Can San Francisco's Planning Czar Tell Portland How to Grow?

The Bright Lights discussion series presents a conversation with Gil Kelley, San Francisco's director of long-range planning.

By Randy Gragg February 24, 2016 Published in the February 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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San Francisco and Portland: two cities undergoing dramatic change. The scale may differ, but the underlying economic drivers, both exciting and troublesome, are similar, from a tech boom to a housing crisis. To Gil Kelley, the biggest difference between the cities is “intention.” San Francisco reacts; Portland plans. Kelley has long had a front-row seat in both regions, as chief planner for Berkeley, then Portland, and now as Director of citywide Planning for San Francisco.

“San Francisco rarely contemplates what kind of city it wants to be when it grows up,” says Kelley. “It’s too busy just making that future in the moment, development project by development project.” At the same time, he says, in everything from transportation to affordable housing, San Francisco can serve as laboratory from which Portland can learn. “Intentionality,” he adds, “goes to the core differences in the ‘DNA’ of these two cities and my best hopes for Portland.”

Join longtime journalist and Yeon Center director Randy Gragg for an interview with Kelley on his work in San Francisco and his views on what Portland is doing well and, perhaps, is risking as it deals with a building boom that is both the largest in its history and, perhaps, the new normal.

 Presented by the UO John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape and Portland Monthly

6 pm Monday March 7, 2016
Jimmy Mak's Jazz Club
221 NW 10th Ave, Portland
Doors open 5:30 p.m.
Suggested admission: $10
Students with current ID welcomed for free.
RSVP: [email protected]

Gil Kelley is Director of Citywide Planning, where he manages the development of long-range plans, urban design and planning policies for the City and County of San Francisco. He served as Director of Planning for the City of Portland, where he oversaw planning efforts for the Pearl District, West End and South Waterfront/Marquam Hill, as well as neighborhoods throughout the City. He created the City’s River Renaissance Initiative, a multi-agency project to revitalize the city’s waterfront and watershed system. His concept of the 20-minute neighborhood continues to shape much of Portland’s planning and development.

The UO John Yeon Center for Architecture and the Landscape is devoted to inspiring future acts of visionary design and conservation. A program of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts at the University of Oregon, the Center presents major public programs on design and conservation and more intimate events at two properties designed by John Yeon: the Watzek House, a 1937 modernist masterpiece and Portland's only National Historic Landmark residence; and The Shire, a unique, 75-acre work of landscape design in the Columbia River Gorge. The Center was founded in 1995 by Richard Louis Brown to perserve works by the architect and conservationist John Yeon (1910-1984), and to further the ideals of Yeon's civic activism. 


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