planpdx.org: Interview with Arnold Cogan
Date of Interview: March 10, 1999
Interview By: Ernie Bonner
Location: Offices of Cogan Owens Cogan in Portland, Oregon
AC = Arnold Cogan
EB = Ernie Bonner
EB: Arnold is going to tell us a little bit about LCDC, State planning goals and guidelines and how that all got started. But first you are going to tell us a little bit about how you got here, how you got to Oregon.
AC: Oh, you're talking about, literally, how I got here.
EB: Yes, how did you get involved in planning at the state level in Oregon?
AC: Well, how I got to Oregon and how I got involved in planning at the state level are two different things. I was born in the State of Maine, in a little town called Bath, Maine. As my father always loved to say: we've come clean from Bath. We all moved here right after World War II, when I was a little guy. Maine was kind of going down the tubes, economically, after the War, so we moved here and I went to high school and College here. That's how I got to Oregon.
And in my own particular history, I did my undergraduate work in civil engineering. I got a degree in civil engineering from Oregon State University. And after being in the Army and working in engineering I discovered that I did not like being an engineer. So through the help of another engineer in town, Loren Thompson, Ernie, you remember Loren Thompson. When Lloyd Keefe was your predecessor (was he your immediate predecessor), yeah, at the Planning Bureau? Guess we didn't even call it the Planning Bureau at that time, we called it the planning commission. Loren was the chair. As an engineer, I thought, gee, here's a guy who ought to be able to advise me on what to do because I am not happy being an engineer. And I got acquainted with Lloyd and he introduced me to Loren. And Loren said, you are in the wrong business . He was really very nice. I will always remember him as just a wonderful guy. He put me under Lloyd's tutelage (wing) and I began graduate studies at Portland State (Lloyd laid it all out). We didn't have the big urban and regional planning programs up there at that time. But they had enough (Dorothy McCullough Lee was a professor of political science). I took graduate political science, statistics, all the planning courses. So I was in that graduate program, and that is when I got retreaded from being an engineer into a planner. And Lloyd hired me. That was in 1959. One of my first jobs was working for Rod O'Hiser. I had a drafting board right next to a guy named Bob Frasca. And Bob and I worked on a project called Pioneer Courthouse Square-only then we called it the Meier and Frank parking lot. That was one of my first projects. And we worked on the idea--the revolutionary idea--of tearing all that parking down and building an open space in downtown Portland. People thought the idea was somewhere between heresy and communism.
EB: yeah, I've seen the drawings--I saw the drawings once awhile back. I guess there were three options for the development of that as a park. I think I heard Frasca had drawn those options. Yeah, I remember seeing those drawings. That would have been in 1959?
AC: '59 and '60, and long before Pioneer Courthouse Square actually became a reality, obviously. Curious thing for me was (fast forward) when I became president of Pioneer courthouse square board of directors, two years ago.
EB: Isn't that an amazing story from beginning to end?
AC: Yeah, it's amazing. The other open space that I had the opportunity to work on... so then, I will jump around because I am not going to spend much time on it... That was an interesting experience for me, because I was an engineer in the planning bureau even though I was gradually going through this metamorphosis to become a planner. I was working during the day and going to graduate school at night. Lloyd assigned me all of the jobs that connected me to the Transportation Department, the city engineers officer. Fred Fowler was there, the city engineer. Karl Wendt (do you remember any these names?) Karl Wendt was Terry Schrunk's liaison to planning and transportation and engineering. And these guys were going to build a series of ramps extending over Front Avenue. Harbor Drive at that time was the major highway along the river front... and they had all of these leaping, arching ramps going up from Harbor Drive over Front Avenue and into downtown. The first one was the Ash Street ramp. It would have taken people onto Ash Street, so as not to interfere with Front Avenue traffic. These engineers thought that this was just the best thing that they ever heard of. The Ash Street ramp was going to be the first... and then there would be a sort of cascading series of these all the way from Burnside down past the Hawthorne Bridge to connect to the downtown. Their mouths were watering over this whole idea. And so Lloyd was against it (and the Planning Commission was against it), so I was assigned the job of persuading these old grizzly engineers (Fowler and Wendt) I mean, they were old enough to be my grandfather, to say that this was a bad idea. This was like going into Proctor and Gamble and saying, Ivory soap sinks. That was really quite a time. That was one of my memorable experiences there. And another flash forward was that I worked for Tom McCall, when I went to work for him when he got elected governor in 1967, one of the first things... we worked on was the idea of removing Harbor Drive. And I worked on it for about six months, coordinating it again with Lloyd Keefe--he was still there. And when did you arrive?
EB: In 1973. So in 1967 they were already thinking of removing Harbor Drive.
AC: Yes. And so we worked with Glen Jackson, who was the czar of highways. We didn't have a Transportation Department, it was the Highway Division. And I can't remember the name of the state highway engineer, who ran the whole thing professionally, you know, was the staff guy in charge.
