Parks bureau restarts River View planning process

Posted by on April 3rd, 2015 at 11:46 am

riveviewlead

New map released by Portland Parks bureau shows just one, hiking-only, trail around the outside edge of the River View parcel.

Portland Parks & Recreation has resumed the public process for the River View Natural Area project. This is the project that has been mired in controversy since a surprise announcement on March 2nd that bicycling would be banned in the park until further notice.

In an email yesterday, the Parks bureau announced a Public Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting that will be held on April 8th and an open house event that will follow on May 4th. This would be the first PAC meeting since January of last year.

According to the PAC meeting agenda Parks Director Mike Abbaté will share introductory remarks which will be followed by a “natural resource presentation and discussion” by Parks Planner Emily Roth. There is an open public comment period at the end of the meeting.

“If we’re not allowed to talk about mountain biking, than why am I here?”
— Charlie Sponsel, Project Advisory Committee member

Given the extreme disappointment from many people about bicycling being excluded from the 146-acre parcel, this will likely be a heated meeting. Charlie Sponsel, the man who led an opposition rally last month and who told a national magazine earlier this week that Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz were “way out of line” in making their decision, is a member of the PAC.

Sponsel told us today that he and another mountain bike representative on the PAC, Brian Baumann of the Northwest Trail Alliance, are still debating exactly what posture they should take. “I’ve heard that the Technical Advisory Committee [a closed process running parallel to the public process] is not discussing biking at all,” he said, “So, if we’re not allowed to talk about mountain biking, than why am I here?”

The PAC’s mission is to develop a plan that will determine how the City of Portland should manage the parcel and how best to balance public access with ecological goals. From the outset of the planning process that started in 2013, Sponsel and other mountain bike advocates were led to believe by the Parks bureau that bike trails would be considered. Informal trails have existed in River View for several decades and it’s a valued riding area due to its close-in location.

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Unfortunately for Sponsel and other bike advocates, Parks isn’t the only agency with a claim on this land. Of the parcel’s $11.25 million purchase price, the Parks bureau paid $2.5 million, Metro (who owns a conservation easement over the entire parcel) paid $2 million, and the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) paid $6 million to maintain the area as a watershed.

That BES investment used money from sewer and water ratepayers and triggered in 2011. The suit claimed the city should not have used sewer funds for park land. A judge ruled in the city’s favor in 2014. After first citing ecological concerns as the reason for excluding bicycles, Fritz and Fish now say their decision was based on fears they might get pulled back into the lawsuit.

For their part, Sponsel and Baumann were working in good faith in the process until March 2014. At that point the project came to a halt. Parks planned to host a PAC meeting in June 2014 and release a draft management plan to the public at an open house in July, but both of those meetings were cancelled with no explanation. Nothing was heard from the City about this project until the controversial memo from Commissioners Fritz and Fish came out on March 2nd.

In materials (PDF) released for next week’s meeting Parks refers to mountain biking as an “interim restricted” use which “will be considered through the City‐wide Off Road Cycling Plan.” That’s a reference to the $350,000 plan Commissioner Fritz insists must be completed before mountain bike access is formalized and sanctioned at River View and the city’s other parks and natural areas.

The meeting materials also show a draft trail that has a hiking trail around the outside edge of the parcel, keeping most of the park as an “interior preserve” with no public access. That draft map, and a stipulation in the “conservation actions” published today stating trails can only be located “within 200 feet from the outside edge of the property,” make it hard to foresee where and how bike trails would ever be allowed.

Further clouding discussions about bike access at River View is the notice of intent to appeal to the State Land-Use Board of Appeals filed by the Northwest Trial Alliance against the City of Portland on March 24th.

Details on next week’s PAC meeting and the open house are below:

    River View Public Advisory Committee (PAC) Meeting:
    Wednesday, April 8th, 5:30pm – 8:00pm
    The Watershed Community Room (6388 SW Capitol Highway at Bertha)

    Community Open House:
    Monday, May 4th, 5:30pm – 7:30pm
    Multnomah Arts Center (7688 SW Capitol Highway)

Stay tuned for more coverage.

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Alex
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Alex

It is incredibly disappointing they are saying it will be dealt with in the master plan, because no such master plan exists, nor is their a guarantee that it will. This seems just like a political diversion to take the heat off of Fritz and Fish. I have mixed feelings about it, but we need something and we need it soon.

