planpdx.org: Interview with Robert Baldwin
Robert "Bob" Baldwin was the County Planning Director when he was tapped in 1971 by City Commissioner Lloyd Anderson and County Commissioner Mike Gleason to coordinate the activities of those working on the Downtown Plan.
Date of Interview: December 1994
Interview By: Ernie Bonner
Location: Robert Baldwin's home in Southwest Portland.
I was born in Portland, in Laurelhurst, grew up in Sunnyside, where my grandfather had built 4 houses back in 1906, at 32nd and Belmont. They're still there. I went to junior high school and senior high school in Tacoma when our family moved up there for about 7 years. We came back to Portland and I went to the University of Oregon as a sculpture major in 1941. Then I went into the Navy, and when I came back I switched to architecture. I graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Architecture degree. I took a couple of courses in city planning at that time and I was very intrigued with it. And I talked with Margaret Fritch, who was the secretary of the AIA, and helped architects and planners find jobs in the Portland metropolitan area, and she put me onto Lloyd Keefe and I went to work for him as a temporary for 6 months. I enjoyed it very much, and from that went for a year and a half to the Housing Authority where we worked on the Vaughn Street urban renewal project. That project never flew because it was never funded by the City. There was a lot of objection from the realty board to doing urban renewal at that time.
Then Multnomah County established a permanent planning commission and embarked upon a planning program and I was hired as, first, a planning technician and then a senior planner with the County. That was 1953. I worked for Lloyd Anderson for about 4 years, and when he left, I became Planning Director. I was Planning Director until 1975. I went through the first adoption of a Development Pattern or Comprehensive Plan for the whole County, the first zoning ordinance for the whole county, and on through to the days of Senate Bill 100, LCDC and redoing the whole County plan again. For four years, Martin Cramton was the Planning Director and the Department was reorganized and I had mostly responsibility for implementation of the zoning ordinance, subdivision ordinance, etc. I ended up re-writing the county zoning ordinance and the land division ordinance. When Martin left, I went back to being Planning Director for a couple years.
In 1969, beginning in about March, I was involved from the County standpoint, in some issues in Downtown Portland. The County owns the bridges, or did at that time, and there were problems with Harbor Drive, Front Avenue, etc. As I recall, the opening of I-405 re-routed a lot of trucks onto Harbor Drive, which paralleled the Willamette River, and made for a very disruptive situation in the downtown area. The trucks didn't have good access to the Northwest industrial district from I-405, but they did from Front Avenue and Harbor Drive, so they would get off the freeways and go on Harbor Drive. So that was one problem--a major problem--with the downtown. And the County was interested in what was going to happen to Harbor Drive because it meant changing the interchanges or the connections with the bridges in the central area--the Hawthorne Bridge, the Morrison, the Burnside and Broadway, particularly.
Along about that same time, people began talking about a new plan for Downtown. The City Planning staff had attempted a downtown plan some years earlier, which never came to fruition. It didn't have a lot of support from the downtown owners and managers, nor from the City Council, as it turned out. Then the downtown people formed a corporation and hired Lloyd Keefe as their Director. He left the City Planning Commission and went to work with this group to try to construct a downtown plan. And that didn't work either. So there was quite a bit of discussion about how to resolve these problems.
With the opening of the Lloyd Center, on the near east side across the river, a lot of shops and stores in the downtown area, moved over to the Lloyd Center. If they didn't close their downtown stores, they had bigger, better and newer ones over on the other side of the river. And everybody was scared. Yeah, there was real panic.
The transportation system in downtown was also a major problem. The bus Company had failed. The legislature and the people created a transit district which became Tri-Met. And they had an obligation to try to resolve the problems. In the Summer of 1969, Tri-Met bought the old Blue Line and the Rose City Transit kind of went out of business.
