Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Bike safety among concerns with proposed 7-Eleven in Vernon neighborhood

Posted by on January 20th, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Corner of 15th and Killingsworth.

Residents of the Vernon Neighborhood in northeast Portland are organizing opposition to a proposed 7-Eleven at the corner of NE Killingsworth and 15th (map). Among their list of concerns about the potential store are how it would impact traffic safety — particularly among people walking and biking.

In a newsletter emailed out on Wednesday, the Vernon Neighborhood Association said after an “overwhelming majority” of residents at a recent meeting expressed concerns about the store, they have decided to oppose the development. In addition to the fact that the new 7-Eleven would be within one block of three locally and minority-owned convenient stores, the neighbors say they are,

“concerned about traffic safety impacts on bicyclists and pedestrians, especially the children walking to Vernon School each day and those that use the Number 8 bus. We also feel strongly that a 7-Eleven will not help improve the safety and livability of our neighborhood.”

The neighborhood plans a coordinated campaign to pressure City Council members to deny the lease. They’ve also circulated an online survey to garner feedback from more neighbors.

The intersection of NE 15th and Killingsworth is a tricky one. Killingsworth is a high volume and high speed neighborhood collector street

Todd Borkowitz, a landscape architect and urban designer, lives near the intersection. He got in touch with us to say he agrees with the Vernon Neighborhood Association and that, “additional congestion at an already busy offset intersection would be problematic for pedestrians and bicyclists.”

Borkowitz also points out that Killingsworth at this location is part of a “Main Street Pedestrian Design Area” identified in the Portland Pedestrian Master Plan. In addition, NE 15th is designated to receive a “separated in roadway” bikeway (meaning a bike lane, buffered bike lane, or cycle track) in the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030 as part of the City’s “World-Class Strategy” of long-term yet unfunded projects.

“Based on these designations,” says Borkowitz, “I see the City as having committed to making this intersection safe and accessible for bike/peds, and hope that elected officials will be responsive to residents concerned about the impacts of the proposed project.”

Follow the Vernon Neighborhood on Facebook and read more coverage of the issue in The Oregonian.

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  • Josh Berezin January 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    Island Foods is right at that intersection. Way more awesome than any 7-11 could ever be. “Fijian, Samoan, Jamaican, Tongan, African, Micronesian”!! Seriously. Check it out.

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  • Steven Vance January 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I really like reading issues like this. Businesses have major impacts on neighborhoods, and traffic. I’m glad that it seems residents are willing to become informed about the traffic impacts of a convenience store like this.

    You’ve also posted two key pieces of information: this is a pedestrian district, and one of the streets should have a bikeway.

    What are the rules for businesses in pedestrian districts in Portland? In Chicago this means no drive throughs, no new driveways, no new curb cuts, parking in the back, zero setback for storefronts, and big/open windows.

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  • Lance P. January 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Can you please provide a link to the “online survey”?

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  • peejay January 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Good for the Vernon neighborhood, standing up to the corporations that don’t understand the places they do business in. Now, if only we could get some traction here in Sunnyside, where the Walgreens at 39th & Belmont wants to put a million-dollar drive-thru, right next to the Belmont library. They claim it’s to serve handicapped prescription customers. I can think of a few more efficient ways to accomplish the same goal without creating a safety hazard in my neighborhood, and the city should encourage that kind of creative thinking by banning drive-thrus in these kind of locations.

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    • Scott January 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      How could drive-through-drugs possibly be a safety hazard?

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      • Opus the Poet January 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm

        Because a drive-through means there is a building on one side (the driver’s side) that essentially obstructs all vision to that side until the driver clears the building. Unless there is about a half a car-length of landscaping in front of the building that means the car will be that far into the sidewalk before the driver can see any pedestrians or cyclists approaching from the left. Lots of pedestrians are hit crossing drive-throughs.

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    • Steve B January 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      Where should we go to take action on this?

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      • Todd Borkowitz January 21, 2012 at 8:36 am

        Steve – We realize that this is a neighborhood issue and encourage anyone with friends in the Vernon Neighborhood or nearby areas to inform them of the project, and request their assistance by attending meetings, volunteering time, filling out the survey and writing City Council. To the extent that groups like the WPC and BTA can assist in helping neighborhoods promote the safe, pedestrian-oriented and bike-friendly streets that residents seek, I think the Vernon Neighborhood would welcome any letters of support of its efforts and any positive suggestions. Thanks!

