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Pioneer Square parking lot and thoughts on a parking reform renaissance

Posted by on July 18th, 2014 at 11:28 am

Prior to 1984, the public plaza known as “Portland’s living room,” was full of cars. Believe it or not, Pioneer Courthouse Square used to be a parking lot (and before that it was a regal hotel).

That fact isn’t new to many of you who study urban planning and transportation in Portland. I’ve heard about it for years. But until an aerial photo of it turned up on Twitter last night, that history never really sank in. The photo above was dug up by the Portland Development Commission and then tweeted out by Supportland.

30 years after that transformation, auto parking issues are still front-and-center in many of our conversations. In fact, Portland might be on the verge of a parking reform renaissance thanks to support for progressive ideas on the issue from the two most powerful in local transportation planning: PBOT Director Leah Treat and PBOT Commissioner Steve Novick.

Novick has already taken steps in the right direction. As an Oregonian story published this week points out, Novick’s alteration of the city’s disabled parking placard program has been a huge success.


PBOT’s Leah Treat is also a big fan of getting smarter about downtown auto parking. In an interview with BikePortland back in April she said she wants overhaul parking citywide. “Where demand exceeds supply,” said Treat, “we should have policy in place to allow us to properly value that right-of-way — residential parking permits, valet parking zones, congestion pricing, commercial loading zone permits, and so on.”

“I’m still constantly surprised by the lack of priced parking and how much free parking storage we give away.”
— Leah Treat, Director of PBOT

Why is Treat such a fan of parking policy change? Because she understands how valuable the city’s real estate is: “I’ve been here 9 months and I’m still constantly surprised by the lack of priced parking and how much free parking storage we give away.”

According a recent tweet, Treat says the city is actively working on parking reform, but that any significant changes will come only as part of a larger planning process.

Thinking back to Pioneer Square, while its current design is vastly improved over its initial use, it could still be better.

We like the ideas of local architect and transportation visionary Rick Potestio. Here’s what he shared in a 2006 interview on the Portland Architecture blog (emphasis ours):

“… place both north and south bound trains on Sixth Avenue, and send the trains below grade for three blocks from Alder Street to Taylor Street. Place a transit station under Pioneer Square. Close Sixth Avenue to all bus and auto traffic between Alder and Taylor, creating widened sidewalks along glass pavilions that shelter the descending and ascending tracks and trains. This would enable one to connect Pioneer Square directly to the Pioneer Courthouse, creating a unified, two block long public space. This act would justify a renovation to Pioneer Square that would re-orient the square on an un-obstructed view of the Pioneer Courthouse.”

That’s some fun food for thought for the weekend.


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Comments
  • Randall S July 18, 2014 at 11:37 am

    It never fails to astound me that people expect to be able to store their private property for free on public land. Talk about taking no responsibility for the things you use.

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    • meh July 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      So you’re all for paying for bike corral parking???

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      • TonyJ July 18, 2014 at 1:28 pm

        Absolutely, I’ll happily pay 1/8 per hour of whatever the market bears for car parking.

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      • Doug Rosser July 18, 2014 at 1:33 pm

        Quite a few of us have bike parking provided by our employers, which is considerably cheaper than subsidizing automobile parking.

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      • Kirk July 18, 2014 at 1:45 pm

        I would gladly pay into a system (but of course only from 8am-7pm) that provides bike corrals along most every block face (not just every few blocks or so, it’s gotta be convenient) in the city where there is overwhelming bike parking demand in the commercial areas, residential areas, industrial areas, any of those – once we start charging for car parking in all of the areas that currently experience overwhelming car parking demand as well.

        Since each corral fits about 12 bikes in a space that one car would normally take up, I would of course expect the hourly rate between 8am-7pm to be somewhere around 13 cents an hour to equate to the $1.60/hour rate for a single space of car parking. Combined with the fact that city policy wants more bikes parked in town than cars, the hourly rate would naturally need to incentivize bike parking over car parking, so let’s just assume the hourly rate in these high demand bike parking areas should be reduced to about 10 cents an hour to make payment simple and more incentivized.

        Let me know when the time comes that I can count on stumbling across this type of parking luxury for my bike, and I’ll get my dimes ready.

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      • Joseph E July 18, 2014 at 2:12 pm

        The only existing paid parking at MAX stations is bike parking:
        http://trimet.org/parkandride/ (FREE for cars up to 24 hours)
        http://trimet.org/howtoride/bikes/lockersavailable.htm (Bike locker: paid)
        http://trimet.org/howtoride/bikes/bikeandride.htm (Paid bike parking)

        Note that the paid bike parking in Gresham is on the first floor of the FREE car parking garage, built at a cost of about $20,000 per car parking space.

