April already.... time flies when you're having fun. The Portland City Council's meeting on April 2nd is Commissioner Erik Sten's last, after serving on the Council since 1996. The Agenda begins with five citizens using the Citizen Communications spots to thank Erik for his contributions to Portland. I'll be covering Public Campaign financing, Patrick Nolen from Sisters of the Road will talk about Erik's work to end homelessness, others will cover his advocacy for seniors, home ownership, and New Columbia. I helped organize similar tributes from Portlanders for Jim Francesconi and Vera Katz, when they left the Council in 2003. My thanks to Erik's chief-of-staff Jim Middaugh for his assistance in identifying potential speakers. Regardless of individual opinions on the policies and practices of individual Council members, most people recognize that holding elected office is arduous and challenging. I hope you will take a moment to send Erik an email and thank him for a particular something he's done over his time on the Council, that you've appreciated. His address is firstname.lastname@example.org - for five more business days.
An item from the Consent Agenda which concerns me:
417 Authorize an Intergovernmental Agreement with the State of Washington Department of Printing to procure print services and printed supplies (Second Reading)
The ordinance states having the State of Washington do some of the City of Portland's printing is cheaper. I wonder, is it really? Does the bottom line factor in that using printers in Portland would mean supporting Portland residents and businesses, while making payments outside of Oregon helps the Washington state budget, not ours? Does it include the costs both in use of foreign oil, and in emissions/pollution/congestion, of transporting printed materials across the Columbia River from Washington to Oregon?
A few items from the Regular Agenda (not necessarily the most important - please check the link above for yourself):
413 TIME CERTAIN: 10:00 AM - Accept the recommendations of the Schools-Families-Housing Community Grants Proposal Review Committee (Report introduced by Commissioner Sten)
The Schools, Families, Housing initiative is a $1.6m pilot program started by Commissioner Sten to - you guessed it - support schools and families, by helping with housing costs for families, and funding grants for schools. I've heard enthusiastic reviews of the program from parents and educators in several areas of Portland.
427 Authorize acceptance of three parcels of open space known as Johnswood Park located in Charleston Park Place from HOST Development, Inc. for park purposes (Ordinance)
428 Authorize a purchasing process for parcels acquired with 2006 Metro Open Spaces Bond Measure 26-80 funds (Second Reading Agenda 391)
Yay, more public parks and greenspaces!
Here's something you might think would have been done already:
*434 Authorize the Administrator of the Portland Water Bureau to establish a loan program for water system development charges consistent with other City bureaus and establish rules for cost distribution for petition mains and fire hydrants constructed in the public right of way (Ordinance; amend Title 21)
Still, good that it's getting done now, I guess.
Here's another spurious reason for an emergency ordinance, denoted by the asterisk on the Agenda:
*435 Amend contract with Solar Oregon for continued solar energy education and community outreach services (Ordinance; amend Contract No. 37206)
The ordinance is to fund Solar Oregon, a non-profit providing education on the benefits of solar energy, at $50,000 for each of two years. It's an extension of an existing contract. The ordinance says,
"The Council declares that an emergency exists because delaying would prevent Solar Oregon from being able to conduct its outreach activities in a timely fashion and would harm the City’s ability to reach its solar installation goals. Therefore, this ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage by Council."
Oh, puhleese. "Harm the City's ability to reach its solar installation goals." Really? If it was that urgent and important, how come nobody thought to put this on the Council's Agenda thirty days ago?
On Wednesday afternoon, a nice land use case to finish up Erik's current City Council stint:
WEDNESDAY, 2:00 PM, APRIL 2, 2008
438 TIME CERTAIN: 2:00 PM - Appeal of Dominic and Maria Corrado, applicant, against the Hearings Officer's decision, stating that the zoning code requirements to create an Open Space Tract deprive them of rights protected under the U.S. Constitution for their application for a 2-lot partition at 6917 SW 49th Ave (Hearing; LU 07-179193 LDP EN)
This looks like a reprise of a case covered here on this blog in January 2007, as a Measure 37 claim. The staff report in that case is still on line. Council rejected that claim, and apparently now the applicants are trying a different route. From my coverage last year: "In this case, the land division code regulations are examined, and found not to reduce the value of the property because there was no reduction in the number of homes allowed. In fact, the report states that had Mr. Corrado chosen to pursue the application process recommended by staff, under new Environmental Zone regulations he would be allowed to develop more homes than under the rules when he purchased the property in 1991."
Portland's environmental zone regulations have been found to be not only Constitutional, but also necesssary to meet the Endangered Species Act and Clean Water Act. I suspect this will be an easier vote for Council than the case in Sullivan's Gulch two weeks ago, where they voted 4-1 to overturn the Hearings Officer's decision and uphold the Neighborhood Association's appeal. In last week's land use hearing for East Columbia, the zone change was approved over the neighborhood's appeal.