SCYP Partners with City of Troutdale Sustainable City Year Program, 2020-2021

About the Sustainable City Year Program

The Sustainable City Year Program is an innovative university-community partnership program founded by the Sustainable Cities Institute (SCI) at the University of Oregon in 2009-10. In this unique model, existing courses, faculty, and students from across campus are purposefully directed toward a single Oregon community over an academic year to address vexing issues identified by the community. SCYP and the students, faculty, and communities it partners with are a shining example of Oregon innovation, leadership, and how leveraging resources can contribute to meaningful, additional, and society-wide value.

SCYP is more than just students working on a project for a class. It is creating Oregon’s future workforce, developing a connection with local government and Oregon communities, and generating creative, out of the box ideas by high achieving students and faculty experts. The projects that SCYP works on are prioritized by our partners, which means they are important and relevant. It is difficult to put a limit on SCYP’s potential, just as communities have limitless possibilities to improve the quality of life for their residents, businesses, and visitors.

Partner with SCYP

Cities and public agencies apply to partner with SCYP – detailed information about the partnership and application is part of our Request for Proposals.

2020-21 Partner

City of Troutdale

This academic year SCYP is partnering with the City of Troutdale. This dynamic suburban community of nearly 17,000 residents is situated on the eastern edge of the Portland metropolitan region and the western edge of the Columbia River Gorge. Settled in the late 1800s and incorporated in in 1907, Troutdale is proud of its small town feel while having big opportunities for sustainable growth in a beautiful natural setting.

Classes across the University of Oregon campus will be working with Troutdale, including architecture, journalism, planning, landscape architecture, law, public administration, nonprofit management, and engineering (Portland State University). Planning for winter and spring terms is occurring now and classes will continue to be added.

DESIGN & PLANNING: Introduction to Planning Practice, Planning Analysis I, Human Settlements

FALL 2020 Revitalizing the Overlook Tract (Opportunity Site #7)

Project Description: The City is interested in revitalizing Opportunity Site #7 (the Overlook Tract), a critical 4.3- acre site identified in the recently approved Town Center Plan. Using three key themes—climate change, housing insecurity, and racial justice—students analyzed opportunities and challenges of revitalizing the site as affordable housing.

Recommendations: Each student team researched relevant land use, transportation, history, urban design, and economic development, among other important topics. Although each group recommended unique features specific to their focus area, common elements included:

  • Utilizing open space within the development to support community activities, such as a community garden
  • Providing first-floor commercial space to introduce jobs and amenities to the site since it is close to downtown
  • Creating connections between existing infrastructure and the site, as well as downtown Troutdale neighborhoods
  • Incorporating placemaking elements, such as public art and community centers, to reflect the cultural diversity of Troutdale’s citizenry

Final Presentation Recordings (PW: SCYP2020!)

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: Public Relations Campaigns

FALL 2020 AND WINTER 2021 Explore Troutdale Strategic Communications & Outreach

Project Description: The City engaged two Public Relations classes to help promote the city of Troutdale to existing and future visitors, businesses, and residents, focusing on Explore Troutdale, the city’s travel and tourism website and social media. As the “Gateway to the Gorge,” the City is seeking to capitalize on its assets and promote its brand.

Recommendations: After conducting research and defining its primary and secondary publics, students began with a social media focus to influence people to visit, stay, or move to Troutdale. In addition to creating visual and written content for social media and the Explore Troutdale website, students developed various “how to” guides to assist in content management and production post-project. The students’ research, planning, content, guides, and additional recommendations for future implementation will ideally provide Troutdale with an array of tools and tactics to meet its goals and communications needs. Students also suggested specific tips to be successful with city social media, such as consistency, focused messaging, analyzing results, and partnering with influencers.

PUBLIC POLICY: Public Budget Administration

FALL 2020 Analysis of Economic/Business Improvement District Potential and Capital Improvement Programming

Project Description: Students investigated two topics: 1) An Economic Improvement District and/or Business Improvement District (EID/BID) to fund annual operations of a Main Street organization in the Town Center area and 2) An examination and prioritization of projects in the City’s capital improvement plan (CIP) based on funding constraints and community goals focused on the Town Center plan.


