The Urban Collaborative facilitated a panel and session at the 2020 OAPA/APA WA Virtual Planning Conference: Growing Together. The session, Shaping the Public Realm in Oregon’s Small Towns, looked at three cities in Oregon and how, using three different methods, they worked with their communities to plan for a public realm that would achieve the triple bottom line. Lowell developed a downtown master plan to attract new development, create a more walkable core, and solve stormwater issues. Wilsonville adopted specific design standards for the Old Town neighborhood so that new development would enhance the historical character while providing opportunities for secondary dwelling units and middle-income housing. Coburg, faced with population growth, a desire to stay within their urban growth boundary, and residents who prefer a small-town feel, developed build-out scenarios to better visualize the effects of density on the public realm.
Over 100 attendees participated in an open discussion after the panel, exploring innovate ways to shape public spaces using zoning code updates, regulating plans, and creative community engagement tools. A welcoming public realm promotes economic growth, creates walkable, healthier communities, and balances the use of natural resources – helping a city hit its triple bottom line.