Friday, 16 Feb 2001

PORTLAND, Ore.

7:45 a.m.: I meet with City Commissioner Jim Francesconi at City Hall — there’s a Marsee bakery, a homegrown alternative to Starbucks, on the first floor — to discuss last night’s 2020 Vision launching. We also talk about his proposed city resolution to require an “impact statement” for new policies to address “synergistic” effects on major city goals. There will be a late-February council hearing.

This wetland corridor between the cities of Tualatin and Sherwood is an example of the green spaces acquired by Metro.

Photo: Mike Houck.

9 a.m.: I meet with Zari Santner of Portland Parks to discuss the ongoing downtown park blocks issue, a major debate of whether and how to “renew” the downtown core around the park blocks. Recently a bevy of “outside experts” came to Portland and over 300 locals turned out to express views on low-income housing, the need for public open space, and basic urban design issues.

10:30 a.m.: Off to the Trust for Public Land to talk with Sam Hodder about urban green-space acquisitions, including the Gresham lava domes and the Willamette River riparian area near Molalla State Park. As I leave, I mention the City to the Sea field-trip series (see the Audubon Society of Portland newsletter, The Warbler.) Serendipitously, Sam is working on acquisitions in Tillamook Bay. He agrees to come along on our August sojourn to Tillamoook, for the ” … to the Sea” portion of the series. I am feeling much better about the trip now. We have something specific to focus on as a follow-up to the trip.

Map of greenspaces in the Portland area.

Noon: I attend the City Club lunch. Metro Executive Mike Burton speaks to Portland’s civic group about the potential impacts of Measure 7. Measure 7 was approved by a 6 percent margin in the fall election. It is a “takings” measure put on the ballot by property rights and anti-government groups. It could wreak havoc on Oregon’s land use program and does not portend well for regulations we are working to enact in the Portland region protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat.

1 p.m.: I have to run over to Kaiser Hospital for a final check on my bot fly problem (see Monday’s entry). Much of the week, including a full evening of intravenous antibiotic treatment, I have been fighting an infection in my left arm, most likely from having ruptured one of the buggers when they were excised. I bring a copy of a book my friend Bruce McCullough mailed me, Tropical Nature, to share with my Kaiser PA, David Browne. He copies the chapter, “Jerry’s Maggot,” which describes how Jerry Coyne, a tropical biologist, carried a bot fly in his head “to term.” There is a vivid description of its emergence at a Red Sox game, a must read for tales of tropical parasitism and other symbiotic adventures!

Next, it’s back to Metro. MTAC (Metro Technical Advisory Committee) has planned a two-hour session for the region’s planners, and those of us who work with them, to have an open discussion of where we have gone over the past six years with Region 2040, our regional growth management strategy. Several local planners present their views on successes and challenges, assessments of where the public is on growth issues in our region, and the next steps. It’s an amazing array of professional planners with a few citizen-activist types like myself, probably 80 or so people in the room.

In a nutshell, here’s what we’re discussing: Almost seven years ago, our region launched a growth management strategy, Region 2040, that resulted in the decision that Portland was going to grow up, not out. The basic tenets of 2040 are that we are going to hold a tight Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), both to protect rural resource lands and to contain sprawl. What we are now focusing all of our attention on is how to retain, or improve, quality of life inside the UGB while densities increase.

Coalition members at Urban Bounty Farm.

Photo: Mike Houck.

Virtually all of my activities this past week have, in one way or another, related to the Region 2040 planning effort. Although my work relates specifically to protecting the “urban greenfrastructure,” we are also working with 60 other nonprofit organizations to make sure green issues are integrated with affordable housing, family wage jobs, alternative transit, food security, and good urban design. Six years ago, we cofounded the Coalition for a Livable Future, along with 1000 Friends of Oregon, Urban League of Portland, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, and others. This is the most exciting work I have done in my almost 20 years at Audubon. For the first time, we have a legitimate working relationship with colleagues concerned about affordable housing and economic revitalization in low-income communities, and environmental justice.

5 p.m.: Back to Audubon to get ready for tomorrow morning’s Wild in the City field trip to Creekside Marsh.