And then the City was involved in the Meier & Frank parking garage. Meier & Frank had a 2-story parking garage on that block and they wanted to build a bigger one. And, of course, that was a threat to the downtown area, too, because that would attract even more cars right into the central area, across from the number 1 retailer in the core area. That was not a good idea. The city did not approve it. But the decision left everything hanging. Meier & Frank was unhappy. They didn't have enough parking to attract people to their downtown store. And there probably was discussion about closing that store at some time; I wouldn't be surprised.
Well, my association with the downtown plan first started with these meetings in 1969 and early 1970 about Harbor Drive. There were a number of meetings about that, with a Harbor Drive Task Force, meetings with the City Council, the Governor's office; and CH2M was also involved as a consultant for some folks. My impression is that the trigger for the downtown plan effort was Dick Ivey. He was the Planning Director for CH2M. He went around and talked to city officials, downtown businessmen and property owners, citizens, and anybody who would listen, to say we can put together cooperatively an effort to develop a downtown plan. And Lloyd Anderson, who was my boss as the Planning Director at Multnomah County when I first went there, was now on the City Council, and had a lot to do, as the Public Works Commissioner, had a lot to do with questions about Harbor Drive and the bridges and re-routing sewer lines and whatever else was involved. And he and Dick Ivey were friends because they had both worked for the Bureau of Municipal Research and Service in Eugene. So they knew each other--I think Dick worked for Lloyd down there.
By one means or another, they managed to put together a general proposal to develop a downtown plan, with a business, owners and managers group, as one advisory committee with a lot of say as to what was going to happen in the downtown--they were investors, of course. They were called the Downtown Committee, made up of about 13 of the key people in the downtown area. We called them the "Powerful Downtown Committee." And they sure were. When you list people like Paul Murphy, Glenn Jackson, Ira Keller, Pete Mark, Ralph Voss. It included some pretty powerful people--the leaders of Portland. Anybody who was a leader who wasn't in this group felt left out, so they wanted to get in. They also constructed a Citizens Advisory Committee of about 18 people, with a broad perspective of folks from all over the city, not focused on the downtown. So you have the strong downtown interests as one advisory committee and the citizens generally as the other.
Dick (Ivey) put together a team of people from CH2M and Lloyd Keefe put together a team from the City Planning Department. There were also a number of consultants DeLeuw-Cather on traffic and transportation. There was Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, as architects. The Tri-Met people had a transportation consultant. The State Highway Dept. was involved with Harbor Drive. The City Traffic Engineer and the City Public Works Department. So there were all these entities, trying to work together to pull together to do a downtown plan. And, I guess maybe it was Ivey's suggestion that what they needed was a neutral figurehead, a coordinator--somebody who had some background in planning and administering a planning program but was not directly involved in any issues in the downtown area. So they asked me if I would do that job. We talked with the county commissioners, and the county decided that my participation as the staff coordinator would be the county's contribution to the downtown planning effort, since they did have the bridges as an interest, and continued to have, and the access from the east side into the downtown, they thought that was critical.
At that time, Lloyd Anderson was very important on the Council. Neil Goldschmidt had just come on. Terry Schrunk was the Mayor. Ivancie and Connie McCready were also on the Council.
Well, in August of 1970, as near as I can tell from my records, there were some day-to-day conferences with Dick Ivey and Mike Gleason, who was the chair of the County Commissioners (my boss) and some of the downtown people: "Was that OK with them, etc.," I went around and met with all of those people. I kind of tried to demonstrate my neutrality and my planning skills at the same time. I wasn't going to... I didn't have any ax to grind, or anything to achieve except a good, responsible plan. And that was not what Lloyd Keefe had in mind. He had very specific things he wanted to get done, and other people didn't want that to happen. Lloyd Keefe was ineffective. He did put together a St. Johns plan that I think was the first comprehensive plan adopted by the city. The Downtown Plan was the second. He had never done one before. But, essentially, he did not have the confidence of the two or three most powerful and long-term City councilmen, and his own council man. So it was always difficult for him to carry out programs. He could keep the crank going, but...
