Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Is Portland’s newest urban corridor good or bad? City is asking residents

Posted by on June 4th, 2014 at 2:35 pm

SE Division street scene - photo by Michael Andersen

There’s nothing like a walk to better understand the impact of changes to a street.
(Photo M. Andersen/BikePortland)

Portland’s planning department is trying to figure out if the rapid transformation of Southeast Division Street will become a template or a cautionary tale.

On Wednesday night, it’s invited the public to attend a “community walk” to assess the rapidly redeveloping street and “consider zoning issues through a local lens.”

The walk is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and begins at Piccolo Park, SE 28th and Division. According to the official description, city staffers will ask:

  • What’s working well or not so well regarding new development?
  • How can zoning code regulations help support a thriving business environment?
  • What building features, scale, or site designs will enhance the character of the area?
  • What design features will create a quality environment for future residents?
  • What are appropriate ways of creating transitions in development scale and activity between mixed use development and adjacent residential areas?

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A second, similar walk is planned for Multnomah Village area on Wednesday, June 11, not far from the newly opened Stephens Creek Crossing subsidized apartment development, among other projects.

Relatively large apartment buildings like those that have transformed Division Street — and are starting to transform North Williams Avenue — have attracted critics and defenders for a wide range of reasons.

In April, when we wrote about the large amount of land in central Portland where new apartment buildings are forbidden, some of the rich discussion that followed centered around the fact that the city’s strategy has been to focus the pressure for redevelopment alongside the commercial corridors in order to avoid demolishing single-family housing.

The city’s next set of rules to regulate those commercial corridors may determine how successful that strategy will be.

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  • 9watts June 4, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    The future of transport will be human powered. I expect greater density, fewer accommodations for horseless carriages, and mixed used jammed together to be very helpful as we move in that direction.

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    • TJ June 4, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      You may be correct to some degree, but I imagine such a future to be several life-times and 14 more variations of the Pok Pok brand on Division before we’ve arrived. The balance is in managing both the needs of today and tomorrow. I do not believe Division is doing either especially well.

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      • spare_wheel June 4, 2014 at 3:28 pm

        our come to jesus moment as a species is coming and i doubt it will take a few lifetimes (e.g. ~2170+).

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  • Spiffy June 4, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    with all the taller buildings on the south side of the street it’s darker and colder down there during the day…

    sidewalks are too narrow for all this traffic… it was already bad a few years ago and now with this grown explosion it’s worse than walking down Hawthorne…

    but so far traffic speeds have seemed lower and people are now used to seeing pedestrians… it’s a lot easier to cross the street these days…

    I do miss the character of the old buildings they’re demolished in the last few years, but overall the livability of the area has increased…

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    • spare_wheel June 4, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      i walk and ride division many times a week and find it to be *more* stressful now than in its “non-streetscaped” state. and i’ve had multiple conversations with others who live in the area who agree with me.

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    • Mike June 4, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      I agree, due to many factors the speed of autos is very low and not unsafe to cross. I wish the new buildings were required to have character that blends in with the neighborhood. The new apartments appear to be designed by the same architect that likes the big box look.

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      • Oregon Mamacita June 5, 2014 at 8:20 am

        I think most of the new apartment buildings look like they were designed by the same guy who designs all the new Walgreens, Bor-ring. If they are anywhere as badly constructed as Pearl condos- we will have a bunch of lawsuits in 3-4 years re: construction defects.

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        • Chris I June 5, 2014 at 9:33 am

          Only suckers buy new houses/condos. Builders are always cutting corners.

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          • Oregon Mamacita June 7, 2014 at 9:42 am

            Not everywhere, Chris. Do you think they let you build crap in Copenhagen?
            You see, the BDS stand for “Builder Desire Servicing” in PDX. We are a sad little city in some ways.

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  • Craig Harlow June 4, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    The narrowness of this corridor in many places is a useful traffic calmer. It also makes it, maybe more than other similar streets in the city, a good candidate for the state’s 20 MPH posted limit for a “Business District”. Boosting transit service and slowing traffic speeds are two ways to make this increasingly dense environment safer and more comfortable for all users.

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  • GlowBoy June 4, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Agreed, the narrowness and increase in density and pedestrian activity (not to mention construction!) is helping bring speeds down, and it definitely IS easier to cross Division than it used to be.

    Construction activity has itself had negative effects, including keeping customers away because of the mess, and pushing car traffic on to Clinton, so we won’t fully see the benefits until most of the construction activity ends.

    Until the dust settles it’s hard for me to say what works and what doesn’t yet, because I myself have been avoiding the area to some degree. Could we fine-tune things like sidewalk widths, our parking strategy and design standards (how about mandatory setbacks above the second story, at least on the south side of a street, to let in more light?) Sure, and we must. Because the kind of higher-density transformation we’ve seen on Division is at least a pilot project for what we need to do all over the city. I’m excited for the transformation.

    And by the way, I would welcome it on Milwaukie Ave here in Brooklyn. When do we get our mixed-projects already?

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  • rain panther June 4, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    If they’re starting at 28th, somehow I doubt they’ll make it to my neighborhood near 50th. But that area above 39th is beginning to look a lot like below…

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  • IanC June 4, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Uh, the PLANNING department is trying to figure out if it was a mistake? Isn’t that what PLANNING is about – rigorous review BEFORE implimentation?

    Time will tell, but inner SE Division is an unmitigated disaster… so far. It’s dangerous for any kind of user, except for the absentee developer, counting his money in a suburb somewhere.

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    • B.D. June 4, 2014 at 4:54 pm

      hey no fair, one of the developers has been, and is very much a part of the neighborhood.