  • EID/BID: Using Troutdale’s goals for an EID/BID program, as well as insights from the case studies, students estimated expenditures for the first five years of Troutdale’s EID/BID program, as well as funding options to help meet that goal. The only option that reaches estimated expenditure goals is an EID based on square footage of the lot. However, there may be external or political factors that need to be considered. Students included tax rate options that could be further analyzed to determine which option or options best suit the goals and the needs of the Troutdale community.
  • CIP: Students recommended two different types of prioritization methods to determine how the City might invest in Town Center street projects to help fulfill the City’s Town Center Vision. These methods both identified improvements to Halsey Street and the Historic Columbia River Highway between Depot Park and Glenn Otto Park as the highest priority for future capital improvement projects.

DESIGN & PLANNING: Urban Transportation

WINTER 2021 Connecting Troutdale: Options for Future Transportation Choices

Project Description: Students assessed existing infrastructure and considered how to effectively include multimodal transportation options in the Town Center area, in addition to evaluating the feasibility and appropriateness of travel modes based on relevant case studies and impacts to current transportation options and infrastructure. Modes included localized transit (micro-shuttle, trolley); a golf cart only zone or connected golf cart corridor with the neighboring cities of Fairview and Wood Village; electric bikes and scooters; and autonomous vehicles.

Recommendations: Students proposed a variety of solutions to improve the mobility environment in Troutdale, such as:

  • Clearly identifying crosswalks and bike lanes to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists can travel with certainty and comfort
  • Continuous and connected sidewalks to ensure safe pedestrian travel
  • A variety of ways to connect downtown with the rest of the City via a shuttle or trolley. After assessing both options, students determined that a shuttle could provide a better replacement for personal vehicle trips to the downtown area
  • A new golf cart zone to augment the shuttle in low speed zones to offer greater flexibility in transportation choices
  • Installation of electric bicycles and scooters throughout the City to offer new and different methods of transportation. Scooters could be paired with a multiuse path near a bus stop to transport workers to and from large employment facilities in the Troutdale Reynolds Industrial Park
  • To help facilitate the movement of goods and people, design a system of loading and unloading zones that could be implemented during certain hours to maintain space for deliveries and drop-offs without obstructing traffic flow

PUBLIC POLICY: Transportation Policy

WINTER 2021 Finance, Economics, and New Mobility: Topics in Transportation Policy

Project Description: Students conducted a survey of transportation policy-related considerations and explored the topics of transportation finance; travel economics; and new mobility and autonomous vehicles. Students researched best practices, case studies, and recommended new policy and practical applications appropriate for Troutdale’s context.

Recommendations: Students noted that there is a significant amount of crossover between the three topics, suggesting that different areas of transportation policy do not operate independently and that transportation solutions will need to be multi-faceted. Specific recommendations by topic include:

  • Transportation Finance: Students investigated Troutdale’s current funding mechanisms such as the Oregon Highway Trust Fund and local gas tax, and ultimately recommended pricing parking, implementing payroll taxes, increasing the current systems development charge rates, raising the local gas tax, and enacting a street utility fee to enact more secure and sustainable transportation funding.
  • Transportation Economics: Students researched transportation economics specific to alleviating congestion in Glenn Otto Park, beginning with a review of current conditions, an analysis of congestion management literature, and existing parking pricing approaches at similar recreation areas. Students advocated for a tiered parking fee with varying rates for residents and non-residents. Specific dollar amounts of the fees are suggested, with Troutdale staff encouraged to make modifications to the pricing structure based on demand.
  • New Mobility: Students reviewed the ways new mobility options will impact cities, specifically suburban cities like Troutdale, in three key areas: (1) autonomous vehicles, (2) micromobility, and (3) ride-hailing. Recommendations include an autonomous vehicles corridor, an autonomous goods delivery service, a bikeshare program and hybrid micromobility system, and an expansion of ride-hailing, among other options.

