City commissioners this afternoon tentatively agreed to side with Southwest Portland neighborhood activists who previously criticized the city's approval process for a proposed immigration detention facility in South Waterfront.

The decision today from City Council, which heads to a formal vote next week, essentially allows the federal Department of Homeland Security to move ahead with its plans for office space in South Waterfront. But the council also decided to send the federal agency's plans to create an immigration holding center at the same complex back to the city Bureau of Development Services for a more exhaustive conditional land-use review. Earlier, BDS had determined that was not necessary. In saying it was necessary, council agreed with the South Portland Neighborhood Association.

More than a dozen residents of the Mirabella Portland Retirement Community in South Waterfront arrived by Mirabella bus to watch city commissioners debate the matter. One of them was Irene Tinker, a retired Berkeley professor who is an expert on urbanization. As she was leaving City Hall she declared herself "very happy" with council's decision.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman was absent from today's meeting due to illness.