Sam brings bureau leaders, budget into North Portland

PDOT Budget Town Hall - NoPo

[Commissioner Adams
led the meeting.]

Last Thursday at the Kenton Firehouse in North Portland, I attended one of Commissioner Sam’s Budget Town Hall meetings to discuss the finances and issues around transportation (PDOT), environmental services (BES), and community art (RACC). This was one of seven similar meetings being held throughout Portland’s various neighborhood districts.

Sam — who lives just a block from where we met and is the first Commissioner from North Portland since 1972 — brought his top bureau brass (Sue Keil, Director of PDOT and Dean Marriott, Director of BES) to listen and respond to issues from citizens. The meeting was a great example of how much access we have to City government. Unfortunately for North Portland, only eight people showed up.

The previous Town Halls in East and Central Northeast Portland had huge turnouts and it was pretty embarrassing to see such a small group turn out for North Portland (where was everyone!?).

PDOT Budget Town Hall - NoPo

[L to R: Dean Marriot (Environmental Services), Sue Keil (PDOT), Jeff Hawthorne (RACC)]

Disappointing turnout aside, the meeting was still productive. There was some discussion of how North Portland (especially around Lombard Street) could really use more bicycle boulevards (or “limited motorized corridors” as one attendee insisted). Major concerns were also voiced about how to slow cars down on N Willamette Blvd. and how new pedestrian islands on N. Greeley Denver Blvd. were causing cars to drive into the bike lane.

One women was especially concerned about that last issue because she frequently drives her RV on that street and says she doesn’t have enough room to avoid the bike lane.

PDOT Budget Town Hall - NoPo

[An Adams staffer wrote down all the concerns and questions.]

I also got a chance to ask about the exciting new work being done on “Green Streets.” This is a relatively new method of dealing with stormwater runoff where PDOT and BES are teaming up to make streets not only greener, but more bike and ped friendly (which often go hand-in-hand).

After a brief presentation from Sue Keil about the state of PDOT’s budget, everyone was able to ask questions, which were written out and then answered one by one. Sam gave everyone a chance to voice their concerns and he was sincere in finding answers. He didn’t let people just spout out crazy ideas or complaints…unless they could also offer real solutions.

PDOT Budget Town Hall - NoPo

[Director of PDOT, Sue Keil]

It was neat to finally meet Sue Keil. Somehow, although I cover PDOT extensively on this site, I hadn’t met her yet. I asked her about a concern I’ve had for a long time about the division within PDOT between bikes and the maintenance bureau. In a budget survey last year, City maintenance crews put cycling infrastructure at a very low priority. She said they’re aware of the issue and that they’re working on it (more on this issue later, maybe).

There are still four Budget Town Halls remaining. If you live in the following neighborhoods, you should really consider showing up.

  • Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods: January 18 7:00 PM -9:00 PM – 4815 NE 7th at Wygant Street – served by bus lines 72 & 6
  • Southwest Neighborhoods Inc.: January 22 7:00 PM -9:00 PM 7688 SW Capitol Highway – served by bus lines 44 & 45
  • South East Uplift: January 24 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Mennonite Church 1312 SE 35th Street – served by bus lines 14, 66, 74, 75,& 15
  • Neighborhood West/NorthWest/Old Town/China Town – February 1 7:00 PM -9:00 PM – Council Chambers in City Hall 1221 SW 4th Avenue located one block off the bus mall and served by numerous bus lines.

If you’ve got ideas and solutions to share, these meetings can be a great place to make your neighborhood work better for bicycles.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Dave
Dave
17 years ago

I’m not surprised by the turnout for this meeting. I had no idea it was happening. I live two blocks from the meeting site, and if I had known about the meeting, I would have attended. I used to get meeting notices from the neighborhood association about these sorts of things, but didn’t see anything about this meeting. I wouldn’t blame the local residents for the low turnout, but rather, the meeting planners/neighborhood association for not promoting it more.

On the topic of the pedestrian islands, they just put a bunch in along N Denver. Most of the islands are done, but they haven’t repainted the lanes. On the southern portion of the road (south of Lombard) you have to go into the bike lane to not hit the islands. I read somewhere that they were going to restripe the lanes this month, but so far, I haven’t seen any work done. Anyone know who we can call to find out when they will correct this dangerous situation/finish the project?

adam
adam
17 years ago

not to nit pick because, unlike most city politicians, sam actually TRIES, but, jonathan, you said “The meeting was a great example of how much access we have to City government. Unfortunately for North Portland, only eight people showed up.”

First, this just shows how little regard sam has for other people’s time. he thinks that if he schedules something, people will just show up – maybe, they are busy with their lives, you know? have you ever tried to get an appt to see sam? he is always “busy”. (try it, everyone, try it. call up and ask if you can come in at a time convenient for you and have 10 minutes with sam…let me know how july looks on your calendar).

