See below for the May Land Use and Transportation update from committee chair, Stephenie Frederick. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for a PDF version of this report.
Reductions in Portland Bureau of Transportation’s operations
Covid-19 has drastically reduced municipal revenues. The city has slashed its budgets and revised its work agendas. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is focusing on basics like landslides, road debris, sinkholes, backed-up sewers, clogged catch basins, and malfunctioning traffic signals. For a detailed list of current operations, see: https://beta.portland.gov/omf/covid-19-customer-service-hours-and-operations-changes#toc-portland-bureau-of-transportation-
Note: PBOT is still enforcing parking regulations. Continued enforcement discourages people from driving, and keeps loading zones, fire hydrants, and disabled parking unobstructed. For more information about traveling within the city at this time, see: https://beta.portland.gov/transportation/news/2020/3/18/covid-19-transportation-questions-and-answers
Effects of PBOT Ops Reductions on Brentwood-Darlington Projects
- TGM Planning Grant for Brentwood-Darlington, Woodstock, Mt. Scott-Arleta, Foster-Powell, and West Lents Neighborhoods
As of April 24, 2020, city staff are on schedule in laying out the legal and organizational groundwork for the TGM planning effort scheduled to begin this fall. It appears that because of budget cuts, staff will do more and consultants less than originally envisioned. Also, because of physical distancing requirements, staff may have to carry out less early public outreach and devote the time instead to existing-conditions inventories and technical analyses. Staff hope to engage with the public in 2021. They report that both PBOT and BPS (Bureau of Planning & Sustainability) management remain firmly committed to proceeding with the TGM effort as scheduled. BPS staffing capacity may be a problem in FY 2021-2020, but creative solutions are being examined.
- Sidewalk infill and Ogden-Knapp Neighborhood Greenway.
PBOT tells us that the Covid-19 crisis should not delay the project, as it is federally funded and will be contracted out. Sidewalks are to be filled in along Flavel and Duke Streets between SE 52nd and 82nd Avenues in 2021. The greenway is to run east-west from east of 82nd to 52nd Avenue. We are hoping that it can be designed to avoid Knapp Street by running through Brentwood Park or along the south edge of Lane Middle School’s property.
OUR TAXES COMING HOME . . .
Local street improvements made possible by Fixing Our Streets
The first round of “Fixing Our Streets”, the program name for the city’s 10¢/gallon infrastructure gas tax (2017-2020), recently brought Brentwood-Darlington four “Safe Routes to School” street improvements:
- At SE 46th Avenue-Henry Street: ADA ramps marked crosswalk, median island (benefiting students of Lewis Elementary School)
- At SE 52nd Avenue-Knapp Street: ADA ramps, marked crosswalk, median island (benefiting students of Lewis Elementary and Lane Middle schools). As an additional benefit, the median island slows traffic speeds on this stretch of 52nd.
- At SE 74th Avenue and Duke Street: Marked crosswalk (benefiting students of Woodmere Elementary and Lane Middle schools).
- At SE 72nd Avenue and Crystal Springs Blvd: Marked crosswalk, pedestrian crossing signs, ADA ramps (benefiting students of Whitman and Lane Middle schools)
There’s more! The following are planned for spring-summer 2020 construction:
- SE 60th Avenue (Flavel to Harney streets): Speed bumps, striping . . . !
- SE 64th Avenue and Flavel Street: Median island . . . !
- Se 64th Avenue (Flavel to Lambert streets): Speed bumps, striping
- SE Nehalem Street (67th to 72nd avenues): Speed bumps, striping . . . !
- SE 60th Avenue and Ogden Street: New ADA ramp.
- Scheduled for summer 2020 (but Covid-19 may delay): Springwater Corridor connector from SE Flavel Street (through Flavel Park) south to SE 75th Avenue, east on SE Harney St, south on SE 77th Avenue, then southeast on existing path. Connects the 70s and 80s greenways with the Corridor.
Local street improvements made possible by traditional (local, state, federal) funding
- SE 45th Avenue (from SE Harney Drive to Glenwood Street): Extensive repaving that improved bicycle lanes, slowed traffic, increased pedestrian crossing safety.
- SE 52nd Avenue at Flavel Street: Installation of raised markers that emphasize center-street stripes and induce left-turning vehicles to turn more slowly and carefully. Benefits pedestrians crossing 52nd and Flavel.
- Already mentioned above: Sidewalk infill, Flavel and Duke Streets; and east-west greenway from 82nd to 52nd avenues via Ogden and possibly Knapp.
