June 2020 LUTC Update

See below for the May Land Use and Transportation update from committee chair, Stephenie Frederick. Questions? Email bdlanduse@gmail.com


Click here for a PDF version of this report or click thru to read the report on our website.

To: LUTC Members, Associates, and Affiliates

From: Stephenie Frederick, BDNA LUTC Chair

Date:11 June 2020

Re: Current land-use, transportation, parks and other LUTC items

Hello, everyone.  I hope this June 2020 update finds you doing as well as possible during this Covid-19 crisis.  Be sure to send me questions, comments, corrections, and content I missed; I’ll respond, revise, and re-share.  Best wishes, Stephenie


An ideal land-use report for our purposes in Brentwood-Darlington would do the following:

1. In plenty of time for us to register objections and possibly exert influence, the ideal report would call our attention to development projects large enough or ungainly enough to impair neighborhood ambiance or function.

2. The ideal report would track construction of new dwelling units to give us a sense of the pace of gentrification in the neighborhood; 

3. It would track the number of new units added to the housing stock each month to give us a sense of how quickly and to what extent the neighborhood is densifying.

4. It would provide miscellaneous data such as growth in the number of local Air BnB units (to show how we are distancing ourselves from the Felony Flats image); or  the number of dwelling units being attached to their foundations (as a measure of neighborhood paranoia about the Cascadia Subduction Event).

It would be lovely to map all of this to obtain a clear picture of our evolving circumstances.

To provide the foregoing requires data beyond the tiny handful of notices sent us monthly by the Bureau of Development Services.  BDS  has the data we need, but finding it at the BDS website is like crawling around in a dark basement looking into unmarked boxes. Within the last twenty-four hours, however, I accidentally happened on a treasure trove of data that may be just what we need.  

I am not going to share it in this June report, as I need to verify it and figure out the best way to make use of it.  Instead, relying on May’s two BDS notices and one email, I will simply share with you updates on three already-familiar projects:

A. Apartment complex on SE 52nd Avenue at Cooper Street.  We have some additional information now.  In the emailed words of the developer, the proposed building will be “a 3 story, 25 unit multi-dwelling residential development that uses inclusionary housing.  The proposal includes surface and tuck-under parking, bike parking, and residential units on all levels, including one basement unit.”

B. Two narrow houses in parking lot of tiny strip mall at SE 52nd Avenue and Flavel Street.  This project is advancing through the BDS approval process.  You may recall that the houses will displace the informal vehicle repair service that thrives on the east side of the parking lot. For detail, see www.portlandoregon.gov/bds/article/761759

C. Land division and subdivision that creates three lots and an open space tract next to Flavel Park.  When this complicated reshuffle is completed, the lots will be home to an existing six-plex, one existing house, and a new single dwelling or duplex.  There will be a net gain of one housing unit if a duplex is built instead of a single dwelling.  I had earlier thought we would see more new units here.  For detail, see www.portlandoregon.gov/bds/article/761641


Portland Gas Tax 2021-2024

By a resounding 77%, Portland voters renewed the 10-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax that funds street maintenance and safety improvements.  The measure will apply for four years (2021-2024).  Before the effects of Covid-19 on gas tax and parking revenues, the new measure was expected to raise $75 million.  Now the amount cannot be predicted. The tax provides PBOT with a street maintenance fund, something the bureau never had before the first round of the gas tax (2017-2020).  The program funded by the gas tax is called “Fixing Our Streets” and has benefited Brentwood-Darlington.

See https://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/2020/05/portland-voters-renew-10-cent-gas-tax-measure-for-4-years-oregon-election-results.html

TriMet Travel Requirements

TriMet is asking the public to use transit only for essential trips.  Riders must wear face coverings, and must maintain social distancing on board by sitting only in marked seats.  Hand sanitizer and disposable mask dispensers are being installed on all vehicles.

TriMet’s Immediate Future

As with transit agencies everywhere, Covid-19 has hit TriMet hard.  Although heavily subsidized with federal and state funds, TriMet also relies on passenger fares and a regional payroll tax to keep its three-county system running.   When Covid-19 decimated ridership and employment, TriMet lowered operating costs by reducing service throughout its domain, though it retained all lines except for a night-time bus to the airport.  An infusion of funds from the federal CARES initiative has helped to stabilize operations for now and into 2021.  The 2020-2021 budget will soon be placed  before the board of directors for approval.  

As the Metro area reopens, TriMet cautiously plans to increase service from 80% of what it was in February to 90%, then 95%, and finally 100%.  All service increases, of course, depend on the extent and virulence of Covid-19.   Tri-Met will prioritize those areas where residents are most dependent on transit, as it did when forced to reduce service.  TriMet appears to have a strong equity program.  For details, see www.trimet.org/equity

For information conveyed in a recent open house on budget, service, fares, equity, and traveling safely in a Covid-19 era, see www.trimet.org/openhouse  (you will need to scroll down past the meeting announcements).

Free TriMet Passes for Metro-Area High School Students?

Metro is considering a $9million proposal that would ensure that all Metro-area high school students have TriMet passes.  If approved, the proposal would be included in “Get Moving 2020”, the large $5billion transportation package slated for voter consideration in  November.

