bikeways in the Rose Quarter.
(Photo © J. Maus)
Because of one powerful stakeholder, the future of a plan to improve bike access on NE Holladay Street through the Lloyd District hangs in the balance.
Last week I reported on significant progress for two of the three Lloyd District Bikeway Development projects: Crews have already begun striping the NE Wheeler Ave/Vancouver project and the Stakeholder Advisory Committee approved a plan to begin implementation of changes to the NE 12th Ave overcrossing.
But for the Holladay project — which would create a much-needed, low-stress, east-west bikeway corridor through the Lloyd District — the way forward is far from clear.
Commercial real estate firm Ashforth Pacific — who has opposed the project on grounds that it would remove on-street parking on Holladay — is now urging the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to shift its focus onto NE Multnomah.
“There was never a vote to look at Multnomah or expand the scope [of the SAC]… I don’t know why we’re talking about it.”
— SAC member
Ashforth’s opposition remains even after PBOT has worked to address their concerns and a public process to move the project forward has lasted nearly 10 months.
Ashforth surprised project staff back in May when they refused to accept the loss of any on-street parking on Holladay. Instead of picking a fight with one of Portland’s most powerful companies, PBOT went to the drawing board and figured out a way to shift parking off of Holladay and put it on NE 9th (via new diagonal parking stalls).
(Photo: Ashforth Pacific)
When that proposal debuted on Thursday morning, it was endorsed 12-1 by the project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee. The lone objector was Wade Lange, Ashforth’s VP of property management (Lange also speaks for American Assets Management, a San Diego firm that bought several of Ashforth’s Lloyd District properties back in April).
Lange told the SAC on Thursday that, following private talks with PBOT Director Tom Miller, the Lloyd Transportation Management Association (TMA) has agreed to do a detailed traffic analysis on Multnomah to see whether or not it would be feasible as a major bike route. If the volume of auto traffic is low, the idea is that Multnomah should become a candidate for significant bikeway improvements.
“Maybe we should postpone this until those counts are completed,” Lange said at the meeting.
Lange hasn’t yet made it clear what specific objections he and Ashforth have to the current Holladay proposal.
(Photo © J. Maus)
Another SAC member who wants to look at Multnomah instead of Holladay is Justin Zeulner, who represents Portland Arena Management (Rose Garden).
Zeulner told the committee that he rides east-west through the District frequently. “Will I utilize it [Holladay] as an east-west commuter on my bike? Probably not,” he shared at the meeting, “Will it get people out of their cars and onto bikes? Probably not.”
Zeulner feels that if any money is spent on a bikeway through the Lloyd District, NE Multnomah is the place to do it. In his mind, Holladay is simply too out of the way for most people and he doesn’t think it would be as popular as a bikeway on Multnomah. Reconfiguring the wide, six-lane cross section of Multnomah (which has two bike lanes and four standard vehicle lanes) would do more to enliven the District and would be a more “visionary” project than Holladay, he says.
For some SAC members, hearing Lang and Zeulner bring up Multnomah, after nearly 10 months of discussions about Holladay, was frustrating to say the least.
Scott Bricker, the private consultant hired by PBOT to steer the process, expressed his concerns at the outset of the SAC’s discussion of the project;
“My main concern is that by not taking action today, this process just sort of closes down, doesn’t move forward, and no east-west route is created through the District; which in my mind was a major priority.”
Bricker also reminded SAC members that a recent evaluation of east-west corridors through the Lloyd District found that NE Holladay Street is the best choice for a bikeway.
the main east-west bike street
through the Lloyd District.
At least one member of the SAC spoke up to say he was confused as to why Multnomah was even being discussed at all. “There was never a vote to look at Multnomah or expand the scope [of the SAC]… I don’t know why we’re talking about it.”
According to Bricker, there isn’t any money left in the contract to continue the process or to convene the SAC to look more closely at Multnomah.
“I don’t know what to say,” he told the SAC on Thursday, “except that additional process resources will have to be acquired if there’s no motion made today to move the project forward.”
At the end of the meeting, a motion was passed. The SAC voted (with the exception of Lange) to accept PBOT’s current proposal for Holladay “with further analysis needed” and only if Holladay is ultimately chosen as the preferred bike street over Multnomah.
As for that decision, PBOT Director Tom Miller confirmed with me via telephone this morning that he has had discussions with Ashforth Pacific, American Assets Trust, and Lloyd TMA Executive Director Rick Williams about the Multnomah alternative. “They’ve asked us to look at Multnomah as a possible alternative to Holladay and they’re willing to fund a traffic count analysis, so we’re looking at that.”