Resident Critique re SE 45th Avenue Repaving Project
Brentwood-Darlington resident Laurent Nickel reports that although the repaving has improved travel for cyclists (which he supports), the removal of on-street parking along his side of SE 45th Avenue has made life more difficult.
Beyond the struggle to lug a bulky musical instrument and equipment a greater distance, Mr. Nickel is concerned that PBOT failed to notify residents in the area of the changes proposed for the street, depriving them of the ability to negotiate alterations with the city. He is asking whether the neighborhood association could insist on proper notification for future projects. (We LUTC members should discuss our own role in notifying to-be-affected neighbors of upcoming projects. Please share your thoughts on this.) Mr. Nickel’s email message is appended at the end of this update (with his permission).
City of Portland Slow Streets | Safe Streets Initiative
The city is closing some residential streets to all but local traffic, allowing people to bike and walk on these “slow streets” while maintaining 6 feet of distance from each other. PBOT has begun installing orange-and-white barrels at critical points to divert through traffic to other streets. The first streets to be “Local Access Only” are neighborhood greenways. PBOT states, “As part of the Slow Streets | Safe Streets initiative, PBOT is evaluating other streets in order to see what changes could help Portland travel safely during the pandemic.”
Find more information here: https://beta.portland.gov/transportation/slowstreetspdx
If you desire to stroll along a greenway slow street, you can find those in nearby neighborhoods (Eastmoreland, Sellwood, Lents, and Foster-Powell) on this map: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=08e3f719c5ec4be195f17c38cff8fce3
TriMet Bottle Express
Most bottle returns at grocery stores have closed, so the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) has opened an emergency bottle return at its headquarters in NW Portland. Governor Brown asked TriMet to help members of the community who depend on swapping bottles and cans for cash. On April 29, 2020, TriMet added a temporary shuttle bus — Line 297-NW Yeon/OBRC — that connects to OBRC’s emergency bottle return center.
The temporary shuttle bus is free to ride. Buses run between the Rose Quarter Transit Center and the bottle return center at 3900 NW Yeon Avenue, with one additional stop in NW Portland. Buses run once per hour between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. seven days per week.
COVID-19 safety rules apply — social distancing and passenger limits are in effect, as they are on all TriMet buses. Bags of cans and bottles that are leaking, foul smelling or so big that they block aisles are not permitted.
Statistics on local enrollment in TriMet’s low-income-fare program
In response to a request, TriMet supplied information about the number of local residents who (as of April 13, 2020) had obtained the reduced-fare Hop card available to low-income residents. TriMet could not sort by neighborhood but only by zip code, so gave us data for 97206. This zip code covers Brentwood-Darlington, Mt. Scott-Arleta, and parts of Foster-Powell and Mt. Tabor. A total of 1,293 residents in this zip code had obtained the reduced-fare card as of a month ago. Claiming roughly a third, we could estimate that approximately 430 B-D residents have benefited from the program.
An interesting aspect of the TriMet information is that a variety of “partner organizations” (e.g., IRCO, Care Oregon, PSU) helped the residents obtain their Hop cards. Residents had the qualifying information vetted by one of these organizations, and were each given a receipt. They took their receipt and government-issued photo ID to the TriMet office located in Pioneer Courthouse Square. There, TriMet issued the Hop cards. The office is open during the day six days per week.
Now TriMet is offering online enrollment as well as the process described above (and is moving to video conferencing for those who are unable to upload documents and photographs).
Affordable Housing Project Cancelled
After being denied city housing funds in 2019, Inland Construction of Tacoma WA attempted again to realize construction of a 152-unit affordable housing complex near Cartlandia. The Covid-19 crisis put a halt to its plans. Unfortunately, this is a big loss for Brentwood-Darlington. Inland representative John Fisher reported on April 11, 2020: “We did get the project back under contract and [were] in the process of applying for the State LIFT program to finance the affordable housing. That was all before the Covid crisis started and because of that we pulled the project from our development pipeline, so we will not be moving forward. I’m sorry I don’t have better news.”
Of interest: Multiple units proposed for lot near Flavel Park
7747 SE Lambert Street. An existing house and garage will be removed; the lot will be subdivided for construction of six detached single-family houses and a little private street.
Errol Heights Park – 21 April 2020
George Lozovoy project manager of the Errol Heights Park renovation, reported on April 21, 2020 that the project is moving forward as planned. Progress is being made on several fronts:
- The final land-use decision for the park improvements was issued on March 31st.
- Needed additional geotechnical information for the design of the retaining wall design adjacent to the staircase by SE 45th is being obtained.
