Thursday 19 November 2015

Continuity and Change

Looking back on my first time here back in 2012, Portland met my expectations of a well-planned city; it still does three years later. Active transport is encouraged and people actually ride their bikes, public transit has high patronage levels, the urban growth boundary is respected for its intentions, local produce is supported more than normal in the US, and planning authorities carry-out effective community consultation sessions. What I didn’t expect was the homeless population, which has probably been the biggest culture shock for most of the Australians, even after visiting Japan. I think we’re all struggling to see how Portland can be praised so much for its planning when there are so many residents living in these appalling circumstances. Although, this has been flagged as a major area for concern for the City to deal with in the future incrementally, it’s going to be pretty tough to deal with.

On a positive note, we learnt that the 19 state-wide planning goals were referenced heavily throughout our first day of study at the PSU first-stop program. These included issues relating to transport, the urban growth boundary and housing, environment, open spaces, community engagement, and the agricultural security. As the state-wide planning goals don’t just affect local governments, the first-stop program is capable of showing us first-hand how these relevant authorities stick with these goals.

'Burnside - a famous grassroots skate park under the Burnside Bridge in Portland. Bridge pillars are the foundations for the quarter pipes and bowls. an open space unique to Portland 

One big change since 2012, and I guess someone has to talk about it, we learnt about the blazers’ namesake, that being the legalisation of marijuana in Oregon. It was outlined today that light industrial land uses are in low supply due to the large amount of hydroponic cannabis farms, seeing a massive spike in rental costs for small industries in Portland. This then forces planning authorities to re-zone more land in the City, which is somewhat unfortunate, as these typically use large amounts of land, endangering the size of the current urban growth boundary. Nonetheless, it will prove to be a big driver of economic development.

Brendan Aikman

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