INDIA STREET SUSTAINABLE NEIGHBORHOOD PLAN
In 2013 the City of Portland initiated a process to prepare an India Street Sustainable Neighborhood Plan, with completion expected in June 2014. As part of this process the City and the Portland Society of Architects (PSA) applied to the Urban Sustainability Accelerator (USA) in Portland, Oregon for assistance with plan development and implementation. Maine officials travelled to Oregon in summer 2013 to attend workshops and view sustainable development examples, and the team from the University of California at Davis visited Maine in December 2013 to develop sustainable neighborhood plan recommendations. I was part of the team with 2 other students that traveled to Maine in 2013.
The UC Davis team visited Portland on December 10-17, 2013. We met with city planning staff and other interested individuals, and conducted a sustainable neighborhood brainstorming session at the first meeting of the India Street Neighborhood Advisory Committee, held December 11, 2013 at the Maine Jewish Museum. We then conducted an initial report-back and brainstorming session with city staff, PSA members, and others at City Hall on December 13, and made a final presentation to a larger group at the Portland Public Library on Monday, December 15.
In this project we asked the following questions:
How do you redesign the India Street Neighborhood to an Ecodistrict (in Portland, Maine)?
Our overall recommendation is that the City develop a package of proactive strategies within the India Street Sustainable Neighborhood Plan that cover many sustainability dimensions, are educational and inspirational as well as practical, and establish a model for other neighborhoods within Portland and nationally. We also recommend that the City establish a Sustainable India Street Implementation Committee that can coordinate sustainability initiatives on an ongoing basis.
Key Takeaways: Below is a list of design proposals written in a report submitted and presented to the city:
Building form and scale: add mixed-income housing, 3-5 story height for new buildings, building scale should be moderate, stepping up heights of development to 5 stories, diverse unit sizes.
Climate mitigation: reduce building energy use, free or low-cost energy units, property assessed clean energy financing, reduce motor vehicle use.
Climate adaptation: increase on-site stormwater retention, increase tree cover and green infrastructure, maintain shoreline buffer, resilient ground floor uses.
Green buildings: one or more publicly accessible signature green buildings, LEED-silver certification, geothermal heating and cooling systems, passive solar design, add solar panels, technical strategies for district heating and super efficient building shells.
Low impact mobility: balanced land use and bike and pedestrian friendly urban design, provide shared vehicles, stacked parking, bike and pedestrian connections, reduced parking, complete street designs.
Complete and Green Streets: demonistration “green and complete street”, parklets for on-site drainage and restaurant sidewalk seating, Redesign Franklin street as a 3-4 lane boulevard, green gateways at street entrances to the neighborhood.
Ecological restoration: add pocket parks, encourage green roofs and walls, landscape swales, celebrate the original shoreline.
Stormwater drainage: handle runoff on-site, green infrastructure fund, permeable paving, swales, raingardens, swales leading to newly created meadow raingardens.
Food systems: food identity, open Co-op retail store, two community gardens, sidewalk restaurant seating, promote food trucks, food-related events, and compost facilities.
Local economy: business incubator, small and flexible office and retail space, neighborhood co-working space, food-related businesses, work on business retention.
Social equity needs: adopt neighborhood inclusionary zoning ordinance, incentives for nonprofit developers, coordinate with social service providers, public restroom facilities, transit/paratransit services.
Historic linkages: commemorate layers of history, use historic sites as focal points, unified signage, ensure historic preservation, highlight original shoreline, highlight immigrant history.
Civic infrastructure and art: Create small plazas and pocket parks at either end of the street, add raingardens, seating, art, and on-street food truck space, add two colorful green-pattern lighthouse sculptures, add public art, coordinate with local art schools.