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    • Paul June 4, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      How is it dangerous?

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      • spare_wheel June 5, 2014 at 10:06 am

        in it’s previous incarnation there was enough room for a driver to pass safely. now impatient drivers frequently pass dangerously due to their frustration with the constrained space. division is, imo, far less safe for cycling now than it was before. it’s also largely unimproved with it comes to pedestrian safety. curb extensions are no replacement for crosswalks and signals.

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        • JV June 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm

          Really though, Division is not the best route E/W, nor is it intended to be. Clinton Street bikeway is one block south, and Harrison/Lincoln is 3 blocks north. Complaining about people passing on Division is pretty meaningless now during most times of the day, as you can easily bike the pace of traffic.

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          • spare_wheel June 5, 2014 at 6:07 pm

            thanks for the “tip” but my destinations are on division, not clinton or harrison.

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            • JV June 6, 2014 at 12:37 pm

              Point taken, about destination. Lliving in the neighborhood, I have never had an occasion where I actually needed to ride on Division for more than half a block. What I have had problems with is crossing Division as a pedestrian and on bike, so I welcome the curb bump outs. If nothing else, they are keeping people from parking near the corners. How it was before (and with faster traffic) was worse.

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          • Buzz June 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm

            100 years ago SE Division and SE Stark were THE premiere E-W cycling routes in Portland, but these days, cyclists are shunted off the main commercial streets on to dangerous side streets – today Clinton is full of circling motorists looking for parking…

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            • B.D. June 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm

              is there a Trading Places reference in there?

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        • paikiala June 5, 2014 at 1:44 pm

          A ‘crosswalk’ is a legally permissible place to cross a road at an intersection and is well defined in law. A ‘marked crosswalk’ provides no safety or protection to a pedestrian.
          Curb extensions shorten the crossing distance, permitting use of shorter gaps in multi-directional traffic, but do still require two opposing gaps to line up. IMO, median refuge islands are safer.

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          • spare_wheel June 5, 2014 at 6:11 pm

            in my experience marked crosswalks due encourage compliance with the legal requirement that motorists stop when a pedestrian enters the road. crosswalks can also be placed mid block.

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            • paikiala June 6, 2014 at 8:24 am

              Mid-block crossings, by law, have to have markings to be ‘legal’.

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              • Buzz June 6, 2014 at 12:31 pm


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    • Psyfalcon June 4, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      You’d rather them plan it, then never look for feedback before planning something else?

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    • was carless June 5, 2014 at 11:33 am

      You can plan all you want, but the city does not actually design and fund private construction. That is up to private citizens known as “developers.” A planners job is generally to guide development to meet city and community goals.

      It is totally appropriate to seek feedback during or after a major change such as this. If they didn’t, it would be borderline negligent! So, your post makes no sense, and I recommend you use your brain a bit more.

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    • Oregon Mamacita June 7, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Ian C, remember Portland planners are idealogues and can’t predict that
      Tuesday will follow Monday. Whatever Wally Remmer wants- he gets. that is Portland planning.

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  • B.D. June 4, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Shut it down from Clay’s to Ava Gene’s Friday and Saturday nights.

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  • Reza June 4, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    The construction site guidelines for maintaining pedestrian access is woefully inadequate in Portland. Nothing makes that realization more clear than having to cross Division multiple times in succession mid-block because of adjacent projects being built across the street from each other.

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    • Kari Schlosshauer June 5, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Seriously. Every time I see it I can only think, “how is that legal?”

      I’ve heard that once they *finally* re-pave the street, there will be marked crossings everywhere. Let’s hope…

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  • scott June 4, 2014 at 5:16 pm
    • 9watts June 4, 2014 at 8:07 pm

      That was hilarious. Thanks for posting.

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  • noah June 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    The world and national population is increasing. Increased density is the way we have to handle it. To allow the suburban trends of the 1950’s-80’s to continue would’ve been to bury our heads in the sand.

    But the transition to increased density has been painful. The practical problems have been well-documented here and many other places. My own reasons are mainly sentimental — change is hard when it means the end of something you loved — but I think it’s a somewhat universal sentiment, deserving of consideration.

    I also wish we still had the collective knowledge to develop new urban centers in the traditional patterns that make old Portland so attractive to newcomers. In a service economy, where geography needn’t be so tightly coupled to economy, it should be possible. Then we’d have other equally-attractive, human-scale places to live. (Imagine how the real estate landscape would be different if Portland east of 205 looked the same as it did west of 205!) But it seems we’ve lost that knowledge somehow, despite our Portland-progressive ideas about urban planning.

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    • Doug Klotz June 4, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      Part of how traditional cities have developed density close to business corridors is that it’s higher buildings on the corridor, stepping down to apartment buildings for the next block or two, and then down to single-family houses. Because Portland has artificially constrained this growth, by forbidding any but single-family houses, (including rowhouses), anywhere beyond 100′ from the commercial corridor, we can’t do that. So, the only way to get the necessary and useful density is for the development in that narrow corridor to be taller.

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  • Doug Klotz June 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    PIccolo Park is half a block South of Division on 28th Ave.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 4, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    What are the main complaints or concerns about the changes on Division St? Is it that the new buildings are poorly designed from an architectural standpoint? Or that the density of the street or area is increasing too much? Or that some people and businesses are being moved out while others are being moved in? Or something else?

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    • Reza June 4, 2014 at 6:19 pm

      All of that plus parking.

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      • Mike June 4, 2014 at 9:12 pm

        The lack of parking?

