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City begins public process for trio of Lloyd District bikeway projects

Posted by on December 9th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Stakeholder advisory committee
met this morning.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation began the public process on three projects aimed to improve biking in and around the Lloyd District this morning.

The three projects (which we first reported on back in May) include: improving bike traffic flow through the NE 12th Ave/I-84 overpass; making NE Holladay Street into a bike corridor; and closing the bikeway gap on Vancouver Ave near the Rose Quarter. The first meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee was held this morning and was hosted by Scott Bricker (hired as a public outreach consultant) and PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice.

Members of the committee include (not a complete list):

  • J.R. Burwell – CB Richard Ellis (commercial real estate)
  • Justin Zeulner – Portland Arena Management (Rose Quarter/Rose Garden)
  • Julia Leonard – Crowne Plaza Portland (hotel)
  • Lisa Faust – Lloyd District Community Association/Pacific Continental Bank
  • Linda Aeder – Kaiser Permanente Bike Committee
  • Robert Spurlock – Metro (whose headquarters are in the Lloyd District)
  • Steven Potter – Kaiser Permanente
  • Sandra Krueger – Red Lion hotel
  • Craig Harlow – Neighborhood representative
  • Charlotte Rowe – Ashforth Pacific (real estate developer)
  • Lance Poehler – Lloyd TMA Bike Committee
PBOT map showing location of three Lloyd District projects.

According to Vanderslice, PBOT has set aside a total of $500,000 for these three projects and two others (a N. Williams Avenue bikeway and improvements to N. Willamette Blvd). The money comes out of the City’s Affordable Transportation Fund, a $1.5 million pot (annual) of money set aside by Mayor Adams that is filled with revenue from new gas tax increases and vehicle registration fees as well as Utility License Fees (money utility companies pay to the city to operate in the public right of way).

This morning, PBOT’s Vanderslice said that the $500,000 will go toward not only these five bikeway projects, but also toward feasibility studies for three other, yet unnamed projects. Since the money won’t all be spent this Fiscal Year (July 1-June 30), additional funds will likely be added. In addition, the funds will pay for 13 consultants PBOT has for the projects at a cost of about $215,000.

[UPDATE: Vanderslice says there's about $440,000 available for the construction phase of these projects.]

For this amount of money, the type of improvements that can be made will be limited in scope.

Looking north on 12th at Lloyd.
Parking garage is straight ahead.

Vanderslice said the focus will be on operational changes (paint, signage and signalization improvements), and “not so much bricks and mortar.” If the proposed solutions need significant capital funding, Vanderslice said “We’d need to get in line for money.” “Our idea is to try and work within the infrastructure we have and make small incremental improvements to try and accomodate demand for bicycling… In a way, you can consider these projects as band-aids. These are not long-term looks.”

The issue of how to make the NE 12th Ave overcrossing (over I-84) work better for bikes took up most of the discussion this morning.

J.R. Burwell from CB Richard Ellis — a real estate company that manages the parking garage at 12th and Lloyd — said his concern is that it’s too hard for cars to exit the garage during the evening rush hour. “We have a devil of a time getting cars out of the lot. It’s common to get only two cars out at a green light… That’s a concern to us.”

Burwell also noted his concern with the high volume of foot traffic. “The pedestrians are incredibly brazen,” said Burwell, “The Benson [high school] kids pay no attention.” Craig Harlow, a neighborhood representative on the committee said the heavy foot traffic from Benson High “colors the entire project.” (Note: A Benson High representative has not yet responded to a request to be on the committee).

PBOT is also taking a look at NE Holladay, from Wheeler (in Rose Quarter) to NE 13th. Holladay is seen as a key east-west corridor because it connects all the way to the Rose Quarter and could someday drop right onto the Sullivan’s Gulch trail (if/when that gets built) at 13th. Back in May 2009, the bike committee of the Lloyd District TMA proposed making Holladay completely carfree. Their idea would split the street 50/50 between the existing light rail line and two-way bike traffic.

