Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 22nd, 2011 at 4:27 pm
Portland City Council voted 5-0 this morning to grant a temporary permit that will turn one block of SW (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues) into a carfree street. The ordinance passed with an “emergency” clause which means it goes into effect immediately.
On Monday, Fritz detailed changes she wanted to see in the proposal before she’d be willing to vote in favor of it. Specifically she wanted public seating to be installed, potentially a lane for pass-through bike traffic, and a report at the end of the pilot to assess how well it worked.
Despite Fritz’s concerns, the ordinance (PDF here) passed this morning with the “emergency” clause put back on (Fritz’s concerns led to the emergency being lifted last week) and without any changes from its original form. (We’ve asked Fritz’s office for comment and will update the story when we hear back. *Scroll down for update*)
Businesses on the street have agreed to compensate PBOT $5,000 for lost parking meter revenue and any other fees associated with the new arrangement.
The permit turns the entire width of SW Ankeny into a “Sidewalk Cafe” and expires November 1st. Biking and walking traffic will still have access to six-foot sidewalks on either side of the tables and chairs (and take note: riding a bike on the sidewalk in that location is against the law).
We’re awaiting a response from PBOT as to when to expect a grand opening of the newly carfree street.
*UPDATE: I’ve heard back from Commissioner Fritz. Here’s how she explains her vote:
“I voted for the temporary closure ordinance, with the emergency clause, because of the significant efforts to collaborate over the past week between the business owners, Sisters of the Road representatives, and my office. Chani Geigle-Teller, Sisters staff, emailed me at 9:26 p.m. on Tuesday, saying in part,
“we are pleased with the new level of relationship with these business owners, PBOT and especially with you and your office. We respectfully ask that you recommend reinstating the emergency ordinance and voting to allow the ordinance to pass and be enacted immediately. Please use this opportunity to share that these partnerships have been created in good faith and we will continue to act in the best interest of our community. We hope the businesses move forward in this way too.”
I appreciated the gracious response of all parties, including Mayor Adams who agreed to put the emergency back on. I found most of the comments on BikePortland remarkably thoughtful and helpful, too. And as the designated Council lead for the Sharing Public Spaces Advisory Committee, I can and will lead public discussion of the project and invite City staff to report on it after the pilot, without having to change the temporary closure ordinance to require such review. I’m glad this project has sparked thought and conversation about use of the public realm, and I hope it is successful for all.