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City Council extends carfree SW Ankeny permit through January 2012

Posted by on October 14th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Carfree SW Ankeny-10

Carfree SW Ankeny.
(Photo © J. Maus)

On Wednesday, the Portland City Council decided to extend the temporary permit for a carfree SW Ankeny Street between SW 2nd and 3rd Avenues through January 31st of next year.

The project is supported by adjacent businesses, who have agreed to pay the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) for lost parking meter revenue. The initial permit was granted on June 20th and was set to expire on November 1st.

“The business owners agree that the summer pilot program has been good for business.”
— City Council ordinance

As our report and photos showed back in August, business owners on the street have set up picnic benches and umbrellas on the street in order to serve more customers. According to the official ordinance passed by Council Wednesday, “The business owners agree that the summer pilot program has been good for business.”

Many people have been less than enthused by the project because of the large, clunky, wooden picnic benches that are roped off and dominate the street. To pass through the space, you must use one of the narrow sidewalks.

Apparently, the business owners have heard public feedback. The ordinance says the street has been good for business, “however, they [business owners] are striving to make changes to provide a more interesting and interactive feel to the space.”

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

  • peejay October 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Good news all around. hopefully, someone who’s been to Europe can redesign the layout, and make it into a more inviting space. We need more like this, so I’m glad it’s doing well.

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  • Jim Labbe October 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Perhaps someday it will be driving in public rights-of-way that will require a temporary permit.

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  • Bill October 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    They need to put the tables on the sidewalk and let the bikes/peds use the street, or kill this program. As you can see from Johnathan’s photo, there is even less sidewalk space now than there was before. That is some seriously cheap rent these businesses are paying.

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    • Spiffy October 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      might be cheap rent, not sure how cheap it is to pay for the parking meter revenue…

      Jonathan, did they say how much the businesses had to pay to offset the parking revenue?

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    • jon October 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      unfortunately there is a curb preventing that. how about you demount your bike and walk it through this pedestrian space instead of having a motorist mentality of every street being a fast thru way?

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      • noah October 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm

        Jon, the idea many were sold on for Ankeny was one of a a carfree public space, kind of like a pedestrian mall. But the street has turned out to be a private outdoor seating area for nearby restaurants, with less public space than there was before the closure. It may be this discrepancy that motivates Bill’s comment.

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      • wsbob October 15, 2011 at 1:00 am

        Placed end-wise against the buildings, the tables would just fit within the width of the sidewalk. The full width of the street would then be wide open for customers and wait staff to access the tables, and for people on foot and bike to leisurely travel the street.

        Would the OLCC’s perspective on this arrangement be that the table still would need to be roped off from the public throughway area? Don’t know, but having one end of the tables not freely accessible would certainly seem to make them more secure, in terms of concern over minors potential access to alcohol served to customers at the tables.

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  • Dabby October 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I like how since the businesses are making more money off of it, it is being extended.
    Regardless of the obvious issues.
    Regardless of the fact that it cuts off a key street downtown.
    Regardless of the dislike for it by many.

    Money Money money is all they care about it seems. No what the public thinks…

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    • sabes October 14, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      Key street downtown? Are you serious???

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      • Dabby October 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm

        Yes, I am serious.

        KEY STREET….

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson October 14, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Strange, but how is it that the car-free streets I have encountered in Europe are so inviting while this experiment is so off-putting. A guess thanks for the ropes and restrictions go to that Prohibition hangover called the OLCC. Sad.

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    • oliver October 14, 2011 at 3:12 pm

      Yeah the ropes have to go. Sidewalk tables at other bars aren’t roped off. OLCC are you listening? Your 1183 is coming.

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  • Rebecca October 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I think that since the original lease was only for a few months, the businesses weren’t willing to make a huge investment in design and materials.

    With a longer-term arrangement now in the works, I would think the businesses would be happy to consider ways to improve upon their summer trial design.

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  • dan October 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I don’t imagine there will be many customers who want to sit out there once it starts raining…they’d do a lot better with sidewalk tables and awnings.

    Like others, I’m no fan of the current implementation — the street is no more attractive for pedestrians to walk through than when it was open to cars.

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  • Joe Suburban October 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Yesterday morning, while walking through, I saw some meth residue on a table – sweet!
    Besides, this little street is a nice shortcut without traffic between 2nd and 3rd, without having to cross Burnside. Get rid of those ugly tables, or make decent ones and place them in 1 row in the middle!

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  • Hart Noecker October 15, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Those OLCC ropes, what exactly are they supposed to do, exactly? Am I suddenly a criminal if I consume booze on one side of that rope and not the other? Is this seriously how we treat adults, or is this an absurd, childish regulation holding back public space progress?

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    • wsbob October 15, 2011 at 1:38 pm

      The ropes are there to indicate designated areas for alcohol consumption by adults. It’s illegal to serve alcohol to people under the age of 21, or for them to consume it on a businesses property.


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  • Greg October 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I think the ropes and the posts used to hold them need to be moved into the street.
    Or, if a case of sanity breaks out in Salem, the silly ropes go away.

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  • Jane October 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    RAD! This is such a cool thing for Portland. Not sure why everyone is so negative, especially since this is the first car-free street in downtown Portland. Of course, some ideas will work and others won’t, but you can fault them for being part of a really cool and progressive project. Lastly, I think the picnic tables are perfect and super Portland. Why would we want to look identical to European cities, lets keep our unique style!

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    • noah October 22, 2011 at 10:15 am

      You could put a nice layer of astroturf down in the street too…

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