Portland – Meeting with Joe Zehnder, Chief Planner

As we commended Joe on what a great city Portland is, he noted that there is a comedy called "Portlandia" on TV which makes fun of the smugness of Portland people in their pride for their city…! We will look out for it.

The City of Portland is in the middle of developing their 25 year plan, which they have looked closely to the Sustainable Sydney 2030 plan for guidance. We were invited back to a meeting with the team putting this together so John could converse with them about specific issues relating to the development of Sydney's plan and how this might impact on theirs.

Sustainability was added to the title of Joe's department a year and a half ago. They also include building codes in their purview, but transport is separate. Does Joe believe in regulations? Yes and no. He believes it is better to put in place initiatives that encourage the market to take up ideas - they should want to adopt rather than be forced to do so. This worked well for green roofs - incentives were initially provided which are now not required as they are so widely included in new buildings. However, regulations are needed to set a minimum standard or create a market place.

Susan Anderson, a senior staff member, has gained $100's of millions in federal funding to deliver "weatherization" of buildings. This is seen as a really good stimulus initiative that will create:

-       energy saving benefits

-       employment for people doing the work

-       economic benefits from the boarder results of the work

It is paid for by the owners who are given low % loans which are capitalized into their mortgages, and paid for through their utility bills.

We talked more broadly about how the Council of Portland works and how their laws comply - or don't - with the broader state rules. As Portland is different, they have often successfully argued that the broader rules should not be applied to them - and won! I wonder what the PCA would think about such variation across each state and the country?!

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