EB: Was that George Baldwin--Greg's father?
AC: No... because I went from the city to join the Port of Portland. I became planning director for the port in 1962 and I was there from '62 to '67. Tom was elected governor in 67. Then I went to the state. George was still Manager at the port for a couple more years, probably '67 to '70, something like that. I don't remember exactly. So I was assigned the job of going up to the city and announcing to Mayor Terry Shrunk and his assistant, Frank Ivancie, and my old boss, Lloyd Keefe that we're going to remove Harbor Drive. Their mouths just absolutely dropped. I mean, they were totally stunned. And the compromise, to be able to solve the problem of traffic into North West Portland--particularly the industrial area of northwest Portland and all of the docks and all that out there--was that we would build I-405 with a special ramp off I-405 and Fremont Bridge into the Northwest Industrial area. That was the deal. So I went up to tell them that. And I tell you, there was this stunning moment, for me, to get involved in that. That was another one of those earlier works on the Ash Street Ramp, which, obviously, never got built. We prevailed to stop that, and then to remove that highway there, and then to later build something appropriately named Tom McCall waterfront park. It was really quite an experience.
EB: One thing on that, though. People always talk about Tom McCall as being the one who really started this whole thinking about the waterfront park but other people have different ideas about, well, why did he do that, and when did he do that and what was his reason for it? Was it just wanting a park there?
AC: Well, he didn't have a specific idea of what it should be, he just knew that Harbor Drive shouldn't be there, and that it ought to be an open green space.
EB: yes, some kind of a green space on the river.
AC: But you have to give credit to the guy that really invented the Willamette Greenway. Tom Picked up the idea, but Bob Straub really created the whole concept of the Willamette Greenway. It was Bob's idea, but it was Tom's instincts with his vision and ability to communicate that vision. I mean, he was just a wonderful communicator--something that Bob never was. But Bob was wonderful with the ideas. So Tom really made that thing real. This was just a part of that. It was an effort for the State to make a real contribution.
EB: Well, OK, so you spent some time at the Bureau of Planning and then you said you went to the Port?
AC: One of my notable things at the Port was the creation of the Swan Island Industrial Park--which was my baby, and the Rivergate Industrial District. And the interesting thing of that was I really felt strongly that the Rivergate Industrial District shouldn't be planned out of context with that whole North Portland peninsula. So we got Bob Baldwin from the County, Lloyd Keefe from the City and I (a troika) to plan this on behalf of the city, the county and the Port. And we coordinated this whole thing. The Port paid all the expenses of the consulting work...
EB: This was like '67 or '68, somewhere in there?
AC: Well, I went to work for McCall in '67 so this was from '65 to '67. And one of the really lasting legacies that I was proud of... I am sure you have heard of Kelly Point Park... I suggested to the Port Commission that we set aside 100 acres out here where the Willamette and the Columbia come together. Well, the Port Commission in those days (maybe still is) was very fiscally conservative--I guess that's the best way to put it. Business people. And so Why are we giving this away; this is a hundred acres of prime waterfront property, it is probably of all the pieces in Rivergate, the North Portland peninsula, it is the most valuable piece. We could build condos. Well, in those days we didn't build condos, so we can build some multi-family things or restaurants or something, not give it away as a park for God's sakes. But what I persuaded the group to do is to think of the public relations value. You've got to bring all these people... I mean most people barely heard of the Port and nobody had heard of Rivergate. And who is ever going to drive through it unless you are a truck driver or you want to work there. So I persuaded them that the public relations value of bringing all these ordinary citizens (Ma and Pa and the kids and so forth) to go into the park, they'd go through the Port project. So that's what really captured their imagination. So we got the hundred acres set aside. And it's still a park. So that's just another one of those little vignettes of history.
EB: Out of all those little vignettes a city gets built.
AC: I guess so. So I was with the Port for 5 years. George Baldwin was the general manager. And then I went to work with McCall to be the State Planning Coordinator. McCall created the State Planning Office. Lloyd Anderson had the job of Director of the State Department of Planning and Economic Development, during the Mark Hatfield years, when he was Governor. Gerry Frank was the Chair of the Economic Development Commission. And one of his first things in the new McCall administration... Westerdahl really had this idea... was to remove planning from the Department of Planning and Economic Development and put it into the Governor's Office and make the Governor the Chief Planner of the State. The 1967 legislature did that and that's why it was left as the Department of Economic Development, which it is today. And planning was transferred into the Governor's office and I was made the first professional planner to represent the Governor as the Chief Planner. That was in 1967.
EB: That may be germane to what Vera Katz is going through right now, trying to figure out what to do with planning.
AC: Well, it is in a way because they are trying to decide where is the appropriate place for planning? Should it be out in the departments, should it be under the chief executive? Is it a strategic planning thing, or is it just the physical arrangement of highways and land use.
