April 16th, 2009 5:33 pm | by BETH SLOVIC News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, City Hall, CLEAN UP

Rooftop Rose: A Thorn in the Side of Local Designers?


Jeff Joslin, a former city land use manager for urban design, design review, and landmarks review, "retired" earlier this year. Over at Portland Architecture, a bizarre thread of comments followed his announcement when a number of anonymous Portlanders criticized Joslin online for exercising what they called undue power during his 15-year reign at Portland's Bureau of Development Services.

But City Commissioner Randy Leonard came to Joslin's defense, writing on Portland Architecture that "I wished we had more public servants like Jeff Joslin."

This week, Joslin is not returning the favor.

In response to Leonard's plan to plant a giant neon rose atop McCall's Waterfront Cafe, which will be leased to the Portland Rose Festival for $1 a year just in time for the annual event this year, Joslin is urging more people to speak out against the proposal [PDF]. City Council heard more about Leonard's idea on Wednesday and will vote on it next week.

On Monday, Joslin sent out an email [PDF] saying Leonard was circumventing city process. "Never in the history of the City's design and historical regulation has such an ordinance been crafted to sidestep public participation in such a matter, let alone on such a senstive and signficant structure," Joslin wrote.

Leonard (whose dog, incidentally, is named Rosey) considers his proposal for the Rose Festival an elegant one, according to a description on his blog. His goal is to have McCall's (and the neon rose) ready by May 22, the beginning of the Rose Festival.

Leonard's office defends the process and the efforts to restore McCall's. "Where has Mr. Joslin been during the decades of deterioration this building has suffered through?," asks Ty Kovatch, Leonard's chief of staff. "For 20 years the building has been unmercifully altered, including an iron gate blocking the original south entrance and a hood vent and air conditioning units that can be seen from outer space. In the context of Randy Leonard being the singular reason this 'sensitive and significant structure' is being renovated, I would expect Mr. Joslin to have a little more perspective than he is demonstrating. The addition of the Rose Festival and the rose sign to the building, along with our application to place the building on the National Register of Historic Places, will elevate the visibility and relevance of the building so that the history of neglect that this building has suffered will not be repeated."

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