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    • Buzz June 5, 2014 at 10:25 am

      take out all the new storm water swales and curb extensions and put the bike lanes back!

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      • OnTheRoad June 5, 2014 at 11:28 am

        Division didn’t have bike lanes, but it did have parking that got used by bikes when there wasn’t anybody parked there.

        The total lack of bicycle facilities has been one of the ongoing criticisms of the Division project, not to mention that the new bioswales make bicycling more difficult than before.

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      • was carless June 5, 2014 at 11:42 am

        What bike lanes? I have lived in Portland for over 10 years and have never seen bike lanes along lower Division.

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      • spare_wheel June 5, 2014 at 11:58 am

        i miss those unstriped bike lanes too.

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    • Oregon Mamacita June 7, 2014 at 10:03 am

      My most serious and non-snarky observation is this: a number of businesses that offered blue collar type jobs (more than service industry
      (Dow Disaster Restoration, car repair, restaurant supplies) have been replaced by restaurants. The restaurants are expensive.

      Let’s look ahead to the next recession (which will involve a contraction in high tech employment downtown), along with the near-term certainty of rising food prices (have you seen the price of limes?). Restaurants rely on discretionary spending, and the first place people cut is eating out.

      Here’s what we will see on Division in four years or so: empty restaurants
      built in buildings which once housed recession-resistant business like Dow Restoration. We will have swapped blue collar type jobs for lower paying service jobs, and those service jobs will evaporate during the next recession.

      Yet another concern: when I looked – these new units lacked AC. Anyone who ever took an introductory sociology class knows that a heat wave where people aren’t comfortable at home is a recipe for trouble. That’s the recipe for the big urban riots of the 1960s.

      I am uncomfortable with SE Division because I have a decent grounding in economics and I think that the next recession will leave the owners of these new buildings in tears.

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  • Jim Labbe June 4, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I lived off Division and 40th about 20 years ago and walked the neighborhood a fair amount. I went back to walk the street recently, which I hadn’t in years, and was amazed how vibrant it is. SE Division looks to me like it definitely has some very good things going.

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  • Christopher Sanderson June 4, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I do know that automobile traffic is terrible along this corridor. I can sit at SE 41st trying to cross Division, and it is car after car after car after car after car after car after car after car… Sometimes it seems impossible to cross.

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    • 9watts June 4, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      I cross Division at 32nd, usually, and just go–launch my iron horse into a gap in the car traffic which at least in those blocks stretch out some. Never had a problem. That 41st intersection is, well, not great, in my opinion.

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    • Doug Klotz June 4, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      Get off and walk the bike, and the drivers are required to stop for you at the crosswalk. And there, they mostly will.

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      • Craig Harlow June 5, 2014 at 10:01 am

        They’re required to stop for you whether you’re on or off the bike, as long as you’re crossing from the corner and not from within the roadway; whether they *will* stop however, is a totally different thing.

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        • Craig Harlow June 5, 2014 at 10:37 am

          That said, I typically get off and walk the bike to cross from the corner, since that seems to be a bigger visual cue for people driving.

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    • spare_wheel June 5, 2014 at 10:11 am

      trying to cross division on a fri or sat night can be very frustrating. and i suspect some of those drivers should have called a cab…

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  • SteveG June 4, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Interesting comments.

    I’ve lived in the Richmond neighborhood for 13 years, and on balance I love the changes. A mere decade ago Division Street was dead boring, and rife with broken-down auto shops and barely-surviving businesses that sold things like second hand restaurant equipment and used baby gear. All of which was ok, but it wasn’t what most people would call a vibrant commercial strip.

    And although I’m not a fan of every new apartment building (the one with the grated facade is, in my opinion, an insult…), some of them are quite nice, and I don’t feel at all nostalgic about any of the crappy buildings (painted cinder block , anyone?) that were either torn down or completely renovated. Remember the Vespa shop, the auto repair shops and the restaurant supply store? Does anyone who lives here really MISS those places?

    Call me a yuppie / hipster / elitist or whatever you want, but 50 year-old married father of two is not shedding any tears for the old Division. I like having Bollywood Theater, Cibo’s happy hour, Sen Yai’s noodlefest and Roman Candle’s olive bread a 3-6 minute walk or bike ride away.

    More density –> more wallets –> more restaurants, cafés, bakeries, ice cream shops, bars, salons and other services –> higher property values –> more tax revenues –> better schools and other public services.

    I say bring it!

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    • Mike June 4, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      Good point, why isn’t anyone complaining about the gentrification of division? I guess that will come when the Oregon Theater gets converted to a Mcmenamins?

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    • John R June 4, 2014 at 11:42 pm

      Amen. I have lived nearby off and on since 1994 and while far from perfect, the changes are amazing. I also think that the parking “difficulties” are far overblown based upon the impact to my own home and cycling near newly constructed apartments.

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    • B.D. June 5, 2014 at 9:10 am

      I think they’re growing some climbers to cover that grate so it has a green front.

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      • B.D. June 5, 2014 at 9:10 am

        also, the one where Village Merchants used to be is cool… i like that beach house shingling

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      • A-Dub June 5, 2014 at 4:49 pm

        No, they aren’t

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    • A-Dub June 5, 2014 at 4:46 pm

      I have it on good authority that the grate will eventual be removed. Was part of the LEED certification as it was supposed to reflect light in to the apartments but is a good example of theory not matching well with reality.

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  • Doug Klotz June 4, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Oh, they’re complaining about the gentrification too. How no-one can afford to live there any more. But as Eric Cress, partner in UD+P, which is developing and/or owns 5 buildings on Division, pointed out, the new apartment buildings of today will become those older, cheaper apartments in the future…as long as they are built now. Stop building them now, and there won’t be any old buildings to rent in the future.

