How Your Neighborhood Can Host The Belmont Goats
Proposals Deadline: November 30, 2017
The Belmont Goats have been residing on a Portland Development Commission parcel at SE 92nd and Harold since May 2016 (after 1 1/2 years at another Commission-owned lot two blocks away), and our stay there will come to an end in June 2018.
We are inviting Portlanders interested in hosting the herd for a two- or three-year period to submit specific proposals outlining a potential relocation after our stay in Lents Town Center.
It will be up to you to determine if there is suitable property in your neighborhood, get area stakeholders on board, and show how such a move is viable.
As much as possible, we’d like to replicate the process which landed us in Lents Town Center: available property, an interested neighborhood, a sufficient and workable timeframe, and a clear logistical path.
As the board and volunteer staff of The Belmont Goats diligently worked toward finding a new temporary home in Portland for the herd after its initial Buckman residence, we frequently were presented with one version or another of a single, quite understandable question: “Why not put them in the country, where they belong?”
Originally residing at what was known colloquially as Goat Field (or, to the local development community, “the goat blocks”), two city blocks bounded by SE Belmont and Taylor Streets and SE 11th and 10th Avenues, The Belmont Goats were preceded by three summers of unrelated herds rented from local companies to clear brush, part of an agricultural and social experiment pitched to developer Killian Pacific by landscape architect Brett Milligan.
After those first three years, Creative Woodworking NW—whose shop stands directly across the street from the property, and who’d helped care for those rented herds—arranged to have their own goats beginning in October of 2012. Unlike their predecessors, these goats would take up residence rather than be hired out to weed other property. That’s the herd which the Buckman neighborhood and the greater Portland community came to know and love over the course of the spring and summer of 2013, becoming, in the words of one supporter, the “nexus of an unexpected and spontaneous community”.
Whatever the original intent behind placing goats on the “goat blocks”, over the course of 2013 this herd became less about controlling the local weed population than about enhancing the lives of the local neighborhood population.
The Belmont Goats became something of an oasis of calm for countless people who changed the routes of their walks, their bike rides, and their daily commutes simply to pass by or to stop for a visit.
The experience became about open, but not empty, space. About nature in the city. About animals amidst industry. About community livability.
Much as many people consider owning a cat or a dog to be a therapeutic thing to do, most visitors to the “goat blocks”—not just the denizens of a local retirement community or the occasional lone sufferer of PTSD—considered our herd to be a therapeutic part of their day or week. Both a relief and a respite, shared across a wide spectrum of people rather than indulged in alone.
Indeed, that’s precisely how many of the current owners and caretakers of The Belmont Goats became involved to begin with.
These, in the end, are neither country goats nor working goats. Their “job” isn’t to clear land of blackberry bushes or poison ivy. Rather, they have much the same job as your own pets, except they’ve done that job for an entire community of people rather than just for yourself or your own family.
When we by necessity shuttered the gate in the fall of 2013 and stopped allowing visitors inside, it wasn’t only the people who were disappointed. For the first several days, even the less sociable of our goats lingered along the fence line near the entrance. Goats are social animals, and for an entire spring and summer they in a sense belonged to two separate but linked herds: one comprised of goats and one comprised of people. They knew something suddenly was missing.
Late in October of 2013, after a year of uninterrupted residency, an approaching deadline to move the goats to make way for a long-anticipated development project raised the possibility of the herd being split up. Instead, a handful of its volunteer caretakers stepped up to purchase the herd in order to ensure that it remained intact, for the good of both the herd and the community, with the goal of finding a new publicly-accessible home.
While the herd no longer resides on SE Belmont Street, its new owners officially named them The Belmont Goats in recognition of the pioneering history of urban goats at Goat Field.
A year later, early in October of 2014, at the invitation of the neighborhood and after a successful crowdfunding campaign, The Belmont Goats relocated to Lents Town Center (initially in partnership with Green Lents), onto land provided by the Portland Development Commission. Nestled between Portland Fire & Rescue Station 11 and the summer location of the Lents International Farmers Market, “The Belmont Goats at Lents Town Center” launched with a series of community work parties which drew both long-time supporters and friends from our new neighborhood, to construct site fencing and the new barn (referred to by a local farmer as a “mansion”).
