Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 26th, 2011 at 10:10 am
corner of Michigan and Killingsworth
would be the best location for a
multi-story parking garage.
(Photo © J. Maus)
Portland Community College's Cascade campus is considering the construction of a four-story parking garage on the northeast corner of N Michigan and Killingsworth. The project is part of district-wide expansion plans funded by a $374 million bond measure passed by voters in 2008.
While some neighborhood residents are alarmed at the potential impacts of a parking garage — especially its alignment along the bicycle boulevard planned for Michigan Ave — PCC officials say that the structure is not a done deal and they still might not have build it.
PCC Cascade presented their plans for $60 million in expansion plans to the community at recent meetings. Based on sources at those meetings, the two options being presented both include a four-story parking structure on the corner of Michigan and Killingsworth. In a blog post back in July, PCC said stakeholders had "zeroed" in on options for the expansion — both of which included the parking garage.
The parking garage has raised concerns from people who live near the campus and who ride bicycles nearby. As we reported back in July, Michigan Ave is slated for neighborhood greenway treatment by the Bureau of Transportation in the coming months, and the addition of a multi-level parking garage could dramatically increase the auto traffic volumes on that street (not to mention the impact the structure might have on Killingsworth, a street that's struggling for an identity).
Brian Borrello, a Portland artist and board member of the Piedmont Neighborhood Association said he's concerned, not only with potential negative impacts of a multi-level parking garage, but also with what he feels has been a "minimal" level of outreach from PCC. When he shared the plans with his neighbors who live just a few blocks away (and whom are generally well-informed people), Borrello says they "kind of freaked out."
"I think Killingsworth deserves a better, more walkable, main street experience."
— Brian Borrello, Land Use Co-Chair of Piedmont Neighborhood Association
"I think Killingsworth deserves a better, more walkable, main street experience," Says Borrello, "and that comes with good design in scale with the neighborhood." He points to one of PCC's existing, street-level buildings on the corner of Albina and Killingsworth as the basis for his concerns. "The art department building is very inward facing and does nothing to help make the street more vibrant."
PCC officials say they have a huge demand for auto parking at their Cascade campus, with over 450 people parking on neighborhood streets. A recent transportation survey revealed that 22% of students and staff park on surface streets at the Cascade campus, versus about 7% district-wide (they have three other campuses in the region). The Cascade campus also has the highest rate of bicycling (by far) with 10% of students, faculty and staff arriving by bike.
PCC officials say their hands are tied due to the City of Portland's parking code which requires a minimum number of auto parking spots. They also say many neighbors complain about all the cars from PCC that park on local streets.
"The college isn't interested in spending $30,000 a space for a parking garage," says Gina Whitehill-Baziuk with PCC's Bond Program. "We would much prefer to put that money into classrooms, but we want to be responsible to the community who's saying they don't want cars in their streets."
Whitehill-Baziuk says that in tandem with the parking garage plans, advisory committees and consultants are working to determine transportation demand management (TDM) strategies that might result in more trips to the campus by bike, foot, and transit. If the TDM strategies can provide enough assurance that a parking structure isn't necessary, she says they may not have to build it.
"Can the community and the college figure out a way to increase the ways people get to the area? If we can't, the City is going to require that we do something."
Whitehill-Baziuk says the parking structure in the plans simply shows where it would be located if it was ever built and acknowledged that, "it is in the college's best interest and the neighborhood's best interest to not build one."
Another Bond Program spokesperson, Christine Egan, also said the parking garage isn't a done deal. "It's always been a part of the planning sessions because everyone acknowledged that parking and access is an issue... We want to make access easy."
"The parking garage is part of that discussion," says Egan, "both whether it's constructed at all and if so, at what size. Obviously, if we can be more successful with TDM strategies that means we may not have to provide or build as large of a garage."
While PCC Bond Program officials say the parking garage isn't finalized, it hasn't quelled concerns of Borrello and other neighbors. "Maybe it's not cemented," says Borrello, "but it's looming large in their plans."
PCC is set to present more about their expansion plans — including an update on the fate of the parking garage — at a meeting of the Piedmont Neighborhood Association tomorrow night at 7:00 at the Peninsula Park Community Center.