Former Metro Council President David Bragdon was never shy about voicing his frustration with Oregon's endless planning gridlock.
As chief of the Portland area's regional planning agency, Bragdon chafed at what he called the "paralysis by analysis" of Oregon's public process.
He went from here to a gig in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration (he was director of long-term planning, naturally) and recently gave an interview to Portland environmental magazine Bear Deluxe—where he offers more tough love to Oregon planners.
It's a timely interview, with legislation in the works in Salem to insert lawmakers into Metro's management of how and where the Portland region can grow.
Bragdon says New York City's planning system is aimed toward making big, physical changes to improve the city, while Oregon's (and, by extension, Portland's) starts with keeping things as they are. Both approaches, he argues, end up stifling innovative ideas.
The interview is wonky, but well worth a read. Bragdon's most cutting point is that Oregon is good at making long-term plans, but terrible at keeping track of whether anything is getting done.
So in terms of how to balance the immediate and long term, I discovered the most effective feature in Bloomberg’s PlaNYC is that it contains what they call “goals” for the year 2030, which are aspirational, but it also includes “initiatives,” which are specific actions that they will take in the short term to get on the right path—now! The plan also includes “milestones,” by which the current administration is judged each year as they mark progress toward the applicable goal. So New York City not only declared where it hoped to be in 20 years, the aspirational part which Oregon does very well, but New York City is also honest if it is on the way there this year (the type of accountability which Oregon usually ducks), whether it’s land-use or educational-attainment goals or all that benchmarking stuff they used to do in Salem but then quit doing when the Legislature didn’t want to hear the truth.
Read the whole interview at Bear Deluxe.