July 2013
   July 29, 2013

When Austyn Lundeen was hired earlier this summer, he became the third generation in his family to work for Otak’s Portland survey crew. His father, Joel Lundeen, has been working with Otak’s field survey crew since 1994, and his grandfather, Gary Lundeen, originally joined Otak in 1984. This is the first time that three generations have worked together at Otak, and we are proud to have this family working in the field!

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   July 22, 2013

Russ Gaston, PE, and Ryan Hawkins, PE, of Otak's Kirkland Water and Natural Resources group were recently invited to give a presentation on innovative stormwater management techniques to the Growth Management Policy Board (GMPB) of the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC). The GMPB includes council members, mayors and other representatives of regional cities and counties, businesses, labor, civil and environmental groups. Russ and Ryan presented options for encouraging cost-effective and sustainable stormwater management for urban infill development. The presentation was followed by a question and answer period with questions fielded from numerous interested representatives of cities and counties across Puget Sound. The GMPB contacted Otak after calling several local city public works directors and hearing Otak's name come up several times as being a leader in the field.

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   July 17, 2013

The Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) 2013 Conference was held in Hartford, Connecticut, from June 9-14th this year. Greg Laird, a principal in the Water and Natural Resources Group, and Meg Olson, a water resources design analyst, from the Kirkland office attended the conference. The conference included sessions on green infrastructure, innovative state floodplain management and mitigation efforts, modeling, and dam and levee management, and a main topic of interest was the effects of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Act on the National Flood Insurance Program. After passing the exam at the conference, Greg became Otak’s newest Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM). The CFM certification recognizes training and continuing education in floodplain management and flood loss reduction. Meg presented a paper on the 2008 biological opinion on the National Flood Insurance Program in Washington state in the 3rd Annual ASFPM student paper competition, and won first place! Greg and Meg are both looking forward to the 2014 ASFPM Conference, which will be held in Seattle. Greg is on the committee planning for the Seattle conference and is also on the International Issues and the Training and Outreach committees for ASFPM.  

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   July 16, 2013

Creating Vibrant Urban Neighborhoods Outreach and Information Gathering is part of Otak’s East Corridor Implementation Support project for the Growing Transit Communities Partnership.


What is the Growing Transit Communities Partnership (GTCP)?
Coordinated by the Puget Sound Regional Council and involving partners such as the cities of Bellevue and Redmond, A Regional Coalition for Housing, and others, the GTCP is a regional effort to help make the most of voter-approved $15 billion investments in regional high capacity transit. The Partnership is committed to implementing economically vibrant and diverse neighborhoods and communities around high capacity transit stations throughout the region. There are four focus areas of the East Corridor Implementation Support project sponsored by GTCP: Affordable housing, business retention and attraction, transportation access and connectivity, and partnerships. The Partnership is funded by a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program.

East Link:
Derby Days:

On Saturday, July 13, Otak staff (Mandi Roberts, Liz Johnson, and Finis Ray) engaged eastside residents at the annual Redmond Derby Days in visioning future urban neighborhood settings along the East Link extension of light rail. Participants were asked to show what neighborhood elements are most important and appealing when considering urban living. Otak provided information in order to help residents visualize the planned redevelopment of east corridor station areas, such as Overlake Village, into vibrant, urban neighborhoods for all ages. Liz and Finis, urban planning interns in Otak’s Kirkland office, will be compiling the results with the intent to better understand what might attract families and multi-generational residents to the new urban neighborhoods that will emerge on the eastside around light rail.

Using an interactive visual preference survey, Otak captured the public’s suggestions and ideas about what makes a neighborhood vibrant and family friendly. A kids table invited children to draw the favorite things about their neighborhood. Participation was enthusiastic! A companion online survey will be live all summer and through early fall at Everyone is invited to participate in the online survey; we welcome all input! So please tell us what elements are most important for urban neighborhoods.

Derby Days was the first of several stops for Otak’s Vibrant Urban Neighborhoods booth. The display will also be hosted at other at future community events on the eastside this summer and early fall.

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   July 15, 2013

Congressman Earl Blumenauer recently toured Otak’s new Portland office and met with R. Nicholas Loope, FAIA, Otak’s President and CEO. He then met with a group of Otak staff for a brownbag lunch and town hall-style meeting where he discussed the priorities for essential infrastructure, transit, energy efficiency, clean water, and sustainable economic growth. We appreciate Congressman Blumenauer taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with us, and we applaud his tireless advocacy for livable communities. He is always welcome back at Otak!

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   July 9, 2013

Portland’s Mayor, Charlie Hales, was pleased to host the 50th International Making Cities Livable (IMCL) Conference in Portland, Oregon, from June 23-27, 2013. Mayor Hales has been a Board Member of IMCL since before his election, and he was joined by mayors of several other cities, urban thought leaders, and experts from Australia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America. The conference explored the theme of “Reshaping Suburbia into Healthy Communities.”

Kurt Creager, Otak’s Director of Housing and Community Development, teamed with Paul Peninger, Principal at Bay Area Urban Economics, to deliver a juried paper at the conference entitled “Creating and Sustaining Inclusive and Equitable Communities in the Western USA.” Their thesis demonstrated that: “If financing techniques are linked to planning and development methods as communities are retrofitted with high capacity transit, then it is possible to create and sustain equity for low and moderate income families and individuals.”

