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Good news: Tesla agrees to build Willamette Greenway path segment

Posted by on June 6th, 2016 at 11:59 am

New design drawing showing where the path will go.

Latest plan drawing shows where the new path will go (in blue, existing path is in red).

They didn’t have to do it, but they did.

I’m happy to report that Tesla Motors has decided to pave a new section of the Willamette Greenway path that runs across a parcel they plan to develop in the South Waterfront neighborhood.

(Image: Bob Cronk via South Waterfront Facebook group)

(Image: Bob Cronk via South Waterfront Facebook group)

This story started a month ago when we learned that Tesla planned to turn a vacant warehouse at 4330 SW Macadam Avenue into their new Portland showroom and repair center. We wouldn’t have noticed this project at all if the parcel didn’t happen to be smack-dab in the middle of a major (and majorly annoying) gap in the Willamette Greenway Trail. In many cases development projects like this would trigger a requirement by the business owner to pave a path if an easement exists. But in this case, due to a special exception in city zoning code that applies to the South Waterfront, Tesla wasn’t required to build the path because their project was smaller than 50,000 square feet.

The City of Portland was in a bind. They knew the value of connecting the path but they also had no legal leverage at their disposal. The only chance to capitalize on this rare and valuable opportunity to get the path built was for everyone — Tesla, the landowner, Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau — to sit down and talk it out. It also didn’t hurt that South Waterfront resident Bob Cronk posted to the South Waterfront Facebook page encouraging people to email the city and let them know who important the trail would be.

Land use application map showing "recreational trail" easement across Tesla parcel (in red).

Land use application map showing “recreational trail” easement across Tesla parcel (in red).


Dozens of people emailed the city. “It would be a huge shame if this gap remained for decades,” wrote Iain MacKenzie who runs, a blog that tracks Portland development.

And on Friday they all got their answer. It came via email from Pooja Bhatt, senior policy advisor in the Office of (Parks) Commissioner Amanda Fritz:

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I am pleased to share that I’ve been informed that Tesla has agreed to pave the Greenway trail connection on the property. This will be documented in their land use application. Thank you for your advocacy.

That’s great news.

We don’t yet know why Tesla decided to build the trail (we’ve got emails out to City of Portland staff and Tesla and will update this post when we hear back). It’s possible they weren’t aware of the trail situation at all and obliged without hesitation. Or they could have thought nobody would notice and that the trail wasn’t that big of deal. To that I’ll just say: Welcome to Portland Tesla!

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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125 thoughts on “Good news: Tesla agrees to build Willamette Greenway path segment”

  1. Avatar Granpa says:

    “We don’t yet know why Tesla decided to build the trail …”
    Perhaps they did it because it is the right thing to do, and they are a company with who’s business model is to do the right thing. Their product line would support that supposition. FWIW I emailed Tesla that I had a case of beer riding on their putting the trail section in. That may have been the deciding factor.

  2. Avatar Brad says:

    Is there an approx. ETA for this? For example, would we see this by the end of the summer, in a year, or 10 years?

    1. Avatar bobbyendler says:

      They are clearing the path as we speak

  3. Avatar soren says:

    Kudos to Tesla! And thanks to all of those who tweeted after Jonathan’s earlier piece.

    In my experience, most EV users are very strong supporters of active transport. Moreover, people who switch to an EV appear to decrease their miles driven more than people who use car share. I’ve never understood why many of those who are enthusiastic about ICE car share often cast shade on people who drive EVs.

  4. Adam H. Adam H. says:

    Don’t let Tesla bribe you with a fancy bike path. They’re still a car company, after all. EV’s only solve one of the many problems that cars cause and really only enable people to continue their destructive habits while feeling better about themselves. Not looking forward to more silent-but-deady vehicles passing me too closely on the greenways as they cut through our neighborhoods unimpeded. Where will Tesla be when we’re fighting for more diverters and congestion charging? Do you think they will “do the right thing” then, too?

    1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

      Tesla is making money selling their products as a “lifestyle item” instead of a tool for a specific job. Cars should only be used as last resorts, and not as something we want to drive everywhere, even when viable alternatives exist. Can’t blame them for selling a product to make money. Just don’t let them fool you into thinking they’re doing things for an altruistic reasons. We’ve been down this path before.

