The most significant item on tomorrow's Portland City Council Agenda, in my opinion, is on Wednesday afternoon:
WEDNESDAY, 2:00 PM, AUGUST 6, 2008
1114 TIME CERTAIN: 2:00 PM - Approve a work program to update the City Comprehensive Plan, establish a public engagement committee and program and direct the Bureau of Planning to submit these programs to the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development for state approval (Resolution introduced by Mayor Potter)
Once again, a hearing on how to engage the public is scheduled to be discussed at a time when many Portlanders who might want to comment are at work and cannot participate. Why is this hearing so urgent it could not wait for the third Wednesday, when the Code allows for an evening session? Even better, let's change the Code to allow evening sessions any week.
The documents being approved tomorrow are mostly intended to comply with State requirements to list the items/issues that will be reviewed in the Portland Plan. State land use regulations require updates on the Comprehensive Plan via a specific process called "Periodic Review". The meat of the Resolution tomorrow is in the "Periodic Review Work Program", Exhibit A. It lists many details on the questions and challenges up for discussion over the next three years. The "Public Engagement Work Program", Exhibit B, is much fuzzier. It sets up a "Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee", to advise the Bureau of Planning on how to engage Portlanders. Only twelve members are envisioned on this committee, three of whom will be Planning Commissioners. How would you choose nine people to represent the diverse communities in 95 neighborhoods on this committee? Even though they're only advising on the process, rather than acting as representatives, that concerns me.
It's also unfortunate this item is on the Consent Agenda, with no discussion:
1095 Bicycle Safety: Bike Boxes and Alternatives Update (Report)
Are the green boxes working? Are they causing problems? It would be helpful to have a five-minute staff presentation for viewers at City Hall and those at home watching on cable, regardless of whether the report is available on line.
[Update 8/10/08: Rich Oxley reports in the Portland Tribune that this item was to do the study, rather than reporting on one.]
The morning session, after Citizen Communications whose participants once more focus on homelessness issues and Peterson's store, begins with a Time Certain:
1084 TIME CERTAIN: 9:30 AM - Portland Development Commission 50th Anniversary Commemoration (Proclamation introduced by Mayor Potter)
The volunteers serving on the Portland Development Commission, and generations of staff in the agency, have done many, many good things for Portland. It's good to stop and reflect on where PDC has been, while the change in leadership at both the Commission and the Council means we all should pay close attention to where it goes.
There are many contracts and minor items on the Agenda, including several "errors" in street namings (presumably in new subdivisions) - in these cases, name changes may be made by the Council without the extensive public process being re-started in the search for a street to name Chavez.
Also on Consent, another $38,000 payment to Australia for "Asset Management Process Benchmarking" (those playing Buzzword Bingo at home, enjoy that one). Last year, we paid them $51,000 for similar services. Then and now, I would like citizens to know how much value we get for that expenditure. The ordinance language seems very similar to the one I checked out last July:
1. The Portland Water Bureau is interested in connecting with a broad community of water professionals around the globe to understand and improve operational and business performance relating to asset management.
2. The International Water Association and Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) has initiated a program of industry performance comparison to help water utilities understand international best practice in the delivery of services to their customers.
3. The Bureau wants to enter into an Agreement with the WSAA in the amount of $38,000 in order to gain a better understanding of its performance in comparison to its peers.
Since the City is entering into another agreement, presumably the first provided value for the money spent. In the past, Water Bureau staff have been very helpful in providing additional information in response to questions raised here on this blog. I hope someone will comment to provide more details on this Consent Agenda item.
Another Consent item that interested me enough to click on the link:
*1109 Authorize an Intergovernmental Agreement for the Creation of the Regional Radio System Partnership (Ordinance)
It's to provide coordinated emergency radio systems between local jurisdictions. Seems like A Good Idea.
No hearings on Thursday afternoon this week.