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PCC Cascade eyes multi-level parking garage on Michigan Ave

Posted by on October 26th, 2011 at 10:10 am

PCC has determined that the
corner of Michigan and Killingsworth
would be the best location for a
multi-story parking garage.
(Photo © J. Maus)

Portland Community College’s Cascade campus is considering the construction of a four-story parking garage on the northeast corner of N Michigan and Killingsworth. The project is part of district-wide expansion plans funded by a $374 million bond measure passed by voters in 2008.

While some neighborhood residents are alarmed at the potential impacts of a parking garage — especially its alignment along the bicycle boulevard planned for Michigan Ave — PCC officials say that the structure is not a done deal and they still might not have build it.

PCC Cascade presented their plans for $60 million in expansion plans to the community at recent meetings. Based on sources at those meetings, the two options being presented both include a four-story parking structure on the corner of Michigan and Killingsworth. In a blog post back in July, PCC said stakeholders had “zeroed” in on options for the expansion — both of which included the parking garage.

This drawing of possible PCC expansion plans is one of two made public that show the parking garage (blue building) in the same location (corner of Killingsworth and Michigan)

The parking garage has raised concerns from people who live near the campus and who ride bicycles nearby. As we reported back in July, Michigan Ave is slated for neighborhood greenway treatment by the Bureau of Transportation in the coming months, and the addition of a multi-level parking garage could dramatically increase the auto traffic volumes on that street (not to mention the impact the structure might have on Killingsworth, a street that’s struggling for an identity).

Brian Borrello, a Portland artist and board member of the Piedmont Neighborhood Association said he’s concerned, not only with potential negative impacts of a multi-level parking garage, but also with what he feels has been a “minimal” level of outreach from PCC. When he shared the plans with his neighbors who live just a few blocks away (and whom are generally well-informed people), Borrello says they “kind of freaked out.”

“I think Killingsworth deserves a better, more walkable, main street experience.”
— Brian Borrello, Land Use Co-Chair of Piedmont Neighborhood Association

“I think Killingsworth deserves a better, more walkable, main street experience,” Says Borrello, “and that comes with good design in scale with the neighborhood.” He points to one of PCC’s existing, street-level buildings on the corner of Albina and Killingsworth as the basis for his concerns. “The art department building is very inward facing and does nothing to help make the street more vibrant.”

PCC officials say they have a huge demand for auto parking at their Cascade campus, with over 450 people parking on neighborhood streets. A recent transportation survey revealed that 22% of students and staff park on surface streets at the Cascade campus, versus about 7% district-wide (they have three other campuses in the region). The Cascade campus also has the highest rate of bicycling (by far) with 10% of students, faculty and staff arriving by bike.

PCC officials say their hands are tied due to the City of Portland’s parking code which requires a minimum number of auto parking spots. They also say many neighbors complain about all the cars from PCC that park on local streets.

“The college isn’t interested in spending $30,000 a space for a parking garage,” says Gina Whitehill-Baziuk with PCC’s Bond Program. “We would much prefer to put that money into classrooms, but we want to be responsible to the community who’s saying they don’t want cars in their streets.”

Whitehill-Baziuk says that in tandem with the parking garage plans, advisory committees and consultants are working to determine transportation demand management (TDM) strategies that might result in more trips to the campus by bike, foot, and transit. If the TDM strategies can provide enough assurance that a parking structure isn’t necessary, she says they may not have to build it.

“Can the community and the college figure out a way to increase the ways people get to the area? If we can’t, the City is going to require that we do something.”

Whitehill-Baziuk says the parking structure in the plans simply shows where it would be located if it was ever built and acknowledged that, “it is in the college’s best interest and the neighborhood’s best interest to not build one.”

Another Bond Program spokesperson, Christine Egan, also said the parking garage isn’t a done deal. “It’s always been a part of the planning sessions because everyone acknowledged that parking and access is an issue… We want to make access easy.”

“The parking garage is part of that discussion,” says Egan, “both whether it’s constructed at all and if so, at what size. Obviously, if we can be more successful with TDM strategies that means we may not have to provide or build as large of a garage.”