      1. Avatar RH says:

        So what happens if Tesla perfects the design of their batteries so well that they become the ultimate battery bank with a home solar system. That would be no coal, nuclear, or hydro needed to power your house….only sunshine. Would they still be viewed as an evil company just trying to make a profit? I think the battery is going to be their cash cow….the electric car is just a stepping stone for them.

        1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

          Fair enough. I can disagree with the means to that end, though. Making a profit is not a bad thing, but making a profit selling a product that has destroyed our cities and enables the killing 30,000 people a year is where I draw the line. Why not start off with a product that can help people instead of taking advantage of Americans’ love affair with the single-occupant vehicle? Is it because selling city buses and light-rail vehicles isn’t cool enough?

          1. Avatar Pete says:

            Tesla doesn’t make a single-occupant vehicle. They make multi-occupant vehicles that many (most?) people choose to drive alone.

          2. Avatar Mike 2 says:

            Destroyed our cities! Just ruins and shadows of what they once were before the automobile – you know, mud and dirt streets with raised wooden walkways and hitching posts.
            I really wish we could return back to what these great cities were 125 years ago.

            1. Avatar David Hampsten says:

              Yeah. Like all the horse s*** out in the street, the smells of tanneries and livery stables, the constant horse farts. And the typhoid. Golly, I miss those days!

              1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

                The advent of personal motor vehicles did not solve any of those problems.

            2. Avatar Mike 2 says:

              Adam H.
              The advent of personal motor vehicles did not solve any of those problems.
              Recommended 0

              No more so than the your assertion that automobiles are “a product that has destroyed our cities”. I don’t see too many liveries downtown, but maybe in your neighborhood?

              If the city was built after the time of the automobile, it was probably built with the automobile in mind. Kind of hard for the automobile to be at blame for destroying something created later.

              1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

                The mass clearing of buildings in the city center for parking lots and highways in the 50’s and 60’s absolutely was done with the motoring culture in mind. All over the country, neighborhoods (almost exclusively Black ones) were torn down to build highways. Portland’s east side was cut off from it’s river. Buildings were torn down to build I-405 as well.

                Most of Portland inside 82nd Av was built up when cars existed but were still too expensive for every day use. Up until the 1920’s, most people took the streetcars. After WWII, cities were built with universal car ownership in mind, with wider streets and continually shrinking space for walking until there was nothing left. Removing walking from this new idea of what a city should be, destroyed the conventional definition of urbanism that went back to Roman times and earlier. Never before was a city designed to exclude the most basic and human form of transportation.

                So no, I am not exaggerating when I say “cars destroyed our cities”.

              2. Avatar q`Tzal says:

                Adam H.
                The advent of personal motor vehicles did not solve any of those problems.

                The advent and deployment of “horseless carriages” quite literally solved the horse poop problem.
                And as much as internal combustion engines have problems the industrial scale use of horses was much MUCH worse.

                Literal horse power was and is only practical below a certain density and total population.
                Above that internal combustion allows more density of use and a mostly invisible waste product … at the densities that were common 100 years ago.
                As we’ve packed in tighter densities and increased total worldwide ICE users even the most obstinate brick-headed users will agree that the smog is killing us in the city level.

                But NO ONE thinks that going back to horses on anything other than the Amish scale of living is feasible and you are lying to yourself if you think otherwise.

              3. Adam H. Adam H. says:

                No, you’re thinking of electric streetcars.

            3. Avatar Mike 2 says:

              One example where a city has changed with a massive growth in population/population density does not equal destruction of all our cities.

              So yeah, you kinda are exaggerating when you say “cars destroyed our cities”.

          3. Avatar Mike 2 says:

            Also – 30K people die from falls each year. We should get rid of stairs and ladders. It is completely plausible to build a single story society – think of all the people we could save!

            1. Avatar q`Tzal says:

              30K? [citation needed]

              1. Avatar lop says:


                Unintentional injury deaths. Falls: ~32k. FYI I believe unintentional poisoning includes drug overdoses, if you look at earlier versions of the chart it was a lot lower, leaving MV fatalities at the top through 2010. Unintentional poisoning jumped 33k-42k 2010 to 2014.

                More here.


