At a May 28, 2020 public hearing on the re-adoption of the Central City 2035 Plan, City Council heard testimony from 30 people and reviewed written testimony from 147 more before closing the record on June 4. Testifiers advocated for and against the re-adoption of the CC2035 plan, which had been remanded back to the City of Portland by the state after an appeal.
You can read a summary of the testimony or visit the MapApp to read individual pieces of testimony. Much of the testimony centered around the subject of the remand: increased height limits in the New Chinatown/Japantown Historic district, both in favor and against.
In favor of re-adoption
Many individuals, as well as representatives of the Old Town/Chinatown Neighborhood Association (OTCA) and Lan Su Classical Chinese Garden, testified in support of the proposed maximum height limits for both the area north of NE Everett and Block 33 because:
- New Chinatown/Japantown is primarily a cultural district. These characteristics of the district would not be affected by the proposed height limits.
- The OTCA supports re-adoption specifically to be able to develop key catalytic sites, such as Block 33, to stimulate a denser and more diverse mix of uses.
- The provisions in the plan that incentive more workforce- and market-rate housing are desperately needed to create a safe, active and vibrant district with a balance of residents across economic demographics.
- The New Chinatown/Japantown and Skidmore Old Town Design Guidelines will help preserve historic structures by making sure new development emphasizes the districts’ architectural significance.
- Lan Su Classical Chinese Garden supports greater density as essential to the long-term reinvigoration of this important historic district.
- The redevelopment of vacant lots will help to restore gaps in the street wall and bring more activity to the district, which is important for the preservation of the historic resources.
Some of the testimony addressed process
- The City must codify clearly that zoned heights in historic districts are permissive, not an entitlement. They are a maximum, not a guarantee.
- Codify that the Landmarks Commission has authority to adjust heights and setbacks to ensure compatibility with historic context.
Saving historic buildings
Other testifiers, both in favor of and against height limits in Old Town Chinatown/Japantown Historic District, requested that the city take more direct action to help save historic buildings:
- Take a stand against demolition by neglect. Pass an ordinance with meaningful penalties. There should be no reward for letting an historic building fall into such disrepair that owners claim the building is too far gone.
- Long-promised urban renewal funds should be funneled into seismic retrofitting and restoration of the existing historic buildings and legacy businesses, not just into new construction.
Other testimony topics
- Re-adopt the plan and prevent further development delays and economic hardships caused by the remand.
- Support the plan and retain the ecoroof requirement.
- Delay re-adoption in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and consider different long-term approaches to urban design and density.
- Delay the vote on the plan until after the November general election when all Council seats are filled.
- Consider changing how floor area is transferred across the city.
The Re-adoption Draft and the Findings of Fact report (contained within the City Council packet) are available now:
City Council will hold a work session and vote on July 2 at 2 p.m. No public testimony will be taken. The second reading and final vote will take place on July 8 or 9. If approved, the CC2035 Plan will go back into effect 30 days later.