Free Forest Park.

spencer
Guest
spencer

I agree, the political status quo is to stall, divert, and cover. Its disingenuous to restart this process while the current closed committee is lobbying to close all access to Portland’s citizens who happen to ride bikes on trails. The master plan is a smokescreen.

UncleMuscles
Guest
UncleMuscles

Just keep kicking that can down the road and half the people that cared about it will soon forget. The city that works!

Paul Souders
Guest
Paul Souders

Yup. This seems about right

davemess
Guest
davemess

Or they’ll just give up and move away.
Or just stop mountain biking all together.

Brian
Guest
Brian

If that plan for RVNA is adopted, there will be no space for mtb trails even if the Master Plan (which is also a *maybe*) concludes that RVNA could hold them. Try taking hiking only trails and turning them into mixed use, when the other use (mtb’ing) isn’t even mentioned in the Management Plan. That will be about as easy as changing anything in Forest Park. Though Parks does not want many people at the PAC meeting next week due to limited seating, we should get there early and ensure that ALL available seating go to mountain bikers. If the place is full, no worries. Gather outside the door and help make a point. The plan is not acceptable and cannot go to the Community Input Meeting in May as written. And write to City Hall. Hand-written letters.

MNBikeLuv
Guest
MNBikeLuv

“Sponsel told us today that he and another mountain bike representative on the PAC, Brian Baumann of the Northwest Trail Alliance, are still debating exactly what posture they should take.”

Let me answer that for you: you have a pulpit at the next meeting. You can use that pulpit to rally the troops and declare your intentions. Stand up, respectively say your piece, make it clear that banning bikes at River View was the “firing on Fort Sumter” moment for the City of Portland, resign from the River View PAC, drop the mic and lead the MTBers out the door.

ac
Guest
ac

tho it might feel good, leaving the table is the last thing that should be considered…

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Not so sure about that. Sitting at a table where the other side is working in bad faith isn’t so good.

Anyone meeting with them must remember that they are not operating in good faith.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Yes, the city apparently seems to just be pretending that the previous meetings and process didn’t happen at all?

I feel like I”m taking crazy pills!?!?!?!?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…Parks isn’t the only agency with a claim on this land. Of the parcel’s $11.25 million purchase price, the Parks bureau paid $2.5 million, Metro (who owns a conversation easement over the entire parcel) paid $2 million, and the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) paid $6 million to maintain the area as a watershed. …” maus/bikeportland

So it’s other agencies interests, investments, and responsibilities, as well as those of the city of Portland and its two commissioners, that are connected to the cease in use of the Riverview parcel for mountain biking.

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

That’s correct. A variety of agencies and interests, none of which have any evidence, science, analysis or facts to support the assertion that bicycles cause disproportionate environmental impacts at River View or elsewhere.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Whatever.

The fact remains that the bigger part of the money to buy the Riverview parcel came from elsewhere than the city itself.

It appears that the city may not have full autonomy from other sources of the money, in deciding recreational use that’s appropriate for the parcel. If so, constant battering on commissioner’s Fritz and Fish, attempting to hold them solely responsible for the decision to curtail use of the park for mountain biking, isn’t likely to do much good.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Whatever.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

And all you can say is “whatever”. A prime example of the level of thinking that gets mountain bike enthusiasts such limited success in their efforts to use natural park lands within the city for mountain biking.

From your comment posted to the top of this comment section:

“…This seems just like a political diversion to take the heat off of Fritz and Fish. …”

I’d like to think you’re kidding, but you’re probably not. It wouldn’t be a surprise to learn you actually believe what you wrote in that statement on this open to the public forum.

The city, and its commissioners, likely are not the sole reason for the cessation of mountain biking on the Riverview parcel. This is pointed out rather directly in this bikeportland story.

Within the boundaries of their jobs with the city, they actually could be in favor of proceeding with resuming use of Riverview for mountain biking, but may not be able to because of objections or prohibitions originating from the other agencies.