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        • Austin July 21, 2014 at 8:42 am

          For what it is worth, there is paid car parking at the Sunset Transit Center, but only a small section near the front. However, you do make a good point!

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  • TonyJ July 18, 2014 at 11:38 am

    It is disheartening to me, to say the least, that parking reform is largely absent from the current transportation funding discussion. I have engaged the city over and over and still haven’t even gotten a reason out of them why they’re ignoring it.

    I understand it’s a political danger zone, but the city needs to be honest about it’s intention to eventually start charging more for parking. If they do that now, and show how that figures into new revenue streams for maintenance and safety, then I think they will have a much easier time in two years after the study and recommendations come out.

    As it stands, I don’t hold much hope that PBOt will have political currency after the “street fee” shakes out to implement user fees and parking reform.

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    • MaxD July 18, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      Agreed TonyJ,
      I have also submitted multiple comments at a couple of the meetings and via email, but parking still doesn’t show up on their list of funding strategies recommended by the public.
      http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/496948

      These guys are not listening and they are carefully editing public comments (pretty disingenuous!)

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  • MaxD July 18, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Nice summary! I believe parking reform is overdue and has HUGE potential to raise revenue for street maintenance and safety reform. I appreciate the props given to Novick and Treat, but please recall they are our out stumping for the Street Fee that was hoping to EXEMPT surface parking lots! In a number of their Street Fee meetings, they have made a big point of saying they don’t won’t to change anyone’s behavior, they just want to raise more money for street maintenance. Well, this article shows another side of these people, a side that is in favor of reducing Single-Occupancy Vehicle trips within the city and form suburban commuters. Unfortunately, given the extreme amount of energy Novick and Treat have devoted to passing the Street Fee, I do not believe they are progressive champions you are making them out to be.

    I love Potestio’s vision of expanding Pioneer Courthouse Square!

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    • wsbob July 18, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      “…In a number of their Street Fee meetings, they have made a big point of saying they don’t won’t to change anyone’s behavior, they just want to raise more money for street maintenance. …” MaxD

      Nicking people for as much money as the market will bear, seems to be the big objective. ‘Other cities do it, so why not Portland?’ comes up occasionally as one of the rationales for raising parking pricing. The argument, if it includes the following: that people and their friends and guests parking their car out on the street in front of their house “…store(storing) their private property for free on public land. …”, is overreaching.

      Pioneer Square is better in this space than the former parking structure, probably better too than the timber frame Portland Hotel that preceded it. It literally allowed light to re-enter this downtown Portland block. The power of its design and its appeal, in fact was so strong that it enabled people to compel developer Tom Moyer to have the design of the Fox Tower altered with a bevel on its NW corner so as to have the building present less obstruction to beams of afternoon light on the square.

      Essentially, a raise in parking rates equates to a raise in the cost of living, borne especially hard by people that don’t have a lot of money. Those rates can be raised only so far, before they put people without a lot of money that need to travel and park on downtown streets, in a real bind. Street parking revenue is a very limited pot of money, which I’ve heard rumored, has not even made a profit for many years. Could be wrong, maybe someone else here can fact check.

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      • TonyJ July 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm

        Poor people with cars already pay the cost of parking as it is bundled into the cost of their housing and consumer products. The problem is that poor people without cars also pay the cost of parking as it is bundled into their housing and consumer products.

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        • Mossby Pomegranate July 19, 2014 at 5:30 pm

          Perhaps these “poor” people should not be owning and operating money pits like automobiles?

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      • Karl Dickman July 18, 2014 at 3:04 pm

        “Nicking people for as much money as the market will bear, seems to be the big objective.”
        I don’t think this is a good objective, either. Parking charges should be primarily a demand management strategy, so that the people who truly need to park their cars can find parking.
        You are right that a naive strategy could just be a burden on lower income people. However, parking revenue could be used to fund transit, bike infrastructure, affordable housing, or any number of other programs that would help relieve this burden. You could even pay out a dividend from parking revenue, potentially means-tested. (I would also be happy to pay more property tax to fund those kinds of programs.)
        Finally, free parking encourages the kind of auto-centric development and infrastructure that makes a car-free or low car lifestyle a challenge. Having no choice but to own a car and drive it a lot is a financial burden, too.

