(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)
Portland’s transportation revenue plans may be stalled, but its top appointed transportation official is moving ahead with a two-pronged policy agenda that can be pursued without much new money — and might even help create its own.
“We have a job at PBOT to make better use of the street space that we do have, including the parking zone.”
— Leah Treat
One of Director Leah Treat’s goals for 2015, she said Tuesday, is “getting on offense on parking” by creating a “set of tools” that neighborhoods will be able to use to charge for parking or to, in some cases, remove it to make room for bike lanes or public parklets.
Another: start enacting a plan to eliminate all traffic deaths, a concept known as Vision Zero.
“We’re ready to roll,” Treat said in a brief interview after Tuesday’s presentation.
Treat’s remarks were delivered at a luncheon speech to the Portland chapter of the transportation professionals’ group WTS.
They also included a preview of something the city began working on soon after Treat’s 2013 hire: the first of what would become a series of two-year work plans for the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
During her presentation Tuesday, Treat laid out her two biggest issues for the year.
Putting a price on parking
Treat said that managing Portland’s population growth will require charging people for parking cars on more city streets rather than giving the space away for free to anyone who wants it.
“We’re adding more jobs,” she said. “That’s great news for our economy. But it also creates a lot of tension. … Portland is not adding more street space. So we have a job at PBOT to make better use of the street space that we do have, including the parking zone.”
Parts of the city that already have parking meters, she said, should take a cue from San Francisco or Seattle and vary the meter prices based on demand, with an aim to reduce cruising by making sure there’s always one parking space open on every block.
Other neighborhoods — she showed a slide that used Hollywood and Southeast Hawthorne as examples — should get parking meters for the first time. Still others might see maximum parking time limits to allow turnover, or residential permit systems.
“You can’t come out with a one-size-fits-all approach,” Treat said, describing the parking reform as an effort to “provide the tools to neighborhoods” that would let them control their own parking situation. “Customers need to be able to shop and support local businesses without spilling over into local neighborhoods.”
She said the public outreach effort will begin with a “parking summit” this year, gathering downtown businesses and other stakeholders to discuss the issue.
“We won’t be able to succeed without the businesses on board and supporting the changes we need to make,” she said. “We have to recognize the high cost of free parking.”
Vision Zero, spelled out
“We need to place a much higher priority in this city on safety,” Treat said.
In 2013, she noted, Portland’s traffic fatality rate was twice its homicide rate.
“When I was a junior in high school, my best friend was killed driving too fast on a windy roadway,” Treat said. “In college, one of my best friends was killed riding his bicycle. … I’m never going to get them back. No one is.”
She speculated that everyone in the room knew someone who had died in traffic.
Treat said Vision Zero would mean more 4-3 road diets to reduce traffic speeding and weaving and more of the rapid-flash crosswalk beacons that she said reduce walking deaths by 80 percent.
Safer streets would help the economy too, she said. She cited studies estimating that traffic fatalities cost Oregon’s economy $422 million each year, and Portland’s $150 million.
“It’s a vision that lets Portlanders lead a healthy and active life,” she went on. “Vision Zero attracts to Portland the people and companies that will provide middle-income jobs that we need to keep our economy going.”
In her presentation, Treat acknowledged that her goals are ambitious. But at several points she said the city can’t afford not to have these arguments now.
“It’s come time for us to start prepping for the future, and it’s not going to be easy,” she said.
To help guide these upcoming citywide discussions, Treat shared a sneak peek of PBOT’s “two-year workplan.” We first looked into that plan last year and PBOT says it will be released in full on February 3rd. The plan is built around six major themes (including Vision Zero) and it will act as a “city-driven blueprint for how PBOT can help achieve the goals of the people of Portland.”
We’ll share more details about the plan tomorrow.
(NOTE: The lead photo of Leah Treat was changed at 8:18 pm on 1/20)
Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.
Enforce parking laws that already exist. Enforce them on neighborhood streets.
Show Leah Treat that photo of her with those glasses a year from now.
“…Show Leah Treat that photo of her with those glasses a year from now.” huey lewis
Not a great photo (better luck next time, michael.), but I like that Treat is willing to take a style plunge and wear glasses like that. I wonder if she plays piano.