Whatever happens, PBOT has only allocated a meager $100,000 for these changes. That amount of money would likely only pay for new striping on Holladay. Changes to make NE Multnomah a major bikeway — by putting it on a road diet and adding a cycle track for instance — could cost several million dollars. That money hasn’t been identified and it’s not clear where it would come from.
There are many questions that remained unanswered at this time (and that I hope to answer soon): If the Multnomah analysis shows it’s not feasible for major changes, will Ashforth throw their weight behind Holladay or simply find another reason to object? If they continue to object, will PBOT move forward anyway? If Multnomah is feasible for a major bikeway project, will Ashforth and other Lloyd District businesses be willing to tax themselves to help pay for it?
Stay tuned. For background on this story, browse the Holladay Street Project story tag.
(Rick Williams from Lloyd TMA and Wade Lange of Ashforth were both contacted to comment on this story but did have yet to return my calls.)
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“If Multnomah is feasible for a major bikeway project, will Ashforth and other Lloyd District businesses be willing to tax themselves to help pay for it?”
Though I am impressed that they’re going to pay for the traffic count. I don’t know how much that costs, but since they asked for it, it makes some sense that they’d pay for it.
The SAC members who are confused and concerned about why Multnomah is coming up now are the ones who have the essence of it, I think. Hijacking a public process by going along with it until the end, without any intent of supporting it unless impossible compromises are made, is a behavior that a city spending significant resources on public process, such as Portland, simply can’t tolerate. It wastes time, money, momentum, and other valuable resources to ensure that nothing will change.
If major stakeholders can’t accept something (and I still don’t understand why that’s the case here, but that’s a different issue), they need to be upfront about it and make sure that the process is focused on something that they can actually support. If not, they are acting in bad faith and wasting everyone’s time and money, including their own.
Ashforth doesn’t own the parking spaces in front of its buildings any more than the rest of us. Would this decision require a unanimous vote? Since all but Ashforth voted in favor it would seem not, so why are we (taxpayers) paying for the delays, past and anticipated)?
Do Ashforth even pay property taxes? Sometimes those big guys find ways around that, or the City convinces itself to offer incentives to get employers like them to come/not leave bla bla.
I don’t get it. Multnomah lacks places – it’s mostly just vast stretches of surface parking lots and parking garages – that will take decades to redevelop if there’s even the market for it. Holladay has storefronts in place that are already oriented to street level services because of the MAX. It makes a lot more sense to put the bikeway there – get even more bodies that are likely to stop off at those businesses etc.
No, you get it, they don’t. It is about connecting places that people use, as much as a corridor. And with all the parking you mention, it seems like they are setting cyclists up for a bad outcome.
It is interesting that the Executive Director Rick Williams is and has always been so against this project. It seems that this project is exactly what the Lloyd TMA should be doing.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Rick Williams also owns a parking consulting company (ran and operated from within the LTMA office utilizing tax exempt resources). If I was Rick I would keep my head down before drawing too much attention. I sure wouldn’t want to be audited and cause the LTMA to lose it’s tax free status as a Non-profit.
But that is just me.
“Possibly related posts
…The end of the Clown House”
That about sums it up.
This is crap. Folks shouldn’t be able to block progress unless they’re willing to put up the $$ to make their proposal possible. 12-1 should be good enough to make this happen. I’m disapointed in this decision
Seriously. This isn’t a capital punishment case. How is a 12-1 vote not acceptable? In what world would you seriously expect 13 people with varying interests to all agree on a project of this nature?
It’s not acceptable because PBOT likes to maintain a track record of full support on projects like this. It’s also important that the 1 “No” vote is coming from Ashforth Pacific. It would be different if the sole opposition was coming from Joe Citizen. The fact is politics and power are very important and influential in these situations.
The way I interpret this is that PBOT has simply calculated that it’s a larger political risk to fight Ashforth than to fight the people who want the change. Until those tables are turned it will be very difficult to move forward with any major transpo projects in Portland that significantly alter the status quo of auto-centric development.
That’s why I’ve been saying we need bold political leadership or bold civic/advocacy leadership to step up and give PBOT/City Hall the breathing room to challenge folks like Ashforth.
in a world in which decisions are made by consensus. but in that world, ashforth would not block unless it had a principled reason that went to the heart of what the consensus process was about. here they don’t. so even in that imagined consensus based world, you would not have this holdout.
Wow this is really frustrating.
Multnomah will not be as good a street for a cycle track. There are many more complications with driveways, parking structure entrances, and parking in general, not to mention the traffic, busses, and smaller sidewalks (more pedestrians encroaching).