Ivey had put together a work program, a sequence of events and an indication of the roles that various people would play in pulling the thing off. CH2M had a contract with the downtown people, which eventually evolved into Portland Progress, but it wasn't called that at that time. The City was financing its staff. There were 6 planners and draftsmen and cartographers on the city staff: Rodney O'Hiser, George Shipely, John Oace, Robert Thomas, Corey Jordan and Beverly Nelson. Rod and George were professional planners. John was newly on staff. I don't remember Robert Thomas.
CH2M Hill people, besides Dick Ivey, were Dick Brainard, John McCormick, who's now back in Portland, Bill Blosser (who is now the chair of LCDC) and Judy Galantha. Then there was DeLeuw-Cather and technical assistance from the City Traffic Engineer, Tri-Met, the Building Owners and Managers Association (Stan Goodell was their Executive Secretary, and worked almost every day with our staff) John Kenward, PDC; Robert Low, of PSU; Robert Schroeder of the Oregon State Highway Department; Gary Woods of CRAG; Dave Frederiksen of the Port of Portland. And the Office of the City Engineer.) So there were these several different consultants, I think at one time we had 7 different consultants, plus a city staff of planners and a consultant's staff of planners.
The planners all moved to a single location. The Downtown Committee worked out an arrangement to loan them a sidewalk frontage building I think it's on SW Second Avenue, at about Taylor, between Salmon and Taylor on the east side, as I recall. So we had a huge big room and we had a conference table in the back and we would meet, well, my calendar shows that I am meeting two and three times a week for at least every week, one morning a week on this plan, for the better part of a year--a little more than a year, in fact. And my calendar also shows that after the Citizens' Advisory Committee was established that we met regularly with them and as the plan documents, some of the language, some of the issues became clearer, they became more and more involved.
The first notation I have of a citizens advisory committee meeting was on Nov. 12, 1970, and that would be about 3 months after I was tabbed as the coordinator. And they met at the new Heathman Hotel for lunch, so I suspect that was the first meeting.
By that time we had some sketch ideas. I think that the basic concept about what to do with Harbor Drive was jelling and the real push for that was Glenn Jackson, who said "Let's close it." And he talked with Tom McCall about that, about closing it, about what happens if we just close it. Dick Ivey may have caused him to say that, but I think that Glenn wanted to make a very positive visual contribution to the city, and that was something that he could do. He was head of the Highway Department and he could just say that we're going to do this and that was the way the Highway Department ran at that time. If the chairman said this is what's going to happen, then that was what's going to happen.
Glenn Jackson was on the downtown committee, along with others, Ira Keller and Pete Mark... Jackson used to be Chairman of the Board of Pacific Power and Light. We used to meet in his office in the Public Service Building all the time. So he was mostly here, although I think he did live in Medford--probably spent his weeks here and his weekends down there.
There was also a Technical Advisory Committee that met on a regular basis. Now this included all of the city staff people, the city engineer, the city traffic engineer, representatives of Tri-Met, from the State Highway Department and the architects and DeLeuw-Cather and the other consultants. So we had a staff, we had a technical advisory committee, we had the powerful Downtown Committee, we had a citizens advisory committee, we had the planning commission and the city council. And I think that everybody involved had the sense that this time it was going to work. And that there was a mission here, the challenge was that we were either going to save downtown Portland or it was going to go the way of a lot of eastern and midwestern cities. So there was real commitment and urgency on the part of just nearly everybody. There were a lot of battles that went on, and differences of opinion, but the general goal was always there and recognized that it was doable. You know, that's kind of magic when you get that all going together.
