100,000 Visions For Portland

The City of Portland's mayor has undertaken an effort to get input from more than 100,000 residents about what they want Portland to be. The city's alternative weekly paper, The Mercury has outlined its own vision for Portland's future.

"Simply put, we want Portland to make the leap from sleepy burg to real city. That means taller buildings downtown and throughout the city; denser, more bustling neighborhood centers with a mix of housing options andâ€"gasp!â€"nightlife; round-the-clock transit; a mayor who occasionally brawls with the city council; a vibrant arts scene (with more all ages music!), and businesses open late all over town."

That's basically the paper's dissertation on creating a new Portland, and though at first the goals seem a bit vague, they are followed by more concrete suggestions about how to attain these goals. This, The Portland Mercury says, will set it apart from the typical input of the public, which is being gathered at various public events, and even in a traveling polling booth called the "Vision Vessel". Overall the city expects to gather the opinions and advice of 100,000 residents, nearly one-fifth of the population.

"Frankly, we're skeptical that this huge effort is going to produce proportionately valuable results. With so much input, it seems the 'vision' will either be a muddled mess of platitudesâ€"residents will urge the city to go for nice, vague things like green space and sustainability and family friendlinessâ€"or a laundry list of hyper-specific wants from 100,000 people (like, 'Fix the pothole in front of my house!' and 'Give everyone a bike')."

Full Story: 2020 Vision



Mercury editors want Portland to be more like somewhere else.

The Mercury does some great special articles. I read it for humor and movie times. But their political stands, including this one, are sometimes a narrow representation of Portlanders. Mercury editors do not understand land-use, transportation, and urban planning more than most people. The Mercury here complains that Portland's "community visioning" quest will be "a muddled mess of platitudes", "nice vague things like sustainability", or "a laundry list of hyper-specific wants", but then lists the 'things' Mercury editors 'want' with too little substance to be taken as much other than trite remarks, platitudes. Mercury editors, in their desire that Portland be more like somewhere else, fail to understand how Portland became what it is by collaborative means.

My hope for Portland is that its growth and development will be more accurately based on Metro's "2040 Regional Plan" guidelines. These guidelines direct the development of numerous regional centers and townships within the 40-mile diameter of Portland's urban growth boundary, rather than singularly develop central city. Central city Portland development is following New Urbanism guidelines of "mixed-use", and this is admirable. But, to develop downtown and leave the suburbs in their current economically dysfunctional state will only increase regional travel beyond highway, surface street and transit line capacity. Neglecting economic development of the suburbs is not a collaborative solution.

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