Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

BTA claims victory in SK Northwest battle

Posted by on July 16th, 2007 at 12:31 pm

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) reports a victory over SK Northwest after SK’s development application appeal was denied Friday by the City of Portland Hearings Office.

At issue was whether or not SK Northwest has to include a bike/ped trail along their proposed riverfront development.

According to the BTA, SK’s most recent appeal was shot down because it,

“failed to include the required greenway trail and included plans to build within the greenway setback.”

It’s been over a year since news of SK’s intentions filtered out into the community and their proposal has been denied several times on various grounds (read the full saga in my archives).

But the BTA’s Executive Director Evan Manvel says Friday’s decision is especially significant because,

“Even though their first application was denied, the decision found the city’s trail requirement to be unconstitutional. Now, with their second application the hearings officer found the trail to be constitutional and the city’s trail requirement was upheld.”

Read the BTA press release on their blog and browse full coverage of the SK Northwest case in the BikePortland news archives.

Read the Bureau of Development Services 57-page decision (PDF).

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • gabrielamadeus July 16, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Yay for the greenway! Now let\’s go talk to pamplin!

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  • sh July 16, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Yay indeed! This is super, super news!
    Thank you BTA for your diligence!

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  • BURR July 16, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    Just boycott everything to do with the Portland Spirit, they are the mean-spirited Grinches who are trying to override the greenway requirements in this particular location.

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  • Logan 5 July 16, 2007 at 4:59 pm

    BURR, I was thinking the same thing but a little further. An awareness campaign at the dock may be a good idea. What is the major demographic of the passengers? Locals or tourists? Anybody know?

    Critical mass on the gangplank? I kid, I kid.

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  • drew July 16, 2007 at 5:18 pm

    Eminent domain, anybody? A new MAX/bike/ped bridge is scheduled to touch down in this area in several years. The SK/Spirit property could be the perfect location.

    I\’m only halfway kidding.

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  • Bill July 16, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks for all the hard work by the trail advocates. SK Northwest knew this was an issue when purchasing the land; I don\’t see how this could be a \”takings\” issue. BTW, does anyone know the basis for the unconstitutional vs. constitutional findings of the hearing officer?

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  • Klixi July 16, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    I\’m tired of getting excited over SK Northwest and their continued failures. But I\’m also tired of trying to remain enthusiastic that the Eastbank Esplanade and the Springwater Corridor will ever be linked. What good is telling \”SK\” no if nobody has any plans to link the two paths? I say if there is no link between the two paths within the next year, then let SK do what they want with it. Then at least someone will get to use that land.

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  • Michelle July 16, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Hey, let\’s hear it for some really excellent coverage of this issue by BikePortland.org! I know the Hearing\’s Officer doesn\’t get to admit any of Jonathan\’s coverage of the issue as testimony, but it\’s hugely valuable to the bike community. Jonathan, this is the kind of sustained long-term reporting that wins awards. Thanks for your work on this!

    It\’s not over of course…didn\’t they say they\’d take it all the way to the Supreme Court? Just think, our little Esplanade going all the way to Washington…OK maybe I imagined that.

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  • Martha S. July 16, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    That is great news! I may not ride that direction often, but none the less I feel loosing that stretch of the trail would be tragic for Portland as a whole.

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  • Peter Bray July 17, 2007 at 12:25 am

    This is terrific news. Portland Spirit and the other boats they have (one in Cascade Locks?) should indeed be boycotted, and people should be made aware of their actions. Funny: Portland Spirit docks right off the westside parks to pick up its passengers… it clearly benefits from public spaces.

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  • Peter Bray July 17, 2007 at 12:27 am

    If it goes all the way to the Supreme Court, we\’re in trouble. A certain little plumbing outfit in Tigard ended up setting pretty significant property \”rights\” precedent…

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  • wsbob July 17, 2007 at 1:06 am

    I didn\’t read the entire article reached by the link in Bray\’s comment above (#11), but I read about that decision when it was covered in the Times. If I understood the case correctly, the plumbing outfit won, basically because the dedications the city required from it in order to have their expansion approved, had nothing to do with the owners intended, continued use…the plumbing business.