I think Dick Ivey wrote the first drafts of the goals. The copy that I was just looking at in preparation for this discussion has amendments pasted in it. So it was a work in transition, and you can see the kinds of language changes and emphasis they put on it. For instance, the first draft didn't say anything about industrial. And then the paste-in thing has a whole page about the industrial district north of Burnside or north of Hoyt Street. Other things, there were some subtle word changes that, I suspect, were the things that made the difference in people accepting the language. And, as you say, the language was broad enough and charming enough and so on, how could anyone object?
And particularly, on the Downtown Committee, the egos running rampant on there. Not to say also some members of the city council. I don't think the planning commission, they wanted to get the job done. Ralph Walstrom was the Chair of the planning commission at that time and he had been the Chair of the county planning commission when Lloyd Anderson started as the planning director there and when I worked there for about the first ten years that I was there. He finally quit the county and later, I think when Lloyd went onto the council, he was asked to assume the chair of the city planning commission. Because the guy who was the chair of the city planning commission for a hundred years was just... had no imagination at all, and nothing ever happened under him--Harry Shroufe.
I was the only staff from the County. And I was not there all the time. I was still directing the county planning staff. Amazingly enough, I didn't remember all this stuff as I went back through my calendars: How many other projects were going on in my domain at the same time. The Rivergate District, Revision of the airport, the whole area east of the Sandy River--we were doing a 701 planning project there. We were gearing up to do a 701 planning project on Sauvie Island. And we were trying to pick the route (which was ultimately adopted) for the I-205 freeway. All of those things were going on at the same time. I couldn't believe as I read through the calendar that all of those things were happening at the same time. Because the downtown plan was enough.
Dean Gisvold was the chairman of the Citizens' Advisory Committee. Isabelle Ashcroft was on it. Arnold Bottiger. Frank Chown of Chown Hardware. Some of the people in the powerful seats didn't get on the Downtown Committee but they got on the Citizens' Advisory Committee. Alan Miller, who was Miller's Clothes for Men was also on that.
Who were the the most influential people on the "Powerful Downtown Group" and on the citizens group? Paul Murphy on the Downtown committee. Julian Cheatham. Glenn Jackson, of course. Ira Keller. Pete Mark. Bill Roberts. Ed Steidle. And probably Frank Warren. Maybe Ralph Voss. Well, almost all of them. There were a few that were left out of it. But most of those people were pretty influential. One of our biggest issues to resolve and it dealt directly with Bill Roberts, was the streets to be selected for the transit mall. He fought for a long time for one street, until we demonstrated that one street wasn't wide enough with Portland's narrow streets to run buses in both directions. Then he wanted it on 4th and 5th instead of 5th and 6th.
Well, I remember one meeting that Dick Ivey and I went to with Bill Roberts, just the three of us. And we just sat down and argued that thing out, and we finally convinced him that 4th. and 5th was too close to the river. You were not allowing enough east-west direction for proper growth for a central city area for a downtown in a metropolitan area. It was just too tight. With the blocks as short as they were, just 200' would make that much difference, but it did. And we finally prevailed. As I recall, that was one of the harder issues at that time because he was so insistent. He wanted it close to his own property. And the rest of the committee was pretty much giving that decision up to him, saying, well, we don't care that much. Meier & Frank didn't care that much because if it was on fifth that was OK--if one leg was on fifth. If they were on both sides of their store, that would be all the better. And that's what finally happened.
On the Citizens' Committee Dean Gisvold was quite strong. Frank Chown. Karl George. Bill Hutchison, an attorney. Alan Miller. Jon Schleuning, an architect. Squier Smith. Frank Chown was a very good member. He studied the issues hard, and tried fully to understand them before he made a decision. Now the citizens committee, while it met on its own, you know, like a just a committee meeting together , they also held meetings out in various places around the city. I remember several meetings in North Portland, Northeast, Southeast, where they tried to stir up some interest in the central city area, the downtown area, on the part of citizens generally. This was not very successful. And it finally just kind of jelled down to the citizens committee themselves doing most of the work.
They kind of just took charge and led a very studied independence from everyone.