While PCC Bond Program officials say the parking garage isn’t finalized, it hasn’t quelled concerns of Borrello and other neighbors. “Maybe it’s not cemented,” says Borrello, “but it’s looming large in their plans.”

PCC is set to present more about their expansion plans — including an update on the fate of the parking garage — at a meeting of the Piedmont Neighborhood Association tomorrow night at 7:00 at the Peninsula Park Community Center.

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9watts
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9watts

How many shuttle buses/vans (and the cost to operate them) would $60M buy? The ‘we’d rather not put the money toward a parking garage – we’d rather build class rooms’ logic escapes me. Classrooms aren’t an alternative to the problem the parking garage is meant to address. 10% commute by bike is nice, but what kind of infrastructure changes would up that to 20% or 30%?

Let’s also look forward. How long will a parking garage, or any car-only facility be useful? How many years until we can’t afford the gas to drive and park in that hunk of concrete? How else could we spend the $60M that would have a longer useful life?

Lenny Anderson
Guest

A parking structure would be a very poor use of bond funds approved by voters for class rooms. If built, PCC will lose my Yes vote on future bond issues.
Some questions: Does PCC offer discounted transit passes to all staff and students? What %? How much are they spending to operate their shuttle buses…some of which run parallel to TriMet service? How much do they charge for a parking permit? Are there restrictions on PCC staff/students parking in the neighborhood? Are they enforced?
PCC should look at what has been done at OHSU and PSU to solve their “parking problem.” Parking in residental streets can be reduced with a city permit program. PCC and the City of Portland can do better that a massive auto storage facility in the heart of NE Portland where substantial investments have been made in bike and transit options.

Allan
Guest
Allan

They could just point the ingress/egress from the garage away from Michigan. It doesn’t have to be a bikeway-destroyer. I agree with the comments about not wanting to build it and taking away street-frontage. Perhaps ground-floor retail space could be included in the garage itself.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Ridiculous. Total failure of the bond process and city regulations. Parking minimums (which should not exist in the first place), should not apply to schools. Students are much more likely to bike or use transit.

David
Guest
David

I used to live in a house that fronted the PCC campus on Commercial, and it’s worth mentioning that on-street metered parking in the area is scarce. I believe there is a Residential Parking Zone established in the area, but not very strictly enforced. My roommate occasionally had “citations” placed on her scooter, but it always said to disregard the citation if she wasn’t affiliated with PCC. It seems like something beyond the honor system might have better results, as would a more comprehensive parking management program for the neighborhood.

andy
Guest
andy

Jonathan,
Could you clarify something, please? You reference the Piedmont Neighborhood Association several times in your post. However, PCC Cascade is in the Humboldt Neighborhood, not Piedmont, so I am not surprised that PCC hasn’t been as active with their outreach to Piedmont. I know (as a Humboldt resident) that the Humboldt Neighborhood Association has been very active in dealing with PCC.

Oliver
Guest
Oliver

“are working to determine..strategies that might result in more trips to the campus by bike, foot, and transit”

Simple. Subsidize transit passes and charge market rates for parking, instead of the other way around.

just thinking
Guest
just thinking

Parking garages can be built into the ground leaving the above ground space useful for other neighborhood amenities.

Ben Guernsey
Guest
Ben Guernsey

This seems to be between a rock and a hard place.

Adding a parking structure will not reduce the number of cars in the area, but it will give them a central congregation point. I’d argue people not driving around a few blocks for a spot is positive and so is home owners not parking blocks away. And if engineered right so the entrance is somewhere with the least amount of back ups, slow speeds and good visibility it could be an asset. Rather than one big above ground parking garage what about a mix of parking underground and facilities above ground? Either way better a parking garage in a dense area than paving a huge lot. I am in more favor of building up and not out.

Overall it just shows how expensive cars and their parking spaces are. How cost effective would it be if PCC invested in better bike facilities? How many secure bike spots and locker facilities could you put in compared to 30k a pop for a car?