At this morning’s meeting, Vanderslice seemed to dampen hopes of a carfree Holladay Street. She said PBOT looked at the proposal but they’re “not sure” they can do it. “Holladay is a pretty important street,” said Vanderslice, “It really does serve an important circulation function.” (I understand “circulation” in this case to mean motor vehicle traffic flow.) Instead of completely removing motor vehicle traffic, PBOT is considering two-way bike traffic and auto traffic in some places. While acknowledging the “interesting technical issues,” Vanderslice said she feels increased bike traffic on Holladay could “really activate the street.”

Committee member Lance Poehler, who represents the Lloyd TMA bike committee wondered if turning Holladay into a bike street would result in a business boom like we’ve seen on N. Williams.

J.R. Burwell from CB Richard Ellis said his company would be concerned about “anything that would happen on Holladay that would prevent access to the [parking] garage” they manage at Lloyd and 12th. Committee member Charlotte Rowe from commercial real estate company Ashforth Pacific also voiced concerns about prohibiting car access on Holladay. “There are plan for future development on this block… If the bike-only street doesn’t work, would it be possible to change it back?”

This is just the first meeting. The committee is set to meet through Summer 2011 when they are scheduled to come up with some implementation decisions. As you can see from the mix of opinions already shared, it will be very interesting to see what type of solutions result from their work. There’s a lot at stake. If they get it right, bike access through the Lloyd District — a thorn in the side of bikeway connectivity for years — could be significantly improved. We’ll keep you posted.


UPDATE: Below is the full roster of committee members:
- Guy Kyle – Bonneville Power Administration (not present at meeting)
-Jonathan Cross – J Cafe (not present at meeting)
- Rick Kuehn – Lloyd District TMA
- Danny Schamma – Liberty Northwest (not present at meeting)
- Irene Bowers – Portland Development Commission (not present at meeting)
- Mick O’Connell – Schlesinger Company
- Paul Manson – Sullivan’s Gulch Trail

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Comments
  • BURR December 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    If they spend almost half their money on consultants there won’t be anything left over for construction.

    I suppose it’s the usual cast of revolving door characters as well – Alta, etc.

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    • JE December 9, 2010 at 1:13 pm

      Amen.

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    • Elliot December 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm

      BURR, it sounds like that $500,000 is set aside for planning/feasibility studies, and doesn’t have any ramifications for how much money will be “left over” to build the improvements, even though PBOT does state they’re hoping for inexpensive solutions.

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  • Bob R. December 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    It may be relevant to note that the space between the parking garage and the office building to the east was once supposed to be a pedestrian thoroughfare, providing a convenient and well-used linkage between 12th Ave. to the south and the MAX station to the north.

    But the thoroughfare was short-lived and the office building/parking garage complex erected an iron fence, citing concerns about “security”, preventing anyone without a passcard from walking through.

    This forced Benson students to walk all the way around the complex to get from MAX to school, effectively adding 2-3 blocks of out-of-direction travel to their walk.

    Perhaps Benson students would agree to some kind of mitigation on crosswalk usage, so as to be less “brazen”, if only the parking garage owners would bring the idea of reopening the pedestrian walkway to the table.

    But I didn’t see the garage owners mentioning that idea in this article.

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    • Joshua Cohen December 9, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      I didn’t see any Benson HS students or staff listed on the stakeholder committee. This strikes me as a major oversight. Were they invited to participate?

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    • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 9:59 am

      “was once supposed to be a pedestrian thoroughfare” – Do you have a source for that? As far as I’m aware, it was always private property, and for at least 2 years before the fence was erected, there was a metal plaque embedded in the sidewalk which stated that the area was private property and that passage may be restricted at any time. The fence went up only a few months before construction began.

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      • Bob R. December 10, 2010 at 10:32 am

        I did quite a bit of Googling yesterday but couldn’t find a relevant article.

        I do remember at the time that it was private property but as part of the development agreement (PDC, or some agency, was involved in the deal), the corridor would be open as a public walkway until such time as a structure was constructed there. The trick, if I recall correctly, was that the property owners put up the fence and called the fence a “structure”. Presto, no more public thoroughfare.

        Having a walkway there and a more sensible street grid, to me, qualifies as a candidate for eminent domain, should other less drastic measures fail. At least it would make a good negotiating position.

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  • BURR December 9, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    who’s actually representing cyclists on that committee? It looks like it’s pretty much all business representatives.