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        • wsbob July 19, 2014 at 10:58 pm

          “…Finally, free parking encourages the kind of auto-centric development and infrastructure that makes a car-free or low car lifestyle a challenge. …” Karl Dickman

          For a long time, Downtown Portland hasn’t had much in the way of free street parking during business and early evening hours. On Sundays when street parking was free not so long ago, that kind of worked out because with fewer people driving to Downtown compared to weekdays, the demand for street parking was less.

          From a strictly revenue generating point of view upon street parking, any time a motor vehicle is parked on the street at any given time during a full 24 hr day, and money is not being paid in exchange for that use of the street, in theory at least, is potential revenue not being taken advantage of.

          This point of view may be how some city councilors and some of bikeportland’s readers have come to regard use of the sides of the street in comparison to how they have in parts of the city, traditionally been used for parking motor vehicles. It seems to me important to have answers as to whether this point of view is part of what people are thinking of when they say the words “parking reform’.

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      • Karl Dickman July 18, 2014 at 3:09 pm

        “Street parking revenue is a very limited pot of money, which I’ve heard rumored, has not even made a profit for many years. Could be wrong, maybe someone else here can fact check.”
        I’ve heard that, too. Tobacco taxes, carbon taxes, congestion taxes, and parking fees have things to recommend them, but viewing these taxes as revenue streams is just having your cake and eating it, too. Discouraging something (smoking, driving) and collecting money from it are somewhat contradictory goals.

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        • 9watts July 19, 2014 at 7:41 am

          How is that?
          I think you must be missing the part where you need to charge A LOT o engage in these activities-we’re-trying-to-discourage than we seem to have the stomach for here. Germany, for instance, raises three times the amount of money through its gas taxes and other auto-related fees than it requires to pay for its world class transportation infrastructure. 53 billion Euro/yr. M-hm.

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          • wsbob July 20, 2014 at 3:22 pm

            Ask the business community how they feel about discouraging driving and raising the expense of parking on the street. It’s likely they don’t feel too good about that, because to a large extent, the success of their business relies on people being able to drive to their business and park nearby.

            Business may be receptive or happy to see conditions for biking and bike parking improve, for the increase that could represent to their business, but if it hurts their business, making driving and parking more difficult and expensive isn’t going to work.

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            • TonyJ July 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm

              Businesses do need for customers to be able to drive and park nearby. That is one of the essential (and proven) functions of managing parking supply with market rate prices.

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            • TonyJ July 20, 2014 at 7:25 pm

              “More expensive” is a loaded term. We already pay for “free” parking in bundled costs. Unbundling those costs and charging for parking allows customers to choose for themselves whether they wish to pay.

              If a business is so inclined they can always validate or refund the cost of parking for paying customers. This isn’t the wholesale disaster you make it out to be. Shoup cites many examples where parking reform revitalized commercial districts and can lead to higher revenues due to increased accessibility and turnover.

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              • wsbob July 21, 2014 at 3:02 pm

                “…If a business is so inclined they can always validate or refund the cost of parking for paying customers. …” TonyJ

                Nice. If they want to keep their parking costs down, people have got to buy something. Not a great incentive to come downtown at all. Maybe things Downtown have changed though, with the city perhaps having come to the conclusion that Downtown and business have enough people coming downtown and spending money. And, that it no longer need worry about higher parking rates discouraging people from coming downtown instead of spending their money elsewhere.

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                • TonyJ July 21, 2014 at 3:51 pm

                  You speak from one side about how this will hurt businesses. The you worry about attracting people to the spot in front of the business who don’t want to buy anything.

                  I am not making up these principles. They work. People will pay fair prices to park, if they are unwilling to pay to park, they probably aren’t spending much at your business.

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        • El Biciclero July 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm

          “Discouraging something (smoking, driving) and collecting money from it are somewhat contradictory goals.”

          “Somewhat” is right. As much as driving can be compared to smoking, I think it may have an important difference (I’ve never smoked, so I don’t know): it doesn’t seem that attempts to discourage smoking are aimed at getting people to smoke less; they aim to get people to quit altogether. “Discouraging” driving—or taking measures to discourage it—may well just cause people to drive less, in which case parking revenue may not be impacted much. If there is less driving overall, then in theory, road maintenance costs should drop; thus if the gas tax is appropriately sized, there should always be about enough to maintain the roads at the rate they are being destroyed by driving.

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      • spare_wheel July 20, 2014 at 11:17 am

        “Essentially, a raise in parking rates equates to a raise in the cost of living, borne especially hard by people that don’t have a lot of money.”