    Some people just don’t like anything over 2 stories, and said so tonight. They complain about the “canyon” effect. I don’t see it. The street right of way is 60′ wide. The buildings, at 45′, aren’t even equal to the width. I like the sense of enclosure, and hope that some of the obvious gaps (like the two remaining ex-gas stations at 33rd Ave) are filled in with similar buildings.

    Others have brought up “solar access”. They mention this in connection with existing lower houses north of Division shaded by the new buildings, and also that the buildings on the south side should be lower so as not to shade the buildings on the north side. But, really, as someone mentioned, you can only build a suburb with solar access regulations, you can’t build a city. Even an old 2.5 story Foursquare house shades it’s one-story neighbor.

    Re: auto traffic. Besides the slowdown from all the construction, there’s so much more pedestrian activity on Division, that I expect all the people crossing the street are and will be slowing traffic. Perhaps some drivers will find other routes, like Powell. Or maybe they’ll be taking transit on Powell in the future (see Powell-Division High Capacity Transit project now starting up!).

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    • Ron H June 5, 2014 at 9:27 am

      I agree with much of what you’re saying here. The changes on Division are great for the neighborhood. But, they’re terrible for commuters passing through. Division is a crawl in the morning traveling West into town. This is driving harried motorists to bomb down normally quiet residential streets nearby. Woodward St (where I live) is several blocks south of Division and even we’re seeing the effects. I fear someone is going to get hurt – speeding on narrow, residential streets with lots of young families (children) = potential for tragic outcomes.

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      • Terry D June 5, 2014 at 9:59 am

        Hence why we need traffic calming on parallel residential streets and diverters for Clinton. Since Division will be bike lane less…permanently…Clinton needs to be seriously upgraded. Sometimes the bike traffic alone is so high there is congestion…not to mention the cars that should be taking Powell or Division.

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      • Kari Schlosshauer June 5, 2014 at 10:01 am

        Part of the problem with pedestrian access (apart from the 2+ years of constant construction and multiple street crossing requirements because of sidewalk closures) is that the street is still considered/designated as a “commute” route for cars, which should be changed given the changing street use. Please stop choosing Clinton because it doesn’t have stop signs! It’s a neighborhood greenway, and believe it or no, I take my kids on it. I’m tired of having to deal with drivers, angry because they’re delayed by their choice of Division — gunning it to pass me on my bike, narrowly missing other road users coming in the other direction, not stopping for me at the crosswalks, and flying over the speedbumps at speeds far exceeding the posted speed limit as they try to reach SE 12th/Milwaukie/99.

        I’m sure I’ll get hell for this but: Powell, anyone?

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        • paikiala June 5, 2014 at 1:49 pm

          Clinton has not been upgraded to neighborhood greenway level yet.

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        • Doug Klotz June 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm

          I thought that inner DIvision Street was a “Neighborhood Collector”, thus not designated for commuters from Gresham. It is probably a higher classification east of 205. Powell has a higher classification.

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        • Oregon Mamacita June 7, 2014 at 10:09 am

          Well, anyone could have seen that the car traffic on SE Division would degrade Clinton. The city planners pretend that renters don’t drive cars.
          Realistic, grounded planners from out-of-town would have thought of a fix, but PDX planning is delusional. Clinton is toast. Glad I don’t live in that neighborhood in anymore.

          Is Piccalo Park clean? At one point about a decade ago, a group of hippies living nearby used the Park as their dogs’ private litter box and it got gross (these were 3-4 big dogs). I worry that new residents & their dogs will degrade the park through overuse and the sloppiness that we see with some (but definitely not all) dog owners as regard to waste.

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      • Craig Harlow June 5, 2014 at 10:52 am

        Diverters, dammit.

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        • Kari Schlosshauer June 5, 2014 at 12:05 pm


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  • TJ June 5, 2014 at 8:53 am

    Division can only continue sprawling east-west and straight-up. The single family homes and trees on to the north and south aren’t going anywhere. It’s not the Pearl.

    Overall, despite fond memories of racing shopping carts down Division in ’09, business is booming and the street still oozes of (newer) Portland charm.

    Still, there are places in Portland where in-fill development is better suited and potentially needed. Let’s stop pretending Division or Williams or any thru-street sandwiched by single family homes and trees can become anything but a destination for noodles and ice cream (to be fair, I’d much prefer to see hardware stores, cobblers, boutiques, mom-&-pop team sports stores, a bike shop, etc).

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    • B.D. June 5, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Do it Best Hardware is the bomb. Also, ABC Cycle, Mirador, ReBelles… Oregon Theater

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      • Ron H June 5, 2014 at 9:29 am

        Do it Best Hardware is the bomb. Also, ABC Cycle, Mirador, ReBelles… Oregon Theater
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        Oregon Theatre? You mean the old porn movie house?

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        • B.D. June 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

          I was just making sure people were reading to the end…

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      • TJ June 5, 2014 at 9:36 am

        Well aware. Lived over there for a longtime. My point is the traffic and parking woes aren’t owed to neighborhood businesses but to the trendy destinations for folks outside the neighborhood who aren’t biking or taking public transit. That there is the reality many bikeportland.org readers aren’t accepting. People still drive and will continue to drive… be it electric or hydrogen. For Americans cycling and public transit are inconvenient or not at all an option. Inner Portland is an island in the middle of suburbia.

        The congestion isn’t a fault of in-fill but of certain establishments.

