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Community activists plan strong showing at final PBOT street fee town hall

Posted by on April 29th, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Tweet from PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller on Friday

As the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation preps for their last Our Streets Town Hall event (this Thursday at 6:30 pm at Woodstock School), local transportation activists and advocacy groups are planning to make a strong final impression. With talks about a new street fee getting ever more serious and yet another bike-related project (the 20s Bikeway) going a bit sideways, many people in the community want to make sure PBOT hears strong support for cycling.

It all started last Friday when Rebecca Hamilton and her colleagues at work began discussing their concerns about who is leading the transportation funding and project debate here in Portland. Or, more precisely, who is PBOT hearing from at these very important town hall events where priorities about future spending are being established?

The conversation was triggered in part by a tweet last Friday from PBOT Bicycle Coordinator Roger Geller that implored people who care about bicycling to show up at meetings and make their voices heard. “Show up at mtgs,” he tweeted, “I repeat: show up!”

Soon, Hamilton, her co-workers Brian Davis and Kirk Paulsen were emailing friends and other activists and setting up a Facebook page for a mass ride to the Town Hall event. They’ve linked up with groups like Active Right of Way, the Bike Walk Vote PAC, and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance — all of whom have spread the word to their networks and plan to show up with talking points in hand.

Here’s the rallying cry from Paulsen:

Do you want safer, more sustainable, more livable streets? If so, we’ll have to make sure our voices heard!

PBOT staff are stating that if folks that care about these issues don’t attend these town hall meetings, we’ll miss out on a very important opportunity to advance PBOT’s policy in a way that is aligned with our values.

This will be the LAST town hall meeting, so let’s leave them with a lasting impression about how we would like potential NEW transportation $ to be spent.

While PBOT has marched along relatively smoothly toward their plan of either an $8 or $12 per household fee, they’ll hear some other ideas from citizens on Thursday night. Lisa Marie White of Bike Walk Vote PAC says their group favors some sort of motor vehicle registration fee in addition to a flat fee paid by all road users. They also support an increase in the local gas tax. The BTA will be pushing their priority for safety. They want a majority of any new revenue to go toward safety (PBOT’s current proposal doesn’t do that).

If you’d like to be part of the conversation and let PBOT know how you feel about these issues, show up on Thursday evening!

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Comments
  • Jeff Bernards April 29, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    I showed up at the Street Fee meeting in Multnomah last week. I expressed my concerns that fixing the roads and still allowing the use of studded tires is like curing someones lung cancer, but they won’t quit smoking. It’s pointless to throw good money, that supports bad policy. Saving money is virtuous in this economy. If the City truly cares about our roads, they would have all the things that effect our roads on the table for discussion. They claimed they have approached the legislators, but that’s been tried. We’re the states leading financial supporter, as their best customer, they need to listen to our needs, NOT LES SCHWABS. Call your representative at all levels of government and tell them you want this problem solved, once and for ALL of us.

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    • paikiala April 30, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Also, outreach/feedback meetings help create draft policy, but are not where final decisions are made. All plans usually have to go to council for a public hearing. Keep showing up.

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  • Joseph E April 29, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Would you mind changing this post to put the time at location at the top? That would be helpful.

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    • Spiffy April 29, 2014 at 4:10 pm

      and a date!

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  • jeff April 29, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    so why exactly are portlanders expected to pay (now and into the distance future) for road wear caused by people from Tualatin, Tigard, Clackamas, Vanccouver, Gresham, Beaverton, etc. etc. etc…
    this is freaking ridiculous…the Arts tax garbage put a very bad idea into the heads of our city counsel….

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  • Lisa Marie April 29, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Thanks for posting about the hearing! To clarify what Bike Walk Vote is proposing, here’s what we’ve stated:
    1) We agree that everyone should pay to maintain the streets because the streets are public land.

    2) Because the streets are public land, we believe that those who use more of it should also pay more. Personal automobiles are often stored on public streets, whether in front of a house or temporarily at a particular destination, and consequently owners of vehicles should pay for the corresponding dedication of space. This amounts to a weighted fee for people who own cars, leading to decreased fees for those who do not.