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    • Elliot December 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

      I agree on this point. Johnathan, will you have a complete list available later?

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    • Emilie Portell December 9, 2010 at 4:50 pm

      I’m going to participate as well my main commute takes me over NE 12th. Many of us at the table are bike commuters who are also representing the interests of our business or organization at the table (i.e. those of us who bike and work at Kaiser’s Regional headquarters in the Lloyd District are very passionate about getting more people cycling but realize we need to improve safety before we can be successful in gaining numbers.

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    • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 9:59 am

      Lance Poehler.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    I will add the full committee roster at the end of the story asap. Also, I just updated the story with a figure from Vanderslice. She says $440,000 will be set aside for “construction phase” of the projects.

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  • Steve B December 9, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I wonder if we can maintain the circulation function here with a one-way street on one side and a 2-way bikeway on the other. Considering the Max stops 2-3 times here too, this area is primed for a rethink. Imagine merchants and food vendors lining this street, serving Trimet customers/officeworkers, and acting as a link between local shopping and the national chains within the mall.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 9, 2010 at 1:59 pm

      Steve,

      It was interesting to hear some committee members express some doubt that removing parking on Holladay and adding more bike traffic would even have a positive influence.

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      • craig December 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm

        Jonathan, in the meeting I conveyed a concern that was noted in response to the TMA Bike Committee’s early outreach to the district before the meeting–an concern that the impact of parking removal should be considered. I mentioned that the respondent who raised that concern was pessimistic about improving the streetscape through parking removal, but that *I* personally am optimistic about the impact of removing parking.

        There were specific concerns mentioned in the meeting by representatives of commercial property owners about parking removal.

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        • craig December 9, 2010 at 4:55 pm

          BTW, I’m glad you could be there to cover this. I’m hoping you can attend all the SAC meetings and cover them here. Transparency is a very good thing.

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  • Heather December 9, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    The Lloyd TMA bike committee has two representatives sitting on the SAC: Lance Poehler and Craig Harlow. In addition to these two representatives, Linda Aeder (Kaiser Permanente), Steven Potter (Kaiser Permanente), Robert Spurlock (Metro), and Julia Leonard (Crowne Plaza) sit on the TMA bike committee, even though they are representing other stakeholders on the SAC. Sandra Kruger (Red Lion) is a bike commuter and JR Burwell (CB Richard Ellis) is an avid recreational cyclists. With all these folks in mind, I actually feel that that cyclists are well represented on the committee.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm

      That’s true Heather, but let’s not forget that it really makes no difference whether or not someone actually rides a bike. What matters is to what extent they will advocate for or against the status quo and how far they are willing to push things in terms of being bold and putting non-motorized uses first (which is what Portland is supposed to do).

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      • Carl B. December 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm

        Jonathan, I hope you don’t mean that you believe stakeholder committee members are supposed to exclusively promote the interests of the group they represent. I thought they were supposed to protect the interests of their group, to the extent they need protecting, while promoting the overall success of the project. Since these projects are about bike facilities, I believe it really does make a difference that many committee members ride bikes and presumably have a clue.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm

          Good points Carl. I agree with you. My point was just that sometimes people think just because someone rides a bike they automatically will put bicycling’s interest as a top priority. It’s the “I ride bikes so I’m not anti-bike” kind of thing that concerns me.

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      • craig December 9, 2010 at 5:07 pm

        Jonathan, It’s the mission of the TMA Bike Committee to promote commuting by bike to and through the district, and nothing more. It exists solely to help the TMA push bikes as transport forward, and to shift the balance from autos to bikes in the district. The fact that the TMA Bike Committee is so well-represented on the SAC, is reassuring to me as a bike activist, and is a testament to Heather’s leadership of that committee.

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  • BURR December 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    If it’s anything like the Hawthorne Blvd. Transportation Plan Advisory Committee, it will come down heavily on the side of the status quo.

    They ended up spending something like $3 million on Hawthorne and cyclists got pretty much nothing except a few parking spaces there.