EB: Well, I think they are thinking about a strategic planning function. Certainly, I have heard that language and that is certainly what I would agree with. I think that is what they should do. It covers everything: schools, parks, social services kinds of things as well as land use--more than land use.
AC: And in land use, one of the first things we started talking about in the Governor's office was a comprehensive statewide land use program. We got started in the late sixties, not as some might believe in 1973 when Senate Bill 100 was passed. And so I began working on that early. The way Westerdahl organized the Governor's staff (there were only about 8 of us, a very small group) was to assign each of us to several legislators. So we divided the legislature up and I had about 12 legislators assigned to me. Then we were assigned issues. I was given land use issues and environmental issues, growth-related issues. So I started working with these legislators on a land use bill. L. B. Day was in that group, along with other people.
EB: He was a State Representative at that time?
AC: He was. We ended up putting together a set of land use bills for the 1969 session. They were Senate Bills 10, 11, 12 and 13--four Bills. Each bill had a specific purpose, for a particular aspect of land use planning. But LB Day was quite a wheeler-dealer; he was a real trader, from the word go. And he was always trading something. He was very big in the labor movement, all his life he was a labor representative. So he always had something on his agenda. I was working away on trying to lobby these 4 bills, and if those 4 bills had passed, we would have had land use planning in Oregon with an anniversary from 1969, not 1973. They contained practically everything that was in Senate Bill 100. Suddenly, and I was just a novice at lobbying then (I really was green) and before I knew it Senate Bills 11, 12 and 13 had been traded for stuff--I never found out what. And we were left with Senate Bill 10, and LB had persuaded Tom that that was all you needed. Tom was sweet, Dear God, but he was very gullible and when you take a guy like LB who was very persuasive and put the two of them together, LB could always persuade Tom; he could wrap him around his finger. And Tom really thought that we had really done something great and noble with Senate Bill 10 in 1969. But it was a mere shadow of what was needed.
So nothing came of it. All that we got was some speeches about how good land use planning is and all this stuff, but it didn't accomplish diddly really, except to set the scene later for Senate Bill 100. So we came very close, at least hoping that we might have had a land use planning bill at that time. But it wasn't to be. It took another 4 years before all the stars were in the right constellation.
EB: Who were some of the state representatives and senators involved in that at that time?
AC: Ted Hallock and Hector MacPherson became the heroes of the '73 session. There was a guy named Cornelius Bateson, who since has died. He was very busy on that Bill and there were several others... Bob Elliot, a republican, was also very active.
EB: Elliot was a metropolitan area legislator?
AC: Yes, he was. Two other legislators who were there then: Earl Blumenauer and Rick Gustafson. They were on my list. They were, of course, in favor of land use planning. But they were new, too. I think they were freshman legislators at that time.
EB: In 1969 you are in the Governor's Office as the head of the planning operation. Did you have staff?
AC: Yes. The staff was made up of people I was able to hire through several federal grants. Lyndon Johnson had been successful in getting the Safe Streets Act passed. We set up grants under several programs, including one for criminal justice/law enforcement. So I had that grant.
EB: Did you have a 701 grant?
AC: Yes, we had a number of HUD 701 grants. And we were the conduit for most of the grants going to the smaller cities. Portland got its own grant since the bigger cities were always able to get their own. The law was written that way. I had a comprehensive health planning grant, one of the first health planning programs in the country. I got that money and I had a group of health planners. We also had the Office of Coastal Zone Management out of the U.S. Department of Commerce which had grants available for states with coastal planning programs. So we were able to start up the OCCDC and we moved that into my shop at DLCD. It started out independently and I helped them get their grant from the feds. I believe we were the second in the nation to get such a grant. So we had these grants coming from all these different places. That's what really made up the budget for me to have a staff. The state was always pretty stingy when it came to giving money for anything. In fact, when we first started the agency (which was right after Senate bill 100 was passed in 1973) we barely had enough money... I think I had only enough to hire 5 people at the department. We didn't even have an office. You've been to the office down there before, you know, the old house on Court Street. The previous tenants had just moved out of there. I found that place. Depending upon who described it, it was either a high-priced whore house or a low-priced flop-house. And maybe it was both. Anyway, the place really stunk inside; the odor was bad. When I first visited it, nothing had been fixed up. And so we got the State to buy it and fix it up. Every office had a full bathroom, including the tub and the whole business. Everybody had a full bathroom.
EB: You need a bathroom when you're doing planning.
So that's in 1969. McCall's in there in his second term.
AC: The land use act was passed in 1973, in his second term; he had been re-elected... his first term was '67 to '71. His second term was '71 to '75. The bill was passed in the 1973 session--the bill that finally got through. Hallock and MacPherson were really the pioneers of that.
EB: Now, Senate Bill 100 also--did that come along with the money, that was later?
AC: Well, that was my problem. I had to go plead for money.
