Portland Mayor Charlie Hales offered a very unexpected admonition during an informal, invite-only meeting yesterday. It was a veiled criticism of Portland’s transportation advocates — and bike advocates in particular. Yes, you read that right, bike advocates: the group many Portlanders (mistakenly) assume wields unlimited power in City Hall.
Hales’ comments came at the end of a brief speech he gave while standing in the new Ankeny Plaza on SW 3rd in front of about two dozen advocates, city staffers, and other local leaders. His remarks were mostly about his support for Better Naito, the importance of great public spaces and the city’s new “livable streets strategy.” But then he ended with a plea for more support from advocates — many of whom were standing right in front of him.
I happened to have my recorder on. Here’s the transcript (with my emphasis added): (more…)
The City of Portland will take down the “Better Naito” project this Sunday night, whether it returns as a permanent bikeway and walkway someday is up to us. That was the message Mayor Charlie Hales gave a group of advocates, city staff, and agency representatives this morning.
This project has been a dream of Hales for almost two years.
Portland’s City Council will meet Wednesday to consider a new mandatory parking requirement that, if it had existed for the last eight years, would have illegalized 23 percent of the new housing supply in northwest Portland during the period.
The Tess O’Brien Apartments, a 126-unit project that starts pre-leasing next week and will offer some of the cheapest new market-rate housing in northwest Portland, couldn’t have been built if they’d been required to have 42 on-site parking spaces, its developer said in an interview.
“Do the math,” Martin Kehoe of Portland LEEDS Living said Friday. “The apartments at the Tess O’Brien are between $1250 and $1400 a month. If we were required to build parking, you’d be between $1800 and $2000 a month. … It probably just wouldn’t have been built. And then what’s that going to do to the existing project that’s out there and has been built? It’s just going to drive the rents of those up.”
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales wants to go out with a bang. And in the process he just might blow up his chance to make “Better Naito” permanent.
As we gleefully reported on May 2nd, Hales’ last budget proposal included $1.46 million to redesign Naito Parkway to include a protected bikeway. It’s an idea he’s been talking about for nearly two years now and it makes a lot of sense from a transportation planning perspective. That’s why it’s a shame it might go down with a sinking ship.
Naito should be a marquee street in Portland but it’s held back because it’s dominated by auto traffic. Creating more space on the street to bike and walk would enliven Naito-facing hotels and restaurants and improve safety for everyone who uses it. A report published after “Better Naito” last year showed that auto travel times were not significantly impacted by the new lane configuration, biking went up 56 percent, and the majority of public feedback was “overwhelmingly positive.”
Better Naito was such a success that the City decided to bring it back for three months this summer. Unfortunately Hales’ proposal to make it permanent might be dead within a week.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales released his final proposed budget this morning and it includes funding for a project we’ve been hoping to see materialize for several years: improved access for biking on Naito Parkway. $1.46 million to be exact. It was one of 14 infrastructure projects and over $42 million in new spending he’s put on the table.
“Ubiquitous mobility” is one step closer to reality in Portland.
On Saturday the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the City of Portland has been selected as a finalist for a $40 million ‘Smart City Challenge’ grant. Portland’s big idea is known as “Ubiquitous Mobility” or UB Mobile PDX. The concept is to create access to our myriad transportation options that is so integrated that everyone can easily plug into it. The city says it will, “Show what is possible when communities use technology to connect transportation assets into an interactive network” and that it “puts forward bold, data-driven ideas to improve lives by making transportation safer, easier, and more reliable.”
Imagine opening up a mobile app to find (and pay for if necessary) the best trip option available for your specific needs. Whether it’s finding a Biketown bike, hopping on a TriMet bus, renting a bike through Spinlister, calling a Lyft driver, or whatever. The same app would also enable users to pay for parking spots and even the pay-per-mile gas tax that might someday be an option in Oregon. And that’s just the start. We took a deep dive into the city’s grant application last month.
After years of fighting, a “grand bargain” on affordable housing passed Oregon’s legislature this week. But it won’t begin shaping Portland’s bikeable neighborhoods until after the city council takes action of its own.
Representatives for Mayor Charlie Hales and his council colleague, Housing Commissioner Dan Saltzman, say that plans to do so are already underway.
Any city plan seems certain to include some level of “inclusionary zoning,” a measure that could require that up to 20 percent of units in some new buildings be sold and/or rented at discount prices to people who make less than 80 percent of the median income. (As of 2015, that 80 percent figure means that a family of three that makes less than $52,950 would qualify for the reduced-rate units.)
Monday’s surprise announcement by Mayor Charlie Hales that he won’t run for reelection is rippling through the city’s transportation wonkosphere.
Portland’s unusual City Hall system means that the transportation commissioner (currently Commissioner Steve Novick) has much more power than the mayor on most streets issues. His transportation authority was delegated from the mayor, so the next mayor’s biggest decision may be who gets to oversee the roads.
But aside from that, Mayor Hales has been personally involved in a handful of subjects that matter a lot to bike transportation. Here’s how we see his departure from the race shaping things.
In a local political shocker, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales just announced he won’t seek a second term.
In a statement posted on his website, Hales said: “Confronted with a choice between giving my full effort to the job of being mayor and spending that energy on a long and consuming re-election campaign, it’s an easy choice.”