Also like hearing that Treat favors the use of pedestrian activated rapid flash crosswalk beacons. What I’ve seen of them in operation, those things work great, and don’t require people driving to remain stopped as long as a standard red yellow green traffic lights do. A positive addition to road infrastructure.
Note: the glasses Treat was wearing in the picture bikeportland changed out to the one that has her appearing in more of an official capacity, that’s there now, were of a jazzy looking bright blue color, regular glass, not sunglasses. Kind of wild, but looked good.
Yeah, wsbob was right – the photo I grabbed yesterday wasn’t very good, so Jonathan swapped in one from our files.
Yes to both of these! Well, yes to the ACTIONS that these initiatives would lead to. If this is just more pretty words—like much of what we’ve got from city hall—I’m not buying.
What’s the chance that there will be any actual enforcement and prosecution of motor vehicle operators? Without that, I doubt any real progress on Vision Zero.
I know it was in Gresham, not Portland, but the story on KGW about three high school students being struck in the crosswalk on 182nd ended with “no citations have been issued.”
and of course the comments sections on the articles are full of victim-blaming…
Clearing weeds and debris in unbuilt public right-of-way and making (gravel) trails doesn’t cost much.
Warning, Treat. You try to tax/charge people with existing curb cuts (and hence driveways/garages) and I will personally organize the homeowners of this town to protest your office daily… You’ve been warned.
I may have to protest your protest.
You’ve been warned:-)
But seriously, this *sounds* auspicious. I’m very curious to read the report due next month.
This part, though, I didn’t understand. “We won’t be able to succeed without the businesses on board.” Everything else sounded reasonable, but this part was a little too familiar, a little too 20th Century, for my tastes. If you believe that free parking has too high of a cost, and businesses don’t agree with that, then I submit it is your job to persuade them of this fact. If they aren’t interested, aren’t persuaded, then I think you should proceed apace.
I dare say a tax won’t be in the plan, but rather a direct user fee. I prognosticate.
“Treat said Vision Zero would mean more 4-3 road diets to reduce traffic speeding”
Hawthorne, 82nd, Chavez!
NE Broadway, Sandy, Burnside!
State roads. We could affect change quicker if we didn’t hold transfers hostage to ‘fully funding improvements’.
“It’s a vision that lets Portlanders lead a healthy and active life,”
Code for cycling, walking, and skating. Sad that our civil servants have to use code.
I wonder if several small parking garages would be appropriate for high-demand retail and dining spots. There has to be some value to theoretically pay, say, five bucks to park a block off 28th, Division, Hawthorne, Alberta, etc instead of circling the neighborhood for a spot.
We have parking garages in downtown, why not elsewhere?
It’s going to have to a systematic approach though (which likely many local neighbors won’t like). You have to go a few blocks in otherwise, everyone will just try to avoid paying and park on the side street. I think you’re severely underestimating the draw of free parking.
The smart meter talk to ap’s on your phone now. Up to 40% of traffic in some neighborhoods are just drivers looking for parking. There is NO need for more parking ramps. Thy cost many millions and just INDUCE demand by encouraging more auto use. These new aps tell you exactly where the open spaces are and how much per hour. That way you can driver right to one and it is your call how much you want to pay….and how far you want to walk.
Because we charge for street parking downtown. Who is going to pay to build a parking garage when the city is giving away hundreds of free spots nearby?
HECK YEAH! GO LEAH TREAT!!!!!!!!
Now were talking… active transportation, safer roads, road diets, and an end to subsidized parking. These are all a sensible, cost effective ways of making the most of our streets all while reducing pollution and improving our quality of life.
So, let the haters hate and the doubters doubt! They have no argument, they have no revenue, they have no vision..
Without more funding, I don’t think any of this will see the light of day. Sort of like a mini state-of-the-union address.
Done right this should be a *source* of funds, no?
I’d like to see enforced limits on long term vehicle storage on the street in residential neighborhoods. Portland’s abandoned auto department won’t tow vehicles that never move, as long as the registration tags are good. That means Multnomah County is only charging $75 (or whatever registration costs) for two years of vehicle storage in the public right of way. Seems way below market value. Our streets are a collective investment to facilitate MOVEMENT, not for long term personal property storage.
Daytime and nighttime parking off of SE Division is under major pressure from both increased business and residential density, yet I see vehicles that in some cases haven’t moved in the years I’ve been in the area. I’ve even seen “project vehicles” with no engine or plates that are being stored on the street with impunity.
