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Affordable-housing alliance to city: Legalize ‘missing middle’ in bikeable neighborhoods

Michael Andersen (News Editor) by on April 22nd, 2016 at 1:58 pm

2314-16 se salmon duplex built 1927
2314 and 2316 SE Salmon: built in 1927, illegal to build today. City Council could change that with the comprehensive plan it’s about to vote on.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

As Portlanders debate ways to deal with the city’s continuing surge of housing prices, a coalition of local affordable-housing developers and service providers says Portland can’t afford to continue banning so-called “missing middle” housing from most of the city.

Duplexes, triplexes, internal home divisions and two-story garden apartments are common throughout many of the neighborhoods Portland built in the early 20th century. Today, those neighborhoods are the city’s most walkable, bikeable and transit-friendly — but since 1959, city code has made it illegal to build more neighborhoods like that. Homes with multiple kitchens or space for fewer than two cars are forbidden even on most residential land in the central city.

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Bikes should rank beneath mass transit in city hierarchy, says Commissioner Fritz

Michael Andersen (News Editor) by on February 23rd, 2016 at 3:05 pm

2012headshot380KB
Commissioner Amanda Fritz.

Saying that “not everybody can cycle,” Commissioner Amanda Fritz Tuesday urged the city to switch the order of its “green transportation hierarchy” to prioritize public transit above biking.

“Everybody can use the bus,” Fritz, who a city staffer mentioned was supported by written testimony from advocacy group Elders in Action, said at a council work session on the city’s new comprehensive plan. “And our transit system is not good.”

Fritz’s comments drew disagreement from her counterpart Steve Novick, who said the city’s plan already calls for big upgrades to transit and that “historically we’ve spent a hell of a lot more on things other than biking and walking.”

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City proposes shifting future downtown bikeway from Alder to Taylor/Salmon

Michael Andersen (News Editor) by on February 16th, 2016 at 9:56 am

nw to se change with yamhill
The city has proposed to change the future bikeway that would be the fastest dedicated biking route from the Northwest District to the Central Eastside. (People would be able to choose between a longer jog south to Salmon or a shorter one to a lane of Yamhill shared with cars, presumably with diverters to hold down traffic.)

The city says there’s no room for future bike lanes on the most direct street between Northwest Portland’s fast-growing residential area and the Central Eastside’s fast-growing job district.

Instead, inner Southwest Alder Street is slated to become a “trafficway” offering automobile and truck connections to the Morrison Bridge and interstate highways.

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Here are the Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee’s top 10 priorities citywide

Michael Andersen (News Editor) by on February 27th, 2015 at 1:55 pm

bac top 10
What do you think?
(Click to enlarge, or see below for details and links)

As we reported earlier this week, the City of Portland is trying to hone its massive transportation to-do list by asking people to rank their 10 favorite projects.

In a letter circulated this week, the citizens’ committee that’s most closely tied to Portland’s biking policies shared theirs.

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Advocates mount effort to keep transportation hierarchy in city policy

Michael Andersen (News Editor) by on February 24th, 2015 at 9:35 am

green hierarchy
Created in 2009 for the city’s Climate Action Plan, it’s
maybe the city’s single most progressive statement of
transportation policy.

The City of Portland says (PDF) its new 20-year comprehensive plan is informed by three city documents that created a prioritized ranking for transportation needs.

But it’s an open question whether the “green transportation hierarchy,” as it’s been known since its creation in 2009, will be fully enshrined in the 20-year comprehensive plan as it previously was in the Sam Adams-era Climate Action Plan, Bicycle Plan for 2030 and Portland Plan.

Members of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee are making it one of their top requests to the city to keep the chart in place and intact.
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Define ‘compatibility’: Ben Ross on the evasive language of zoning

Michael Andersen (News Editor) by on February 6th, 2015 at 10:18 am

N-NE-SE Portland Good-Bad-Ugly Houses 84
Which is incompatible with which, and why?
(Photo: Mark McClure)

Why does Portland require every new house to have a driveway big enough to fit two cars?

Why do we forbid most lots from having two separate dwelling structures unless one is 25 percent smaller than the other and has a roof with an identical slope?

Why do we ban second kitchens within a single home unless the owner essentially pinky-swears that only one household will be living in the building?

In a city where a chronic shortage of housing in walkable and bikeable areas has driven prices up and up, driving major changes in the culture, these aren’t trivial questions.

The most familiar answer to all of them is one of the most-used words in urban zoning: “compatibility.” But what exactly does that mean?

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City’s online map app updates its project list and adds more data

Michael Andersen (News Editor) by on November 17th, 2014 at 3:52 pm

transportation wishlist
The city’s new transportation
wishlist, visualized.
(Image from BPS Map App Explorer)

The web-based toolkit that lets you track Portland transportation projects and related issues has been heaved into the Hales/Novick era.

When we wrote in July about the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s Comprehensive Map App, its list of transportation projects was rooted largely in 2007, which had been the last time the city had updated its master list of transportation projects.

But as of last month, the city has a new list, and it’s now dropped that list into the Map App Explorer and the accompanying Proposed Draft Map App.

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Romping in the Comp Plan: A Wonk Night recap

by on October 16th, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Wonk Night - Romp in the Comp Plan-7
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland’s proclivity for planning and process can make activism on certain topics daunting. The city’s Comprehensive Plan is one such topic: it’s as large and complicated as it is important. So, when our friends at Lancaster Engineering and Bike Walk Vote wanted to make it the theme of a Wonk Night, we jumped at the chance to get involved.
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Join us for Wonk Night October 15th: Romp in the Comp Plan

by on October 8th, 2014 at 11:01 am

Wonk Night -4
Wonk Night is where people and policy mix.

We’re excited to announce our next Wonk Night.

On Wednesday, October 15th (one week from today) we’ll take a Romp in the Comp Plan. The City of Portland is updating our Comprehensive Plan and the time is now to make sure they hear your feedback. A draft plan has been released and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability needs to hear your comments before the plan is officially adopted by City Council early next year.

The Comp Plan is big; and it’s a big deal. It guides Portland’s land-use and infrastructure decisions. It includes a list of specific infrastructure projects, sets long-term goals and aspirations, and the all-important Transportation System Plan is folded directly into it.

Here’s how the plan sits in relation to local, regional, and statewide transportation policy documents: (more…)

2,000 missing homes: Prices soar in bikeable areas as Portland’s rental shortage deepens

Michael Andersen (News Editor) by on September 23rd, 2014 at 12:45 pm

vacancy rate chart
Source: Census. Chart by BikePortland.

As Portlanders puzzle over why local bike, bus and rail transportation has stopped rising, last week’s Census figures show another trend continuing to reshape the city’s population.

New construction in the central city hasn’t come close to relieving one of the country’s harshest rental housing shortages.

For structures built before 1940 — the bungalows and walk-ups built before the age of automotive planning that cover most of the land between the Willamette River, 82nd Avenue, Powell and Lombard, including many of the most bike-friendly neighborhoods in North America — median rents rose 19 percent in the two years from 2011 to 2013, Census estimates show.

Since 2005, when the City of Portland’s population growth began to dramatically outpace its supply of new units, rent in these central-city buildings has risen 47 percent.

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