EB: Well, first you had to set up the goals. Did that occur before...
AC: No. The bill was passed in '73. It laid out the skeleton of the goals. That was just a repeat from Senate Bill 10. That survived but it didn't mean anything because You couldn't do anything with it, since the rest of the bills (11, 12 and 13) had never passed. Senate Bill 10 said some nice things if you ever do a plan sometime, you ought to think of these things. That's about all there was. When Senate Bill 100 passed, it had teeth in it... said you had to do a number of things... and there were penalties for not doing it. So I had to first plead for a budget. TheBill called for a Land Conservation and Development Commission, and Tom appoints LB Day as chair, and I'm the Director. So I have to work with LB to try to get a budget. The first thing LB says is: go get Bob Logan's budget. Remember Bob Logan? Bob had become Intergovernmental Coordinator in the Governor's office. He really was attracting a lot of money from HUD. All of my HUD money had been transferred to Bob, because he became the funnel to local government which was the way we organized it. Bob used to be city manager for Tigard. So he really understood cities and he was sort of the connection between cities and the governor's office. So LB says, we need money. Go tell the Governor that we need Logan's budget, and tell him he's not doing anything over there. Logan and LB Day never got along. Get his budget and get rid of him. Bob had really become a friend, and I said I couldn't do that. And LB said if we don't do that, we don't get anything. So, instead of me doing it, LB goes around to his buddies and says, Cogan wants Bob Logan's budget. We ought to do that.
EB: Now, what's the time period on this?
Arnold; This is late '73; early '74. This is after SB 100 had passed.
Ernie; You had had a budget before, but it definitely was not enough to accomplish what was called for in Senate Bill 100.
AC: My budgets before were all those other special planning programs, as mandated by the Feds. When I was planning coordinator, I lived on those grants.
EB: So you get the grants; you take off a portion, for the administrative parts, to fund your office. But the bulk of the money goes somewhere else.
AC: Yes. One of my jobs in the Planning Coordinator job was to create these state administrative districts, these COG's (Councils of Government) around the state, which is what we did. That's where all these COG's came from. And then we got the Governor to sign an executive order mandating that all state agencies have to respect those districts. Instead of 36 counties, we came up with 14 administrative districts. These are entities that local governments used for their planning (regional Planning) around the state. State Agencies were required to support it. We looked at ODOT, DEQ, etc., and mapped 50 different agencies. They each had their own regional pattern, because they organized it to suit themselves. ODOT built it around their maintenance stations. DEQ did it around their air and watersheds. Others did as they pleased. It was to satisfy their own needs. So we forced them to conform to those administrative districts. Everybody could then plan with the same boundaries.
EB: And you also required the approval of those state COG's before State grants were approved?
AC: That's right. So then our stick for local government was we funneled money to them, if they prepared their plans. For all these programs (the safe streets program, comprehensive health program, all this stuff) the federal agencies required plans to qualify for the money, just like HUD does. So we used these regional planning entities as the commonality, like, for example, down in Albany area--the Linn/Benton Association of governments, which still exists today--we put Linn County and Benton County together, so that Albany and Corvallis and Lebanon and all those cities in the two counties, they had to start talking to each other, do planning together. So if they wanted a grant there, some housing grant or a safe streets grant, something like that--we said you guys have to talk to each other. And they did. And they started forming those groups. And so we told State agencies that here's what they are doing at the local level. We want you to do that, too.
EB: Now, is that how CRAG came about?
AC: Yes. And we want you... the state agencies... your budget needs to be built around these regional entities, not around your regions.
EB: So that was going on in the late sixties?
AC: Yes, late sixties, early seventies. That was the scene within which the land use program came about.
Ernie; So at any rate, now that you have Senate Bill 100 in, you're got this huge bill, with all these responsibilities and now you need some real money for yourself.
AC: And that's when LB says: we'll get you Bob Logan's budget. I remember Bob and I were at a meeting about 2 years ago to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Senate Bill 100 and he said he never really go over my raid on his budget. So I told him this whole story. He had never heard that. Wes Kvarsten had only heard the bad stories from Logan. Wes and I always got along real well. He always wondered about my raiding Bob Logan's budget. And this is LB Day. He just couldn't control himself from all this wheeling and dealing.
So anyway, we got a budget without damaging too much of Logan, although we ended up getting some of his budget. And we got some federal money. And we got some state money, directly. So we had enough to get started--didn't have a lot of people, but we got enough. In fact, before we even had that office building outfitted, got the stench taken out, and got the place painted, I rented two vans and we outfitted these vans for workshops and we went on the road. For a whole year, we went on the road.
EB: Talk a little more about that, because I think that was one of the more interesting aspects of that planning effort.