Sigma
Guest
Sigma

There are no minimum parking requirements if the site is within 500 feet o a transit line with 20 minute peak headways. Line 72 on killingsworth certainly meets that standard. Therefore any contention that the city is requiring this parking is BS.

See city code 33.266.110.B.3

Ted Buehler
Guest

Ugh. Two thumbs down.

How about some serious end-of-trip facility improvements for bicyclists? A bike shop in a high profile location like PSU?

There are state-of-the-art Transportation Demand Management mechanisms to enable users to switch to alternative transportation and reduce car parking needs …

Ted Buehler

Spiffy
Guest
Spiffy

encouraging college students to drive a car is not wise for many reasons…

they need to work on better active transportation options… there seems to be a good network of mass-transit nearby as well…

andy
Guest
andy

As a neighborhood resident who lives immediately across the street from one of the parking lots at PCC Cascade, I support a parking structure – with several stipulations. First, the parking structure must include commercial ground-level development along Killingsworth. Second, there absolutely must be better multi-modal access to the campus, and this includes minimizing conflicts with the Neighborhood Greenway on Michigan. Third, steps must be taken to force PCC students to either pay for their parking privileges or find another mode of transportation; this would include strict permit parking on neighborhood streets.

On the first stipulation, PCC is going to need parking, regardless. All the current parking is composed of surface lots, which is a terribly inefficient use of space and does nothing to improve the neighborhood. I would much rather see a multi-level parking garage with ground floor commercial area and fewer surface parking lots than the status quo. In addition, PCC has indicated that they intend to improve the commercial district along Killingsworth; I think they realize that they really screwed up the relationship of the campus to the neighborhood with the last couple of bonds, and want to help develop that part of the neighborhood for non-academic uses. I believe the current plan does call for removal of surface parking in favor of at least one academic building, as well as the parking structure, so I believe that is a net gain for the neighborhood.

On the second point: multi-modal improvements must be done in concert with the City. At present there are no continuous east-west alternatives to Alberta, Killingsworth, or Ainsworth. There are no through roads between Alberta and Killingsworth because of Jefferson High School, and there are no through roads between Killingsworth and Ainsworth because of PCC and the existing road grid. Of the three arterials, Ainsworth is the most bike-friendly, but it doesn’t have a bike lane. The City missed an opportunity when they “improved” the Killingsworth streetscape several years ago, but did not include any bike lanes east of Michigan. In short, it’s difficult to get to the PCC campus (and Jefferson, for that matter) by bike, even if you wanted to. The City needs to help PCC in that regard. On the other hand, PCC needs to help by proactively encouraging biking – especially via Michigan and Williams/Vancouver – and needs to help identify better routes in and around campus. They also need to work to minimize bike-car and pedestrian-car conflicts to the greatest extent possible. As far as transit is concerned, the campus is pretty well served by the #4 and the #72 buses, so that’s not so bad. However, the fact remains that PCC is a commuter college, and the other two main campuses (Sylvania and Rock Creek) are not as well served by transit. There is a shuttle, but the shuttle would need to run every 10-15 minutes for it to be an attractive alternative to driving in between the campuses. (Also, with regard to the Michigan greenway: When I spoke with the architect and one of the PCC bond managers at an open house last summer, they were not aware of the City’s plans for a neighborhood greenway along Michigan. I was told by someone else at PCC that the campus fully supported the greenway, but that information did not apparently make it to the designers.)

Third: the neighborhood does need a hard permit system. The current permit system consists of stickers on the windshields of residents’ cars, but there is no formal means of getting a sticker, no signage on neighborhood streets, and PCC is responsible for parking enforcement (which typically happens a few times at the beginning of terms and only occasionally thereafter). Without real consequences for parking in the neighborhood, students are going to continue to park wherever they can. In addition, PCC needs to provide incentives to staff to use non-motorized transportation, similar to what OHSU has done. This will also help to alleviate the parking load on the campus.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I fully support this. As a PCC student that drives to campus 75% and bikes 25%, the additional parking would certainly benefit me. The additional income from the structure would help offset the cost.

