The city of Portland is in the final stage of public comment for its updated 2035 Comprehensive Plan. The citywide plan is the long-range plan for all phases of the city’s development—the plan on which the city bases its land use, zoning and transportation planning for the next 20 years. The Argay Terrace Neighborhood Association is opposing some of the Comprehensive Plan update’s proposed changes, which would designate about five acres of Rossi farmland, located at the southeast corner of Northeast 122nd Avenue and Shaver Street, as “mixed employment,” a term for office buildings and light industrial uses.

“That zone has not been fully defined yet by the city, but it would include types of things you would find in a light industrial park, and massive structures up to 35 feet tall [three stories] could be built under the plan,” said Al Brown, ANA land use and transportation chair.

Those businesses might include offices or light industrial businesses, such as construction contractors, manufacturers, processors, film production and the like, according to Steve Kountz, a senior planner with the city’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. “About 70 percent of the forecast is for office-type development,” Kountz said. “The offices are things like professional services, financial services and business services in an office setting.”

Brown said the association would like all the existing vacant or undeveloped land in the Argay neighborhood currently zoned R-3, which allows multi-family units such as apartment buildings, to be reclassified to an R-5 or R-7 category, both designations for medium- and larger-sized single-family homes. The association supports similar zone changes to areas at Northeast 147th Avenue and Sandy Blvd. and at Northeast 148th Avenue north of I -84 (the southern portion having already been reclassified by the city from R-3 to R-5 under the new plan).

Board members hand delivered hundreds of sample letters to neighbors in the area, asking them to provide written testimony to the Planning and Sustainability Commission, which is currently receiving comments and reviewing the plan. The deadline for the commission to receive written testimony is March 13.

Brown is quick to note that letters the neighborhood association sent out request that neighbors voice whatever their opinion is on the Comprehensive Plan, even if they disagree with the association’s stand.

The ANA has been concerned with this rezoning effort for the past year and a half, Brown said. “We encourage residents’ comments,” he said. “In written testimony to the commission, the neighborhood association has taken a position supporting the changes that improve the neighborhood and oppose those they believe are damaging.”

He said the problem with the farmland at Northeast 122nd Avenue and Shaver Street is that a portion of that land will be the 16-acre Beech Park, which opens in 2017. Shaver Elementary is next to the new park. In addition, Parkrose Middle School and Parkrose High School are on Shaver, just west of Northeast 122nd. “Using this land for businesses or for apartments to be occupied by couples and singles doesn’t make any sense, but it does make sense to return it to the concept that the original developers of Argay Terrace had of single family homes, decent-sized lots, a place to raise a family,” Brown said.

“The city is trying to find vacant ground where they can create jobs for people, but those same people need a place to live and to raise their families. Simply inserting new businesses into a residential neighborhood doesn’t mean that the new employees will be neighborhood residents—most people don’t just walk from their home to their jobs,” Brown said. “Portland also has a shortage of single-family land.”

However, Kountz said the rationale for the proposed change to a business park designation is “because we have a shortfall of development capacity for those types of developments. Essentially, it’s for job growth. This is the type of land where we don’t have adequate growth capacity now.”

Although neighborhood compatibility is a concern, Kountz said the city had also heard from the East Portland Action Plan members that there was a desire for more living wage jobs in east Portland.

“Most of the job growth that occurred in commercial corridors is more lower-wage jobs,” Kountz said. “So this is an opportunity to expand to higher-paid jobs in East Portland.”

Another Argay Terrace neighborhood concern is that as long as someone is farming it, the land around 122nd can be farmed forever. Only when farming stops and the use changes does the land revert to whatever the zoned use is in the Comprehensive Plan, which could be more multi-family and mixed employment.

Generally, most of Argay Terrace is filled with R-7 lots—larger than many of the R-5 lots in other sections of the city.

Donnella Slayton, who has lived in the Argay neighborhood for the past 60 years and raised her four children there, said, “I just don’t see a business being there. It would bring more traffic and it would be off the beaten path as far as traffic flow.”

Slayton, who lives at the Riverwood Home Association, a condominium complex of mostly seniors at Northeast 125th and Shaver Street, said it makes more sense to locate the businesses along busy Northeast 122nd Avenue instead of Shaver Street, which is mainly residential.

Pointing out that businesses exist all along 122nd Avenue, Marx Street and Weidler Street, she maintained that Shaver is a poor choice. “I don’t see the need for any businesses coming east on Shaver Street,” she said.

Parkrose Middle School sits on the south side of Shaver Street, while Parkrose High School is on the north side. Having so many schoolchildren in the area around Shaver is another reason to keep it free of more commercial and industrial development, she said.

Another concern around additional commercial businesses is that many existing buildings along Airport Way are currently empty, including a large building formerly home to a restaurant on Northeast 122nd Avenue, west of Marx Street. “It’s been sitting empty for two years at least,” Slayton said.

Kountz noted that the approximately 13 acres north of Northeast 122nd Avenue and Sandy Boulevard are zoned industrial and will remain so. The city doesn’t want to place light industrial and office parks in that heavy industrial area.

“There are more large-scale industrial uses north of Sandy,” he said. “There’s a lack of growth capacity in those industrial areas as well.”

Slayton maintained that adding even light industrial businesses would increase noise in her area, a neighborhood already prey to noise pollution, especially from the Airport Way complex. “We get planes and trains and some freeway sound,” Slayton said. “When trucks back up there’s the beep, beep, beeping; we hear them especially in the summer when windows are open.” Referring to noise, she said, “We don’t need more.”

However, Kountz claimed that the office-type businesses proposed would have an attractive design with appealing landscaping.

The city is also proposing amendments to make the employment zone more compatible with residences. This could include things like building height, building setbacks and possibly extra buffering to lessen noise.

Brown noted that while changes are being “proposed,” there is no guarantee that any of those will be adopted or how they could be modified, while the actual Employment Zones would become permanent, and whatever type of development was allowed could take place.

Another concern of neighbors is continuation of zoning for multi-family housing. There is already a large percentage of neighborhood households in apartments. One complex on Northeast Shaver between Northeast 122nd and 125th Avenues is a source of neighborhood problems. “We’ve had noise problems, parking issues with people parking on our side of the street and then dumping their cigarette ashtrays and their oil in our drains, people walking their dogs on our property and not cleaning up after them,” Slayton said. “The management of these apartment buildings have tried to work with their tenants to be good neighbors.”

People may comment on the Comprehensive Plan update until March 13 by emailing or writing to Planning and Sustainability Commission, Comp Plan Comments, 1900 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97201-5380.

For more information on the Argay Neighborhood Association, visit its website at or contact Al Brown at