        The lower income quintile is far less likely to own a car than the upper quintiles. Moreover, the idea idea that someone struggling to afford gas is making unnecessary trips to trustafarian inner portland is completely absurd.

        And I’m incredibly supporting of nicking dollars from the upper quintiles. It’s time for them to pay their fair share.

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        • wsbob July 20, 2014 at 3:10 pm

          Sloppy generalizations you’ve used, such as upper and lower quintile, and the hip stereotype term, trustafarian, don’t take into account basic economic reality many people have to deal with. There’s lots of people around without a lot of money, that need and have for transportation, cheap, used, serviceable motor vehicles.

          Street parking used to be the cheap seats, so to speak, before the city started seeing it as wealth to be mined. I think excessive upper class targeting is ill advised, but at any rate, that income level doesn’t particularly face hardship by increases in parking rates.

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          • spare_wheel July 21, 2014 at 11:26 am

            Income quintiles are generalizations? Really???

            There’s lots of people around without a lot of money, that need and have for transportation, cheap, used, serviceable motor vehicles.

            And how often do your think “people around without a lot of money” have dinner and flick downtown?

            I think excessive upper class targeting is ill advised…

            I bet.

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            • wsbob July 21, 2014 at 2:52 pm

              Yes really, especially without mentioning what you mean by low income.

              There’s lots more business downtown than restaurants and movies, and no doubt, people with businesses would love having people without a lot of money, spending some of what they have, at their business, rather than on higher parking rates.

              If you haven’t thought about the negative consequences of excessive upper class targeting, you should be. Animosity directed towards those in that class isn’t going to help much, despite your apparent pleasure in expressing it. A nasty backlash could be the response.

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              • Ian July 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm

                Low income quintile by definition means the bottom 20% of people/households by median income. You could quibble about whether he meant individuals or household, but the overall meaning is quite clear.

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                • wsbob July 21, 2014 at 11:04 pm

                  “…You could quibble about whether he meant individuals or household, but the overall meaning is quite clear.” Ian

                  Clear as mud. Emotional rather than rational. Apparently intended to fire up somebody. Studies, graphs, statistics and whatnot are useful to some extent, but not when they result in the fact that real people are involved. Go ahead, champion the city’s intention to charge for street parking everywhere, and raise the rates for parking there.

                  Doing that’s apparently not going to bother you since you’ve got those quintiles to rely on for consoling yourself with the idea that it’s no big deal for people without a lot of money. You can join with those who believe the upper classes are an inexhaustible source of income that can be used to cure the city’s woes, in the name of having them pay ‘their fair share’.

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              • spare_wheel July 21, 2014 at 4:17 pm

                so when someone advocates for increased social equity your response is to threaten a “nasty” backlash. thanks for your honesty, wsbob.

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                • wsbob July 21, 2014 at 10:48 pm

                  “…your response is to threaten a “nasty” backlash. …” spare_wheel

                  No. I’m raising the warning that those whom you and others thinking likewise, target, may retaliate with a nasty backlash. The vindictive, animosity laden manner in which you’ve expressed remarks against upper classes, I think helps to breed and perpetuate ultra conservative attitudes towards people with less money.

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                • spare_wheel July 22, 2014 at 9:15 am

                  I’m still waiting for wsbob to provide evidence that the bottom income quintile will be hit hard by higher parking rates in the central city.

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                • spare_wheel July 22, 2014 at 9:21 am

                  animosity laden manner in which you’ve expressed remarks against upper classes, I think helps to breed and perpetuate ultra conservative attitudes towards people with less money.

                  I think it’s telling that you assume that I am a person “with less money”. I guess it never dawned on you that my comments might be breeding animosity towards people who have won the class lottery and are ashamed at the disparity in opportunity in the USA.

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  • MaxD July 18, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Also, Director Treat has made some big claims about Vision Zero and parking reform, but in project after project PBOT has been pretty spineless about reducing parking to enhance safety. I would love to see some real action on parking reform, we needed it about 2 decades ago!

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    • Tim Davis July 18, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Agreed, MaxD! We made incredible progress on many fronts in 1972 that we’ve been bragging about (and upon which we’ve been all too happy to rest our laurels) since, well, 1972. Meanwhile, Helsinki could make owning a car all but obsolete by 2025–and that’s just one of hundreds of cities that’s blowing us away in every aspect of people-friendly urban planning.

