Mayor Denny Doyle uses community input to improve Beaverton, OR

A rendering shows possible results of the Creekside Redevelopment Plan via Beaverton Facebook.

Located just seven miles west of Portland, OR, the City of Beaverton is using community input to create an extraordinary small-town experience. Already well-regarded for its great schools and green space, Beaverton is home to Nike Headquarters, Columbia Sports, over 16,000 tech employees, and one of the busiest transit hubs in the metro region. This diversified economy has given rise to a diverse Beaverton: one out of every four city residents was born outside of the U.S., and over 100 different languages are spoken in area homes.

Mayor Denny Doyle, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, has taken all of these important factors into consideration during his six years in office. He considers Beaverton’s diversity a strong asset and works hard to see that every voice is heard. The City’s commitment to community involvement played an essential role in the recently adopted Creekside District Master Plan, which aims to restore three creeks and help create a thriving downtown near the busy transit stop.

The Creekside District Master Plan was started about three years ago. Partially funded by a Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Cities Grant, the plan aims to redevelop a 50-acre area around a local creek and transit center, with the ultimate goal of creating a central downtown where people can live and work near transit. “We want this area to come to life,” says Mayor Doyle of the project’s focal point. “It has been asleep for a long time.” The planned first step involves redeveloping a five-acre area next to Beaverton City Hall, which will serve as a catalyst for the rest of the area.

Along with regular community meetings to gather feedback about the plan, leadership in Beaverton knew that they needed to be creative to involve the city’s many diverse communities. One innovative tactic employed, called “photo voice”, gave cameras to residents to take pictures of what they do and do not like about the plan’s target area. “It is very exciting to see the area through the eyes of a high school student or the eyes of someone from Ethiopia,” says Mayor Doyle. “It has provided a different perspective to look at besides the normal data gathering.”

Another way that Beaverton has been engaging its citizens is through the award-winning Beaverton Community Vision project. During the first year of Mayor Doyle’s first term in 2009, a large group of volunteers conducted widespread outreach into the community. Over 5,000 residents and business owners were spoken to in person about their vision for Beaverton. Around 6,000 suggestions for the city were recorded and out of those, 118 clear items were planned for completion over a 10-year period. After just five years, over 94% of the items are completed or under way. Recently, the town conducted an update to the project and spoke to around 6,000 people. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. “It was nice to get affirmation from the citizens that we are walking down the right trail,” says Mayor Doyle.

In addition to the feedback from residents, Mayor Doyle also knows the importance of learning from other cities. “My advice is to go see what other people are doing and see how it is applicable to your own town. You can’t stay home and discover new ideas.” Inspiration from other cities along with the extensive community involvement are sure to keep Beaverton among the top cities to live in for years to come.

Local Leaders Council