We’ve participated in local street fairs and parades. We’ve hosted birthday visits, photography classes, bicycle tours, senior groups, and Goodwill outings. We even inspired the name of the neighborhood’s “Put a Goat On It” holiday bazaar.
It’s been a successful run, and current plans keep us in Lents until the June 2018.
Our first Lents lot being slated for development by Rose Community Development Corporation, in the Spring of 2016 we moved all of two blocks northeast to part of the PDC property referred to as “92H” (the large empty lot between the Carpet Outlet and the Wattles Boys & Girls Club).
At this time, a location for the herd after our stay on 92H has yet to be determined.
With a deadline of June 2018, it is prudent in advance to outline for other neighborhoods interested in playing host to The Belmont Goats just how they might attempt to do so.
We aren’t looking for new owners. We aren’t looking to farm them out. We aren’t looking to send them to the country. We’re hoping for that one property owner or developer as gracious, patient, and open as both our original and our current hosts have been. Someone to help us continue sharing this experience for a little while longer.
We’re looking to continue to maintain our goats as what they’ve become: Portland’s nonprofit resident herd, offering an oasis of rural community amidst the built urban environment.
On our end, we will be making an effort to contact larger property-holders, such as Portland Parks and Recreation, or Portland Public Schools. In addition, we’ll potentially be getting some help identifying private property owners and developers who might have suitable land available for another temporary stint somewhere.
What we aren’t doing is putting out a general, loose call for people to suggest property.
Rather, we are inviting neighborhoods who might be interested in hosting the herd to submit proposals. It will be up to people on the ground in their own neighborhoods to research land, talk to property owners, and gather community support, all within the context of our Needs/Wants list. Lents as a neighborhood had the advantage of PDC’s ability to offer its land for interim use. While that’s not something every neighborhood will be able to replicate, being presented with an opportunity was far more navigable for us than the alternative of researching every random piece of property someone in Portland thought maybe might be a good match.
In essence and effect, we will be crowdsourcing part of our relocation effort in the event we have to move from Lents.
We’ll be doing our best to identify large property-holders in Portland, but if you’ve seen a lot that you think looks good, it will be up to you, your neighbors, and perhaps your neighborhood association to do the legwork and the research and come to us with a workable proposal. Obviously, as you reach out to property owners in your neighborhood you can’t negotiate for us, but you’ll be able to gauge interest, especially if you’re working as a group.
If all parties in an area—neighbors, property-owners, other stakeholders—all at least see and understand our Needs/Wants list and are interested in having a conversation about the possibilities, that will make it easier for everyone.
When looking at potential land to host The Belmont Goats, there are two options: industrial zones such as EXd (e.g. our Buckman lot and our first Lents lot) permits “agricultural” use, while residential zones such as R1 and R2 (and the forthcoming Mixed Use Zones) permit “open space” use. For our move to Lents, the Bureau of Development Services determined that we are an agricultural use under the zoning code. Recently, the Bureau determined that we also would fall under the “land used for grazing that is not part of a farm or ranch” use for “open space”.
While we don’t hold out much hope we’ll ever again see the likes of the two square blocks we had in Buckman, experience so far in Lents suggests that anything less than the square footage of our first Lents Town Center lot could become an issue for a herd of this size. The lot in Buckman was around 91,000 square feet. Our first lot in Lents is around 23,000 square feet without the parking lot, around 32,000 with the parking lot.Our space on 92H is around 38,500 square feet.
Down in Buckman, private developer Killian Pacific didn’t charge us rent. Out in Lents, city agency Portland Development Commission granted us a free use permit. Some similar arrangement preferably should be available for the land you’ve identified.