The IMCL Conferences are a joint effort of the IMCL Council (USA), University of Notre Dame School of Architecture (USA), Venice University Department of Urban Planning (Italy), German Institute for Urbanism (Germany), Associazione Culturale Polis (Italy), Urban Initiatives (USA), Urban Alternatives (USA), and the University of Ulm Medical School (Germany).

For more information, contact Kurt Creager at

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   July 8, 2013

Otak is pleased to announce the following new hires working out of our office in Portland, Oregon:

Jade Ward has joined Otak as a receptionist and document specialist. She brings two years of experience as a receptionist and administrative assistant. She also possesses experience in customer service.

Megan Karner has joined Otak as a civil engineering designer. She brings a background in construction management and knowledge of civil, environmental, water and wastewater engineering, and solid hazardous waste design. Megan earned her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering with an emphasis on Environmental Engineering from the University of Portland.

Kathi Saunders has joined Otak as an HR specialist. Kathi earned her Master’s in Human Resource Management from the Baker Center for Graduate Studies and her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Portland.




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   July 8, 2013

Otak is pleased to announce the following new hires working out of our offices in Washington:

Kirkland, Washington

Sheila Ranganath, PE, has joined Otak as a water resources engineer. She brings five years of experience in planning, design, and construction of water resource projects. Sheila’s areas of expertise include water resources planning studies, project designs and specifications, and bioengineering design for stream bank erosion control and habitat restoration. She earned her Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Biological Systems Engineering, Land and Water Resources from Virginia Tech, and she is a member of the Soil and Water Conservation Society.

Nancy Acton has joined Otak as a receptionist and project assistant. She brings 20 years of experience in administrative assistance and office management. Nancy earned he Associates in Arts & Sciences from Bellevue College and her Executive Assistant Certificate from the Business & Medical Training Center in Seattle, Washington.

Jessica Redman has joined Otak as a wetland scientist. She brings 11 years of multidisciplinary science experience. Prior to joining Otak, she worked as a fisheries observer and at-sea monitor in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, the Northeast Atlantic, and Hawaiian Islands. Jessica earned a Master of Arts in Marine and Environmental Policy and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of Miami, and a Certificate in Wetlands Science and Management from the University of Washington.

Dave Stewart has joined Otak as a water resources engineer. He brings expertise in water resource issues including stormwater modeling, drainage design, hydrology, hydraulics, flood hazard mitigation, water quality, and sediment transport. Dave earned a Master of Science in Water Resources Engineering, Agricultural and Biosystems, from the University of Arizona, and a Bachelor of Science in Water Resources Engineering, Biological Systems, from Virginia Tech.

Finis Ray has joined Otak as a planning intern working out of our office in Kirkland, Washington. He brings knowledge of interior design, urban design, and historic preservation, and his professional experience includes work as an urban design intern on the Nashville Civic Design Center in Tennessee. Finis earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design from O’More College of Design, and he is currently pursuing his Master of Urban Planning and Master of Landscape Architecture at the University of Washington.

Ahmed Kayanda has joined Otak as a CAD technician. Prior to joining Otak, Ahmed was a CAD Intern at a private engineering firm. He also has experience working with conservation architects for UNESCO to renovate and restore historical buildings in Zanzibar. Ahmed earned his Associates degree in Civil Engineering Graphics from Lake Washington Institute of Technology. He also earned his Associates degree in Civil Engineering from Karume Technical College in Zanzibar.

Ellen Webster has joined Otak as a civil engineering designer. She brings experience in roadway and site design for a variety of municipal projects. Prior to joining Otak, Ellen served as treasurer and build leader for the Habitat for Humanity Club and was a Honduras Project Member for Engineers Without Borders. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Portland. Ellen is currently working on projects for the cities of Redmond and Woodinville.

Liz Johnson has joined Otak as a summer intern. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Urban Planning at the University of Washington and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the College of New Jersey.

Vancouver, Washington

Theo Malone has joined Otak as a water resources engineering designer. He brings over a year of experience in site assessment, post-construction monitoring, hydrologic modeling, and field testing procedures. Prior to joining Otak, Theo worked as a Watershed Services Intern for the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. Theo earned both his Master's and Bachelor's degrees in Environmental Engineering from Portland State University where he was also involved in Engineers Without Borders.

Vicki has joined Otak as a summer engineering intern. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Vicki is a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers.


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   July 8, 2013

Otak is pleased to announce the following new hires working out of our office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates:

Romel Orbon has joined Otak as an architect/3D visualizer. He has provided design development, construction documents, and 3D modeling of concept designs on a variety of projects in the Philippines and the Middle East. Romel received his Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture from Bicol University in the Philippines, and he is a member of United Architects of the Philippines.

Raul Maglalang has joined Otak as a road designer. Raul brings over 18 years of experience as a senior road and highway designer along with experience in flood control projects, infrastructure master planning, and GIS. Raul earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at the University of the East in the Philippines and his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology from Bulacan State University in the Philippines.

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