Go ahead, as Brian suggests, join in with your mountain bike enthusiast friends and crash the meetings, occupy all the chairs so nobody else has a chance to sit. Provide the city and its residents with an example of the kind of people you are. If forces ever do come together to consider having use of the Rivergate parcel for mountain biking resume, other people with ideas of visiting the park would probably like to have some idea of what they may have to deal with.

Brian
Guest
Brian

“Crashing” connotes that one is not invited. On the contrary, these are public meetings. Attending them and speaking one’s mind is appropriately participating in local,democratic politics.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I have much more to say than “whatever”. I was simply pointing out how childish you act on these forums.

“The city, and its commissioners, likely are not the sole reason for the cessation of mountain biking on the Riverview parcel. This is pointed out rather directly in this bikeportland story.”

Well, duh. That’s what everyone has been saying all along, wsbob. Your insights are broad and deep.

“Go ahead, as Brian suggests, join in with your mountain bike enthusiast friends and crash the meetings, occupy all the chairs so nobody else has a chance to sit.” – wsbob

Thanks for the political advice – I am sure you have led many successful political movements and have changed many people’s thinking. I can tell by the number of people who seem to appreciate your comments. There seems to be 1, or possibly 2, consistently.

If you don’t think Fish and Fritz aren’t trying to take some of the heat off of themselves, then I think you are doing a bad job at reading what they are putting out. Why do you think they mentioned the mountain bike master plan at all? Just by chance? I am pretty sure they are trying to pacify some people with those statements.

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

You’re generous, Alex. I suspect the overall batting average is a decimal far, far south of 1.

Dan
Guest
Dan

wsbob, there is hardly any interest in mountain biking in Portland, remember? I doubt there will be many people there.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“Provide the city and its residents with an example of the kind of people you are.”

Passionate, involved stakeholders, who are willing to show up and put in the volunteer hours to help the city improve its own facilities?

Yeah, I could see the city and the public hating those kind of residents……

Andy
Guest
Andy

What is your goal?

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Whatever?

So that’s what it’s come to for you, eh?

Isn’t Nick Fish part of BES? Isn’t BES listed as a party to the purchase? Isn’t Nick Fish an elected official? Aren’t we supposed to appeal to our elected representatives to make sound decisions based on evidence?

I suppose we could all defecate in one hand and wish for change in the other. Which fills up first?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

From Maus’s story:

“…Parks isn’t the only agency with a claim on this land. Of the parcel’s $11.25 million purchase price, the Parks bureau paid $2.5 million, Metro (who owns a conservation easement over the entire parcel) paid $2 million, and the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) paid $6 million to maintain the area as a watershed. …”

Metro as well, put money towards the purchase price. Add up the numbers, and there’s still $750,000 not met by those three contributors, that must have come from somewhere. Like other people it seems, I don’t know exactly what required that use of Riveview for mountain biking be ceased. I’d like to know. I’m very doubtful about the conclusion some people seem to want to come to, that the decision to cease, arose from some whim on the part of one or the other commissioner.

And if you’re looking to present to the public, a positive example of the type of people mountain bike enthusiasts are, confine the scatological references amongst yourselves, away from an open to the public forum.

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

If you’re easily offended maybe you could choose to not read my comments? Anyway, you didn’t asnwer any of my questions, as usual.

Also, Alex’s “whatever” was a direct response to your childish “whatever” comment. I’m surprised you weren’t smart enough to pick up on that.

The house will be packed at the meeting and I suspect it will drive you absolutely insane to see people being civil while exercising their rights as citizens to demand answers from their elected officials.

Keep deflecting and trying to paint mountain bikers as some kind of evil group and it’ll be you who looks like the villain at the end of this.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

I think the people that are going to be offended by your bad language, that should matter to mountain bike enthusiasts wanting to gain use of Riverview for mountain biking, are family type readers of this weblog. They most likely don’t want to read scatological language, or have to deal with people that talk that way in public parks. How mountain bike enthusiasts present themselves on this weblog, is an indication of sorts, of the kind of people they are.

Seriously z, I figured the questions you asked were rhetorical. Questions you already knew the answers to, which is why I jumped directly into review of possible reasons the decision to curtail mountain biking at Riverview has occurred. I think this is one area people ought to be considering if they hope to understand why things stand as they do presently.