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      • rainbowwine June 5, 2014 at 10:16 am

        I’m afraid of this stuff getting pushed out. I don’t understand why in such a tiny city we need so many Little Big Burgers, Salt N Straws, etc. Every neighborhood is going to end up with zero personality looking exactly the same filled with these mini-chains. Folks will have no reason to get on their bike and ride four whole miles to a different part of town. And as these new apartment buildings and condos keep getting built, the only ones that can afford the storefront rent downstairs are those mini-chains.

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        • B.D. June 5, 2014 at 11:08 am

          jobs and local companies profiting?

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          • Oregon Mamacita June 5, 2014 at 12:43 pm

            These business stand on ground that once offered Blue Collar employment.
            Little Big Burger and Salt and Straw don’t pay any better than Baskin Robbins. Do they offer healthcare? I am actually disenchanted with the mini-chains and refuse to patronize them when they set up shop in ugly new buildings. BTW- dairy and meat consumption are big drivers of climate change, and construction is inherently polluting, so SE Division is
            not really green.

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            • maccoinnich June 5, 2014 at 1:00 pm

              I had a quick look at Salt & Straw’s website – the job adverts list health benefits after 90 days.

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              • Oregon Mamacita June 7, 2014 at 10:13 am

                Glad to hear that. I stand corrected. But in general, these service jobs are dead end and don’t pay super well. And, they are not available to Joe Six Pack. During the next recession many service workers will see their hours cut to nothing. Remember: the first thing a family does in a recession is switch from Salt and Straw to a quart of Tillamook ice cream from Freddies.

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            • B.D. June 5, 2014 at 1:42 pm

              you mean the scooter shop/apartment building (S&S) and some guy’s house (LBB)? what about the blue collar jobs that built all of these buildings?

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              • B.D. June 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm

                Also, the building where Sunshine Tavern is was a hideous bunker with spikes on the walls…

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        • was carless June 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm

          Because Portland has over 600,000 residents living within its borders, and another 1.5+ million people living within 15 miles.

          Lets do the math. According to wikianswers (starbucks.com crashed when I tried to search Portland) store locator, there are currently 131 Starbucks within the city proper of Portland.

          This is a ratio of 1 starbucks store to 4,580 Portland residents!

          By comparison, there are:

          Little Big Burgers: 7 (1:85,714 persons)
          Salt & Straw: 3 (1:200,000 persons)
          New Seasons: 7 (1:85,714 persons)
          Fred Meyer: 9 (1:66,666 persons)

          …so it seems a little silly to complain that there are a tiny handful of these boutique stores in what is actually a pretty well populated city, and an economy worth ~$147 billion.

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          • TJ June 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

            Tourist don’t flock to Time Square for Starbucks. Portlanders (not living in Richmond) don’t visit Division for Do It Best Hardware.

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            • 9watts June 5, 2014 at 12:31 pm

              I do.

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            • B.D. June 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm

              You are wrong about Times Square and Starbucks.

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        • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
          Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm

          No comment on the mini-chains, but I for one hate riding my bike, especially for four miles! What a hassle!

          All I know is that it’s better than the alternatives. But give me proximity any day of the week.

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          • Joseph E June 6, 2014 at 1:40 pm

            Agreed! I can ride my bike 1.5 miles to Fred Meyer, 1.0 miles to QVC, or 1.5 miles to a Vietnamese grocery store with lots of selection. I can even walk 5 blocks to Trader Joes or 4 blocks to Whole foods. But I usually walk 1/2 block to Grocery Outlet. The selection is much more limited, but it is right there, and the prices are about as good for most things.

            Having things within 1/4 mile is great; many people want the ability to walk to services.

            Even for people, like me, who like riding bikes for fun, it is nice to be able to ride for 1 mile / 5 minutes, instead of taking 1/2 hour to get somewhere 5 miles away.

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    • maccoinnich June 5, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      How many people, in 2014, actually go to cobblers on any kind of regular basis?

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      • Psyfalcon June 5, 2014 at 5:24 pm

        Problem is, many shoes aren’t designed to be fixed. To re-sole my hiking boots (uppers were good, tread got trashed on volcanic rock) One place said it would be cheaper to buy new boots, and the other re-did the heel which was worse.

        For a full re- sole, I’d have to mail them off to Seattle. There are several places working on dress shoes though.

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  • maccoinnich June 5, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I took a ride over there a few weeks ago. I got off my bike ride around Cesar Chavez, and walked back towards downtown. My reaction was “this is what all the fuss is over?” A bunch of medium rise buildings on a short section of a commercial corridor? Maybe it’s because I live in NW Portland, or maybe its because I grew up in the UK, with much older and denser cities, but I have hard time understanding the controversy over this small increase in density.

    In particular, I had a hard time believing that the building at 37th & Division was the one all the legal battles had been fought over. Its design is pretty pedestrian, but to hear the neighbors complain, one would think they’re building Pruitt-Igoe there. There are a handful of building that I really liked, including 3360 Division by Works Partnership and 3339 Division by THA.

    That said, I do believe Portland needs to make it much harder for contractors to block pedestrian access. It’s a very genuine complaint that it’s too hard to walk down Division. In many other cities, they build temporary pedestrian protection tunnels out of plywood. Being able to close the sidewalk is a convenience for the contractors, and rarely a true necessity.

    I also think the Streetscape project was a wasted opportunity. Are we ever going to get bike lanes on of the inner SE/NE neighborhood main streets? Given the controversy over 28th, I get that isn’t politically easy, but the construction of the curb extensions and bioswales pretty precludes putting in any bike infrastructure for the next couple decades.