I’d like to see more respect for the fact that the public right of way is a shared resource for all citizens, regardless of mode of transport. I’m amazed how entitled people feel to the street space in front of where they live. I’ve lived in a number of other cities where regularly scheduled street cleaning kept the buildup of stored vehicles at bay and had the added benefit of keeping our storm runoff cleaner. Aren’t those both goals for Portland?
I’m sure that with some sensible rules and even occasional enforcement of what constitutes reasonable use of our streets for parking, as opposed to storing, we can make better use of this shared and limited resource we all pay for and rely on. Done right, I’m sure the city could even turn a profit.
I report those kinds of abandoned vehicles and they get ticketed…
The city code includes a requirement that the vehicle must appear in disrepair, to be tagged and towed as “abandoned”.
but they’ll still get a ticket…
and if I report they’ve been there for a month they get a tow sticker on the window…
No, I spoke with abandoned autos right after my post blow. If the tags are good and they’re not illegally parked, then they’re OK indefinitely. Unless they fall into one of the following categories, they’re not going to be ticketed or towed:
1) Expired registration tags.
2) Illegally parked contrary to signage or zoning. Obviously includes blocking driveways, fire hydrants, crosswalks, etc…
3) If they appear to be in the process of being “junked”, i.e. missing parts that would make the vehicle non-functional.
…and then the nice lady at abandoned auto recalled a fourth category:
4) If they’re a prohibited type of vehicle such as RV, motorhome or camper.
I didn’t ask for clarification or the reasoning behind this because my primary target vehicle is an SUV with a thriving wetlands under it and moss all over the shady side of it.
However, 2 years ago I finally got a non-running van that various people would just show up at to hang out and do drugs in towed from in front of my house because the police finally ran the plates and it turned out the registration stickers were stolen. I have noticed less houseless people living out of their vehicles in the neighborhood in the past 18 months, I guess the economy is doing better. But I digress… Yeah, the city won’t ticket extremely long term parked cars in this residential neighborhood. That’s gotta change.
I report them and they don’t get ticketed…
because as long as the tags are good they are allowed to be stored on the street indefinitely. There is no time limit for duration of parking on residential streets unless otherwise marked. If there is one, please let me know. The answer I got from abandoned autos is that unless the vehicle “looks like it can’t move” or the tags are expired, they won’t ticket or tow.
“…I see vehicles that in some cases haven’t moved in the years I’ve been in the area. …” Twistyaction
Cars parked on the street and not having been moved for more than a week and longer, due to the vehicles not being actively used for transportation. I also don’t think people, residents or otherwise, ought to be able to park their cars on the street for that type time period, at least not without a special permit, or a special street storage fee.
On parking: I am trying to think of when a neighborhood would choose to impose paid street parking on itself. Perhaps a residential neighborhood that is getting overrun by commuters parking for a MAX station, or by shoppers parking for the nearby commercial district. But I think usually the neighborhood’s residents then favor residents-only “free” parking permits, rather than “paid” parking permits. Can anyone cite some examples of neighborhood-driven paid parking decisions?
On 4:3 road diets: great idea, I’ve been happy to see the ones done so far and hope they continue, and that they include bike lanes.
On pedestrian beacons: also a great thing, hopefully funding allows more than a handful per year – considering that the Street Fee is dead, there is no additional PBOT funding on the horizon (barring action in Salem), and the backlog of road maintenance continues to grow.
“I am trying to think of when a neighborhood would choose to impose paid street parking on itself.”
There are many ways to go about this, many variations on the familiar parking meters/fixed price approach. A parking benefit district would be just one of the more obvious ones, discussed here in the past.
“But I think usually the neighborhood’s residents then favor residents-only “free” parking permits, rather than “paid” parking permits. Can anyone cite some examples of neighborhood-driven paid parking decisions?”
I don’t think Portland has “free” parking permits – if you want the city to require permit parking in your neighborhood, you’ll have to pay an annual fee.
The Hawthorne district considered permit parking a few years back (with the strong support of the local neighborhood association), which got voted down in a landslide. Residents noted that not only would you have to buy annual permits for yourself (if you ever wanted to park on the street), but you would also have to buy a raft of temporary permits for your guests who wanted to park their cars for more than a couple of hours while visiting.