Dean Gisvold, mostly, was leading the charge. I think that mostly the people on the committee said that hey, we're not going to be effective here if we are pawns of the staff on the one hand, or we're just subservient to the downtown committee on the other. We represent the whole public and we've got to play that role. And I think they did, quite successfully. The goals stated in the plan came out to be theirs. While the staff worked out the topics, the scope, the range and made suggestions, I think from just a re-reading of the goals, the kind of language that was used in this is Dick Ivey's language. He's a very good writer. So I think that the first drafts probably, some of the concepts at least, came out of staff, Dick put them down in his own language and then the committee worked them over. And undoubtedly added to them were things left out, and things that were in there that were dropped.
There were conflict issues that came up from time to time. There was a question that came up, while this planning process was underway and particularly after we got some general concepts down on the basic structure about what the planning elements were going to be and what choices were going to be made about how the land uses were going to be organized and so on. And as the goals began to take shape, there was then the question well, what do you do about the people who are making development proposals while the planning process is going on, and those planning proposals may not fit the plan that's ongoing? The primary, well, I guess there were two conflicts. First one was I think it's called the Portland Plaza, across from the Ira Keller Fountain. The triangular shaped thing. I called it the "pregnant triangle" because it's got rounded ends at each point. That thing was proposed while the downtown process was underway. Now, one of the things that the goals said in here was that while that would have been an OK location for residential use, they wanted to put a solid concrete wall one and two stories high, all around that block, just shut off the pedestrians. And at that time it was across the street from what was going to be the Ira Keller fountain. We tried to say, look, you have to have a restaurant, a cafe, something that overlooks the fountain area and the auditorium just beyond. The City had just remodeled the auditorium, spent big bucks to do that. And here you're going to have this blank wall there. Well, there was a process for some kind of review for all ongoing projects by the downtown planning staff. We said you have to make these changes to open up the wall. And there was a draft ordinance for a moratorium on development in the downtown area, but the moratorium would work so that the developments would be reviewed by the staff and changes made and so on if it could be. If it couldn't, then we would hold fire. The day or two before that ordinance was to take effect, Ivancie authorized his building department to issue the permit for that apartment complex, even though it didn't fit the plan.
The other one was the Oregonian. The Oregonian people wanted to build a new printing plant, on a block near the current Oregonian building. And they said that it's got to be close to the present Oregonian building because we are going to build an underground tunnel between these two buildings and all of the copy work, all the plates that are made, etc. in the Oregonian building are going to go through this tunnel underground to the printing plant. And so it's got to be close. And we said that's the wrong kind of use--that's an industrial use, and you're proposing it in a housing and retail area, where offices ought to be. It was finally denied and they relocated way up on 16th or 17th, some place in there. And the communication is all done electronically.
This was before anything was adopted by City Council, because it's got these pasted-in changes that were made all the way through it. And there are, I was just looking through this, there were a group of... first, this is in the implementation section now, first phase projects, there were 17 first phase projects and then there were a bunch of second phase projects. Well, I just went down the list of the first phase projects and three and one-half of them were never done, out of 17. And two of them were to locate a sky bridge between Meier & Frank and the new parking garage on Morrison at 3rd. And the other was to build a sky bridge from Meier & Frank to Burnside between fifth and sixth, connecting through all of the buildings at the second or third level. What happened, was, that somebody got the idea that these pedestrian sky b ridges would be a neat deal for Portland. And so they put together, they looked around to see what examples there were of those things and how they were . . . In June of 1972 a bunch of us went to Minneapolis, at the expense of the Downtown Committee, to look at the sky bridges that were being built in Minneapolis, not according to any plan, just one at a time. And in St. Paul where they had a sophisticated plan for sky bridges, and the city was building them, connecting them all together. So that was the real hot thing. Now, in that climate, it's almost essential. It's like Toronto, you know, where they've got all the underground city in downtown Toronto because the weather in the Winter there is so bad, you just can't get people to go downtown to shop. So, Minneapolis and St. Paul built sky bridges; Toronto built tunnels. And we said well, we've got all this rain here in Portland; we ought to build one or the other and tunnels are too expensive. So part of the implementation of the first phase projects was to build these sky bridges. Never happened.
