UPDATE 3-25-14: Fish's office has agreed to direct the water bureau to waive the 120 day rule. This is a win for good public process!
Contact Commissioner Fish's office before April 1:
Main office phone: (503) 823-3589staff email for this issue: Sonia.Schmanski@portlandoregon.gov
Request: that Commissioner Fish direct “the Portland Water Bureau to waive the 120 day requirement when they file their application with BDS, to allow for a more flexible timeline and official record.”
An applicant like the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) has a right to a final decision from the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) within 120 days from the date their land use application is completed. At this 120 day mark, no matter how complicated the case is or how much deliberation the different bodies hearing the case would like, the official case record for the case is closed and no new information is allowed in the record.
Even though PWB can at any time offer to relax the timeline, if they don't waive the 120 day rule at filing the record won't stay open past the 120 day mark. Artificially closing the record at the 120 day mark complicates this land use process. The community wants this case influenced by the best information, no matter when that information comes up. An applicant can waive their rights to a 120 day close, allowing greater flexibility in the record and therefore the timeline. These are complicated and cumbersome processes that you can imagine will be made doubly-so if lawyers have to parse every phrase to be sure no new information is entered at any subsequent hearings.
BDS would like PWB to waive their right to the 120 day requirement, and so would the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association (MTNA). Fish's office hasn't committed to doing this. I imagine Fish's office speculates this is a tool desired by a party planning to seek an appeal. It clearly makes the appeal process less of a legal, hair-splitting contest. However, it makes the entire land use review process more of a discussion based on relevant facts and less of a legal spitting contest based on technical minutia, and that is better for the community. So, we ask you to advocate for PWB to waive the 120 day requirement. As this decision is made by Commissioner Nick Fish, you need to call or email his office.