    On the whole though, I think the street is much more pleasant and more interesting than it was before. I hope to see more of this kind of development in Portland.

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    • Terry D June 5, 2014 at 9:57 am

      You are correct, Division will not get bike lanes in our lifetime. This is the “joke” that is the 2030 bike master plan, it has no teeth. When outreach was done for this project, local residents and business leaders preferred parking and bioswales over bike lane conductivity. Since there will be improved crossing about every block and loots of bike parking, the theory goes bikes will take Clinton or Lincoln then head to Division and park. Same idea they had with Hawthorne 15 years back….hence why we got those dangerously narrow 9.5 foot lanes.

      In my case, then end result is that I rarely go to either corridor. Since I never ride down Division, I do not know what is on there anymore since it has been almost 15 years since I lived in inner SE.

      I have told myself that once the repaving is finished and Division is “finished” that I will go for a walk to see all the changes. I live in a neighborhood that is experiencing a lot of small infill (small houses torn down to build BIG ones) but the apartment building era has not begun….yet….but it will soon.

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      • paikiala June 5, 2014 at 1:55 pm

        The 2030 plan is an idealized version of what portland wants to accomplished, just like every other part of the transportation system plan. Any presumption that the citizens of portland would be willing to demolish buildings and buy rights of way to implement that vision here and now is fantasy. we can’t even agree on how to fund realistic things, like maintaining what we have.

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      • GlowBoy June 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm

        “You are correct, Division will not get bike lanes in our lifetime. This is the “joke” that is the 2030 bike master plan, it has no teeth.”

        Yep, we’ve picked a lot of the low-hanging fruit now. Apparently our leaders have little interest in spending money on a ladder to pick the rest.

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    • was carless June 5, 2014 at 12:08 pm

      I agree with you, and believe part of the reaction is that Portlanders generally simply aren’t used to very much change in their city – it has been a kind of backwater, 3rd tier city in decline for much of the 20th century, and only recently garnered notoriety due to livability and has seen considerable targeted investments in private and infrastructural development over the past 20 years.

      The comment about sidwalks and pedestrian access is pretty fair, although with such narrow sidewalks, it can be difficult to construct a building that goes right up to the street and in some cases may require the sidewalk to be fully excavated, although due to the lack of parking garages in these structures, I haven’t seen that actually happen. There can be serious safety concerns with dropping heavy loads on people’s heads, however.

      Even when they built the Pearl district, they generally closed the street and sidwalk – if they even existed! I wonder if Portland contractors and construction workers have much experience working in that confined of a space with the public that close.

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      • Doug Klotz June 5, 2014 at 5:52 pm

        Yes, indeed you may need to excavate the sidewalk. That is why pedestrian walkways are, in the big city, built in the parking lane, with a wooden (or metal scaffolding) structure, with sturdy overhead structure to protect pedestrians from falling materials. And, yes, these can even occur midblock. A gated loading opening is provided (with higher overhead cover). Normally the gate (at the back of the walkway) is closed, and pedestrians walk through, protected by the high cover. For deliveries, pedestrians do have to stop.

        To pretend that pedestrians will cross back and forth is to ignore reality. A large number just walk on the side of the street they want to be on, alongside the construction fence. Portland should never close sidewalks on neighborhood arterials. Downtown, there’s a signal every block. In the neighborhoods, not so, so walks should always be provided on both sides. If necessary, shift the centerline over so that one construction site can have more room than another, when necessary.

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  • Mel June 5, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Can we add affordable housing and removing the ban on inclusionary zoning to the list of topics discussed? These are HUGE issues that can’t be ignored.

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  • Nicholas Skaggs June 5, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Shut it down from Clay’s to Ava Gene’s Friday and Saturday nights.
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  • kittens June 5, 2014 at 11:50 am

    As long as the economy continuous to grow disproportionally in one direction (favoring upper classes) any changes will be seen as a imposition.
    Rich kids move in from who knows where and ‘hipsterfy’ their surrounds. It’s called gentrification and there is nothing the city can do, except to to lift wages on the lower end.

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  • B.D. June 5, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    I highly suggest everybody moseys up and down Division in the area in question on Google Maps street view, set the clock back to 2007 and tell me what losses you are lamenting

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    • Doug Klotz June 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      3 former gas stations, an abandoned retirement home with a scooter shop in one corner, one small house, a deteriorated ivy-covered one-story building, two parking lots, a bird-bath retailer, and two blue-collar businesses, which have relocated (Columbia Disaster and Fox Fence). But we still have two more former gas stations at 33rd Ave. to remind us of our roots.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I hope the street gets resurfaced, as it has deteriorated considerably, perhaps partly did to many pavement cuts.

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  • SteveG June 5, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    B.D is right. Take a look back on Google maps. Division was a sh*tshow in 2007.

    WRT to the bioswales vs. bike lanes, I ride down Division all the time, and I like the bioswales. Depending on your comfort level as a cyclist, either (a) bike on Clinton or Lincoln, both of which are very pleasant “bike boulevards,” or (b) stay on Division and TAKE THE LANE! At least when riding West / downhill, it’s pretty easy to keep up with car traffic. Yes, drivers may get frustrated, but if cyclists take the lane, they’ll set the pace, and frustrated drivers who want to go faster will shift over to Powell or Hawthorne — where they probably should be anyway.

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    • spare_wheel June 5, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      “Yes, drivers may get frustrated, but if cyclists take the lane, they’ll set the pace”

      So you are admitting that motorists are now more “frustrated” (e.g. road ragey) on Division. How is this not a step backwards for cycling in Portland?