“Other neighborhoods — she showed a slide that used Hollywood and Southeast Hawthorne as examples — should get parking meters for the first time.”
Businesses have an interest in enforced short-term free parking, so that parking spaces turn over. Businesses have no interest in metered parking – which imposes a significant charge on customers who choose to arrive by car. It will be interesting to see how attempts to require metered parking on Hawthorne and in Hollywood go.
$60 a year is practically free as far as costs of vehicular ownership goes.
Guest permits are available and aren’t nearly the trouble you describe. Usually the permit zones are 2 hour parking and THEN permit only.
Portland doesn’t even have any residential overnight permits yet, either.
That isn’t the way that it works in NW, right? Isn’t it essentially that you need a permit for overnight parking, but people can park (for at least a few hours for free) on a daily basis?
Nope. The APP is only for daytime: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/445152
Not meter paid parking yet, I don’t think, but King’s Hill Goose Hollow is one neighborhood whose residents, I think, rallied to have the resident parking permit and stricter visitor time limits put in place. Did that for a variety of reasons, such as fans of the nearby ball games overwhelming neighborhood streets with parking of their cars during events. Also likely, out of neighborhood people parking in the neighborhood for free parking, and then walking into to Downtown to work for the day.
Discouraging people from abusing opportunities to use neighborhood streets for parking of cars is fine, but discussions of late, suggesting essentially, ‘let no street parking space go unpaid for.’, venture off into being excessively mercenary. While understanding that the city is in need of revenue to keep its infrastructure maintained, it wouldn’t be good if this approach to making money, went too far.
Bob, why should storing personal property in the public right of way be free anywhere in the city?
My point was, as I read the article, the plan seems to be to give neighborhoods the tools to impose parking restrictions on themselves. And I am wondering what makes neighborhoods choose to do that, and which neighborhoods have done so.
I don’t think we are realistically likely to see the city require payment for parking on public streets in a residential neighborhood, over the neighborhood’s opposition. Portland won’t pass the Street Fee, which was essentially an attempt to require payment for using public streets. Parking is no more or less a “use” of public streets than is driving or cycling on those streets. So I’d expect it to trigger similar opposition.
Residents are regularly complaining about the impact of additional residents and businesses on their parking. If the parking is actually as bad as they say, then they will be motivated to enact a permit system.
If they would rather not pay, at least they have the option and can’t simply resist density on the grounds that they will be inconvenienced.
“My point was, as I read the article, the plan seems to be to give neighborhoods the tools to impose parking restrictions on themselves. And I am wondering what makes neighborhoods choose to do that, and which neighborhoods have done so.
…” John Liu
John, I understood what your point is, and didn’t know of an example that directly answered your question. My mention of King’s Hill was to suggest a reason neighbors might be willing to, while perhaps not subject themselves to meter parking on the street out front of their house, at least have some restraints against excessive use of neighborhood streets for parking, on the part of people outside the neighborhood.
I think that’s the best, most logical reason to make efforts to manage parking of motor vehicles in areas where street parking is generally not regulated by the use of parking meters.
In response to Dan Kaufman’s question, implying that any parking of cars belonging to anybody, whether they’re a neighborhood resident, or not, is storage of personal property in the public right of way, that an hourly, daily or whatever time period fee should be paid for to the city:
I think residents of generally residential neighborhoods ought to be able to park a car or two that they’re using regularly, say weekly or more often, on the street without having to pay an hourly fee to do so. Whether or not the neighborhood has meters on the street to collect money for parking. I realize this has the potential, in some parts of the city having high residential density, to create some possibly difficult to solve problems. So the city would probably be best to approach the parking issue individually with each neighborhood. The revenue generation objective though, should be a secondary priority.
because we already have the space and built out infrastructure in some places?
Take my street for example in outer SE. We already have bike lanes, so the parking strips aren’t a major burden on cyclists. And the lanes are already there and built. They’re also used at maybe 30-40% right now. Why charge people, when there already isn’t a high demand for something?
If the street was packed, or we were talking about removing parking to update or improve infrastructure I might be with you, but what benefit would this have on our neighborhood, other than collecting more money from an area of town that already feels like it is neglected by the city?
I’m a fan of the road diets but I don’t quite like what the city did with East Burnside between 16th and 32nd. Keeping westbound parking means that drivers and buses choose to drive dangerously, partway into the centre turn lane, and it’s stop-and-go trying to drive though with people constantly pulling in and out of parking spots. I would have loved to see parking removed and the installation of a protected bike lane.