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    • jim January 22, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Should we abolish all drive throughs? banks, fast food, pharmacies….?

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  • revphil January 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Island does have lots of stuff that 7-11 wont carry. Clarified butter is the jam!

    The market on 16th is pretty good too. i know there are other hoods that dont have a store nearby, why aren’t they targeting those places?

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    • Wookie January 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      I think it’s a new corporate strategy of market (heh) oversaturation. My neighborhood just got a new 7-11 at Foster & Holgate, directly across the street from an independent mini-mart and a little over two blocks from a Plaid. Not sure what the corporate thinking is on store placement like this. If I were more cynical, I’d guess it’s something like “plunk down a store where there is already demonstrated demand for one and operate at a loss until the competition is run out of business”, but the new 7-11 here doesn’t seem any cheaper than the nearby alternatives, so who knows.

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      • whyat January 21, 2012 at 10:29 am

        That neighborhood SO needs that 7-11. I lived 4 blocks from there for 5 years. That Plaid Pantry is the dirtiest most understocked PP I’ve ever been in, and that’s saying something.

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      • oliver January 21, 2012 at 10:33 am

        That strategy worked great for Malwart.

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  • Alan January 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Some legitimate traffic concerns at that corner A d surrounding area, however, the 18 year unfunded future bike plan doesn’t deter me on this.

    There should be greater improvements to the corner and 7-11 could certainly be a part of that. Study should be concerted without outright dismissal.

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  • Mike January 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Can anyone verify that this is a corporate store and not a franchise opportunity? Just because it say’s 7-11 doesn’t mean it isn’t owned by a local minority.

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    • Paul January 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      I was at the meeting. The representative from 7-Eleven stated that this would initially be a corporate store, but that they would be looking to make it a franchise store at some later date.

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    • matt picio January 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm

      Even if it *is* a franchise rather than “corporate-owned”, why should it be there? Southland Corporation (7-Eleven’s “owner”) has the ability to purchase in bulk, and deliver goods to franchises below market rates, undercutting locally-owned non-chain stores. If the neighborhood doesn’t want it, that’s a good reason to deny the lease. Keep local businesses local where possible, it keeps the money circulating in the community. With three existing businesses, the neighborhood is already well-serviced in that regard, the lot could be used for a different type of business that doesn’t currently service the neighborhood.

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      • Mike January 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm

        If it was another bike store going into an area with other bike shops would you be as opposed?

        If this is a local resident trying to open a store, should it be denied because it is a franchise and not something they started from scratch?

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        • naess January 21, 2012 at 9:01 pm

          ah, but mike, you forget: “bike = all that is god and right in the world & corporations = satan.”

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          • naess January 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm

            bah! that should read “good” and not “gawd.”

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        • matt picio January 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm

          If it was the 3rd or 4th bike shop going into that intersection, absolutely I’d be opposed.

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  • Scott January 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I wish they would have rode the locally owned business horse all the way to market.

    It makes much more sense to oppose the 7-11 from that angle.

    How can they say that one more store will affect traffic significantly when they have put forth that there are 3 locally owned stores already there?

    That intersection already being as broken as it is you can pile as many straws as you want on the camels back. It puts holes in their argument.

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    • Mike January 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm

      How do you know it won’t be locally owned? Where am I missing this information?

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      • matt picio January 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm

        Southland Corp takes a franchise fee, and can leverage its size to undercut the competition, see above remarks. With 3 existing stores, this intersection doesn’t need another one, locally-owned or not.

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        • Mike January 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm

          Of course they take a fee! That’s how franchises work. No one strong arms a person into buying into a franchise. They do it so they have access to lower buying costs and advertising costs.
          Why should a person wanting to start a business and willing to pay for those benefits be looked down upon?
          And unless you live in this neighborhood, you shouldn’t be stating whether or not they need another store.