You’re funny, z. Doesn’t bother me at all, if the meeting hall is packed with people wanting to know the situation with Riverview. Would be kind of bad if everybody doesn’t conduct themselves well. No good reason for that to happen. I’ve never had, and have no problem with mountain bike enthusiasts in general, or their aspirations towards getting use of natural lands within Portland for mountain biking, as long as the lands they seek use of, aren’t nature parks. So as far as I’m concerned, as I’ve said before, Riverview for that use, may be fine. Other people may think differently.

Alex
Guest
Alex

That’s great to hear that you are in favor of mountain biking in Forest Park. I got the exact opposite impression.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“I’ve never had, and have no problem with mountain bike enthusiasts in general, or their aspirations towards getting use of natural lands within Portland for mountain biking, as long as the lands they seek use of, aren’t nature parks”

????????????????????????????????????????????

Zimmerman
Guest
Zimmerman

Are you drunk?

Charlie Sponsel
Guest

wsbob, the other $750,000 came from the Trust for Public Land. From their website “Whether improving the health of a local bay or preserving public access to a beloved mountain trail, we’re protecting life-giving land and water resources for all to enjoy.”

TPL was not the source of anti-MTB sentiment. It came from inside BES, from non-elected officials. Fish and Fritz acquiesced to the will of BES and banned bikes in River View.

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

Bob, if the best you’ve got for this thread is “Whatever,” you might as well come back over to http://bikeportland.org/2015/03/26/oregon-house-rep-gives-mandatory-reflective-clothing-bill-136181 , where we’re waiting patiently for you to refute physics. Could be your finest hour, not to mention a momentous day for science.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Walters, I had, and have way more to offer this discussion than ‘whatever’, in response to TrailLover’s reference to ‘…the science…’. I’m wrote, hoping to bring the discussion back to the fundamental fact that due to the multiple sources of purchase money, decision about appropriate use of the Riverview land parcel is not confined simply to Portland commissioner’s Fritz and Fish.

As to ‘…the science…’, which seems to be a kind of popular fall back option some people try use dominate discussion and decision making: science has its place in helping people, and broader society, understand and make decisions about how to proceed with their lives, but they do not rely exclusively on ‘…the science…’ to do this. Other things such as values and ethics, also factor into such decisions.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I would love to hear how you think values and ethics played into this.

davemess
Guest
davemess

So you don’t think science has a role in decision-making? Or just not a major role?

adam
Guest
adam

I don’t even particularly care about mountain biking, but I’m showing up to this.

For me it’s all about the principle. City Council did not follow public process, and that makes me mad.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Charlie, I think your point in the bike mag article (that there aren’t nearly enough trails in the city) is sound, but this statement is not exactly accurate:
“Some people claim there are MTB trails 12 miles away from downtown at Powell Butte, but those trails are 4-foot wide, crushed-gravel sidewalks. Most people riding at Powell Butte or Forest Park are on their cyclocross bikes.”

Powell Butte is not the best riding in the world, but I really doubt you have been there in the last 5-10 years if this is how you describe it (And Powell Butte is pretty terrible on a cross bike).

(Sorry for the comment jack)

Chandra
Guest
Chandra

This seems like a silly thing to quibble about. For me, a ‘cross bike is the right tool for PB, and a mountain bike is overkill. I also think a hardtail is the right tool for RV, where Charlie and many others might prefer a dually. It’s subjective. What bike is the best and what’s terrible is subjective. What is clear, though, is that PB doesn’t offer anything like the main DH trail at RV, something that’s pretty unique in the Portland area, hence the importance.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

The trails are fairly wide, but most of it is not crushed gravel, except for the top where they dumped way too much. That gravel is actually one reason I take the hardtail instead of a cross bike, I don’t need to slide around anymore on that.

davemess
Guest
davemess

True, Parks doesn’t offer DH trails at Powell Butte. But by saying there are no trails at Powell Butte, the Portland mountain biking community (again) comes off looking like DH is about the only type of mountain biking. We’re not going to increase public support by continuing to mainly promote a less accessible discipline in the sport. I would like some more technical trails than Powell Butte has to offer, but continually just complaining that trails “aren’t hard enough” just seems like a bad strategy.
That said I think there is room for a variety of trails for a variety of riders (thus I don’t like to see one style of trail, that might cater to a certain type of rider (beginners, etc) denigrated and dismissed).