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    • Buzz June 6, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      just what I love – being a human speed bump

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  • SteveG June 5, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Actually, I don’t recall having experienced any hostility from drivers when cycling downhill on Division. But I tend to ride at the speed limit so as to not impede traffic that’s driving at approximately the speed limit.

    But I’m not belligerent or stubborn, either. If someone behind me seems to be in a hurry, I generally pull over and let them pass when it’s safe to do so. But most of the time I just ride at the speed limit, in the middle of the traffic lane, and I don’t have any trouble.

    I actually think that riding in the middle of the lane, with traffic, feels safer than riding in a bike lane along the shoulder. I’ve been doored a few times, even while in a bike lane, and that’s not ideal, either.

    Note that I’m not advocating “taking the lane” for everyone. In fact, if I’m riding with my kids or my wife, who aren’t comfortable riding with traffic, I ride on the bike boulevards.

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    • spare_wheel June 6, 2014 at 11:13 am

      the uphill stretch between 20th and 32nd sucks for cycling. it’s being transformed into a single lane version of hawthorne.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu June 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm

        I rode that part, eastbound, yesterday. The pavement is bad, but what else is bad about it? I didn’t notice whatever it is – what did I miss.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson June 5, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    We should be celebrating the transformation of that section of SE Division from a commuter route with vacant lots and dying businesses into a vital piece of the city. I’m looking forward to more housing on Interstate, Broadway, Fremont; with that comes more retail, more people, more energy and fewer vacant lots, parking lots, and less blight.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 6, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Does anyone who went on this walk have a report they would be willing to offer? I’d be interested to hear.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) June 6, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      I went. It began with a half-hour venting session for people who are upset about construction in the neighborhood (many of the complaints were about the construction itself rather than the long-term density impacts) but there were some loud pro-density voices, most notably Metro councilor and longtime local Bob Stacey. Then we broke into small groups and got down to brass tacks about architecture and planning details such as building materials, building height and plaza location. I found this more educational and more cordial.

      The most vocal people seemed to be homeowners and seemed to me to start from the assumption that (a) everyone around them was a homeowner, and that (b) the longer you’ve lived in an area, the more right you have to influence its development pattern. There were a few folks under age 60; almost everyone was affiliated with some neighborhood association or another.

      There was also a written survey circulated, and an invitation for people who showed up to engaged with the city’s comprehensive plan process in the coming months.

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      • Oregon Mamacita June 7, 2014 at 10:24 am

        Michael, I know members of the local neighborhood group. Some of those folks rebuilt dilapidated older homes with their own hands. Back in the day- people put in their own gardens. When you invest in restoring a neighborhood of older homes, you resent the oppressive nature of the builders that run this town and their untalented architects. Why should anyone invest in most Portland neighborhoods? Why transform your yard from weeds to native plants if ugly infill will soon be built to throw your garden is shade?

        I know some hip young Portlanders nearing 30 who are moving to Milwaukie so that they can have chickens and a quiet neighborhood.

        Seriously- I will never buy another house in PDX. The streets suck, the city
        revolves around the wishes of the 6% (you know, that same group of bike commuters that hasn’t grown since 2008). Our unfunded pension liabilities are a ticking time bomb. You can laugh at Gresham- but the city is better managed. same with Milwaukie. Portland is circling the drain.

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        • maccoinnich June 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm

          I am a hip young Portlander nearing 30, and I don’t know anyone moving to Mulwaukie. Therefore my anecdote cancels out your anecdote.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 6, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    I can understand, if not fully agree with, the older homeowners having that view. They are the most likely to be there for the future Division and the least able to pack up and leave if the street turns out badly. To take the logic (of equating longevity to voice) to an extreme, how much “say” in future development should a hotel guest have?

    But what are the homeowners upset about? I would guess the redevelopment of ratty old Division St will increase property values, not decrease them. And, being home OWNERs, they can’t be involuntarily displaced. Sure, a four story apartment going up next to your house would suck, but if my house is right on Division St, I know I’m living on a mixed commercial/residential block.

    Just curious.

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    • Doug Klotz June 6, 2014 at 11:57 pm

      Re: longevity and renter vs. homeowner status. My neighbor has rented the house next door to me for over 20 years. Should he have more of a voice than the couple across the street who bought a house 3 years ago? Less? Only one of the 12 RNA board members is a renter. Yet the percentage of renters in Richmond is, I believe, higher than that ratio of renters to homeowners. And, the percentage of Richmond households that are renters has probably jumped substantially, and will again in the next 2 years as the next 5 apartment buildings open.

      Unlike the common “homeowners associations” across the country, Portland’s “neighborhood associations” theoretically represent all residents, not just homeowners. But, of course, it’s the homeowners who show up. RNA, for instance, is trying to figure out how to even deliver newsletters to residents of these large apartment buildings with locked front doors.

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      • 9watts June 7, 2014 at 7:00 am

        Well said, Doug!

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    • Doug Klotz June 7, 2014 at 8:59 am

      To summarize the complaints, I’d say the most complaints are about the parking issues. The parking overflow (till now from the restaurants along Division) and from the new apartment buildings. I assume that most of those complaining do not have their own off-street spaces, or, they have them, but their garage is filled with stuff, e.g. The second class of complaint is the height of buildings, especially by those immediately adjoining them. The third complaint is the amount of new auto traffic, which at this point is pretty difficult to separate from the congestion caused by all the construction.

      On the height issue, the difference in height of a 45′ building and the existing adjacent single family house (say, 24′) seems great. However, south of Division, the R2.5 zone has a 35′ height limit. So, as new houses get built to the south of these 45′ buildings, they could well be 35′, a reasonable step-down.