- Lozovoy, Parks city-nature staff ecologist Christian Haaning, and a consulting restoration ecologist are developing a phased plan to control invasive plants and begin restoration in the park.
- Mayer Reed, the landscape architect and the rest of the design team continue to work on the construction drawings. The drawings should be at 90% completion by the end of April. Once the final review is done the plan set will go to the Bureau of Development Services for building permits.
- To meet BES storm-water manual requirements, a storm-water basin was integrated into the trailhead design at SE Tenino Court and 52nd Avenue.
Nothing to report this time except that the owner of Precision CastParts has lost billions of dollars since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis. See: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/02/investing/warren-buffett-berkshire-hathaway-earnings/index.html
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APPENDIX – Emailed message (May 6, 2020) about SE 45th Avenue repave from Brentwood-Darlington resident Laurent Nickel
I rent an ADU on 45th across the street from the Lewis School ball field. While I fundamentally agree with bike lane expansion, we were negatively impacted by the design of the bike lane installation last year as we have no off-street parking available, are centered in the block, and lost all on street parking on our side of the street. I’m a musician (upright bass), and it was already a schlep to walk my equipment into the back yard, so now I either have to hustle across the street or walk down the block to a crosswalk. In the rain this can be a hazard to me and my very weather sensitive equipment (takes 2-3 trips: bass, amp, chair, stands, etc).
Before the install began, I was in extended contact with Scott Cohen and his supervisor, trying to convince them to alter the plan to maintain parking availability on our side of the street. While they generally got back to me in good time and provided lots of information, they essentially said “too bad, too late.” I pressed them (hard, I must admit) on their procedure for soliciting public input. We first learned of the project when we returned from a weekend at the coast and my car had been towed. No notification, signage, mailers, anything. In fact, they didn’t actually impound it, they moved it three blocks away and left no note as to its whereabouts. I found it walking my dog. I pushed hard for more info about why we weren’t notified, and to their credit, they showed me their plan. It included mailers, a visit to the PTO meeting, and I believe a visit to a BDNA meeting. He was NOT able or willing to provide the address lists for that mailer. I surveyed all our neighbors, and the two homes to the south never received one, our landlord didn’t, we didn’t, and the home to the north of us didn’t. We pointed this out to Scott and he assured us mailers were sent, but again wouldn’t verify that (he admitted he didn’t even know this is a two-address parcel). His main fallback when this failing was pointed out was the PTO meeting and BDNA meeting. It’s difficult to believe that the PTO’s influence in the process didn’t secure their ball field parking, and difficult to believe that the precise stretch of most affected homes and rentals didn’t receive the mailers by chance or their own fault.
That’s why I’m contacting you (you may have been wondering by now). Scott and Gabe were completely unwilling to entertain a change in the plan or admit their notification process was flawed. Their repeated reference to the BDNA made me feel like they believe that working with neighborhood associations IS an adequate protocol. I really wish I had more time to be active in local associations, but I have a day job, am very busy with music (well, not at the moment, but hopefully again soon), and I work for and volunteer with a watershed council in Clackamas County. Essentially, I felt that even in a best case view of the whole issue, my and our voices were brushed aside because we don’t have the time or impetus to participate in associations such as yours. Since we aren’t parents and don’t have the time to participate in BDNA meetings, we were basically excluded from the process altogether. Since we’re renters, they didn’t even know we were here. Makes me feel unimportant and irrelevant to what happens on our streets. We pay taxes too blah blah etc etc…
So I guess I’m really writing just to provide a perspective. I believe that there are lots and lots of households like ours in Brentwood-Darlington. In the spirit of inclusion, I thought you might want to know that in practice, the city considers you an acceptable platform to get the word out about traffic changes. I lay ZERO blame with you guys for our woes, but perhaps it might be useful for you to know how the city utilizes your organization, and how they fall short while doing so. A neighbor down the road wanted to cut some sick cherry trees in his mow strip, and he had to go through extensive permitting and had to post an obvious yellow public notice/opportunity for input sign in his yard for almost a month before cutting. Why the heck the city didn’t do that exact thing, or something even more obvious for the lane alterations on 45th is beyond me. Smells fishy.
Perhaps next time the city presents a plan to the BDNA with potential impacts to BD residents, you might remember this email and push them on proper notification and solicitation of public input. Maybe you could even use your databases and platforms to boost their efforts when the next project comes up. I’m not sure if there’s anything in the works, but I’d be happy to provide this kind of feedback in person when the time comes to ensure that the “unmarried/no kids/renter/overtime worker” class is actually heard.
Thanks so much for all you do. Just wanted to provide a perspective that may or may not be useful. Thanks for reading.
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