Second, NPortlanders don’t care about these meetings because they are completely useless. if I am wrong about this, tell me ONE thing meaningful that came out of this meeting…just one will be fine for now. anyone?

Finally, ask SUE whateverhername is for something concrete about when they plan on getting back to us on the “City maintenance crews put cycling infrastructure at a very low priority” issue. according to the article, the survey was reported a year ago…some of us ride everyday and are facing imminent danger and “we are looking into it” sounds like incompetence or corruption at best(my humble opinion of course). any update there, sue?

that is all, sigh. and, no, I am not going to run for city office so stop wasting our time asking. however, in my view, the bike community can offer candidates which would be far superior than any of the current regime(sam included). if any of you want to throw your hat in the ring, I will do what I can to support it. until then, seriously, yo basta.

John Boyd
John Boyd
17 years ago

Very nice to see how just a few dedicated and informed advocates can so well promote cycling interests in town. This is the only way representative democracies can work. Thanks Jonathan and all for being there and being heard.

Kronda
17 years ago

I have to agree with Dave. To the question, “Where was everyone?” I would respond, “Where was the advertising?” I now live 11 blocks from the meeting site and I had no idea. But I know about all the meetings going on about the Columbia River Crossing project.

Would’ve been nice to have the chance to show up, or at least spread the word.

Ron
Ron
17 years ago

Well Adam, I must say that my impressions are quite different. At least Sam had the meeting and it sounds like you could have had your 10 minutes right there if you wanted it. If you’re too busy, try the next meeting. Sam runs a large agency with many constituents, and while you are important, you have to be realistic. Also, try his blog. I posted about a pothole in an alley behind the rebuilding center and within hours I had a response, email and phone call. The pot hole was fixed in two days. You can complain all you want, but unless you get involved nobody is going to care what you have to say.

Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith
17 years ago

Ron wrote “The pot hole was fixed in two days. You can complain all you want, but unless you get involved nobody is going to care what you have to say.”

I’d add that unless you tell the right person/organization about the problem, it likely won’t get fixed. In my experience, the City’s maintenance bureau does a good job with addressing bicyclist concerns — glass & debris sweeping, potholes & pavement patching — in a reasonably rapid manner when they’re notified about them.

So how do you get your problem of choice to the right place? Try one of these:

– 503.823.1700 (24 hour general maintenance number)
– 503.823.BUMP (street repair)
– 503.823.1750 or 503.823.1778 (street sweeping)
– 503.823.SAFE / safe@pdxtrans.org (traffic safety problems)
– 503.823.CYCL, press 2 (general cyclist maintenance concerns)

But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself & see.

Jason
17 years ago

I’m on most email lists for NP events and do not remember receiving a notice for this one. Surely Sam doesn’t expect us to trawl his website for his next public appearance. Does he have a RSS feed or email list we can join? One thing to note here is that there is no mention of this on his calendar(http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=144693).

Jonathan could you post the email list that sends out this message?

John
John
17 years ago

Arborlodge Neighborhood Associaton sent out an email annoucing the meeting. It came out only a few days before the meeting. I would have invited more neighbors to attend so we could discuss traffic issues, but I thought the building would be full.

The Kenton Fire house is too small to have large meetings. That was probably their plan.

I felt Sam was more interested in having Video time than he was in discussing Traffic or BES issues.

Scott Mizee
17 years ago

I am on Commisioner Sam’s e-mail list for just this reason. However, as far as I know, he didn’t say anything about this message in his e-mail news blast. The latest message I have from him is about how much fares should cost on the tram. I would have put it on the npGREENWAY calendar, had I known about it. Does Commissioner Adams read this forum?

adam
adam
17 years ago

exellent discussion. I know, for a fact, that some of sam’s staffers are well aware of this blog. I also know, for a fact, that sam communicates with many members of the bike community, and, occasionally, he puts in camera time near the community(get lit parade, etc).

sam is responsible for transportation, art and environment. http://www.commissionersam.com/

As far as I know, the bike culture is leading the charge on all these fronts – so, does sam read this blog?

now, Ron, I have sent at least 10 emails to sam’s official email. when I complained about the fact that I got 0 response, one of my commrades offered me sam’s “real” email address which I will not post here – I said, “I don’t need his real email, I posted on his blog and sent emails to his official email and I talked with his scheduler and his community outreach person all to no avail”. I am fully aware of how unimportant I am. I just thought, perhaps, that a public citizen could get a meeting with someone that he volunteered for and supported…nope.

it is not hard for me to be an insider but I prefer to see things from a “regular person”‘s perspective. fundraising dinners and personal emails do not really impress me. what do you think, Ron?

Scott Mizee
17 years ago

So has there been any new developments here?