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

For the record, I think I’ve ridden my road bike on the trails more than I’ve ridden either my cross bike or my mountain bike. I’m not exaggerating on that either. Same for the “trails” in Forest Park.

Eric H
Guest
Eric H

Should add that I meant to say at Powell Butte.

rick
Guest
rick

It is a park, not private street furniture.

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

Take the lane… uhh… Meeting!

spencer
Guest
spencer

I’ll be there. We need to voice the question “why is the public meeting process being restarted now? It looks like political trickery to “include” public planning while simultaneously executing the city’s “Technical Advisory Planning Process”.
The closed door committee will conclude that NO mountain biking will be allowed in the RVNA. It will be impossible to contradict that committee. Those that care need to call/ fax/ mail/ email ALL of the city councilors to make sure that the “Technical Advisory Committee” is an open meeting.
Who is going to identify the smokescreen and cry foul?

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Where did they find that map?

Brian
Guest
Brian

That map was just released publicly and to the PAC as pre-meeting material for the PAC meeting next Wed. It is the plan that will be discussed at the PAC, I assume. Given the saturation of hiking trails in the space available for recreation, I fail to see how a Master Plan could possibly identify any mtb potential there in the future. That means those trails, that were constructed for hiking, at best would become mixed use. Does anyone think those would be fun trails to ride? How about the public process to convert them to mixed use? It’s not like the Master Plan (sorry, potential Master Plan) can force things to just happen for mountain bikers because money was spent on it. I am for the Master Plan, assuming there are places to actually identify as possibilities for trails. If this plan at RVNA goes through without any consideration for the possibility of future mtb trails I don’t see it happening there, and any changes at Forest Park are incredibly difficult as well. So, what does that leave for space in Portland for longer XC loops and elevation for more technically challenging trails?

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

Looks like they removed any trail but that one within 100 yards of a stream (even the intermittent ones). Maybe they realized their error and are now going for the exclude everyone technique. (Except hikers can never be totally excluded).

Opus the Poet
Guest

If they are still allowing dogs they are still allowing the most damaging use of the parcel except maybe homeless people camping on it, so that makes the whole thing a no-go. No bikes, then no dogs. And they still haven’t proven that bikes are any worse than hikers or trail runners.

Grandpa
Guest
Grandpa

PAC meeting will have no influence on outcome. It is just be a CYA formality, after which Parks will do what ever it wants.

Alex
Guest
Alex

Yea – but being relentless is a political strategy that seems to eventually work.

eddie
Guest
eddie

I think I first mtb’d down those paths in 1992, when I was a ne’er do well Lewis and Clark undergrad,… I’ve been biking running and hiking all over that place ever since. What’s the stated reason to forbid mtbs in the woods? And how are they gonna keep people out of the already well established trails? Knowing the terrain there pretty well, it’s going to be a huge bother to build a peripheral trail…

Frank
Guest
Frank

I’m concerned about Emily Roth’s prominent role because she had a similar role in the MTB committee process that had all it’s recommendations ignored so that the cycling community would get nothing.

She and Fritz have close relations with Audubon staff who have strongly favored no cycling in natural areas. I’m afraid such groups, together with park neighbors and and certain other vocal anti-cyclists, have disproportionate – and I would argue inappropriate – sway in these decisions.

It’s a bit like “regulatory capture” in the sense that certain interested parties have much more influence than is appropriate. We, not Audubon or the Forest Park conservancy, own the parks. To avoid the appearance of favoritism and bias, perhaps Parks employees with close relations to parties with clear and public positions on this should not be involved.

Bill Walters
Guest
Bill Walters

You’re generous, Alex. I suspect the overall batting average is a decimal far, far south of 1.

spencer
Guest
spencer

Anyone notice how the planning document COMPLETELY eliminates possible sustainably and ecologically sensitive mountain biking trails (that are already cut and drained appropriately? This document also puts in trail/ bridges through perennial streams, while eliminating any recreating (foot or otherwise) along the seasonal streams. This logic runs counter to the water temperature argument.

Psyfalcon
Guest
Psyfalcon

If you were really that worried about water quality, you could just ban riding (and walking) near the seasonal streams when they’re full of water.