Part of the deal for Meier & Frank selling the Pioneer Courthouse Square land to the city was that they were going to build two parking garages--one on either side of Meier & Frank. One on 9th. and one on 3rd or 4th., one block away. Ivey continually referred to the "Blue Mouse" Block. This plan has areas for those. This plan says "Locate and construct Phase One parking facilities as recommended by the parking consultant. They had blobs on the map where they were supposed to be. They hadn't picked the sites yet.
The other things that were not done in the first phase, the other complete one that was not done, it says to turn Ankeny into a pedestrian street. Now, Ankeny doesn't have very much automobile traffic; it's got parking on it and that never really happened, though they did close Ankeny between 2nd and the river, 1st and the river. The other one says to acquire and develop as parks the blocks from Washington to Oak between Park and 9th. Now, one of them is O'Bryant Square, the other is not. So that's why I said 3 and one half. This got to be fairly detailed, though, because we divided the downtown area into 21 development districts and there was a detailed plan of use and circulation and development projects in each one of those 21 districts.
But you know what's important about this for the Downtown Committee, they got what they wanted and Tri-Met was on line, the State Highway Department was on line, how could you miss? And Portland had urban renewal powers at that time, so they could implement a lot of the plan through urban renewal. And the power of the Portland Development Commission, John Kenward, was on board. So maybe as the council changed, some of those things changed.
It's interesting, I think, of the council members at the time the plan was adopted, the one council member who was least supportive of the plan proposals was Frank Ivancie. Yet it was his department which was doing the work.
The classic end product of all of that was when he declared that the Pioneer Courthouse Square proposal was dead. Which really made the citizens mad. They went out and raised the money and built it.
Well, let's see. As I said, I had a lot of meetings which show up on my calendar with the staff, with the city planning commission, with the citizens advisory committee, with the Downtown Committee. Ivey and I also, somewhat earlier and then more increasingly later on, did a lot of PR kind of stuff. We were on radio programs, we were on a number of TV programs, we talked at the beginning to the City Club and then when the plan was nearly completed, talked with them again. And then we all got together ten years later and talked to them about what had happened in that ten years. But there was a whole list of groups and associations and organizations that we talked to: lunch meetings and that sort of thing, a lot of TV stuff, the newspaper. So that keeps appearing in the list of my appointments anyway.
There were some essential issues, like where the transit mall was going to be located, and how are you going to make that work? Where are you going to get the money to build it and so on. There was one and probably more meetings on downtown sculpture which came along a little bit later in the process but was a piece of the action too because of the 1% for art thing. Tri-Met financed a good deal of that along the transit mall. There's quite a bit about air pollution, because that was one of the objectives of this whole thing, to decrease automobile traffic and raise transit and make the downtown area compact. So there were a number of meetings largely on that. Here's a meeting with Herb Lundy of the Oregonian, with Stan Goodell, Bob Frasca. University Club. St. Johns Jr. Chamber of Commerce. Meetings still going on in 1971 (September) on the question of Harbor Drive; that's still not resolved. How's that going to work? A meeting with Chamber of Commerce on the downtown plan; the waterfront, transit all of those issues coming together. A lot of the meetings kind of later in the process with Bob Frasca and people from Wulf, Zimmer, Gunsul and Frasca. And Bob Perron, the landscape architect. Here's a KOAP-TV feedback program, with Dean Gisvold.
We were a little bit stunned at first by the PGE proposal because we didn't want to see a high-rise right down on the waterfront. We got them to shift the thing around a little bit so that the higher building was on the back side (the west end) of the project, but one of these guys on the downtown committee was Frank Warren, the PGE honcho, so you can imagine the support we got...
