Community Development as a Planning Priority

Pam Phan
Tue, 01/26/2016 - 3:00pm

Seattle shares lessons learned with Portlanders combating displacement and gentrification

1000 Friends hosted Community Development Manager Nora Liu, from Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development and Ryan Curren, Former Program Manager of Seattle’s Office of Housing for an informal conversation about how to include anti-displacement and affordability in city planning. Anti-Displacement PDX (ADPDX) Coalition Members joined us to have an illuminating conversation. Seattle staff were just as curious about how ADPDX has been able to gain such great success with Portland’s Comprehensive Plan, and hope to do the same this year in Seattle. Among their questions for Portlanders was how did ADPDX gain the political steam to win policies in the proposed plan? Pam Phan, 1000 Friends Housing Program Manager and ADPDX Co-Cooridinator replied,  “the last year has been busy building a coalition of grassroots,advocacy and environmental groups, non-profit affordable housing developers, and community partners. We’re learning how to support and collaborate with one another.” A key component of the ADPDX Coalition has been asking the hard questions about how historic development practices and land use policies in Portland have created the disparities and segregation we see today.  ADPDX has come to understand that displacement and the impacts of gentrification are signs of growing inequity in Portland, and that starting with Oregon’s compulsory land use planning system can be an innovative and long-lasting way to address these gaps. 


In Seattle
8 years ago the City of Seattle started the Race and Social Justice Initiative as a proactive way to change the underlying system that creates race-based disparities in Seattle, and whose goal is to achieve racial equity.  The Offices of Planning and Community Development and Housing intentionally spent 3 years providing the support and training necessary for grassroots and cultural groups in SE Seattle (demographically a multicultural, low to moderate income area much like East Portland) to gain the capacity and knowledge to engage in planning with the City. Through this process, Seattle staff heard loud and clear that neighborhood stability, fear of displacement and affordability were at the core of all residents of this diverse area. Now at the end of this three year period of building relationships and capacity, Seattle staff are working with community groups to include anti-displacement policies as they begin to draft their own Comprehensive Plan. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray started the Seattle 2035: Growing to Achieve Race and Social Equity Initiative to ensure that equitable development, race, and social equity goals are incorporated in the City’s Comprehensive Plan.
What does this mean for Portland and Oregon?
We learned that many of the race and social equity measures that Seattle is considering are in line with policies and tools that ADPDX and 1000 Friends currently advocate for, and have been drafted into Portland’s Comprehensive Plan Update.  We’re encouraged to hear from peer cities that we’re on the right track to addressing disparities.  Of course the devil is often in the details, and it will be imperative to monitor implementation of the affordability and equitable development policies being considered by Portland’s City Council now.  Follow 1000 Friends and our activities as a part of the ADPDX Coalition on our facebook (link to 1kf and adpdx).
Want to learn more?  
1000 Friends of Oregon “urban team” Pam Phan and Mary Kyle McCurdy will hear Seattle Mayor speak at Metro’s Equitable Housing Leadership Summit (in Portland, OR February 1st).  Mayor Ed Murray will share his experiences building consensus based solutions in housing and equity concerns in Seattle.