    Since this SK Northwest outfit\’s business is much more closely aligned with the use that the city wants it to dedicate it\’s property for(river related scenic recreational purposes)SK Northwest could not successfully make the same case for use of it\’s property that the plumbing outfit did, correct?

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  • Matt Picio July 17, 2007 at 8:05 am

    \”I say if there is no link between the two paths within the next year, then let SK do what they want with it.\”

    Um, no thanks – if SK Northwest builds there, there will be lots of 2-cylinder engine noise right on the river, and testing of powered watercraft right where all the rowers normally operate.

    I don\’t row (yet), but I support my fellow human-powered enthusiasts.

    Even if SK met the greenway requirements, I don\’t believe they\’d be good environmental stewards.

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  • Jim Labbe July 17, 2007 at 8:19 am

    This is good news. Thankfully we have community standards in place to allow the expansion of the Willamette Greenway and to reconnect people with their River.

    The City will be revising greenway standards along the south reach of the Willamette in 2008:


    Bicyclists and pedestrians should be involved in the planning effort to ensure that continued expansion of the Willamette Greenway.

    Jim Labbe

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  • SKiDmark July 17, 2007 at 8:57 am

    The bike path should be an easement the same way a right-of-way is an easement. It should just be a manditory improvement if you are going to develop land, the same way a sidewalk is out here in Beaverton/Aloha.

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  • Jessica Roberts July 17, 2007 at 9:58 am

    As usual, not a lawyer, but I\’m pretty sure the Supreme Court decides which cases they want to hear based on there being some unresolved constitutional issue they want to clarify. Unlike other courts, it is not just another stop on the appeal train.

    So, to the lawyers among us: is there some legitimate case to be made that there is a Supreme Court-worthy issue to be decided here? If not, have we reached a final decision yet?

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  • Laura July 17, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Drew #5, there was something in today\’s Tribune, page 3, that suggests that the preferred route just might be through the Portland Spirit property.

    Lawyers out there, isn\’t Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) the next stop on the appeals train?

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  • Cecil July 17, 2007 at 11:10 am

    Generally, the route is local government first, then LUBA, then the Court of Appeals. That is the extent of their appeals \”as of right.\” If they continue to lose through the Court of Appeals, they can petition the Oregon Supreme Court for discretionary review. The Oregon Supreme Court can choose to take the case if the justices think that their ruling will have repercussions beyond the individual parties (in other words, the Supreme Court can disagree with the result in the lower courts but still not take the case). If they get to the Oregon Supreme Court and still lose, they can petition to the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari IF they can show that there is a federal right involved – here they would most likely argue due process and takings violations under the 5th Amendment as applied to the States by the 14th Amendment. The US Supremes also have the discretion to deny the petition, even if they disagree with the lower courts. Every year the court gets thousands of petitions for cert. They grant about 80.

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  • Evan Manvel, BTA July 17, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    LUBA is the next step; appeal due August 2nd if they\’re going to appeal it. While they\’ve set aside the funds to appeal it, and probably will, it\’s a strong decision that\’s well-reasoned, so they might withdraw that application and try a third time.

    The Hearings Officer did a Dolan (Tigard bike path) analysis on the case and found the trail requirement ok under the Dolan tests. Dolan didn\’t say that you can\’t ever require paths, just that the requirement should be related to the impact of development and roughly proportional to its scale. Here, it is.

    The ruling includes an extensive analysis, something that the City and BTA and others worked hard to improve after the first SK Decision was skeptical of the evidence in the record.

    I recently posted a blog thanking the City — they\’ve done a bang-up job on this, and we\’re glad to have been able to weigh in and help the decision be a positive one.

