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Budget office: PBOT should scale back Sunday Parkways plans

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 17th, 2010 at 11:14 am

Sunday Parkways-25.jpg
PBOT might have to look elsewhere
to pay for five Sunday Parkways this year.
(Photo © J. Maus)

[Hat tip to the Willamette Week]

The City's Financial Planning Division is recommending that the Bureau of Transportation scale back their planned five Sunday Parkways to just three, the same number held last year.

According to the City's budget office, the five events planned this year will cost a total of $475,000. PBOT put in a budget request in hopes that $217,000 of that amount could be paid through the City's General Fund.

Here's the excerpt from FPD's analysis of that request:

"While Sunday Parkways is a popular event and great public relations for the City, FPD cannot support funding for this program when basic services are being cut. FPD recommends maintaining the current program level (three events instead of five) rather than expanding beyond current funding availability."

If PBOT accepts FPDs recommendation, the total cost for three Sunday Parkways would be $285,000, of which all but $27,000 is already accounted for. To fill that gap, FPD says, "The bureau is encouraged to work toward additional sponsorships/donations and to evaluate the program’s marketing and outreach costs for efficiencies in order to cover the difference."

Since the event's huge success in 2008, PBOT has struggled to pay for the event from traditional sources. They've put out calls for individual donations they've scoured grant sources (like the state's Business Energy Tax Credit) and institutional donors (like Kaiser Permanente).

This year is the first time they've requested funding from the General Fund. In January, PBOT spokesperson Cheryl Kuck said they feel Sunday Parkways is an "excellent candidate" for General Fund support because the program, "provides and enhances neighborhood livability, economic vitality, and neighborhood connectivity."

FPD has also decided to not recommend using any City resources to fund traffic control and other expenses involved with the carfree Last Thursday on Alberta event. Instead, they encourage "neighborhood gallery owners and other stakeholders" to establish a non-profit to "solicit contributions and start charging vendor set up fees to pay for all necessary traffic and safety controls."

Reached today, PBOT spokesperson Dan Anderson said, "PBOT is following the budget process closely and raising private money and planning for five Sunday Parkways -- as directed by the Mayor's office."

The Mayor has final say on the budget, but he isn't expected to release his budget until June. Learn more about the City of Portland's budget process here.


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Comments
  • Nick V March 17, 2010 at 11:28 am

    %@#!*&$...how about diving into the CRC budget...@$#&%!

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  • Amos March 17, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Wow. Depressing news. Hopefully we can find a source to fund both Sunday Parkways and Last Thursday operating expenses, the value they have to the community is far greater than the dollar figures above.

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  • Hart March 17, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Leave it to the bean counters to ruin the greatest thing this city has ever done. Fine then, I'll be taking the lane anyways.

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  • Brad March 17, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    We just got $20 million for the bike plan, a full fledged proposal to build the best bike transportation network in America, and you guys want to whine about losing two bicycle play days? Two additional dates that you didn't have before? Nothing has been lost.

    You are like people that win a million dollar lottery prize but then grouse about not getting an extra dime an hour pay raise at work.

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  • matt picio March 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Nothing's ruined yet, Hart - this is a recommendation, the mayor has final say. This is a great opportunity to contact Sam Adams' office and the city councilmembers and express your support for Sunday Parkways. (and Last Thursday)

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  • redhippie March 17, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    I think time and inertia will resolve this. If attendance is huge and positive, then it will become an attractive venue for corporate support, ala Providence Bridge Pedal.

    Plant it and just let it grow.

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  • spare_wheel March 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    I think substantial cost savings could be found by not requiring armed police presence at numerous intersections.

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  • Ted Buehler March 17, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I'm thinking that hiring a zillion police officers to monitor each and every major street crossing is a big expense.

    Are there any volunteer "security" groups that could do intersection management? Seems that there must be some service-oriented people that would like to volunteer for this sort of thing. Retired military? Hells Angels? Knights of Columbus? Shriners? Other groups that self-select for people who like to wear uniforms and look official?

    If they could cut each intersection from 2 police officers to 1 officer and 2 volunteers, it would really free up a big chunk of $ from their budget.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Steve B March 17, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    What other potential funding sources exist for these sorts of events, is the only option private funding?

    Let's get it funded!

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  • RyNO Dan March 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I don't really like the idea of giving the corporations the green light to invade our neighborhoods with their ridiculous marketing machines. So I disfavor corporate sponsors.

    And it's a mistake for the city to do nothing for last thursday. The vendors will never pay, and we really need some potties.

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  • JV March 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Sadly, this probably makes sense in a tight fiscal environment. However, it does beg the question: why is it so expensive to let people out of steel cages and into the streets? Without delving too deeply into that quagmire, I will say that I'm in one of those "groups that self-select for people who like to wear uniforms and look official." I'll see if there are opportunities to provide volunteer safety support. Jonathan, who would I contact at PBOT to coordinate?

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  • Erinne March 17, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I agree with JV. At a time when so many people are ending up living on the streets and our social safety net is being stretched beyond its limits, this is not the time for city funding to go to an event like this. Basic needs for everyone MUST come before recreation, even events that encourage better health. That doesn't mean businesses shouldn't step up to help fund the Sunday Parkways events.

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  • Rita March 17, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    IMBA has this off-road function called Bike Patrol. It's just like what you'd expect Ski Patrol to be, if they were on bikes. Some medical training, some people management training, some trail side bike repair training, and poof, you have a patroller.

    As a patroller, I've been asked to assist at not only off road events like races & trailwork, but also parade crowd control and road rides/foot races. We could easily train up a cadre of volunteers who can fulfill the crowd direction needs...but the enforcement part requires a cop. 90% of the people who a non-officer interacts with will be understanding and work with the crowd (particularly if someone is there who can explain why & present options), but a volunteer has no real authority when a motorist decides to drive down the closed street anyway. A solution to this would be to connect the volunteers via radio so an officer can be dispatched. This would prevent the need to have a cop on each corner, but those who were assigned to the event would certainly be busier.

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  • wsbob March 17, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    "I'm thinking that hiring a zillion police officers to monitor each and every major street crossing is a big expense. ..." Todd Buehler #8

    A 'zillion'? Wow...! How ever much that it is...it must be a lot! Seriously though...what?...maybe 30-50 cops for each event? That adds up to some serious payroll. Volunteerism is the way to go, whether they're wearing uniforms or not.

    It just occurred to me...does anyone know whether the Royal Rosarians have been involved in past Sunday Parkway rides? People might enjoy seeing those guys involved, and wearing their cream-colored suits and boater hats. Now having been proven to be a blue ribbon event, Sunday Parkways could also be a valuable addition to the Rose Festival's calendar.

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  • jim March 19, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    ".maybe 30-50 cops for each event? That adds up to some serious payroll. Volunteerism is the way to go,"
    As i remember the police were volunteered to the event without the event actually paying for them, they were rotated into the area, scheduled to work sunday.... Sunday Parkways got off cheap. I would say it was much more than 30-50 officers as i would see many of them at all the major crossroads that were blocked off just staanding there not doing real police work, not responding to any calls....
    I think one Sunday parkway event would be a real nice thing to have. Perhaps they could use more volunteers to help keep expenses down also.
    I believe last thursday should only close the street one thursday in the summer for some of the same reasons (plus many more).

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  • jim March 19, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Maybe Sam will just take some more sewer money and pay for the whole thing.

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  • [...] of this fifth Sunday Parkways shows that PBOT is determined to hold all five events, despite a recommendation from the City’s budget office to save money and have only three this year. That recommendation came in response to PBOT’s request to fill that gap with the [...]

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