The letter and 60 business owners that changed PBOT’s mind on 28th Ave – UPDATED

The 60 businesses on this map all signed a letter to PBOT in opposition to plans that would have replaced auto parking with a buffered bike lane.

“The removal of substantial amounts of parking puts our area at a competitive disadvantage…”
— from a letter to PBOT signed by 60 businesses

On Friday we reported that the Bureau of Transportation — under sharp pressure from business owners — decided to scrap a proposal that would have created a buffered bike lane on one side of 28th Avenue between Stark and Sandy. PBOT was poised to consider a bike lane in the space currently occupied by 100 curbside auto parking spaces; but they showed up to the meeting of their 20s Bikeway Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee with a new plan (a.k.a. a “draft recommendation”).

The new recommendation would maintain 28th as an “enhanced shared roadway” (where auto and bike traffic share the same space, just like they do now) and direct bicycle riders to a residential side street two blocks east. Suffice it to say a lot of readers weren’t happy with that decision.

At the meeting where the new recommendation was unveiled, PBOT was presented with a petition signed by numerous businesses along 28th. We didn’t receive a copy of that petition at the meeting so it wasn’t included in Friday’s story. However, many of you expressed interest in seeing the text of the letter and the complete list of business that expressed opposition to the bike lane. We have since obtained photos of the letter and its signatories from an unnamed source who was at the meeting. We transcribed the letter and the names and have shared the information below:

Mr. Rich Newlands
Portland Bureau of Transportation

The purpose of this letter is to communicate our primary interests in regards to the proposed bikeway between I-84 and SE Stark. The business community’s overriding concern along the 28th Avenue corridor is the safety of our neighbors, visitors and employees, no matter the mode of transport — pedestrian, bicycle, or vehicle. We support a bikeway that does not remove curbside parking on 28th Avenue. We will continue to support any alignment that does not impact parking on 28th Avenue and in the meantime will continue to provide our own extensive accommodation of bicyclists in our district.

Curbside auto parking along the short section of 28th between Sandy and Stark is already minimal and will become further stressed as the nearly 200 nearby new apartments, now nearing completion, are occupied by tenants. Very little off-street parking is provided for these apartments. Recent studies show that at least seventy percent of the new tenants will own automobiles and will have to depend on street parking (City of Portland Parking Impacts for new TOD Along Portland Inner Corridors by David Evans and Assoc., November 2012). Due to new housing and pre-existing housing infill, surrounding neighborhood streets already experience a serious shortage of on-street parking.

As business and property owners we are concerned with the safety, vitality, and livability of our neighborhood. The proposal to remove parking along one side of 28th Ave. is only going to add to the stress of the neighborhood with additional cars trying to find parking in the neighborhood. Parking removal will force cars into the neighborhood to look for parking. Many of these side streets are narrow and not designed to accommodate more vehicular traffic. This will create a dangerous and stressful environment for bicyclist, pedestrians and the neighborhood residents.

We have invested heavily in our neighborhood to make it the very popular dining and entertainment destination it has become. Our businesses have attracted a loyal clientele and customer base that come from all over the metro area and beyond. Our district competes with others in the city that have better transportation infrastructure. The removal of substantial amounts of parking puts our area at a competitive disadvantage and it will make our daily business operations more difficult by forcing delivery and tradesman vehicles onto overcrowded neighborhood side streets.

We support a shared bikeway on 28th avenue, with an enhanced greenway for bicyclist on 30th Ave., lowering the speed limit on 28th Ave. and installing crosswalks and traffic calming devices along this route to make a safer route for bicyclists and pedestrians.

We look forward to further neighborhood enhancements including a bikeway that will complement the district without imposing undue hardships on business vitality and neighborhood livability. In this context we support the bikeway that does not remove any parking on 28th Avenue between Sandy and Stark.

Thank you,
Concerned business owners along NE 28th Ave opposed to parking removal along 28th between Sandy and Stark street

And here are the 60 businesses that signed onto the letter:

61 businesses is quite a show of force. Seeing all of them in a list and viewing them on a map illustrates the stranglehold that parking has over transportation planning in Portland right now.

As for this specific project, the discussion isn’t over. The Stakeholder Advisory Committee hasn’t endorsed PBOT’s latest recommendation and it’s not yet been made final. Also, we look forward to sharing more perspectives on this issue directly from 28th Avenue business owners. Some who consider themselves bike-friendly are also on this list and they’d like an opportunity to further explain their position. Stay tuned.

— Read more of our 20s Bikeway Project coverage here.

CORRECTION: This post originally included Wolf & Bear’s on the list of businesses that had signed the petition. We have since heard from the owner that they didn’t sign anything and were completely unaware of the petition. Upon further investigation we realized an employee had signed it for them without their permission (they’re the only business not represented by an owner). Therefore, we’ve removed their name from the list. The owner, Jeremy Garb, says, “We would love to have a bike lane on 28th. Why on earth would we be against that?”

UPDATE: Paadee owner Earn Ninsom claims he signed the petition by mistake. Here’s his message:

“I have been approached by Laurelhurst theater’s owner twice on my busy time, they informed that 30th would be a better and safer street to add bike lane instead of 28th which i did agree and then signed the paper. I do apologize if my mistaken had upset Portland bikers. I will write a letter/call the city again tomorrow to take us off this list.”

UPDATE: Someone introducing himself as Brian, owner of the Captured Beer Bus, writes in a comment on a different post that he is taking his business’ name off the petition.

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