AC: Yes. We said that this program was going to be built from the bottom up--this was not a top down program. I don't know how many times I made that speech. But the complaint of everybody was always: Oh, all these rules and regulations and things come out of Salem and what the Hell... So I said that's not... I mean yes, there's a bill that's been passed but it's only the basic framework. We're going to build this thing up and you're going to help us. And we started... we laid out the first round of meetings (35 cities around the state). I had never been to so much of Oregon until then. 35 cities.
EB: It doesn't sound like too much until you think about it.
AC: Try driving around the state to 35 places. And we didn't just go to have a meeting. We laid out each community as a unit, so that we would always stop and talk to the city editor or publisher of the local paper, whoever it was. We made a visit to some prominent business in town--a lumber mill or whatever. We had dinner with the city council and county board and then just before the meeting we 'd meet with the group that was going to help us sponsor the meeting, oftentimes the League of Women Voters, who helped to provide discussion leaders and other assistance. Then we had the workshop. It was kind of a 2 1/2 hour kind of a set thing. The next morning we would have a de-briefing with the local staff people for breakfast. And then we would drive to the next city and start all over again. 35 times we did that. Have you ever seen the little 30 minute film piece that Bill Bradbury put together?
EB: I actually may have seen the whole movie, but I would like to take a look at that again. That was another... I think that was another wonderful piece of work, too. You had video at a time when that was really out in front of everybody. That was produced by Bill Bradbury.
AC: Bradbury won a national award for that. Just a black and white thing.
EB: Yeah, I would imagine. The concept was so great.
AC: So, we did those meetings all over the state. To try to get people to come to the meetings, we did several things. First, we got 100,000 names off the state voter registration rolls and there were about a million names on the rolls at that time, so we got 10%. And we sent direct mail to those 100,000 people. And we called these "People and the Land" mailings. I still have all that stuff, sort of a big fold-out thing. And we segmented it to different parts of the state--I think we must have had 5 or 6 versions of it, so that the 4 or 5 meetings in your part of state were on there. And we told them that you have been picked at random from this long list, we didn't have enough money to send it out all 1,000,000 registered voters, so you're one tenth, so make it your business to tell 9 neighbors, employees, members of your family, etc. to come to this meeting you're invited to. So that was one thing. And we kept up that correspondence, and we used to get feedback. We stimulated that feedback, but we kept up this correspondence all the way through. Then we taped a whole bunch of public service announcements by McCall. You'll hear this on the videotape. So that coming into Burns we're listening to it... that it's a little minute and a half thing... hello to you folks in the Burns area, there's a meeting tonight and it's going to be with some of the members of our staff from the Department of Land Conservation and Development, they want to hear from you, they want to hear what your thoughts are about these goals, we're writing this program from the ground up, your help is needed. Something like that. Everybody got a special tailor-made announcement for their area. We always had at least a hundred people, sometimes two hundred people at our meetings, even at out of the way places like John Day. Big a attendance. And we always asked questions for sure about the entire state. Over in John Day, we asked them to tell us about other parts of the state of concern to them, that you want to see protected, what should we do? And people talked about the coast, talked about the Columbia River, these kinds of things. So we tried to keep it really a state-wide thing, it wasn't just a local focus.
EB: And the subject of that, those meetings was a set of draft goals that you had prepared, trying to get feedback...
AC: We didn't have any drafts... just the language of Senate Bill 100. Take, for example, the goal to protect agricultural land. So, for people in any part of the state, we would ask: What does this mean to you? What do you think we should do? When you see the tape, you'll get some sense of how the questions were answered. Or, we would ask people... if we didn't ask them directly about the goal... we would ask them what's of concern to you about this part of the state? Then taking out those which were really a high priority, what do you think we need to do about these things? Like up in Pendleton where people worried about agricultural land development, over in Bend where a lot of people were coming there... growth... a lot of worry about growth... and where are those people going to live? So it was interesting how broad-minded, how willing people were to stretch their minds to think about this stuff. Every once in a while, people would say we don't need you over here, we don't need this bill, we don't need this program. But it had wide support, because when it passed the legislature the coalition that Hector MacPherson and Hallock put together were farmers, were (obviously) environmentalists, and League of Women Voters and the Association of Oregon Industries, and we got really, broad-based support. In just one magical moment that all happened to come together. So we had pretty good state support--I mean, from people from all over the state. You always run into people who didn't like it, but there was really strong support, just about everywhere we went.
EB: So then when you came back, then you had all this input and you basically had to put together the goals.
AC: Right. After this first round of meetings, we went back and digested it all, synthesized all this stuff we heard and we started writing the goals. The actual team of people writing the goals was not my staff. I mean, I only had a half a dozen people. I appointed some 14 different committees. We had them all working simultaneously during this public involvement process. We had an agriculture committee, we had a transportation committee, we had a housing committee, we had one on each of the goals. And for each committee I tried to get it completely balanced among business people, academics and people who were experienced in that: business and technical specialsts and agency people. We had a balance on each committee so that they could really put something together with some substance to it. Those committees were the ones who really wrote the goals. Using this input that we had digested from these meetings, that was the first cycle. We went out a second time to the same 35 places within the next 3 months, with these drafts. And we talked about them. And we came back and refined them even further and then we went out a third time.
