Gwenn understood our bottom lines, was a diligent advocate on
our behalf and great to work with. The results were better than we hoped. -Ed and Brad Tonkin, Ron Tonkin Family of Dealerships


Ron Tonkin Family of Dealerships

122nd Avenue has been a destination retail location for automobiles since the early 1960’s when Ron Tonkin brought a Chevrolet dealership to the largely rural area. Over time, 122nd Ave. developed into a major north-south thoroughfare with a concentration of automobile dealerships. Subsequent zoning restrictions severely limited the ability of auto dealerships or other existing businesses to renovate or expand, depressing the economic vitality of the area.

Ron Tonkin Family of Dealerships hired Baldwin Consulting for representation in a three-year public process aimed at reviewing area zoning and recommending code changes to City Council. The Tonkin Team, a collaboration of Baldwin Consulting, a land use planner, a land use attorney, architects, and Tonkin representatives, helped neighborhood representatives and City staff members understand how the unique needs of auto dealers could be addressed in a way that improved the area for everyone. Baldwin Consulting played a critical role in securing stakeholder and City Council support for workable code changes.

The study group achieved consensus on nearly all critical elements of the recommended code changes. However, the minimum development requirement was not workable for improving auto retail properties. Worse, the Planning Commission made several last minute revisions to the recommendations, putting the auto dealers in virtually the same untenable position as before.

Faced with opposition from Planning Bureau staff, Baldwin Consulting created an integrated strategy for the entire Tonkin Team. Baldwin Consulting simplified the issues into six concepts and, based on City Council feedback, worked with the Tonkin Team to draft amendments. Baldwin Consulting, while maintaining communication with Planning Bureau staff, lobbied City Council on the merits of the amendments and worked with local businesses and employees to share their support with Council. Baldwin Consulting worked with City Council members, their staff and Planning Bureau staff up until the first hearing to get agreement on the remaining issues.

In the end, City Council unanimously adopted the needed amendments and passed workable zoning and code changes to the 122nd Ave area, allowing existing businesses to expand in ways that support the broader community.

Strategic positioning services:

  • Developed a comprehensive strategy, from the stakeholder study group to City Council consideration
  • Collaborated with land use planner, Tonkin staff, local businesses and neighborhood association representatives to ensure a workable outcome
  • Participated for two years in monthly Planning Bureau study group meetings, and in a year-long public approval process
  • Worked with City Council staff on amendments to ensure the zoning changes were viable for auto dealers to renovate and expand their businesses on 122nd Ave
  • Created briefing memos, talking points and testimony for the client and local businesses at the Planning Commission and City Council, including a PowerPoint presentation with persuasive visuals.
  • Lobbied City Council members and staff on the merits of the issues


Singer Properties

Parking in Northwest Portland, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, has been in short supply for decades, creating hassles for residents, businesses and visitors alike. A citizen advisory committee of diverse stakeholders crafted a plan for increasing off-street parking and improving on-street parking management. The plan included small, two-story parking structures to blend into the intimate feel of the neighborhood. As the plan was heading toward City Council and final approval, the neighborhood association withdrew its support.

Baldwin Consulting was hired to create a comprehensive strategy to positively position parking with the public and to secure City Council support. Working with a variety of land use specialists, business owners, developers, and members of the Nob Hill Business Association, Baldwin Consulting analyzed the level of support among City Council members, developed key messages, crafted a public information effort, and organized local business owners to lobby City Council. All the stakeholders were engaged and informed so that City Council and the public received a cohesive message about the importance of increasing parking options, while allowing the message to be fine-tuned as needed.

After months of hearings, the City Council adopted the parking plan, increasing parking options.

Strategic positioning services:

  • Developed a comprehensive strategy for engaging local businesses on the parking issue
  • Collaborated with land use attorneys, businesses and developers to keep everyone supportive and on-message
  • Worked with City Council staff on amendments to strengthen the viability of the plan and the support for the plan at Council
  • Created briefing memos, talking points and testimony for the client and local businesses
  • Wrote and placed an opinion piece in The Oregonian from a local business leader in support of the parking plan


Innovation Partners

Business frustration over the number and cost of permitting regulations in Portland reached a fevered pitch in 2002. The City of Portland and many large developers, architects and contractors wanted to find a way to provide relief while maintaining critical health and safety protections. While working with the nonprofit Innovation Partners, Gwenn led a five-month independent stakeholder assessment of development review (permitting) that involved nearly 100 representatives of business, government and neighborhoods.

Using a modified consensus approach, Gwenn facilitated a 32-person steering committee to focus and agree on eight key recommendations to revise
Portland’s processes and regulations, both improving the business climate and making permitting easier for businesses and homeowners alike

City Council accepted the report in the spring of 2003 and is implementing virtually all the recommendations.

Strategic positioning services:

  • Developed an assessment protocol that included business and homeowner case studies, interviews and shadowing customers as they moved through the permitting process
  • Facilitated a 32-member steering committee and a 20-member technical advisory committee through a five-month modified consensus model to arrive at eight key recommendations
  • Wrote a comprehensive report on the assessment to present to City Council
  • Briefed City Council members on the report prior to Council consideration and secured a unanimous acceptance of the report


Gwenn Baldwin found the problems in Portland's permitting system and gave me a clear guide for how to fix them. A lot of people talk about making things happen; Gwenn actually does it.
—Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard