Saturday, 24 October 2015

‘Planning’ in Portland

After spending a few days in Portland, my impressions of the city have changed from what I expected before the tour. Some realities of Portland which have changed my understanding of the city include the size of the city, the local food initiatives and the local industries and economic activity. In relation to the research project, I have observed that the processes and strategies I had discussed, such as the Urban Growth Boundary, the Metro Regional Government and transport planning, were clearly responsible for the success of their respective features in Portland.
Despite prior research, my expectations of Portland were that it be much larger than I have found it to actually be. Particularly in the downtown streets, I have discovered that the block sizes are much smaller and that the street designs are more varied in terms of the format of the different modes of transport. Portland streets truly do encourage pedestrian activity with outdoor dining areas, nicely landscaped paths, seating and street art as well as cycling with extensive bike infrastructure throughout the central city. Although it now seems obvious, I was unaware these features are the most influential on the city’s walkability and accessibility and is the reason why Portland is renowned for efficient pedestrian and bike movement.
After an explanation of the Portland Planning system from Nancy, I was able to gain a more clear understanding of the roles of each governing body and their role in planning. The power and responsibilities of the Metro Regional Government are far greater than I anticipated. I was most surprised by the strength of the Metro Governments strategies such as the TriMet transit systems growth out of Portland and the resilience of the Urban Growth Boundary. I was unaware of the amount of coordination there was between Portland’s local government and Non-Profit Organisations and the impact that it has only local social, economic and environmental issues.  

Tess Coates