I have a letter from Neil thanking me for my participation in the Downtown Plan and it's dated April 1973. It might have been a month or so before that because I remember when Ivey and I were talking about this, when the plan was finally presented to the city council, I was the principal presenter. They said OK, you're the neutral here, everybody had some kind of fish to fry, you don't , you're the figurehead, so you get up there and present the plan to the council. So I did. And sometime later, maybe a couple of months later, when Dick and I were meeting for lunch, I said, "You know, thanks a lot for all of this. I had a wonderful year and a half or two years working on this thing, but nobody ever said 'thank you'." In about two days, I got this letter from Neil.
I can't think of anything more to say about this, except that you know in your career there are some highlights, some things you really feel good about. And this is certainly one for me. I could add I-205 freeway, the Rivergate district, the plan that was adopted for that was developed by my staff, though we were participating with a lot of others. Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall had six different plans for that area and the one that we put together is the one that got adopted. Oh, some stuff like that are pretty good. As I have said before, It's magic.
There are just some times when all these forces come together to make something happen that is the right thing. And you kind of know when that is, when you're in it. You know when it's happening. There are other times when you try to make it happen, and it won't.
Well, Mel Gordon was the one I remember being involved. There was a Portland/Vancouver Metropolitan Area Transportation Study that went along in the sixties and seventies and Jack Kalinowsky and I were the Multnomah County representatives on the technical advisory committee. That plan put together proposals for ten freeways in the Portland metropolitan area. Have you ever heard of the Parkrose Freeway? or the St. Johns Freeway--with a bridge across the Willamette and across the Columbia and a tunnel through the west hills: that was Keefe's big hot idea. Kalinowsky and I were the only two people on that technical advisory committee to vote no on that plan. It was just too much. And it had the Mt. Hood Freeway on it. God, it had freeways running everywhere. This was developed in the middle to late sixties. The issue that I really feel good about it was I-205. You know when that one started out, the state proposed that in about 1953 or 55, somewhere along there to run about on 42nd Avenue. It was going to be called the "Laurelhurst Freeway". And then they moved it out to 52nd in the plan. And then they moved it out to 92nd. Well, at about 100th and Halsey, they were going to turn it northeast and run it through two residential neighborhoods, the Hazelwood neighborhood right by a school. We had already blocked out, by that time, square mile neighborhoods with schools in the center, the whole schtick. And they were going to run a freeway right through the middle of the Parkrose neighborhood. And the whole thing was to get far enough east of the Portland International Airport runways for the bridge that is now the Glenn Jackson bridge. Well, they dinked around with that for a long time, but our staff and particularly a guy named Jack Holst, I don't know that you ever knew him. He died while he was still working for me. He and 3 or 4 of the rest of us fooled around with that thing and we came up with the 92nd avenue route and said, "Run it parallel with the Banfield for that mile between Halsey and Prescott, to the interchanges that need to be done there and then turn east after you get north of the Parkrose neighborhood." The thing that convinced the county commissioners that that was the route they were gong to support was that it would require the taking out of the Rocky Butte jail. Now, the Rocky butte jail was a drag around the county's neck. It was a terrible old place, yet they had to operate it. They couldn't get anybody to fund any money to buy anything better, and it was just a mess. So if they could get the state highway department to take that out, and pay the county for it, with federal dollars the county could build a new jail. It worked. It saved two neighborhoods and it went through the soft area by Rocky Butte, you know, there's nothing in there and no damage to any neighborhoods in that whole mile stretch. Piece of cake.