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  • […] tip to Bike Portland] Tags: portland Related posts: No Related […]

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  • Jason July 19, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    I work for SK Northwest, we are not opposed to the trail but the city is trying to make us pay for it as well as maintain it. If the city demands we have a trail though our property then I belive they should pay for and maintain it. The other issue that no one seems to be talking about is safety. We will need to move units, trailers, forklifts, across the trail.

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  • Evan Manvel, BTA July 19, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    As a homeowner, I am required to build and maintain my sidewalk. I move my car and bikes across it. We\’re just asking developers to do what homeowners are expected to do.

    The decision found the public impacts of the new development are roughly proportional to what is being asked of the developer. We shouldn\’t have to subsidize the developer.

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  • M July 21, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    haha at the last post.

    I work for Sk as well…

    We\’re talking businesses here; not residential area. SKNW is a busy place day in and day out. There are forklifts moving around constantly restacking/stacking pallets & crates as well as 18 wheeler trucks coming in for delivery drop-offs. Now, let\’s say…what if someone on a bike comes and collides with either of these vehicles? What is going to happen? Who are the bicyclists to sue or place the blame on? SK, right?

    Sk is looking out for the interest of the public. With a trail running through the property, the risk of injuries and causes to health-related issues is high.

    The trail isn\’t even long. A bike path on the road is built and painted for a reason.

    If Portland is such a bike-friendly town, why are we going to want a bike path going through a hazardous/unsafe zone where bicyclists are prone to accidents?

    The city should be responsible for this considering that this particular property is privately owned.

    It\’s like asking Costco or some big business to build a bike path through their parking lot….who would want to do that when you got traffic going in and out constantly?

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  • wsbob July 22, 2007 at 10:37 am

    Have any ideas been conceived of that would enable SK to accomodate its needs and establish the trail as well? Anything such as rerouting (comment 17 mentions Portland Spirit property), signals, underpasses, overpasses? At the least, more of a spirit of co-operation, which seems to have been lacking on SK\’s part, would be helpful.

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  • SKiDmark July 22, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Oh C\’mon Sk employees, it\’s not like you are shooting jetski\’s out of your back door, down the boat ramp and into the water. All you would have to do is have a little courtesy and look both ways before crossing the bike path. Put a stop sign at each end of your property where the bike path intersects, and then the bikes are stopping for you. This is a waterfront and you should expect to deal with the issues of shared useage.

    There are 18 wheelers pulling in and out of the existing bike paths, and over by the entrance to Ross Island\’s property. I appreciate your concern but I assure you that us lowly bike riders can handle it. We can handle all these idiots on the road paying more attention to their phone conversations than their driving, we can handle a random forklift operator who is likely paying more attention to what he is doing than the average car driver.

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  • SKiDmark July 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    You should also consider that the tourist who rents a bike to ride up and down that bike path one day, might want to rent a jetski from you the next day.

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  • Donna July 22, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Why in the world would I want to patronize a business that clearly doesn\’t want me around?

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  • Chuck D. July 22, 2007 at 6:14 pm

    Why would I want to rent a jetski? I\’m rarely drunk, don\’t have to show off in hopes of attracting river skanks, and I am fine with the size and function of my \”junk\”.

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  • Evan Manvel July 23, 2007 at 9:30 am

    In fact, the trail would alleviate some of the conflicts with trucks in that area, by allowing cyclists to avoid several truck-traffic-heavy businesses. The trail will be on a part of the property where SK can\’t build, so it seems like your forklifts needn\’t conflict with the trail.

    Anyway, if the conflict is going to be too high, perhaps it\’s not a good place to build. Maybe your current location on Sandy Blvd is a safer place.

    Perhaps you\’re not aware of Mark Jenkins getting his bike run over, only narrowly avoiding death in 2005? Perhaps you\’ve never ridden through that industrial area. But the on-street bike area is not generally a good facility.

    My property is private, too — I don\’t understand your argument there. Should the City pay me for my sidewalk?

    Or perhaps we should agree, fine, do what you want with your property, but we\’re not going to allow you to use public roads to get there.

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