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          • Neighbor Gregg January 21, 2012 at 11:07 am

            I live in the neighborhood and I’ll say it. We don’t want another store and we don’t want a multinational global chain. The owners of the other two stores work in the stores and live in the neighborhood and know a lot of the customers. They feed their families and spend the money that they make in our neighborhood. I welcome people from other neighborhoods to assist keeping our neighborhood local.

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          • matt picio January 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm

            Mike – I don’t look down on that person at all – I look down on the company. That area is well-served already by local businesses. 7-Eleven will put the other 3 convenience stores under within 5 years. It’s happened in other areas of the city before.

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        • jim January 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm

          More stores in the area doesn’t necessarily mean they are taking business away from the other stores, sometimes it is quite the opposite, it may bring more business to the other stores. It they are selling specialized things like goat meat for example then there is no competition. If it is cheaper cigarettes- then good for the consumer , they will have some money left over to buy diapers and stuff they need.
          I would certainly be more apt to stop at a 7-11 because they are well lit, more safe looking. Once I am stopped I might wander into one of the other stores and spend more money on something 7-11 doesn’t carry

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  • Drica DeJerk January 20, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Hi all! I live 6 houses away from the proposed site, am leading the petition signing effort/canvassing in the neighborhood this weekend, and am so glad you all are engaging in this robust conversation! I just want to chime in that no one that I have interacted with on the neighborhood association level holds any opposition to the idea of a local franchise-owner. The issues we are taking are many-fold.

    1) That corner already has a high traffic incident rate and is difficult to maneuver – not just for cars and the #8 bus that contributes to the constant traffic on that dog-leg, but also for bikes, pedestrians and especially kids going to-and-from school (it’s a major walking route to school and our neighborhood park). With the addition of another vehicle-inviting business and actively-used parking lot, we anticipate many more issues with neighborhood safety and traffic. This would be different if, let’s say, the business moving into that space was more pedestrian friendly, OR if it was a business who’s customers weren’t, by definition, visiting the premises for a quick in-and-out errand.

    2) Our neighborhood fought to have that are included as an Urban Renewal Zone to attract development – our neighbors overwhelmingly desire business there. However, we specifically fought for zoning that would put emphasis upon, as well as entice, locally owned businesses that help ad to the diversity, attractive quality, and community-minded values of our neighborhood. Putting ANOTHER convenience store on a block that is already flanked by two does not add to the diversity of this urban renewal area, nor does a neon-lit 7-11 facade add to the attractive quality of our neighborhood. Having a third, convenient option that provides even later hours to buy junk food and booze does NOT promote the health of our neighborhood, nor the safety, and is therefore not community minded.

    3) We are looking to the future of our community, and we are so grateful that bikeportland is highlighting our struggle. Even if the entirety of the 2030 plan doesn’t come to fruition, our neighborhood is slated to become a more pedestrian-friendly/bike-friendly thoroughfare and damnit – we are hopeful that it can become one! We love our neighborhood and our neighbors and want us all to prosper, be healthy and active, and grow old together. The establishment of a 7-11 will do nothing to achieve these desires, and we know a better option (or hundreds) are available.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this rant. And do come to our next neighborhood association meeting, or like our Vernon Neighborhood page on facebook, because dammit, we like you! 🙂

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    • jim January 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      What would you like to see there that isn’t going to create those same problems? If a bar went in there then you would have to deal with drunk drivers… If it were a vacant lot you would have to deal with drug addicts doing their stuff there, If it were a bakery more people would drive there than 7-11. This area could really gain a lot from a corporation willing to pump some money into your community, how many private investors are willing to risk that kind of money in this economy? especially in a not so prime rated neighborhood? Not dissing it, just tying to be realistic.

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  • oliver January 21, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I go to my corner shop a couple times a week on average. Yes because it is convenient and local.

    I don’t have anything against convenience stores because they are corporate per se, just that I never go to them anymore. The difference between your Plaid’s and 7-Eleven and most local establishments is the optimization for car traffic. They always have parking lots, usually entrances on two streets.

    Lot’s of nice places around the country deny development of a particular type because it doesn’t fit with the character of the locality. If the neighborhood has determined that a drive-in doesn’t fit in that location, then so be it.

