More than 100 people attended the evening hearing on West Hayden Island on Thursday, July 29, 2010. Over 90 people signed up to testify, and we heard four hours of exceptionally thoughtful, informed testimony. Citizens prompted significant changes in the adopted ordinance, by sending in comments before the hearing and by testifying and showing up in support or opposition.
At the end of the day, in my opinion there was not enough evidence to mandate that marine industrial development on West Hayden Island should definitely be allowed, and not enough evidence to require permanent protection of the entire area for regional environmental preservation needs.
There were many passionate, well-informed people advocating for each position, but in my opinion neither side sealed the case for why their recommendation MUST be followed. So I supported the Resolution ordering further study within clearly defined parameters and evaluation criteria. This study will be paid for by the Port of Portland, which according to Executive Director Bill Wyatt receives 97% of its funding from the businesses using its services, and only 3% of operating funds from property taxes paid in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties.
The amendments my staff and I prepared before the hearing, based on citizen comments and staff analysis, are here. The amendments require:
- 300 acres is the maximum allowed for any development, including all existing utility corridors;
- Increased assessment of potential redevelopment on existing marine industrial sites before allowing new development on West Hayden Island;
- More analysis of Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, Federal Emergency Management Administration floodplain requirements, and other regulations protecting endangered species and floodplains;
- The development cannot affect shallow water habitat;
- Impacts on East Hayden Island residents must be more fully calculated and considered in analysis of whether to move forward, including air quality and noise as well as potential traffic problems
- The analysis regarding whether the site is feasible for industrial marine development must include a cost-benefit analysis to the public. This will include evaluation of whether the increased cost of redeveloping on existing industrial marine brownfields might better meet the City's sustainability goals and be worth the additional investment of public money. So in addition to considering whether site development is economically feasible and environmentally permissible, the process must consider the benefits and costs to the citizens of Portland.
The Council passed this Substitute Resolution, plus amendments by Commissioners Fish and Saltzman. Commissioner Fish added an item to the Now Be It Resolved section, to add:
k) The proposal should include analysis of options for restoration and long-term care of the proposed natuaral areas, including models for financing both. This analysis should include, but is not limited to, ownership of the natural area, remediation and mitigation opportunities, and the creation of an endowment for operations and maintenance of the land.
Commissioner Saltzman amended the Resolution in response to citizen testimony, to clarify that the Council is only willing to consider deep water marine industrial development on the site, not other industrial or river-related uses that don't need the deep channel. The words "deep water" were added before each use of the words "marine terminal" in the Resolution. Council unanimously approved this amendment, also.
The ongoing study will evaluate whether a commercially viable, environmentally permit-able deep water marine terminal can be designed given the defined parameters. Commissioner Fish asked Port Director Bill Wyatt if he thinks it is possible to do that. Bill's answer was, "It will be challenging, but you've certainly given us the incentive to find out." I believe those opposed to development also have significant incentive to continue highlighting issues if the criteria listed in the amended Resolution are not met or not fully examined. Allowing development on West Hayden Island is by no means a done deal, with the passing of the amended Resolution.
During the hearing, I asked how much fill might be needed to elevate proposed development out of the 100-year floodplain. Answer: 4.5 million cubic yards. Wow. I was told about 25 - 30% of that amount can be added via piped dredge spoils under existing permits. The rest would have to go through an extensive federal permitting process.
I asked if the Port plans to sell or rent the proposed new terminals. Answer: lease.
What kind of commodities might the new terminal(s) be used for? Answer: Not set, except that they will be rail-oriented so likely products like grain and autos rather than containers.
My summary comments on the Resolution and future process are here. Please read them and the revised resolution before commenting on this blog post.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this process, particularly those who gave their time and talents on the Citizen Working Group. I am also hugely grateful to Tom Bizeau, my Chief of Staff; Ann Beier the Director of the Office of Healthy Working Rivers; and Patti Howard my Rivers advisor, for their diligence and thoughtful analysis throughout this process.