I commute through the area daily and was ecstatic when I saw the plans. A dedicated bike facility is exactly what the Lloyd district needs. Would I use NE Holliday as an East-West route? ABSOLUTELY. Does Justin Zeulner have some secret bike path he uses that is better?
Sad to see a well supported and promising project like this get stopped because of one vocal and rich group that is addicted to parking.
“Zeulner told the committee that he rides east-west through the District on his bike every day. “Will I utilize it [Holladay] as an east-west commuter on my bike? Probably not,” he shared at the meeting, “Will it get people out of their cars and onto bikes? Probably not.””
This quote is really really bothering me.
According to the Bike Commute Challenge stats Zeulner made 8.5 trips in the last month:
I understand that he may not have recorded his daily trips, but I am skeptical.
That was my mistake. I re-read my notes from the meeting and Zeulner didn’t say he rode his bike every day… but that he did so often. I’ve edited the story.
PBOT, please move forward anyway. It’s clear stalwarts are just dragging the process on as long as they can to keep it from happening at all.
I am confused: Isn’t there a certain process that the project is adhering to? Such as:”You can submitted concerns etc. until and then we vote on it” and that’s it? If they don’t have something like that, why not?
Lots of people are confused mabsf.
The thing is, the SAC process isn’t anywhere near as formal as City Council or some other body where votes are binding and there’s a strict schedule adhered to. Truth is the SAC is simply advisory and it only holds as much power as PBOT lets it hold.
But Ashforth Pacific’s giant parking lot needs to have on-street parking to serve it.
If we are going to do it, lets do it right. Fine if you are going to do it on Multnomah, I’d prefer Holladay but not if its so compromised, but which ever it is do it RIGHT. These need to be attractive to all riders and well designed to be comfortable to use and minimize conflicts. I’m tired of sh**ty bike lane projects that come out of endless compromise to every NIMBY and as a result few use which only gives bike infrastructure in Portland a black eye.
I’m new to Portland (2 months now) and not knowing who/what Ashforth Pacific was, I followed the link provided in the article. Ironically, on their website (in a section called “Ethics”) there is a quote from the founder: “Ethics is individual business behavior that puts the stamp of public approval on a collective organization.” I wonder how the individual behavior of stonewalling a clearly publicly approved project fits within their own stated ethics. Perhaps Mr. Lange needs to read his own company website…
Thanks for the explanation, Jonathan!
It worries me though: It seems that this is the 2nd bike project that gets derailed in a late stage. Are problems perhaps not handled by the right agencies?
Ashforth Pacific has some very nice quasi-public but fairly under-utilized private park spaces on their property along Holladay. Perhaps they need to be “occupied” in the spirit of the various “Occupy’ demos.
I mean, with Ashford’s calculated late-game obstruction of a public good, they are essentially occupying Holladay street, declaring it part of their fief.
I’m not sure how many parking spaces we’re talking about here (nor the cost, if any, of parking there) but off the top of head, here’s on idea:
we organize enough folks willing to drive to these spots in the morning before work and then bike/MAX the rest of the way in. Fellow organizers help decorate the cars parked in participation of the “Drive-In” in such a way to single out Ashford’s bad faith and poor attempts at neighborliness.
It’ll be a “Drive-In to Support Safe Access for All.”
Holladay is the perfect answer to connecting the upcoming Sullivan’s Gulch trail to the Steel Bridge… they shouldn’t even be considering this plea from Wade… Holladay is low traffic and has hardly any parking… it’s already a transportation corridor due to the MAX.
That’s the key point that seems to be left out, here. Did anyone at the meeting mention the future Sullivan’s Gulch trail? Holladay is an essential piece, as it is unlikely due to ROW issues and hillside stability that they will be able to squeeze the trail between the hill and the UP tracks through the Lloyd district.
We need this connection. Multnomah will not work.
Yes, the Sullivan’s Gulch was discussed. When that project matures to the point of needing to get onto Holladay, it will happen. But that issue seemed to be beyond the scope of this process.
One thing I learned recently is that the future Sullivan’s Gulch will actually be on Holladay starting at 13th…. So it seems the Ashforth opposition will have to be dealt with then if not now.
“the SAC is simply advisory and it only holds as much power as PBOT lets it hold.”
Dear PBOT, please stop bending over backwards to satisfy 100% of Portlanders. You can not. You are the professionals. Do what’s best, even when it means saying, “thank you for your opinion, good day.”
Buy-in is costing all of us.
In this particular case, you have done more than your share of due diligence. Get on with it, please.
Multnomah may continue to work for some people but the volume of incursions, higher traffic speed, bus conflicts and multiple lanes make it a poor choice in building a network of lower speed, lower volume streets for human transport which was the purpose of this circle jerk in the first place.