EB: Three times, and how long did this take you?
AC: All of 1974. We started at the beginning of 1974 and we finished in December. There was a deadline in Senate Bill 100 which said that these final goals had to be in place by the end of 1974. Because we had to give a report to the ''75 session. So that was the reason for the rush. It was an exhausting year, but we did it. And we always sent those drafts out to those 100,000 people.
EB: That was good promotion.
AC: People had a strong identification with this program.
EB: Yes, you could see that in those early years. some people were just religious about it. Really good supporters. Worked hard at it.
AC: And that's why when those ballot measures came up... you know, three times ballot measures came up to scuttle the whole thing. They were defeated by pretty healthy margins. I don't know if that would be true today, but they did then.
EB: it seems to be sure in most recent ones. It gets tested all the time.
AC: It does--at the legislature at least. And we see it at this session--already there are almost 100 bills that have been introduced to do some damage somewhere.
EB: So then in 1975 you went to the legislature with your report. And out of that came what?... a proposal for some money?
AC: a real budget. What was needed was not only money for the agency to oversee the implementation of these goals, but money to go out to the cities because they were without the kind of resources that they needed to comply with the goals. So that began the first of a series of biennial budgets, of grant programs for cities for planning. I think the total over the 20 year period for all that was about 50 million dollars. It was a huge planning effort.
Ernie; Actually, that was not very much money when you think about what it...
AC: No. A huge planning effort. Every city in the state had to come up with a plan. Wall to wall, border to border comprehensive plans. We even set up a system to enlist the participation of the federal government, because half of Oregon is federally-owned. We got a method developed to get them involved in the planning process. They didn't want to give up any sovereignty, but they were willing to participate.
EB: Well, in a lot of cases it didn't really require anybody to give up anything. You couldn't really enforce...
AC: Yeah, what are you going to do with the Mount Hood National Forest anyway?
EB: Right. It just makes sense even for the largest owners just to understand what is going on. OK, so that is '75. Now how long did you hang around there after that? What happened then, I don't recall.
AC: I left in '75, after Bob Straub became governor.
EB: That's right. He would've been elected in '74.
AC: And LB was doing his thing again. He was working with Bob trying to make sure that he had solidified his control of things. So I left in February of '75. That's when we started this firm. So in February, 2000 we will be 25 years old.
EB: Congratulations. And the person who took over for you? I don't recall...
AC: An LB favorite: Hal Brawner. He was a budget analyst. He was my budget analyst from the Department of Administrative Services.
EB: Can you talk about the provisions of Senate Bill 100 which had to do with areas and activities of statewide significance?
AC: Well, one of the early issues (in fact, it went back to 1968 when we were talking about Senate Bills 10, 11, 12, 13) was the philosophy that we were going to follow on this land use program. Because we were aware at that time that, first of all the federal government--with Nixon as President--had passed the National Environmental Policy Act. And NEPA was really all the rage at that time as far as federal programs were concerned. And there were a number of states, including Washington and California, that passed what they called SEPA's (State Environmental Protection Acts), which required within the state that every project that might have a significance to the environment, had to have an environmental impact statement prepared--at the very least an environmental assessment. We didn't have that, except for projects that were federal decisions. So the philosophy that we were exploring was more of a planning philosophy... planning before the project gets conceived, rather than an analysis of its impact after it is. Totally different tracks.
EB: Well, sort of like laying down the laws first... and then everyone pays attention to those, rather than dealing with everything on a case by case basis.
Arnold; Exactly. That's exactly the argument, not pros and cons. The people who argued in favor of "Let's look at the impacts after a project is conceived" ask how do we know what projects are going to be proposed... I mean, how are we going to come up with a plan that is going to take care of every possible development that comes up 5, 10, 15 years from now? They would argue that "Nobody's that smart, so let's just set up a system to analyze the impacts of projects that we can't even imagine might be thought of." On the other hand (and I remember we had these same discussions) if we don't lay the framework for the projects to fit into a community we don't really have any kind of forethought of the community--it just grows by everybody's whim, wherever the next big dollar is going to be spent, or who's got the biggest clout, or who wants to put something some place. The argument in favor of that is that well, that's what made America great, isn't it? But what we were concerned about, in rapid growth areas, these kinds of projects wouldn't come linearly, or one at a kind, they would be coming all at once. No one would really be able to keep up with all that, and if there's no framework for any of this to happen, we'll just grow any which way. There's no pattern to it at all. Cities will just grow any which way.
EB: Well, you could have had a process whereby you took the 14 goals for the state and evaluated all different development proposals under those goals. That would have been one way to do all of that. In other words, they wouldn't have had to do a plan. They would only have to establish a process.