By which is meant the sheer amount of time for which we will have use of the land. Our next move should allow us to plan for a longer-term presence (e.g. 2-3 years), which will allow for a greater range of programs and activities in the community. The murky and non-specific schedule in Lents became an issue and isn’t something that should be risked with our next location.
Having had available water across the street in Buckman, and in the adjacent lot in our first Lents lot, it’s more clear than ever that this is a primary requirement. While we will be looking into rain-
catching systems as well, there needs to be an on-site (or adjacent) source of potable water for the herd.
Between the attached parking lot, empty lot to the south, and relatively-new streetscaping to the west, the public had easy and safe access to our first Lents site without impeding pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk. Capacity of a similar ease and safety at any new location is a must.
Or, “as centrally-located as possible”. For example, it’s unlikely we’d be much interested in being further east than we are now, or in considering far outer southwest. It’s doubtful we’ll ever again be able to locate as close-in as our old Buckman location, but “as centrally- located as possible” is the watchword. This allows for the sort of serendipitous discovery we had a lot of in Buckman and some of in Lents.
Both our old Buckman location and our two Lents Town Center locations are well-served by public transit and bicycle accessibility. If only because none of the owners of the herd drive, but also for the purposes of serving the public, transit access is a must.
It would be useful if any new location had, for example, at least some existing fencing, if only to make relocation more efficient and cost-effective. Fencing that would need some work to make it suitable for our purposes would not be a deal-breaker. Moving our existing fencing and the shelter makes for something of a chicken-or-the-egg problem, although by the time of our next move we will have had some experience with temporary fencing which might help mitigate these concerns.
While we had use of the electricity at the far end of the adjacent Farmers Market lot, which was adequate during much of our construction phase, having our own electrical supply on-site would not just be more convenient but allow for conveniences and other sundries such as lighting, and is an absolute requisite for the next item. Barring an electrical hookup, we would investigate solar alternatives.
By which we don’t necessarily mean the infrastructure exists already on-site, but any new location preferably should be at an address at which Internet service is obtainable. The primary usage here is for livestreaming the herd online, which would serve both publicity and security.
We haven’t had much of a need (yet?) for garbage service where we are, as we’ve been able to haul out our refuse ourselves but in the longer term establishing trash pickup is a consideration.
One clear advantage of our first Lents location over our Buckman one is the tree line. It’s especially beneficial during our rare stretches of 95-100oF temperatures. If little or no natural shade is available, we would construct artificial shading around the property.
Whether for landscaping or goat nourishment, the property owner allow us to perform some degree of landscaping. If a property were large enough, we’d perhaps even be able to consider fencing off sections on a rotating basis.
While we don’t expect any new location to come with grant money covering construction costs (as with PDC’s land in Lents), you might be able to identify other useful incentives to ease the logistics of a potential move to your neighborhood. For example, perhaps there’s a local fence company that would be willing to contribute labor or materials.
By which we mean convenient access to the sorts of things our volunteers and visitors might like to have in the area. Buckman and Lents both had convenience stories, bars, and restaurants; Lents has a summer farmers market. It would be nice if we weren’t in isolation from such other activities and resources.
We’d like to have all neighborhood pitches and proposals into us by November 30, 2017.
With a deadline of June 2018, we need to get started on selecting the herd’s next home as soon as possible. You don’t need to have every last bit nailed down; in fact, you probably can’t until and unless we’ve come on board. Pull together your proposal’s basic support structure and stakeholder interest.
Whatever the outcome, we’re going to need plenty of time to consider, plan, and execute a move to your neighborhood.
Submitting Your Proposal
Pitch documents should be emailed to us at email@example.com as a PDF attachment.
The document itself doesn’t need to have any particular format or structure, but it must address the Needs/Wants list. Proposals that involve property that isn’t correctly zoned will be rejected out of hand.
It especially will be helpful to your proposal if you include testimonials of support from both neighborhood leaders and residents.
Questions or Comments
Please do not use this for anything other than questions about the process to host the herd in your neighborhood. Our regular website has methods to make other inquiries.