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  • Doug Klotz January 21, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    It is unfortunate that a 7-11 or other convenience store seems to be the dollar-driven use of this site. Although not in a Pedestrian District, the site is zoned CS (Storefront Commercial), and is located at the corner of two Transit Streets. This means the building must fill 50 percent of the site, and have facades on both streets that are within 10 feet of the sidewalk (no parking in front). Somewhat like the 20th and Hawthorne 7-11, and it should be required to have windows on both streets and a door near Killingsworth. It can have parking lots beside (behind?) the building, though, and there may be entrances on both streets. No “drive-throughs” are allowed in this zone. These requirements used to discourage chain operations, but they’ve learned to adapt, so it may not stop 7-11. There are no “Design Review” designations here, so it can’t be denied on ‘character’, beyond the zoning code requirements listed.

    I notice 7-11 is also going into an existing building at SE Taylor and Grand.

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    • jim January 22, 2012 at 11:43 am

      Is that true for New Seasons also? Do they have to be within 10ft of the sidewalk on both streets?

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      • are January 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm

        other than maybe the store at southeast 20th and division, i cannot think of a new seasons that is not within ten feet of the street on two sides. they tend to put their parking lots across the street from the store. the proposed on williams would front three streets, with the parking lot “behind.”

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  • Doug Klotz January 21, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Despite the zoning requirements I listed, if it’s an existing building they’re using, they don’t have to bring it into compliance with those requirements, but spend a percentage of their improvement cost on upgrades (which usually means parking lot landscaping).

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  • kenny January 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm

    My neighborhood went through almost the exact situation as Vernon is going through. A 7-Eleven was was built on 52nd and Woodstock. Already, we have/had 5 convenience stores within 1 mile or less of the facility.

    Over 90 folks showed up at a neighborhood meeting, including a follow up one with the attorney for 7-Eleven.

    Despite telling information in a significant independent traffic study regarding traffic on these 2 transit street on a designated main street, strong opposition by a great deal of the neighborhood, letters to City Council, and pleads with the developer to consider other, useful, options for our neighborhood (he was not even remotely interested, this was his “anchor” tenant)… all we really received was less massive signage and an agreement to not sell 40 OZ liquor as a means to limit crime and seedy behaviors around the nearby homes.

    Add 40 parking spots (that is right “40”)for a convenience store and what ended up being simply a Sherwin Williams next door… hardly very practical or smart use of space.

    All this talk about smart growth ad density should have an effect on how we design our neighborhood business districts.

    The neighborhood would have very much appreciated something like a natural food store, brew pub, place to eat, bagel shop, etc. We even had a survey on our Woodstock neighborhood association website with 200 responses desiring those very things, including a desire to see less convenience stores in the area.

    It is too bad that the needs of a community take a back seat due to the power of a chain like 7-Eleven, they can and will operate at a loss for a long time if need be because they can afford it.

    We are stuck with the gateway to our main street being a business that serves little purpose and will add to traffic, as well as likely in due time put the Mom and Pop as well as Plaid Pantry places nearby in the hole.

    I have noticed upon dealing with this corporation just how many 7-Elevens are in SE Portland. You think there is a lot of Starbucks?

    These vanilla junk food, grand and go places are just about everywhere.

    What amazed me is how NICE the ones in Copenhagen were. Mixed use buildings with local pastries and very good coffee.

    I wish Portland could receive Copenhagen-ized 7-Elevens. If we are smart about growth, maybe we will.

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  • k. January 23, 2012 at 8:57 am

    People can always vote with their wallets regarding this type of thing. If you don’t like a business….don’t patronize it. That is the ultimate show of support and determines whether a business succeeds or fails….or perhaps even gets built in the first place.

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  • Dabby January 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I live right at this corner and three family stores/carts operate within the same block and a half. The best carnita’s tacos in town are right next to this building. (rico’s)
    The implications of a 711 here are horrible.
    Starting with traffic, foot and car,( which will now be a constant increase with the always open store) and ending with the possible forced closing of well enjoyed family stores….

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  • kenny January 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    k. I wish you were correct. Trouble with a place like a fast food chain or convenience store like this is that people who do not actually “live” the the neighborhood, just driving by to other locations are the ones that patronize the most. I can tell you for certain, folks here have been boycotting that 7-Eleven like no one’s business. But those places have deep pockets… they will sit out less than fantastic returns.

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