AC: The other part of it all. We could see what was happening in California and Oregon and Washington. Getting through these processes was not easy. They were expensive, they were time-consuming.
EB:... and uncertain.
AC: You never knew where they were going to go. In Oregon, interest groups wanted certainty. And one of the reasons why the Home Builders and the Association of Oregon Industries and others supported the program was the predictability it promised.
I mean, we want to know if we start this process, permits, whatever, we want to know there is some realizable end point, relatively soon, that we can get there.
Now, in the beginning, before communities had had all their plans prepared, what you had to do if you wanted a permit, you had to go through all the goals. You had to do just like you did at the City. It was very laborious and time-consuming. Once that plan was prepared, it just flip-flopped. If you didn't need a zone change, if you didn't need an urban growth boundary change, you were going to put whatever you had, condo, subdivision, shopping center or whatever, if it was zoned for that, you could probably get your permit in 2 weeks--if you could pass all the other things, like making sure the sewers are sized properly and you got the right size foundations, you get your permit in a couple weeks. It certainly wasn't held up in the zoning department. If it was anywhere , it was in the Bureau of Buildings or wherever. And so people became believers that this process really did work. Now, if you are going through a Metro process or try to go through an urban growth boundary and LUBA remands it and it's going to take 2 years to go... that's a different story. But if you are properly zoned and in an area where the plan is acknowledged and approved by LCDC, it's a slam dunk. Compare that with what happens now in the State of Washington. They still have the environmental protection act provisions, but now they've passed the Washington growth management act, which comes close to what Oregon has. And now they have both up there.
EB: There was another choice that was made, too, at the very beginning. That was the choice as between state emphasis on either the locally-adopted plans or on the areas of critical statewide significance. It never seemed to me that much attention was directed to that aspect of the Bill.
AC: That was in the original bill. In the original bill, Senate Bill 100, you will see a provision on the subject of areas of statewide significance. And the examples used were always the coast, the gorge, things like that. We started working on that in the early days. And it didn't take very long for a variety of interests, primarily led by folks like Bill Moshofsky and others, to get the legislature to remove that. So that was eliminated.
It is no longer a part of LCDC's function. Everyone laments that. The old timers at the Department of Land Conservation and Development say that we could have really done something with that provision. It's not there. It would have been worthwhile having, but that was a sacrifice. Maybe LB was responsible for that, too, I don't know.
EB: There are a lot of things about that experience that were really new to the country. In fact, the Fasano decision--you know, in Washington County--was quite a bit of support for your citizen participation goal. Certainly the idea that you have to keep these processes open and unbiased. Everybody bitched and moaned about that, I remember that, like crazy at the beginning. And the changes in the processes of decisions on land use matters became very, very labored.
AC: There have been some significant court cases, like that one. And it really had a lot to do with the way the program is shaped today. That's how lawyers... I mean, lawyers have become a major part of the process now. Most planning firms like us are never involved in a case without a lawyer. There are so many legal issues and elements in the program now. In fact, I think the lawyers are really more driving it than the planners--I don't know what the truth of it is.
EB: Well, it certainly seems like that to me. And I know there is a clear kind of opinion voiced often that lawyers have taken over planning. And actually, a lot of the impetus for that were the state goals and guidelines and the legal framework that developed around them because it was a law. And, I don't know, I suppose that had something to do with it... Each of the cities that has begun developing its own plan has itself, I think, burdened itself by lots and lots of laws and processes.
AC: It's interesting that the last two planning directors in Portland have been lawyers--David Knowles and Bob Stacey.
EB: And the product has been process, procedure, rules. And I think that's where planning is a lot now.
So what's your practice like now, with respect to planning?
AC: Well, I'd say about a quarter of what we do is still in the area of land use--a lot less than it was. Linda Davis is really the main support, but two other people we have here, Kirstin Greene, who's Lynn Musolf's step daughter, and Matt Hastie, are both trained in planning, with strong emphasis on land use planning. Of course, Jim Owens has done a lot of land use. I have done some. So we still do quite a bit of that, but I would say that our practice is moving more and more into the area of policy development and policy analysis and not just land use policy, but just basic public decision making, institutional arrangements, governance. Those are the areas where we really spend a lot of our time... and intergovernmental relationships, institutional relationships. And Elaine spends gobs of tim in the whole area of public dialogue and consensus building, task force facilitation. She's doing this work for the Mayor's office on how should long range planning be carried out in the City of Portland. I facilitated one of them, the session she had pertaining to what's the ideal planning director, what should be the skills of the planning director? We're talking about someone with a master's in business administration, a doctorate in psychology or someone with a planning degree or someone who's a master designer, maybe all that.
EB: Well, I'll tell you the problem is that the people who are employing this person do not want anybody who's anywhere near like a hero. I can just imagine somebody who had confidence, having a constituency of his own, her own, was well-respected across the country and who had a very distinct idea of what to do would not get along without conflict in any city hall I know of.
