Portland’s Livability Investments: Improving a City that Works for Children

 Byron Estes, Portland, OR

Portland (Oregon) has developed a reputation over the past several decades for smart livability and transportation investments. However, places and spaces for children and families have taken a back-seat to high-density downtown redevelopment. Recently, however, the City has embarked on a renewed emphasis on neighborhood livability. This has resulted in a variety of projects that create safe and fun spaces for children and their families and planning for town squares and other lively but safe venues. Building on a quality neighborhood park system and investments in light rail transportation and commercial district revitalization, this new approach emphasizes 20-Minute neighborhoods where goods and services are available to families without necessarily having to use an automobile. Convincing suburban-oriented families to make the city’s urban neighborhoods home requires a new mind-set and emphasis on targeted livability investments coupled with cooperative work with local schools, social service providers, cycling advocates, small businesses, and religious institutions. A comprehensive and multi-faceted approach that includes up-front planning for children and teens is really starting to make a difference. This presentation will include an overview of Portland’s neighborhood livability work with a special emphasis on planned investments geared toward children and families. Several case studies will be presented along with graphics and tentative conclusions presented on the current state of the art in neighborhood livability planning and implementation.

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