For years (since 1989 to be specific) the City of Milwaukie has been stuck operating under an outdated Comprehensive Plan (a Comprehensive Plan is the document that sets the context for future growth and development.) Comprehensive plans for cities are supposed to be updated every ten years, with ours dating back over twenty. Part of the reason for this is a lack of money, whether it be from the city, or state – which stopped their funding because the state ran out of money. Every time the panning commission tries to change something they have to tap dance around the comp plan because we haven’t done a new one.
So, this last year the planners took off their bike shoes (many of them bike to work) and instead strapped on their dancing shoes and started to make some magic happen. Now we have upgraded ‘green’ standards for apartment buildings, with the big residential design guidelines having been started by former City of Milwaukie Planning Director Katie Mangle. Previous to this newly adopted code there were no standards other than the state building code, which is pretty lax. “We have Light Rail coming to town, which will bring development so we wanted to make sure we got the guidelines done.We had no design guidelines for multi-family residential (apartment buildings.)” -Mark Gamba, planning commission. Now, because of this new thing you can build a cottage cluster and we now allow row houses (which we never allowed) and granny flats. (Small dwelling units built in basements, garages or next to existing homes have been permitted since 1998 on most Portland residential lots to encourage infill development and lifestyles with a lighter environmental impact. They’re known as granny flats, mother-in-law apartments or the more formal Accessory Dwelling Units.) Row houses are important because it’s another form of multi-family residential and it still feels like a neighborhood, and can now be used instead of apartments. Strip clubs are still not allowed in town and never have been – so if you think our city has a reputation for it you are wrong. We are instead surrounded by them because of Portland and unincorporated Clackamas County.
But we still face the problem of our outdated comprehensive plan, which will be a source of trouble for our city if we don’t address it. “The state passed a law that stipulates we will have to have our CO2 levels that of 1990 – it has gone up dramatically since then because of coal and cars. In Oregon the rate of increase has been all about cars. What science very clearly tell us that if we hope to survive as a species we have to get our CO2 levels back below the levels of 1990 (350ppm CO2).” -Mark Gamba.
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