How about this: just rename the frickin street from Holladay to LangeZeulner Ave. There. Done. Next.
Encouraging government to ignore adjacent property owners in a public works project is a dangerous precedent.
Disagreeing is not the same as ignoring.
I work with people who like to prevent projects from getting work done. This sort of BS is SOP from the obstructionist manual.
They do it all the time for other transit projects. Even if it sometimes requires levelling entire neighborhoods:
How is PBOT setting a dangerous precedent by re-designing a public right of way, even though it pisses off ONE adjacent property owner. One owner that won’t lose any land or parking over the deal.
All the time? Your example was 50 years ago. And it was a freeway, not a transit project.
They are a huge property owner in this area. Why are people surprised they have so much influence?
Portland streetcar, any MAX line ever built, CRC, I-205, 2-17, etc, etc. I agree that we need to involve people, but there is a point where it gets ridiculous to expect everyone to agree.
They ‘were’ huge property owners (all parking lots), but they recently sold off of their property except 1 have block to a SD company for redevelopment.
Enough is enough. I understand the political game, but once in a while reason needs to prevail. Is that asking too much?
To heck with public participation and just build it.
They haven’t been ignored. The fact that they are being obstinate and essentially just stalling the project shouldn’t give them veto power forever. It looks like they have deliberately blocked the project.
It would be nice to see NE Multnomah cut down to 3 lanes (one through lane in each direction, plus a center turn lane). I realize several mall parking lots access from there, but the street doesn’t need to carry that much traffic since it duplicates NE Broadway/Weidler which is 3-4 lanes in each direction!
NE Holladay needs additional bike signals at each intersection for westbound traffic, so I doubt that can be accomplished for just $100,000. Have Ashforth cough up some money to help offset the cost of retrofitting Multnomah. Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea?
I bike to/from work daily thru here and I support Ashforth Pacific’s point of view here. Multnomah is a better route in the long run. both routes would require much more money than is currently on the table so I don’t expect PDOT to get much done for a while,
This might be a good picture to include in the article:
Really gives you a perspective on the historic conditions of this area.
I wasn’t sure what to do to advocate for this project from the article, so I emailed Sam Adams. Does anyone know if there any more appropriate venues for input?
Multnomah is a big, wide, ugly street that has very little traffic. Perhaps it should have been looked at sooner, but maybe better late than never. I ride Holladay a good bit of the time and long ago suggested it become a real Bikeway. The problem with Multnomah for bikes is the numerous bus routes.
A trade off might be to reduce the # of lanes on Multnomah and put on street parking back there to replace parking lost on Holladay. OR do a real cycle track between sidewalk and parking on Multnomah with bus stops in the parking strip and leave Holladay alone until Sullivans Gulch Trail comes along.
“…Lange hasn’t yet made it clear what specific objections he and Ashforth have to the current Holladay proposal. …” maus/bikeportland
Get Lange to talk. The company or companies he represents seem to be the big dogs in this process. The city obviously doesn’t want to ignore them, upset them and risk losing investment and potential tax revenue their businesses present and future, may produce. So get Lange to talk (or a good spy.), because he’s probably got the inside scoop on plans in the works to which the street configuration for Holladay St would be important.
This is a really important project, and if PBOT goes forward with it, it could really revitalize a mostly deserted thoroughfare save for the Trimet riders. Any business-savvy investor or property owner should be doing jumping jacks over this project’s potential to bring more life to Holladay.
This is part of the point actually — Holladay’s *not* a dead area. There are street level businesses (J’s Cafe being just one), a twice weekly farmer’s market and summer concert series at Oregon Square, at least two parks…
Holladay is already almost a perfect bikeway. It boggles my mind that anyone would think Multnomah would be better. No doubt I’ll go out of my way to ride Multnomah it’s so lovely and safe, especially during the Holiday shopping season.
The key task in the Lloyd District is the conversion of entire blocks of employee parking lots (adjacent MAX and bus) to more useful and productive purposes. Changes to the bike/ped/transit/motor vehicle picture should be based on that.
It will be interesting to see if Streetcar can bring is development mojo to Lloyd. It needs it.
Dang html closing tags.
I am a bike commuter who works in Lloyd District and I was on the SAC that approved great improvements to 12th. Ashforth came into the Holladay discussion late in the game wanting a review of Multnomah even AFTER the SAC had moved forward with pursuing Holladay as the most viable, complete option for Lloyd District. Multnomah works, it seems Ashforth seeks this action only to unravel what gains have been made for Multnomah – all for the gain of MORE vehicle parking on Multnomah. Takes us backward rather than forward. People will bike when it is SAFE and viable option to driving. This is what is being pursued on Holladay.