    3) The additional fees or charges that focus on higher road-space users would serve to make the street fee a more progressive tax.

    4) A GREAT PRECEDENT: Chicago’s vehicle sticker program (http://chicityclerk.com/city-stickers-parking/about-city-vehicle-stickers/). The basics – everyone pays a flat fee for road maintenance, and those who own cars purchase a registration sticker to be able to use their vehicle within city limits. **This addresses the conceptual sticking point of everyone “paying their fair share”, since active commuters still pay into the system, but it also begins to address the value of street space for personal storage and the associated costs to the city for personal vehicle usage.

    Beyond registration stickers, we support additional funding measures, like the creation of a City Gas Tax.

    5) Equity in cost, equity in expenditure: we believe in a flat fee with corresponding vehicle registration stickers, but only if the funds are distributed in an equitable way. The need for more funding is abundantly clear, but the use of that funding is equally as important. The preservation of lives on our roadways should always outweigh any conflicting expenditure – more than 50% of funds need to go to safety. This shows the city’s priority for the protection of it’s most vulnerable citizens, and a true commitment to Vision Zero.

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    • JEFF BERNARDS April 29, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      Just raise the gas tax, it simply raises funds without added administration costs. It doesn’t cover the “free” parking, but I like a parked car more than a driven car.

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    • Welp April 30, 2014 at 9:02 am

      “Chicago’s vehicle sticker program (http://chicityclerk.com/city-stickers-parking/about-city-vehicle-stickers/). The basics – everyone pays a flat fee for road maintenance, and those who own cars purchase a registration sticker to be able to use their vehicle within city limits.”

      Not true – Chicago vehicle stickers only have to be purchased by Chicago residents, not by people “using their vehicle within city limits.” Chicago doesn’t have the authority to make suburbanites purchase Chicago vehicle stickers.

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  • Roger Averbeck April 30, 2014 at 8:44 am

    I attended the April 16th “Our Streets PDX” Forum at IRCO in East Portland. My public comments included (if the proposal is approved by council): The proposed percentages for safety (vs maintenance) are not enough and should be increased initially to fund the critical safety needs for crossing improvements, sidewalks, and bikeways on busy streets. Funding for the maintenance backlog can be increased once the longstanding critical safety needs are met.

    The proposals are for an $8.00 or $12.00 / month household fee. These would generate approximately $34 or $53 million / year in revenue.

    The proposed percentages for the $8 fee are 34% for safety and 63% for maintenance. This breaks down to $11.6 million / year for safety and $21.4 million / year for maintenance. (The other 3% is for partnerships with TriMet to improve transit and ODOT RE the high crash corridor program).

    The proposed percentages for the $12 fee are 44% for safety and 53% for maintenance. This breaks down to $23.3 million / year for safety and $28 million / year for maintenance. (Ditto above for TriMet and ODOT partnerships).

    The safety category includes the following:

    Sidewalks, crossing improvements & protected bikeways on busy streets
    High crash corridors + speed reductions
    Safer shoulders (on collector streets)
    Neighborhood streets: Safe Routes to School and neighborhood greenways

    I you can’t attend the forum, the PBOT presentation is available online at:

    http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/484616

    Please send your comments directly to Mark Lear at:

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  • Roger Averbeck April 30, 2014 at 8:45 am
  • davemess April 30, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Is it worth me coming if I can only make the first 30 minutes (Our Neighborhood meeting starts at 7)? Is there a questionnaire I will be able to fill out to make myself heard, or are they just taking public comments at the end?

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    • spare_wheel May 1, 2014 at 9:58 am

      there should be a table with a questionnaire at the front.

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    • Rebecca May 1, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Even if you just stop by for a bit, it helps! Talk to Leah Treat, Mark Lear, or another PBOT rep directly while you’re there (and fill out a questionnaire) and let them know what you support.

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  • davemess May 2, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Great to see so many people riding to this meeting last night. I would guess that almost half of the 200+ people got to this meeting by bike (racks were completely full!)!

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