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  • Lenny Anderson December 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Does PBOT have traffic counts for Holladay? Its always very light when I ride it eastbound. I would be happy to give up the bike lanes on Multnomah in order to accommodate more parking there in exchange for removal of motorized vehicles and their parking along Holladay. It needs to be a two-way bike street.

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    • Steve B December 11, 2010 at 4:43 pm

      swapping parking from Holladay to Multnomah is a great way to mitigate that concern. great idea!

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  • Bob December 9, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    When I hear the ‘Cars’ complain about giving up a single street to bicycles, I’m reminded what George Washington said to Lord Cromwell when the British surrendered at Yorktown. “Well, you still have most of the rest of the world, mustn’t be piggy!

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  • Greg December 9, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Is there any mechanism for citizens to provide feedback to this process?

    I live in the area, and I consciously avoid the 12th/I-84 overpass, on bike or in car, because the lights around the Lloyd center prevent traffic flow. The light timings seem designed to maximize wait and minimize flow. Each time I sit waiting for a light, I look around and see most other road users waiting, few cars are moving. Makes me wonder about something like solution in Portishead, England http://bikeportland.org/2010/10/14/would-we-be-more-considerate-road-users-without-traffic-lights-41126

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 9, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Greg

    Is there any mechanism for citizens to provide feedback to this process?

    Yes. 2 public workshops are planned in Feb. and March. Also, all the stakeholder committee meetings are open to the public. (they don’t take comments at those, but I’m sure you could speak up if you asked them ahead of time).

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  • CaptainKarma December 9, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Imagine a depave movement for malls -

    There was a shopping mall
    Now it’s all covered with flowers
    you’ve got it, you’ve got it

    Talking Heads – (Nothing But) Flowers

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  • meghan December 9, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    great recap of the meeting, jonathan. thank you. and for those who worry that there may not be enough cyclists represented, i’d like to highlight jonathan’s first sentence in the post—-this is a public process. your comments and concerns and experience are valid and taken into account. if you believe in them, make them known. the committee would love to hear your point of view. is your concern/commitment strong enough that you’d be willing to contact a committee member or make time to show up at a public meeting for this area? if so–do so! i look forward to the next meeting!

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  • Andrew December 9, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    So there was no discussion of the long-proposed 7th Ave bike/ped bridge as an alternative to whatever “fix” Alta may dream up for the mess that is the 12th overcrossing?

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  • Stripes December 9, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    When I took the PBOT/PSU Traffic and Transportation class a couple years ago, the man who organized it told us of a tentative plan for a bike/ped only bridge to go in at SE 6th or 7th across I-84.

    Anybody know what happened to that idea? It’s very much needed. Right now, the only options are SE 12th (aka DEATH) or MLK/Grand (aka MORE DEATH).

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    • BURR December 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm

      that’s a great idea

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    • Steve B December 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

      At one point, there was strong support for streetcar to go up 7th, not MLK, and would have included a new bridge over I-84. As you can probably tell, the final decision was made for MLK/Grand, and we lost the opportunity to fund a new bridge.

      Not to say it won’t happen in the future, but they’ll need a big ol’ pot of new funding to make it happen, and if the funding were there I don’t believe it’s high on the wishlist for PBOT. I’m very excited the city is taking on improvements for 12th street, see you all at the public meetings!

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  • Lenny Anderson December 10, 2010 at 7:46 am

    Yes, put the 7th Avenue bike/ped bridge on the table!

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  • suburban December 10, 2010 at 9:41 am

    What solutions has J.R. Burdwell put forward?

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  • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 10:05 am

    What are the actual issues with 12th? I ride that intersection frequently and have rarely, if ever had issues. (caveat – I don’t ride it during rush hour)

    I’m glad the TMA is working on this. Most cyclists say things like “avoid the Lloyd”, and “the Lloyd is a black hole that sucks cyclists in, never to be seen again”. In my case, it’s my preferred route, as the inclines are mild or non-existent, and I avoid the clustermuck around Rose Quarter. I’m not sure exactly why so many of my fellow riders have an aversion to riding through the Lloyd, and I’m glad that the TMA is taking steps to make the Lloyd more appealing to cyclists.

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    • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 10:06 am

      Oh, and yeah – the 7th street bike/ped bridge would be a great thing, and I haven’t heard anything else about it for at least the last year.