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: Nonprofit Management Capstone

WINTER AND SPRING 2021 Cascadia Arts Association Strategic Planning

Project Description: Nonprofit Management students helped Troutdale’s new nonprofit, Cascadia Arts Association (CAA), with the following question, “What are best practices for developing the first strategic plan for a newly formed arts nonprofit?” Students conducted a focus group with seven CAA Board members, conducted a survey of the East Multnomah County Arts Community, and analyzed strategic planning content from other arts alliances.

Recommendations: Students identified CAA’s organizational strengths, such as collective passion for the arts and Troutdale, structures that are in place (by-laws, budgets, etc.), a mission-centered focus, and proven adaptability and resiliency. They also noted: 1) the City’s partnership with CAA is an asset to the nonprofit’s growth and development, 2) cross-promotion and coordination of services is critical for future partnerships, and 3) the Fall Festival of the Arts ignites excitement. Recommendations include: 1) scheduling a CAA Board retreat where Board job descriptions are updated and completing a Board development matrix; 2) Implement a Board recruitment strategy based on the Board development matrix and focus on skill and expertise gaps.

DESIGN & PLANNING: Civil & Environmental Engineering

WINTER AND SPRING 2021 Engineering Capstone Designs

Project Description: Groups of Portland State University Civil and Environmental Engineering students worked on potential designs and budget estimates for a variety of projects, including: 1) a bridge span that could be used by bicyclists, pedestrians, and other alternative travel modes to connect downtown Troutdale with The Confluence site; 2) a Sandy Riverfront Park overlook deck; 3) a bridge span that connects a prospective off-street multiuse trail along Halsey Street to 2nd Street; and 4) a Sandy Avenue redesign or reconfiguration with enhanced bicycle and pedestrian access.

Recommendations: Each of the four project teams prepared a final report that includes 30% design, final cost to build, proposed construction schedule, materials, and geotechnical and structural considerations.

DESIGN & PLANNING: Design for Climate Action

WINTER 2021 Climate Adaptation Recommendations and Crosswalk

Project Description: The city of Troutdale is exploring its options to mitigate, adapt, and become resilient to the effects of climate change. This report surveyed policy and planning documents across local and regional jurisdictions to understand the current environment and explore what possibilities might exist for the future.

Recommendations: Documents were assessed along three criteria: 1) Reducing greenhouse gas emissions; 2) Identifying and adapting to the risks associated with climate change; and 3) Increasing access to clean and affordable energy. Each section summarized the relevant key points in a plan or policy document and provided recommendations for how the content of these documents might be applied to future climate resiliency work, and an overall table summarizes each document as well as recommendations for how to connect the content with future climate resiliency work. In addition to these documents, the researcher suggested that Troutdale should consider forthcoming state and federal climate policy, as well as Portland General Electric’s November 2020 announcement to meet the region’s electricity needs with net zero carbon emissions by 2040.


WINTER AND SPRING 2021 Troutdale Passenger Rail and Transit Feasibility Assessment

Project Description: Master of Business Administration students worked on Troutdale-based passenger rail and transit for the Columbia River Gorge area, focused on:

  • Identifying opportunities to relieve tourist attraction and destination congestion throughout the Columbia River Gorge
  • Summarizing Troutdale’s current infrastructure and suggesting improvements to alleviate congestion in the Columbia River Gorge
  • Identifying key stakeholders and advocates
  • City guidance to create economic development stimulus, especially in support of transportation expansion

Recommendations: Students noted there are numerous challenges related to mitigating traffic congestion through the Columbia River Gorge and recommend the following:

  • Highlight Troutdale’s strategic location, existing infrastructure, and robust transportation plans to committees
  • Continue building support with key stakeholders
  • Coordinate with the East Multnomah County Transportation Committee
  • Become an active participant in the Region 1 ACT

DESIGN & PLANNING: Growth Management

WINTER 2021 Planning for a Vibrant Future: Land Use and Economic Development

Project Description: Students assessed two Troutdale Comprehensive Land Use Plan goals: Goal 2, Land Use Planning, and Goal 9, Economic Development using case studies, literature review of mixed-use zoning and economic development trends, U.S. Census data analysis, and comparing Troutdale’s Comprehensive Plan to other relevant planning resources such as Metro’s 2040 Regional Growth Framework.


