Yesterday, September 7, members of the AHC Advocacy Committee provided oral and written testimony to the Portland City Council on Central City 2035. The AHC has been following the development of CC2035 since its beginnings and we have actively weighed in on previous draft versions of the plan. Yesterday was an opportunity to provide our support for reasonable height considerations in historic districts, such as the AHC’s own East Portland/Grand Avenue Historic District, and in the West End of downtown, in order to protect historic buildings and maintain affordable housing. We are also supportive of preserving Portland’s most unique public view corridors and keeping them just that–public and accessible to all. You can read below our written comments to the city council and watch the recording of the city council session here.
Read more about Central City 2035 on the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability website.
Thank you to the members of the Portland City Council for their careful consideration and comments and thanks too to the AHC Advocacy Committee for their thoughtful comments.
Commissioners, City of Portland
City of Portland
1900 SW 4th Avenue
Portland, OR 97201
Thanks for the opportunity to testify on CC2035. Individual members of the AHC/BMF have been following this process from the beginning and we have commented on previous versions of the plan. At this time our comments are primarily focused on the view corridors and the height limits.
We are supportive of the recommended height limits proposed in the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District as well as in the East Portland/Grand Avenue Historic District. We urge the Council to adopt the plan as recommended in these areas. They provide for significant additional development opportunity to promote active street life and development while maintaining the general feel of the historic districts.
We are also supportive of the proposed design guidelines for the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic District.
In addition to advocating for conservation of the specifically architectural character of Portland, the AHC believes that also protecting the distinctive geographic character of our city contributes to preservation of sense of place. It should not be necessary to have access to a high rise building to have access to a view of Mt. Hood, our most iconic landscape element. As a result we are supportive of the public view corridors identified in the currently adopted regulations of the city and we support their inclusion in the CC2035. The views of Mt. Hood from the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, and Vista Bridge are important public resources worthy of preservation as they are an underlying part of the distinctive character of Portland.
We also believe that the Salmon Street Springs view corridor, considered during the CC2035 planning process but dropped, should be protected as without it the view of Mt. Hood from the downtown riverfront will be lost. Given the importance of that vista both for city residents and for attracting visitors (as revealed in the promotional materials from Travel Portland), it is worthy of City protection.
Vegetation management is an important part of view preservation, and we believe that the plan and its policies should make it clear that the enjoyment of the Rose and Japanese gardens is greatly enhanced by the distant and expansive vista of Mt. Hood. Landscape maintenance plans should provide for continued public enjoyment of the distinctive mountain view which enhances our public gardens.
The AHC also believes that the Park Blocks are a significant part of downtown Portland’s character. We urge you to protect the park’s sunlight and trees by establishing appropriate height limits, and along with encouraging active ground floor building frontages along the Park Blocks.
Finally, we find the general lifting of height limits in the West End of downtown and adjacent areas problematic. Without some more specific design guidelines, the city will not achieve the “sculpted skyline” called for in earlier policy statements. It seems obvious to us that protection of the identified historic buildings within the area will not occur with a blanket height increase. In the current development climate, raising the height limits is not the way to get affordable housing. We therefore encourage the council to consider a more nuanced approach to heights and FAR in these areas.
Thanks again for the opportunity to comment.
President, Board of Directors