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    • craig December 10, 2010 at 10:21 am

      The issue are many. Primary is it lacks clearly marked, and safe facilities for managing the flow of bike traffic. Conflicts with cars and pedestrians arise from all parties reacting to the uncertainty of navigating this key juncture in NE/SE traffic flow. Attend a meeting and learn more.

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      • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm

        Seems clearly marked to me. “Safe” is debatable, of course. Not all folks can attend the meetings, which is why I asked for people to state their issues (not all of which may have been expressed at the meeting). Good call encouraging folks to show up, though – participation is key to getting things done.

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        • Unit December 13, 2010 at 11:47 am

          Try riding over it every day – cars get aggressive at rush hour. I’ve been “charged” at by drivers upset that there’s a bike in the road several different times on this bridge.

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    • resopmok December 13, 2010 at 12:22 am

      While the Lloyd is certainly not a black hole for cyclists, the issue of disappearing bike lanes on the overpass is pretty glaring. Turning right on to southbound 12th it can be difficult to predict whether the car next to you wants to be in the same lane as you or in the left lane, and important distinction to make when attempting to avoid a collision. Heading northbound from the south end of the overpass, a car lane and a bike lane turn into two cars lanes: right and left turn only. Making one’s way to the left lane to head towards Grand can be challenging at best during higher traffic volumes, and traffic merging into your lane that want to make right turn leaves you squashed against the curb unless you yield. Additionally, cars making a left across northbound traffic to get on I-84 can have difficulties seeing cyclists if a car is in echelon with a bike.

      And frankly I’ve never had a problem with kids from Benson walking out into the street. My bigger frustration is the constant stream of semi trailers parked in the bike lane along 12th between the overpass and Burnside. Perhaps the members of the committee representing those business would like to comment on that?

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  • spare_wheel December 10, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    “I’m glad the TMA is working on this.”

    The TMA is an association of businesses and organizations:

    http://www.lloydtma.org/membership

    Craig Harlow is inaccurately listed as a “neighborhood representative” but is actually a member of the Lloyd TMA bike committee and employed by pacificorp (a major NW utility).

    All of the non-governmental members of the PBOT “Stakeholder Advisory Committee” are corporate/utility PR representatives, local business owners/employees, or real estate developers.

    PS: My posting here is limited to factual information. I have no interest in participating in a censored discussion.

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    • matt picio December 10, 2010 at 2:10 pm

      Yes, I’m aware. I’m saying I’m glad they’re involved. The TMA has been involved in numerous things over the years to improve bicycling in the Lloyd, including public events, showers and lockers (the last example of that program – the other locations in the city closed years ago) for cyclists, and providing input to the city.

      They’re participating – i.e. “working on”, and since they represent one of the most influential stakeholder groups, I’m happy they’re involved.

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    • craig December 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm

      @spare_wheel:

      This is Craig Harlow. You are correct and you are incorrect.

      My listing as “neighborhood representative” is accurate. I was selected to participate because I live in Irvington adjacent to the Lloyd District and I use the its transportation network on a daily basis (read “every single day”) to move myself and my family about town by bike. I specifically represent the interests of neighborhood residents. That role is the reason that I was selected to be on this Stakeholder Advisory Committee.

      Everybody who was selected to participate in the committee–or who could possibly be selected–has other affiliations.

      I also happen to be an employee of PacifiCorp. I don’t represent PacifiCorp as a company on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee. PacifiCorp is a major property owner in the district, co-owning the Lloyd Center Tower with Ashforth-Pacific, and Ashforth has its own representation on the committee, Charlotte Rowe.

      I also happen to be a member of a bike advocacy group called “the Lloyd TMA Bike Committee”, as are quite a few other Stakeholder Advisory Committee members, thank goodness. The TMA Bike Committee has it’s own specific representation on the committee, Lance Poehler.

      I am neither a governmental member, a corporate/utility PR representative, local business owner, nor or real estate developer, and I do not represent my employer on this committee. I was also named by this committee to be its chair, by a group of people to whom I am beholden for nothing except to faithfully represent the interests of neighborhood residents, to help to run an effective committee.

      Let me know if you’d like to chat,
      Craig

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