Asreported by The Oregonian's Mark Larabee, mayor-elect Sam Adams has announced a series of changes in both the makeup and management of several city bureaus.
Most significant to the design and construction community may be that the Office of Sustainable Development and the Bureau of Planning will be combined into the Bureau of Sustainable Planning & Development. Adams told the Oregonian the move is meant to ensure sustainable principles are at the center of all city planning and building. The bureau will be headed by Susan Anderson, who has heretofore headed the Sustainable Development office. Planning director Gil Kelly is being laid off.
What do the rest of you think of Kelly being gone and the merger of bureaus? According to various reports, his departure had been rumored for awhile. Anderson is a very capable manager, but in a city famed for its planning, should there be concern that the new planning bureau is not being run by a planner? It's natural (if you'll pardon the pun) to want sustainable principles to inform every planning decision, but did sustainability just eat planning? Perhaps I'm over-reacting. But just as with architecture itself, I worry that the very necessary sustainable movement has the fervor to overtake previous concerns. Not every aspect of design and planning has to do with ecology and energy efficiency. You tell me: will we still have strong planning in Portland in addition to strong sustainability leadership?
In other changes and assignments announced by Adams, the Bureau of Housing and Community Development will be split up, creating a new Bureau of Housing and moving development functions to the Portland Development Commission. This seems like a more than reasonable consolidation. At the same time, PDC takes a lot of flak sometimes, and they are now the city's only development force. Also new will be an independent Office of Healthy Working Rivers, staffed by members of the Bureau of Environmental Services and Planning.
As many readers here already know, the city has had a fairly convoluted permitting process. Requests for development can sometimes go through seven different bureaus before finally approval - way too slow. Adams announced that all permitting will now go through the Bureau of Development Services. There will also be a feasibility study conducted regarding establishment of a one-stop customer service center where all city services can be accessed.