      North of Division, the zoning is (for now) R-5. But, it’s Comp.Plan designation is R2.5, so the same 35′ high buildings could be built there. Despite this, the Division Main St Overlay mandates a stepdown from 45′ to 35′ on the back 25’of these Division properties, so they’re stepping down to the height limit in the adjacent zone. I wonder about the need for this, since the stepdown would otherwise occur anyway, just at the property line instead of in the Commercial zone.

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      • Oregon Mamacita June 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm

        “I assume that most of those complaining do not have their own off-street spaces, or, they have them, but their garage is filled with stuff>”

        Doug- not a warranted assumption. Sometimes a homeowner doesn’t like the loud slamming of doors etc when the drunks drive home when the bars close and the parties end. Or, perhaps they would like grandma to visit and not park eight blocks away.

        A correction in some otherwise fine points.

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  • Doug Klotz June 7, 2014 at 8:03 am

    At 30th and Division, the group leader asked how folks felt about the development there. Some (not all) noted that the two story buildings on two corners seemed about the right height, and they liked the plaza on the SE corner, at the D Street Village building (old Nature’s store). This little plaza, which existed before, has tables, and cute fencing along the sidewalk. The Bollywood restaurant that fronts on it had an open wall of doors, but at 6:00 on a sunny afternoon, no-one was in the plaza, which some people took note of. Others were also concerned that this really wasn’t a “public” plaza, as it was private property where any “undesirables” could be evicted, not to mention the effect of it being fenced. A couple of other buildings, at 3339, and 3812, have smaller “notches” in the building that are open, but similarly are on private property.

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    • Cora Potter June 9, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      Doug – it wasn’t said out loud, but the primary reason the plaza was empty was obvious, it didn’t have any furnishings. More visual cues the plaza entries (centering them a bit more, adding some flair) would have helped too, but overall no one is going to hang out there if there’s nowhere to sit.

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  • SteveG June 7, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    Maybe the neighborhood’s renters — perhaps led by Doug’s neighbor who has lived here for 20 years — should get organized and start making their voices heard at neighborhood association meetings. Otherwise the associations will continue to represent primarily “entitled” residents (i.e. those with a Title Deed).

    Venture into a neighborhood association meeting sometime and you’ll find that many neighborhood activists are otherwise-progressive homeowners with land-use positions very similar to those of homeowners in wealthy suburbs and other exclusive communities: “we like the status quo, so stop the development!”

    They would never say this overtly and they still think they’re “fighting the good fight,” but by combatting infill and density, many of the area’s homeowners have embraced land use positions that are deeply conservative — and, from an economic diversity standpoint, increasingly exclusive.

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    • Oregon Mamacita June 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      Remind me what is progressive about 2000.00 a month apartments, and what is progressive to allow developers to dramatically change a neighborhood because they have carte blanche from the politicians
      who get campaign cash from said developers?

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  • SteveG June 9, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Mamacita, you’re right. There’s nothing progressive about $2,000 a month apartments. But there’s also nothing inherently progressive about $250/month rents. Relatively low rents generally just reflect a neighborhood’s relatively low desirability.

    Rents are a function of supply and demand.

    The Division/Clinton corridor is a great place to live. Lots of people want to live here, so property owners (developers as well as homeowners) can charge high rents and still fill their vacancies. If we pass laws to make it more expensive to build more housing (e.g. by requiring that new apartments provide parking, or otherwise limiting density), developers’ costs will increase, fewer units of housing will be built, the local housing supply will be even more constrained, and rents will be even higher.

    There are only a few effective ways to drive down rents: increase the supply of housing, do something (e.g. sell a lot of drugs or start a major crime spree) to decrease local housing demand, or require that developers build a certain percentage of “income restricted” housing. Unfortunately, Oregon currently prohibits #3.

    Portland’s inner neighborhoods have seen a huge spike in desirability over the past 15-odd years, without a similar increase in housing supply. And developers (companies as well as homeowners converting garages and basements into ADUs) are responding to the market.

    People who are concerned about high rents should be agitating for inclusionary zoning (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inclusionary_zoning) and MORE development, not less.

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    • Lynn June 28, 2014 at 8:32 am

      Reasonable rents are progressive because people who aren’t rich need to live somewhere. We get shamed for not having savings when most of the money from our crap wages is donated to landlords by because we never had the income for a mortgage.

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  • alex June 9, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    i am a se resident, studied arch/urban planning, and used to get my moped fixed at the scooter shop. i walk, i bike, i moped, i drive a car. here are my quick opinions:

    se division is a e/w traffic corridor following a rhythm of major/minor streets on the east side. it should stay that way for all vehicles. its what makes it desirable to have businesses along, its also the appropriate type of street to densify. if you make it too inconvenient for auto traffic, they will filtre to the residential streets and that is dangerous/undesirable.

    i do not believe that the personal transportation device (i.e. car) will disappear from american culture. i quite enjoy driving (not in the city) and like that my car is available if i want to go out of town or longer distances/cargo. its naive to building new residential buildings and not include parking, everyone loses out quality of life-wise except for the developers that saved a whole lot of money.

    architecturally, while a few of the buildings are well designed, most are cheap and boring. the clinton at 26th and division is the type of design quality i would like to see (and it has parking (gasp!)).

    the homogeneity is disappointing. it reminded me of a mini albina.

    i need to visit the oregon theatre (in the interests of experiencing “old” portland culture) before it gets replaced by lackluster buildings..

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