Fred
Guest
Fred

If PCC builds a parking garage at Cascade campus, then every voter in the PCC district who cares about sustainability and stewardship will have ample reason to vote “No” in any future bond campaign. PCC abuses the good will of the voters and taxpayers when it uses OUR TAX DOLLARS to fund ventures like a parking garage that will only encourage bad transportation choices in future. Voters gave PCC $374 million of our tax dollars (check your recent tax bill and look for “PCC bond”) and now PCC wants to spend $30,000 PER CAR so people can spew toxins and carbon in the atmosphere while they speed through North Portland? Cascade campus is supposed to be PCC’s showcase “urban campus,” well-served by public transit (including MAX less than a mile away) and shuttle buses. And now they say they NEED to build an ugly parking structure? I thought PCC was committed to sustainability (see their web site – it’s practically all they talk about).

This is PCC’s chance to put OUR money where their mouth is. Find ways to start living all of the “sustainability” rhetoric you say you care so much about. Build a cycling center on campus that will become a showcase for the region. Make it so pleasant and convenient to bike to campus that no one will think of arriving any other way. Expand the shuttle bus services so it’s possible to park in a satellite lot and ride or cycle to campus. Increase the number of subsidized transit passes. There simply has to be a better way than building a parking garage – a truly 1950s solution for a 2020s problem.

Andrew N
Guest
Andrew N

…kind of surprised that the subject of a streetcar extension up MLK to the Killingsworth MAX station via PCC hasn’t come up at all in this discussion. That idea was proposed as part of the Streetcar System Plan.

Either way, a 4-level parking garage right on Killingsworth is a terrible idea from an urban design standpoint.

Robert
Guest
Robert

PCC is using taxpayer bond money to plan this parking lot. Students pay to park, and it’s a huge cash cow. Why spend money on teachers when a parking lot brings in cash?

suggestion: Tax the behavior we wish to limit, reward the behavior change we desire.

Ideas:

1) Free trimet passes for PCC students.

2) Triple student parking fees. Based on student aid and hardships PCC can offer some students free parking or carpool incentives/discounts.

3) Fix the campus-campus shuttle system. My student commute to PCC is bike+shuttle bus. It is often faster than driving my car. I often bike downtown, lockup and take the only shuttle to PCC sylvania. No other campus has that feature. Have PCC shuttles with a central downtown hub near the transit mall. This would allow students to get downtown with tri-met and then a shuttle.

PCC has an overcrowded shuttle system that could be vastly improved with better managers. The bus drivers tell me their managers are not supportive of growth and only work on supply and demand. It’s been standing room only for 2010, and that drives passengers away. It’s a tiny bit better the last 2 months.

4) Fire the people who even came up with this stupid parking lot plan. PCC is full of bad managers. Computer systems for students crashed for nearly 14 days this term.

5) Survey the users with a real survey designed by people who know how to do unbiased surveys. PCC recently did a horrible job with a transit survey.

Barbara J.
Guest
Barbara J.

Even if this parking garage was free to build it will have some very big long term costs in the years to come.

Problems include but are not limited to: capacity on roads, air pollution, congestion on the streets, injuries to pedestrians and bikes, asthma, and the lost opportunity to get young college students on bikes and free from filling up their tanks.

Parking fees may “pay” for the construction, but that’s just like saying your dead beat dad got you a free puppy. The real cost is paid by kids and mom. Pet Food, supplies and vet bills. Not to mention the lawsuit from the neighbors cause your dog bit their kid’s future. Those parking fees come out of our kids future financial aid..

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Maybe they will let us play polo in it…

daniel watkins
Guest
daniel watkins

Why does it take $30,000, or as much as a Nissan Leaf, per parking space? Is it because the steel structure takes a lot of money to build?
Sounds pretty ridiculously hyped up, just like the cost of Level 3 charging stations costing $50,000 or something stupid like that for a box with a big transformer in it.
Costs for materials are not that much. It’s labor and government mock up I’d think.

Hey, get PCC students to make the parking structure!