For detail on Metro’s TriMet pass proposal, see https://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/2020/06/metro-considers-9-million-annual-proposal-to-provide-free-trimet-passes-for-portland-area-high-school-students.html

For detail on “Get Moving 2020”, see https://www.oregonmetro.gov/public-projects/get-moving-2020  

For a good pro-con analysis, see also “Despite economy, transportation package stays in fast lane”, Portland Tribune, June 10, 2020  https://pamplinmedia.com/pt/9-news/469626-379300-despite-economy-transportation-package-stays-in-fast-lane

Brentwood-Darlington Greenway – Rerouting Unlikely

In recent weeks, the BDNA LUTC has been asking PBOT to change the route of the greenway that will extend from east of 82nd Avenue to 52nd Avenue (and eventually go on to SE 45th Avenue and thence to the Bybee MAX station).  As now planned, the greenway runs on Ogden Street between 82nd Avenue and Brentwood Park, then jogs half a block south to continue its course on Knapp Street.  

We asked whether it would be possible to construct the greenway only on Ogden Street (except for a jog through Brentwood Park).  We suggested  running the greenway through the park, where it would meet 60th Avenue at the new gate into Learning Gardens Lab (LGL).  We like this reroute for several reasons:

  • This reroute would better serve Lane Middle School students, since Ogden directly meets Lane Middle School at the entrance to the school;
  • The reroute would be useful to park users as well, because it would add a crossing on 60th avenue;
  •  It would serve Lane students who participate in the LGL gardening program; 
  • The  area outside the LGL gate would be a perfect spot for a bicycle repair station; and
  • An Ogden Street route would have the eventual greenway extension meet 45th Avenue further away from the edge of the Southeast Uplift (as it stands now, the greenway would meet 45th Avenue at Knapp, where cyclists could not see cars speeding up the face of the uplift).  

However, PBOT planner Zef Wagner believes that the proposed reroute through the park would add sharply to the cost of the greenway (at a time when the pandemic has reduced PBOT’s funding).  Furthermore, planners have intended to take advantage of a marked pedestrian crossing with pedestrian refuge on 52nd Avenue at Knapp; this crossing has already been constructed.  Finally, the Ogden-Knapp route has been on the books since the city council adopted the 2030 Portland Bike Plan in 2012.  We should have asked for a reroute ten years ago!

PBOT planner to speak at Woodstock LUC meeting on June

Scott Cohen will talk about PBOT’s “slow streets” initiative (a proposal to make permanent the use of greenways for strolling as well as cycling).  All are welcome to attend the Zoom meeting.  Join Zoom Meeting – Wed, June 17th, 7pm.

BDNA will seek to learn PBOT’s project notification guidelines

Brentwood-Darlington resident Laurent Nickel has called on PBOT to notify affected households wherever it engages in an infrastructure project.  The LUTC will seek to learn the bureau’s notification guidelines.  Once we know these, we can evaluate whether to ask for changes in PBOT’s approach to notification.

The big transportation question is . . . what will our post-pandemic world be like?

Will people be willing to take transit anymore?  Will they want more cycling infrastructure?  Used car sales, it appears, have increased all over the country.  Will people wish to drive more than ever?

What do we advocate for?  How do we look long term, which we must do in order to influence (for example) a bicycle greenway?  

It is so difficult to guess what lies ahead.   For discussion, see https://wamu.org/story/20/05/01/how-does-transportation-and-commuting-change-in-a-post-coronavirus-world-we-asked-experts/


We reported last time that renovation of Erroll Heights Park is continuing on schedule.  We have no other updates on our neighborhood parks, other than to note that minor (but infuriating) vandalism and trashing continues to occur at Hazeltine Park.

Air Quality

Precision Castparts reeling from economic downturn

It looks as though we will continue to have some relief from emissions from  Precision Castparts.  The company will furlough its titanium and steel workers for a week starting on June 29th.   In April, it furloughed other workers.  See https://www.oregonlive.com/business/2020/06/precision-castparts-will-furlough-steel-and-titanium-workers-for-a-week-citing-continued-business-downturn.html

Class-action lawsuit against Precision CastParts

The class action lawsuit launched against Precision Castparts will soon enter a new stage.  On March 29, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their Motion for Class Certification, asking the Court to certify a class of owners and residents defined as:

All residents or owners of residential properties within the Precision Plume as of February 17, 2016.

The judge overseeing the case has set a public hearing for the class certification motion on  June 26th.    For detail and plume map, see https://krcomplexlit.com/currentcases/precision-castparts/

PCC emissions and risks to health

The Oregon Health Authority has completed a public health assessment (PHA) of PCC’s emissions.  Basically, OHA found that PCC’’s emissions into air, water, and soil do not pose any health risks.  Nevertheless, OHA reports that “there are ongoing soil and water cleanup activities” at the Portland site.  


See PowerPoint slides on assessment at https://www.oregon.gov/deq/Programs/Documents/PCCPresentation.pdf

To further reassure you, PCC is now subject to the requirements of Cleaner Air Oregon, meaning that going forward, PCC must carry out and publish its own assessments of health risks posed by its emissions.  

Portland’s Air Quality Summer 2020 – Fires May Worsen

State forestry officials are predicting a severe wildfire season that Covid-19 will make even more difficult.   They are searching for funds to deal with it.  They have informed legislators that “much of the state is already abnormally dry and extreme drought conditions are already present in Southwest and North Central Oregon. Forecasters, meanwhile, say those conditions will persist through summer with above average temperatures and below average precipitation.”  See https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2020/06/forestry-officials-predict-severe-and-complex-wildfire-season-amid-drought-and-covid-19-still-searching-for-money-to-pay-for-it.html


Enterprising researchers in the Netherlands have developed a roadway cover made of recycled plastic.  Now being tested in a bicycle path, the prefabricated cover releases far fewer emissions during production and in use than traditional asphalt or concrete.  It is tough enough to be used on streets and highways.  For detail, see https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/05/recycled-plastic-roads-ready-for-rollout-after-bike-paths-prove-successful/


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