The Mt. Hood Freeway had to be approved by the county. It could not be built without their approval. The County voted it down before the city did. And the principal mover and shaker on that was Don Clark, who was pretty opposed to the freeways: they don't do anything, they just generate more traffic, they tore up neighborhoods, and its' just the wrong thing to do. All you have to do is look at Los Angeles to see what the consequences of that kind of stuff would be. So, primarily I think it was Don. And Mel Gordon and Dennis Buchanan. I think that Larry Aylsworth and David Eccles probably also. That was a good board at that time. There were good people on that. And they had another one of those times when they had the kind of sense that, well, we can take some actions that will really mean something. And they convinced the city council, I think, to go along with it. Whoever killed a freeway before? In the U.S., whoever said no to a freeway?
And Tri-Met came along just at that time and was able to use that money. State Highway people were sympathetic to some extent. There were certainly freeway-builders on deck, but...
Portland International Airport
I think one of the fun ones was the Portland International Airport. There was a proposal back, I think it would be in the late sixties or early seventies, also. There appeared to be some new federal regulations which required a spacing between parallel runways that the Portland International Airport didn't meet. The two runways were too close together. And so we spent a lot of time and effort coming up with alternative solutions to that--whether to move the south runway south, which was nearly impossible or move the north runway north which would have intruded into the Columbia River. Which was the plan that was finally adopted--to move the north runway north, fill in a whole bunch of the Columbia River. And then somebody discovered that those federal regulations on spacing didn't apply to the Portland Airport and the whole thing was dropped.
I did mention the Rivergate thing. That was kind of fun. That was a coordinated effort of the city and the county and the Port. This was primarily sponsored by the Port. The Port acquired the land, I think from the University of Portland. A lot of it was deeded to the University of Portland and they acquired that, some other was held in private holdings and they acquired that. They just needed more land if they were going to have a viable Port, because the little bit of land along the Willamette River, up to the Broadway Bridge, was just too confining and it was obvious that there was no opportunity to develop port facilities upstream of the Broadway Bridge, because it would mean just opening those bridges constantly. Almost all of the industrial developments upstream of the Broadway Bridge are gone now. A few are still hanging on, Zidell's and maybe one or two others, but mostly they are gone. And so they just needed more land.
You know, Multnomah County was one of the first (I think that Lane County had some zoning powers or planning powers early on) but Multnomah County was probably the second county in the state to engage in a planning program of any kind at all. The state statute allowed counties to plan, but it required a favorable vote of the people before they could adopt a zoning ordinance to implement the plan. Now it passed in Multnomah County because the people of Portland all voted for it. And the people in the unincorporated area voted against it. But it affected only the unincorporated area. So we had a lot of adventures in putting together a plan for a raw area first time ever planned for anything. And I think one of the more successful things was the park program that was put together. Thornton Munger, who was on our planning commission, who was a Forest Service guy was the vice-chairman of the planning commission, really pushed for county parks, and got the Board of County Commissioners to budget $200,000 a year out of the general fund to buy land for parks--neighborhood parks. We put together (mostly through Mike Gleason) buying Blue Lake from the guy who owned it. With Thornton Munger as the lead, we put together a program to buy some land and lease some other land and acquire the use of other land and put together Oxbow Park. And the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service both own lands out there... traded properties with private timber interests, in one instance to save some old growth that's in that park area. The County does not own all of that land. Talk about a county park being Oxbow Park.
Glendoveer was a bit hairy, too, because Portland Adventist Hospital wanted to build on Glendoveer Golf Course. They bought Glendoveer Golf Course, and they were going to use half of it (the eastern half) for their new hospital. We wrangled over that one for about 2 years before we finally said "no."
You just can't take away a resource of that kind. So what did they do? They went down to 105th. and Market and built their whole complex there. Better location. Then the County turned around and bought Glendoveer.
I think Don Clark as a friend of planning was largely unappreciated by the public. He has very high motives. He just wanted good things to happen, to the county, to the city, to the whole area. He tried to stimulate action programs that would make that happen, and assemble people around him that would help carry it out, too. Not many of them came off, unfortunately. As I say, I don't know what it is, but somehow the public never appreciated Don the way I thought that he should be.