out of the conversation and the repercussions for MTCY&NPG:

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At our August 8th MTCY&NPG meeting, Greg D. from the Water Bureau was present (his first time at a meeting?… I believe he and Chad T. share a seat on the committee and Chad has often been present) to offer the Water Bureau’s perspective on land ownership of the site and how a re-design would affect them.

Land ownership of Mt. Tabor is complicated and not something I completely understand (does anybody?…) but, in a nut shell, the Water Bureau owns part of the land that the maintenance yard sits upon. If/when the re-design of the yard occurs, the Water Bureau is requesting that they “trade” the piece of land they own for an equivalent piece of land near Mt. Tabor to be used as a staging area for future construction projects on or near Mt. Tabor (e.g. work on the water reservoirs).

A couple of things bother me about their request.

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If you’d like to read further…

Anderson, J. (2004, June 22). Activist’s secret? Words, words, words. The Portland Tribune. Retrieved April 26, 2008 from www.portlandtribune.com

Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html

City of Portland (1999, June). Maintenance facilities plan: Guidelines for improvement and development. Portland, OR: Portland Parks & Recreation
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Throughout the United States, and in democratic governments around the world, an increasingly educated citizenry is demanding an equal role in the planning policy of local governments. Elected officials, recognizing the need to embolden its citizens, have looked for ways to reach out to the community. No where is this more apparent than in Portland, Oregon, where a number of endeavors seeking community input have been established by City leaders, such as Vision PDX, Community Connect, and voter-owned elections.

Progress needs to be made, however, and even the best examples of government and community collaboration can fall apart. In the summer of 2006, the City of Portland made an agreement with Warner Pacific, a private liberal arts college located in southeast Portland, to sell public land for campus expansion. The area in question was 10 to 20 acres of industrial use land located on the south side of Mt. Tabor, a unique geographical feature that sits in the center of southeast Portland. Mt. Tabor is host to a 200-acre public park, the City’s water reservoirs and an active and politically savvy neighborhood.

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