  • Goal 2, Land Use: Students emphasized how a mixed-use zoning designation in the Town Center could help the City develop the area commercially and accommodate housing needs. Approaching mixed-use zoning with a “fine-grained” approach could reduce land costs, increase destinations along the street, and help diversify the local economy, as well as lower barriers of entry to investors and entrepreneurs, thereby cultivating a more resilient economy and vibrant community. A second student group envisioned three new zones: along the Historic Columbia River Highway, a Downtown Mixed Use (MU-1) zone would emphasize commercial development, with residential uses complementing the area. Where the Halsey neighborhood and land along SW 257th Drive are located, a General Mixed Use (MU-2) zone prioritizes residential land use complemented with commercial uses. Students noted that these zoning designations can help preserve the existing character of downtown (MU-1 zone) while meeting residents’ expectations for developing vacant land (foundations of the MU-2 zone). Lastly, an Urban Mixed Use (MU-3) zone would accommodate the unique opportunities afforded by the undeveloped Confluence Site adjacent to downtown.
  • Goal 9, Economic Development: Students identified emerging trends such as the risks posed by climate change and suggest a commitment to creating “green collar jobs.” With an energy-efficient and less wasteful economy, students hope Troutdale’s quality of life will be preserved. Students also emphasized “industrial clustering” or encouraging related businesses in a supply chain to locate near each other. Highlighting the increasing need for data processing capacity, students outlined how Troutdale could leverage its competitive advantages in available industrial land as well as support emerging micro-retail businesses who could take advantage of the benefits data centers provide a 21st century economy.


SPRING 2021 Fire Hazard Resilience and Wind Energy Development

Project Description: Land use law students evaluated the City’s land use laws relating to fire hazard resilience and small- and medium-scale wind energy development.

Recommendations: Fire Resilience

  1. Adopt a fire hazard overlay zone and supplemental regulations that balance the need to reduce the spread of fire to and from structures, preserve natural habitat, and establish benchmarks for maintaining vegetation. Regulations for setbacks and perimeters, vegetation, and building materials are suggested.
  2. Implement a Wildland Fire and Hazard Mitigation Plan, limiting housing in vulnerable areas, engaging the community in evacuation planning, and updating emergency responder access.
  3. Create a Natural Disaster Advisory Committee to engage and educate citizens about wildfire and other natural hazard risks and provide public input regarding natural hazard mitigation strategies and tradeoffs.
  4. Adopt intergovernmental agreements between the City and the communities within the area’s fire district.
  5. Update the City’s code to facilitate enforcement of wildfire mitigation measures.
  6. Pursue grants (FEMA, Oregon Department of Forestry, etc.) to fund wildfire hazard planning and programming.

Recommendations: Small- and Medium-Scale Wind Energy

  1. Adopt a wind energy ordinance to: a) Facilitate economical, efficient and appropriate development of small- and medium-scale wind energy systems, b) Increase the City’s contribution to the regional and state renewable energy portfolios, c) Decrease greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, and reliance on fossil fuels, d) Increase the City’s and residents’ energy independence, and e) Increase the City’s ability to affect energy siting decisions on larger scale facilities that would impact the City but are outside of the City’s regulatory authority.
  2. Adopt wind energy development regulations that balance the benefits from small- and medium-scale wind with their impacts by protecting open space and sensitive areas such as flood hazard areas, vegetation corridors, and slope districts from inappropriate wind energy development
  3. Annotated ordinances for small- and medium-scale wind energy systems tailored to Troutdale; relevant zoning and permitting considerations; relevant state laws; information on state tax incentives, net metering, and funding resources; suggested best practices; wind codes adopted in other Oregon cities; case studies of relevant national examples; and FAQs are provided.

DESIGN AND PLANNING: Architecture Design Studio

SPRING 2021 Revitalizing the Overlook Tract Design Studio

Project Description: Architecture students developed recommendations for affordable housing on the Overlook Tract, working with the site’s opportunities (proximity to downtown, and constraints such as slopes and access. Students developed multi-story floor plans and site designs. Among other elements, students incorporated sustainability features into their designs and materials selection.