      Everyone at PBOT and in City Hall needs to read Donald Shoup’s book: “The High Cost of Free Parking.” His home page has tons of great references: http://shoup.bol.ucla.edu.

      And Burnside from 1st to Broadway really is the utterly embarrassing stretch of street imaginable, but that’s a whole separate set of issues…

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  • Buzz July 18, 2014 at 11:54 am

    …and before it was a parking lot it was the awesome classic Portland Hotel from 1890 to 1951.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_Courthouse_Square

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    • Brian Engelen July 21, 2014 at 8:59 am

      I believe the first real development was a land grant Dairy farm.

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  • Joe July 18, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Awesome story and way better design ;)

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  • Jim Lee July 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    It was not a surface parking lot. It was a parking structure of two levels.

    I watched the Republican Party nominate Dwight Eisenhower and the Democratic Party nominate Adlai Stevenson there on public television monitors in 1952, while a delivery boy for Skidmore Pharmacy. On KGW, channel 27, UHF.

    Also we had mechanical “pigeon-hole” vertical parking structures nearby, which were very efficient of valuable downtown real estate.

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  • basketloverd July 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    It was at least a two level garage. Pretty sure it was a pay lot. The blue kiosky things across the street at the Courthouse were underground bathrooms that had attendants working in them.

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  • Dave July 18, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I believe that you remember correctly; I moved to PDX in 1978.

    basketloverd
    It was at least a two level garage. Pretty sure it was a pay lot. The blue kiosky things across the street at the Courthouse were underground bathrooms that had attendants working in them.
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  • GlowBoy July 18, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Wow, it was a Chevron-sponsored parking lot, no less.

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    • basketloverd July 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      They had a gas station and repair bays in the lower section. Used their air hose as a kid.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Jonathan/ Michael…you should also add what the parking lot looked like before it parked cars, back when it parked people’s “heads” overnight:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/O/index.ssf/2011/04/the_portland_hotel_once_the_pl.html

    OHS/ The Oregonian

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  • Peter W July 18, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I’d love to see a rendering of Rick’s vision.

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    • Chris I July 18, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      That would be a waste of time. The idea is terrible, as it would be very costly (probably $100 million or so) and would create a huge disruption for northbound bus routes in downtown. And why, exactly? To connect a public square to a courthouse that no one uses? You could build hundreds of miles of world-class bikeways in Portland for that kind of money.

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      • wsbob July 18, 2014 at 9:46 pm

        “…To connect a public square to a courthouse that no one uses? …” Chris I

        Kind of off topic, but don’t say that unless you’re sure it’s not being used. While I’m not sure without checking, how much it’s being used, it being a federal courthouse, I believe it is definitely being used, and probably regularly. What was it? 10 years ago already? The historic courthouse was given a major renovation that I think the feds covered most if not all the bill for. The entire building was lifted off its foundation for the placement of quake effect mitigation devices between the foundation and building.

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        • Robert Burchett July 19, 2014 at 8:33 am

          The old courthouse houses US Court of Appeals. It’s accessible to the public if you go through security but that is one very quiet place most of the time. Even quieter than the US District Courthouse on SW 3rd!

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      • Andy K July 21, 2014 at 9:32 am

        Make that $1B minimum. The profile and impacts generated by sending trains 25ft+ into the ground is staggering, since a station can’t occur in a vertical curve. The stabilizing of underground work and nearby buildings is double or triple that number by itself. And don’t forget to include the hundreds of millions in *major* utility relocations. Anyone know how to run a storm sewer line under a 25ft tunnel? Can’t be done. Go to the international district in seattle to see what an underground station is like.
        The outcry from business owners affected by moving/closing stations would be enough to kill the project by itself.

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  • Bob R. July 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    “Pioneer Square” is in Seattle. You may be referring to “Pioneer Courthouse Square”. :-)

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  • Adam July 18, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    If you think this photograph is depressing, you should have seen the astounding grand hotel on the site that was torn down in 1951 to erect the parking structure.

    Google “The Portland Hotel”. And weep.

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  • John Liu July 18, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Chris I
    That would be a waste of time. The idea is terrible, as it would be very costly (probably $100 million or so) and would create a huge disruption for northbound bus routes in downtown. And why, exactly? To connect a public square to a courthouse that no one uses? You could build hundreds of miles of world-class bikeways in Portland for that kind of money.
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    I agree with this. Pioneer Courthouse is not a “public space” so there is no purpose to this extremely expensive project.