AC: Probably not. I think you're probably right.
EB: Well, what else can you tell us about Planning in Portland in the'70's?
Arnold; There's one other point that I can think of that you didn't ask me but I will add it because I don't know if you want to... it's not history. You just mentioned what do we do next? What happens next? What should we be doing today for the next 25 years? And we've got a downtown plan that is 25 years old, we've got a state land use program that's 25 years old. So we've hit the peak and do we just ride along that peak, or do we go up or do we go down or what? And my contention is that things never stay the same... that equilibrium never exists forever. That the status quo is not what it's cracked up to be. It's gone long after the quo has lost its status. So what do we do now for this land use program? I think that the time has come with or without the legislature, preferrably without, I guess. But I think the time has come for a significant re-evaluation of the land use program. Because I think many of the values and issues that we had to contend with 25 years ago are not exactly the same. We have new issues. We have a different kind of growth happening. We have new environmental issues. We have endangered species which we never thought about before and it has a whole profound impact on how land use is carried out, not just land use next to a stream but everywhere, particularly in a big area like the Willamette Valley. And how do we deal with all of the inter-relationships. Before we thought of these cities one other time I mentioned these COGS--well, outside of Metro we have mid-Willamette COG and we've got LCOG and we've got a few others but we don't do a whole lot of planning together. I mean, those cogs maybe solve some transportation problems together, maybe air pollution, but we're not really doing much together in the way of planning. So I think there's a whole bunch of issues that we didn't concern ourselves with 25 years ago, but we need to today. And then the other part about it is recognizing that most, well, over half of the people in Oregon today, never were here. They weren't part of those roots. 'They weren't born yet. They hadn't moved here. They didn't have any connection with it. So that we talk like 10 or 15 years ago when those ballot measures came up, people voted to defeat these attacks on the land use program because they were part of it, they had bought into it. They owned it. Many people in Oregon, most people in Oregon now don't have that sense of ownership. So I think we need to combine the re-evaluation with a major public involvement process--something bordering on the kind of program we did before. I'm not just talking about going over To Bend and that central Oregon, eastern Oregon trip and that we ought to Lincoln City and that's the coast and go down to Salem and that's the valley and one other place maybe go to Medford. I mean, this business of 3 or 4 or 5 places I don't think will do it. I think we got to go out where people are, and really touch base with a grass roots, major grass roots effort. So I think that that's essential to really renew the program, re-design it, re-direct it.
EB: I certainly couldn't agree with you more about that. One of the things I've wondered about is whether we don't need some kind of reasonable evaluation of where we are. I mean, I myself think that we're worse off now than we were 25 years ago, partly because expectations now are so high. And also because the scale of the power of the force is so great and change can happen so rapidly that you could lose it in a minute. In many ways, we got... not only do we have the same banks as the rest of the world, the same insurance companies, the same retailers, they're the same company.
AC: Much more fragile.
EB: Exactly. So we are much different from what we were then. When you could go and catch yourself 15 or 20 major downtown business men, put them in a little committee, and make decisions, that won't happen any more. Things are really different. That is what really scares me the most. We don't have... we haven't prepared, or people don't seem to have a good understanding of how different they are, which could be the basis on which we all could act and respond. But I certainly couldn't agree with you more. We need a complete re-evaluation and on top of that, we need to get that to people.
AC: Until then I think we will continue having all this unrest, I think the legislature is continuing to crank out all these bills, to chip away at this and change that. I mean, the latest one I am working on behalf of the Oregon chapter of the APA is this perennial not perennial, but biennial, is this taking issue. I mean, where you have people opposed to land use planning they think that if they can only make government pay for zoning your land. They took away your value. You wanted to put a 4-plex and you can only put a single family, that's your property. You ought to be compensated. And so this comes up, every, every session for the last 4 sessions. And it's not just in Oregon, it's all over the country. So that's been my typical issue. Every time it comes up, they send me the stuff and say Cogan, come up with some testimony for this, we have to beat this thing back. So I get Kvarsten into it and get a few other people, but it's just one out of a hundred bills that are kind of making their way through the corridors in Salem. So I think that we'll probably never do away with all the crazies who come up with their pet fix, but I think if we get people connected with the program again and understanding it and believing it and owning it and the program is oriented toward the real problems of today, I think we would have less of this tinkering and mischief down in Salem. And people will believe in and respect the program.
EB: So who could sponsor such a thing?
AC: Well, I have been trying to get the Governor to do it. But all I keep hearing from the Governor and some people is that, Gee, not now, we've got to wait until the legislature gets out of here. If you bring up something like that now they'll just take it to... who knows what will come of it. So I'm biding my time here for the legislature to conclude and then to go talk to the Governor again.
Editor's note: And then came Measure 7.
[End of Interview]