Help fund trails in our parks; speak up for higher SDCs

Posted by on October 25th, 2007 at 11:00 am

Buckman Elem. bike safety class

A Buckman Elementary School student
rides in Laurelhurst Park.
(Photo © Jonathan Maus)

System Development Charges (SDCs) are one-time fees assessed on new development that go towards paying for impacts of that new development on things like our roads and access to city parks.

Back in August, I shared that some bike projects were eligible for this funding mechanism.

Now, it’s our city parks that need support.

According to Bob Sallinger, conservation director for Portland Audubon, Portland Parks’ current SDCs cover only 25% of park costs associated with servicing new development. He says that’s one of the lowest parks SDCs rates of any city in the region.

City Commissioner Dan Saltzman
, who oversees Portland’s parks and recreation department, wants to bump the parks SDC rate up from 25% to 75%.

Starting this week, Portland Parks & Recreation is holding a series of important public meetings on this issue. The results of these meetings will help determine whether developers adequately pays for the costs incurred to increase access to parks as a result of their developments.

Local parks advocates say Saltzman’s SDCs proposal is “a crucial funding issue”. They estimate that SDCs alone could be the catalyst to fund land acquisitions for 8.5 to 14 miles of new parks trails.

There are a variety of ways to make City decision-makers aware of your support of Parks SDCs. Please consider attending one of the public hearings (listed below). It will be particularly important to pack the City Council hearing on December 12th.

Here are the details for the upcoming meetings:

    Thursday, October 25, 7:00-8:30 pm
    East Portland Community Center
    740 SE 106th Ave

    Monday, November 5, 7:00-8:30 pm
    Southwest Community Center
    6820 SW 45th Ave

    Thursday, November 8, 6:00-7:30 pm
    Matt Dishman Community Center
    77 NE Knott St

    Friday, November 16, Noon-2:00 pm
    The Portland Building, Room C
    1120 SW 5th Ave

    City Hall Hearing
    Wednesday, December 12, 2007, 9:30 am

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Matthew Grumm
Matthew Grumm

Thank you for posting this information. The December 12th hearing at City Council is important. The Time Certain is actually 2pm on the 12th and it will start promptly.


Will additional fees equate to additional single track or a skills park? For now, the majority of the park system is off-limits to mountain bikes. Fire lane 5 is a good collaborative start, but why should support more park land we can not use?

A plan that is inclusive of more local mountain bikeing would certainly get my support.


The Willamette Greenway bikepath trail is currently unimproved, and leads to Willamette Park on the riverfront. Given all the mnassive, massive amounts of new south waterfront development going on right now at the current trailhead on Moody Ave, this could have interesting potential perhaps.


Hmm, first Sam\’s plan to implement Street Maintenance Fees (SMFs) and now increased SDC\’s. Give me a break. The SMF\’s + SDC\’s = double taxation on business owners. Every issue in this town is \”crical\” to someone, but we can\’t fund them all. Seems like the only way to fund everyone\’s pet projects is to continue to raise taxes and develoment fees on businesses. It is time to stop raising taxes on businesses and take a step back so that we can look at whole picture; schools, infrastructure, fire, police and and all the other things the government provides.

Jim Labbe

Park SDCs for trails are critical in leveraging additional regional, state, and federal dollars for new trails/multi-use paths beyond what is needed to just service new growth ( e.g. the Parks 2020 Vision from 1999 calls for 150 new miles of trails by 2020)So Parks estimate of 8 to 14 miles of new trail by 2020 from new park SDC funds really understates the contribution of park SDCs for trails. Park SDCs seed more funds for many more trail miles than they actually build with the funds.

Jim Labbe


Jim Labbe is correct regarding the critical role of system development charge funds and trails.

I have prepared many of the state or regional trail grant applications for PP&R in the past 7 years. They all require 10% to sometimes 50% local match. At times a higher match makes it more likely that the project is funded.

Projects on which we currently walk or ride that have used SDC funds in just the last 7 year period:
– Springwater Three Bridges
– Springwater Repaving 82-92nd
– Kelley Point Park trails
– Forest Park Ridge Trail

Coming in the next few years:
– Columbia Slough Trail PIR to MLK (1st portion)
– Marine Drive Trail I-205 to 122nd, other gaps depending on cost
– Springwater Sellwood Gap
– Waud Bluff Trail
– Willamette Greenway South Waterfront Central District
– Columbia Slough Trail between Marine Drive & Kelley Point Park, including canoe launch

SDC also provided the match for the Red Electric Trail Planning Study and the forthcoming Sullivan\’s Gulch Trail Planning Study. As the Metro Natural Areas Bond Measure secures needed trail easements, even more trail construction could be done if substantial matches or even full project funding were available.

Gregg S. Everhart
Portland Parks and Recreation.