    In my opinion, the biggest “problems” with downtown currently are both related to Burnside. (1) the homeless blight and general squalor on Burnside west of the bridge, and (2) the ugly, pedestrian and bike hostile, barrier to north-south travel nature of the rest of the street. Spend money to fix those, not on Pioneer Square which works pretty well as public space.

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    • Alan 1.0 July 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm

      John Liu
      Pioneer Courthouse is not a “public space” …

      Huh? The courthouse is public and so is the square…

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      • John Liu July 19, 2014 at 5:19 am

        The courthouse is a government building. It is essentially a workplace for judges and lawyers. The general public doesn’t go there except as jurors, witnesses, litigants, defendants, etc. No more of a “public space” than, say, the dept of motor vehicles office. The proposed project is simply pointless.

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        • wsbob July 19, 2014 at 10:21 am

          What you’re describing meets the criteria of a public space. The public owns that building and the public can and does use the building for specific purposes. I think, as John Liu says up above, “…as jurors, witnesses, litigants, defendants, etc. …”.

          True it’s not a public space in the same sense that Pioneer Courthouse Square directly west is, where people are free to wander through at leisure, sit down and have a picnic. During the remodeling, I went in there during an open house. Beautiful courtrooms. You can climb the stairs and look out the windows of the cupola atop the building. If it’s on the National Historic Register, which it probably is, at the very least, there may be one day of the year the public has relatively free access to the building. There may be tours periodically as well.

          For Downtown, with its fine architectural design, scale, and landscaped grounds, I’d say the courthouse building very definitely enhances in good ways, the character of downtown, much more than another parking lot or structure could, or another tower, or more shops.

          Portland may someday grow to the extent that surface mass transit will need to be located below grade, as a subway. If ever, that’s probably very many years into the future.

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          • John Liu July 20, 2014 at 6:20 am

            You really think it makes sense to spend $100MM to bury a MAX line and reroute a street so that people can walk to the federal courthouse without using a crosswalk? Thereby blowing the city’s bike infrastructure budget for the next 10 years or more?

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            • wsbob July 20, 2014 at 2:45 pm

              I finished the comment you’ve responded to, with the words:

              “…Portland may someday grow to the extent that surface mass transit will need to be located below grade, as a subway. If ever, that’s probably very many years into the future.” wsbob

              I would think that answers your question as much as is reasonable for the present.

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              • Chris I July 20, 2014 at 9:08 pm

                Not really. If we built a subway for light rail, it wouldn’t replace the rail on the transit mall. It would likely have a sup near pioneer square, but it would diagonally across downtown. The main bottleneck is the Steel Bridge, not the track on the bus mall.

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                • wsbob July 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

                  Not really, What?

                  Personally, I think it’s a nice idea to put a subway in to reduce traffic on the street between Pioneer Courthouse Square and the courthouse itself. I rather liked conditions better on the street there before northbound light rail went in, when the street was basically limited to use by buses only. The buses went too fast, but often, there was very little traffic at all, especially on Sundays, making for very easy, leisurely walking across the street.

                  Really, I don’t have much of an idea of how much it would cost, but what you’re proposing sounds extremely expensive, and something the city likely couldn’t seriously consider for years to come. I thought that was how I summed up my response to John Liu’s comment.

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        • Psyfalcon July 19, 2014 at 5:54 pm

          You can even go there and watch trials. They take field trips there.

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  • gutterbunnybikes July 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I dunno, not sure a brick lot and Starbucks is much better than a parking lot.

    And I never got the “living room” hype, always seemed more like a waiting room to me.

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    • wsbob July 18, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Maybe you never spent much time there other than waiting for the bus or the rail. It always seemed to me to be a comfortable place for coffee, relaxing, people watching, plenty of events it cost nothing at all to attend. The city, and countless people that have pitched in over the years to help make it and keep it a livable space, deserve a huge amount of credit for all the planning and effort they’ve devoted to making it a good place.

      Far, far better than a parking lot. Easy comparison: Director’s Square just a block southwest when it still was a surface parking lot. Right in the center of Downtown, the thing was an eyesore, basically a dead zone for anything but parking cars and making money from that.

      Now as a park, while not perfect, it’s full of life, inviting to people on foot, a decent place to pause and relax for 5, 10 minutes or longer for free, between stops on foot elsewhere downtown where lots of business owners hope they’ll be spending money. Parks like Director’s and PCH Square help the city be more livable and walkable.

      Recommended Thumb up 7

    • El Biciclero July 20, 2014 at 2:34 pm

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