Two committee members helping to craft a city plan for the next 20 years of Portland's West Side have issued a scathing criticism of the plan's environmental goals.
Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland, has joined longtime Willamette River advocate Jeanne Galick in releasing a minority report calling the West Quadrant Plan "a major disappointment."
"Although the committee met 16 times over the course of more than 15 months," Salinger and Galick write, "the environmental objectives and actions contained within this plan for the most part never advanced beyond vague aspirations…. While other cities are developing highly ambitious green strategies, Portland appears to be increasingly living off its green reputation."
The West Quadrant Plan sets out goals for Southwest and Northwest Portland through 2035, as part of a larger planning process called the Central City Plan. These goals tell city officials how to craft policies for land use, transportation, business districts and the environment.
The minority report criticizes the city for not setting meaningful benchmarks for "water quality, climate change mitigation, riverbank restoration and enhancement, sustainable stormwater management or environmental justice objectives."
Salinger and Galick also say the West Quadrant Plan needs specific targets for salmon recovery and quotas for green roofs.
The two save their harshest words for what they describe as city planners quietly abandoning a plan to remove the seawall at Tom McCall Waterfront Park and create a more natural riverbank, including beaches.
"The idea of removing part of the seawall to provide both river access and habitat restoration activities at Tom McCall Waterfront Park was raised throughout this process," they write. "However it receives only a single vague reference in the final draft. The stakeholder committee was told at the final meeting that this concept had been rejected by other city bureaus due in part to the complexity and expense of the project."
Officials from the city's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability declined WW's request for comment.
"We just received Bob’s letter this afternoon and don’t have a response for you at this time," says senior planner Karl Lisle. "We should have one early next week."