As I understand it, the Burnside thing was based on historical traffic demand. One direction had more traffic than the other during one of the peaks. I agree that progress requires new thinking. The Burnside decision seems more like the old days of accomodating current traffic instead of molding roadways into safer corridors.
please report any buses doing that…
ORS 811.370 Failure to drive within lane
I’m going to start reporting ALL Hawthorne buses…
“Vision Zero attracts to Portland the people and companies that will provide middle-income jobs that we need to keep our economy going.”
I don’t even know what to say about this. Does she have data? Is it wise to connect VZ and PBOT with growth of middle-income jobs? How about just focus on safe and maintained streets?!
“I don’t even know what to say about this. Does she have data? Is it wise to connect VZ and PBOT with growth of middle-income jobs? How about just focus on safe and maintained streets?!”
Usual Portlandia. The latest bright and shiny object (in this case Vision Zero) is always far more interesting to city government than doing the mundane tasks associated with running a city, which is why city government does so little street maintenance.
“How about just focus on safe…streets?!”
PS: maintaining streets and safety are two different issues.
Mundane tasks of running a city…like keeping its citizens alive when using public rights of way? Not sure why maintenance is more essential a city function in your view.
Interesting (to me, at least) that fixed, “high viz” rapid flashing traffic beacons are being hailed for their awesomeness yet smaller, mobile flashing bicycle beacons (ie. “blinkies”) are derided as obnoxious, useless epilepsy-inducing menaces.
rapid-flash beacons are designed to make you stop… they are intentionally overwhelming…
blinking bike lights are designed to be seen… they are unintentionally overwhelming…
Speaking of parking, PBOT needs to address this. On street parking gets priority over people walking. This needs to end now.
Seriously! It’s been a nightmare as a pedestrian trying to navigate around all the new apartments going up everywhere. Last summer on Division was particularly awful having to cross the street every block back and forth.
they should have closed a lane of Hawthorne at 39th and given it to peds while Freddie’s remodels… there’s too much foot traffic there to close the sidewalk…
I’m so glad to have a PBOT director who seems to get it. Let’s hope city hall will back her up!
This is awesome! This is exactly what I hope to be hearing from the Director of PBOT. Leah Treat, I’m with you 100%!
I didn’t see any mention of ‘safe routes to school’ or,equally important, ‘safe routes to work/shopping/etc’. Captured by Vision Zero? Large areas still lack the means to get safely to other than than motor vehicle.. ( like Swan Island?) I hope this Vision Zero provides the leverage to make such efforts happen.
She praised Safe Routes to School at some length in the presentation, saying we’ve got the best such program in the country. I didn’t include it here, but she certainly makes it one of her standard talking points – she also included a photo of her husband and their four children on a longtail bike as a way to explain how important the program is to her.
Here’s what I sent in when the city was soliciting comments on the street fee proposal:
I shared it later in June with BikeWalkVote, along with the following additional remarks:
All those SDCs, developer fees and anticipated increased property tax revenue make the city very accommodating to intensely disruptive property development at the expense of pedestrian safety. It’s been said before, but in more mature metro areas the developer would be required to construct a plywood pedestrian tunnel along the sidewalk when construction threatens the pedestrian r.o.w.
I would guess that because there’s not people who would pay enough to park in them, not when other options exist. Even on NW 23rd, that notoriously crowded district, a parking garage seems to never have penciled out.
Finally! parking charges on Hawthorne! yes please…
How about exploring a city program where neighborhood residents can have 1-2 parking meters put in front of their own houses? Split the revenue with the city, the resident can park there for free (but then of course miss out on the revenue). Enforcement costs could also be reduced if residents are inclined to phone in infractions, for review by the standard traffic patrol. And the cost of installing meters could be spread out over time.
Imagine your neighbor making a few bucks while you let strangers park in front of your house for free – the incentive to monetize would be strong. The spread of parking meters could be organic and would naturally follow patterns of commerce. And the city could avoid the controversy that always seems to follow a more top down approach.
Almost like parking spot sharing? 😮 I could dig that… I just want to buy a house and get bike corrals put in front of my house. I’d pay all the costs and all the neighborhood cyclists could feel free to use em’ for whatever they want!