Recommendations: Students propose to serve seniors, single parents, low-income families, and those groups disproportionately affected by poverty with their development. Overarching design goals include: preserving the small town feel, creating a unique gateway to Troutdale, designing a multi-generational development, and providing privacy. Some of the specific elements to achieve these goals include:

  • Appropriate materials such as brick, stone, and wood with neutral and natural gabled roofs
  • No large blank walls or large expanses of glazing
  • Use of porticos, porches, balconies, dormers, and bay windows to articulate the building facades; use of exposed beams, trusses, and other structural details, including ornamental trim on openings and roof
  • Low roof heights and soft archways
  • Reduced number of required parking spaces since the site is near transit, will house elderly residents, and includes studio units
  • Community benefits include on the site include dog parks, playground equipment, sports fields, a food plaza, food trucks, and a farmers market

DESIGN AND PLANNING: Land Use Planning and Policy

SPRING 2021 Policy Review of Mobile Food Facility Regulations

Project Description: Using national standards and relevant case studies as guidance, students completed an in- depth and strategic review of existing codes and policies focused on mobile food facilities (MFF). Students created a framework for their review, including general location restrictions, place-based regulations, and regulations outside a city’s development code. Students then evaluated how each type of regulation affects four policy areas including economic activities, public space, public safety, and public health.


  • Definition: simple and not be overly prescriptive
  • Code-related: dedicated section specific to MFF; user-friendly zoning information; compliance that meshes with surroundings/neighborhoods; aligned with comprehensive and neighborhood plans; zoning and overlay districts as needed to appropriately locate MFFs; and regulations that have a direct nexus to land use and promote the health, safety, and welfare of the community
  • Outreach: involve stakeholder groups in rule-making process
  • Permitting: make information on permitting, parking, and fees clear and user-friendly
  • Siting: allow MFF in industrial and commercial zones only (although it limits possible sites) and distinguish between public and private property
  • General: locate MFF information in one location on the City’s website


SPRING 2021 Troutdale Hazard Vulnerability Analysis Project

Project Description: Communities in the Pacific Northwest have become increasingly vulnerable to hazards such as wildfire, flooding, landslide, and earthquake, and a risk assessment is a vital step to devise effective and efficient community response strategies. Students mapped spatial distribution of hazard risks in Troutdale and assessed their economic and social impacts. Students found that high exposure to all hazards is minimal and the highest exposure is largely concentrated near waterways.


  • Align City-level efforts with existing plans such as the Multnomah County NHMP, Oregon Resilience Plan, Greater Portland Inc CEDS (economic resilience)
  • Use fire risk awareness to increase awareness and preparation for other hazards
  • Align hazard mitigation for chronic hazards with actions that would increase Troutdale’s resilience, preparation, and mitigation against catastrophic hazards

DESIGN AND PLANNING: Topics in Bicycle Transportation

SPRING 2021 Bicycle Transportation Improvements in Troutdale

Project Description: Fifteen groups of undergraduate and graduate students considered and conceptualized a variety of bicycling-related projects, from a focus on site-specific to regional scale pans, to ideas for engaging the community and enticing cyclists to visit Troutdale.

Recommendations: Project recommendations included: ideas for cycling infrastructure that connects Edgefield with Glenn Otto Park; a spectrum from creative to practical adjustments to 2nd Street, “Main” Street, and Glenn Otto Park; ideas for a variety of community events; and a travel magazine/brochure that highlights how Troutdale could transform into the region’s bicycling capital.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to the City of Troutdale for the opportunity to begin a long-term connection between the University of Oregon and the city. Special thanks to city staff: Chris Damgen, Amber Shackelford, Marlee Boxler, and Arini Farrell. SCYP also acknowledges the Troutdale City Council and Mayor for their support.

University of Oregon faculty are the cornerstone of SCYP. Thank you to Sarah Adams-Schoen, John Arroyo, Anne Brown, Evan Kristof, Yizhao Yang, Dyana Mason, Jerolim Mladinov, Dean Mundy, Gerardo Sandoval, Ryan Cabinte, Kaarin Knudson, Rebecca Lewis, and Marc Schlossberg for their commitment to excellence in teaching.