        2. Adam H. Adam H. says:

          Yeah, because reducing our energy usage rather than simply replacing the fuel source doesn’t make profits.

          1. Avatar UncleMuscles says:

            Well you are reducing your energy usage. Electric motors are significantly more efficient than gas motors.

          2. Adam H. Adam H. says:

            I don’t want it all-or-nothing, I just prefer electric vehicles that can hold 150 people instead of 4. EV’s have their purpose: car sharing or for someone who lives in a rural community for example, but promoting their use in cities is irresponsible. The average consumer might find light-rail vehicles, cycle tracks, and bus lanes boring, but they’re what we need. Many people think that self-driving electric vehicles are the panacea for all of our transportation problems, and Tesla is partially to blame for that sentiment.

          3. Avatar Pete says:

            …says the guy propagating packets through power-hungry servers. 😉

          4. Adam H. Adam H. says:

            Where we disagree here is I don’t see self-driving vehicles as progress, but rather a way for the motoring culture to maintain their stronghold over our cities. Cities should work for people, not cars.

          5. Avatar soren says:

            car share and buses both burn fossil fuel and represent only slight efficiency improvements over typical car use. light rail in PDX is efficient compared to other cities but is much less efficient than an EV.

            Portland ~2500 BTU/passenger mile

            A typical Portland EV has a BTU/passenger mile of ~700 (using a very conservative 115K BTU/gallon).

            this remains the case even if we use a CO2 energy intensity adjustment proposed by light rail advocates:
            Portland ~1750 BTU/passenger mile

            Many people think that self-driving electric vehicles are the panacea for all of our transportation problems, and Tesla is partially to blame for that sentiment.

            If we are serious about mitigating climate change then EVs are a necessity. I’m not typically a supporter of large corporations but Musk has stated over and over again that his primary motivation for selling EVs was to promote decarbonization of our economy (by developing cheap storage).

          6. Avatar lop says:


            Ignore the CO2 number, assume electricity for MAX is the same source as electricity for electric cars in Portland. But watch the BTU conversions.

            If you look at table A.15 for the BTU-kWhr conversion factor and Figure 2.7 for efficiency per passenger mile you can convert from light rail BTUs per passenger mile to light rail kW-hr per 100 passenger miles. Comes out to 24.23 kW-hr per 100 passenger miles for Portland. Table B.6 says the BTU – kW/hr conversion is 1kW-hr = 3412 BTUs. But the 2505 BTUs/passenger mile is based on a conversion factor of 1kW-hr = 10339 BTUs. They use the larger number to account for inefficiencies in generation and distribution. The EPA fuel economy numbers don’t take into account those inefficiencies. They’re based off of wall to wheel electrical energy, and convert to kW-hr with the factor of 1 watt-hr = 3.412 BTUs. I’m assuming wall to wheel is comparable to the MAX energy use number. So compare the 24.23 kW-hr per 100 passenger mile light rail in Portland number to BMW i3 getting 27 kW-hr/100 vehicle miles. That’s the most efficient electric car by link below. One person in an electric car is less efficient than MAX average, two people in the car is more efficient. (Except BYD e6, you need three people there to beat MAX average). If the weighted by mile average occupancy of an electric car is 1.2, the urban occupancy number your light rail link mentions, then the only electric cars more efficient than MAX average are BMW i3 (22.5 kWhr/passenger mile), Scion iQ EV, and Chevrolet Spark EV. Honda Fit EV at 29 kW-hr/100 vehicle miles with 1.2 occupants gets down to 24.17, roughly matches the MAX average. Not enough significant figures in the EPA number to say which is better. Or converting the MAX kW-hr number to an EPA MPGe, you get 115000 BTU/gallon / (3412 BTU/kWhr * 0.2423 kWhr/ passenger mile ) =

            139 MPGe/passenger mile, noting of course that the EPA number is always given per vehicle mile.


            So MAX average seems to be comparable to typical use of a small electric car. Of course if MAX is already running and has room for you, getting on would be more efficient.

          7. Avatar soren says:

            I’m assuming wall to wheel is comparable to the MAX energy use number.

            Lop, Usage at the source is not comparable because the transmission systems used for light rail are very inefficient in comparison to EV charging.

            I am not in any way arguing that EVs are a better choice overall than mass transit. Mass transit can and should be made far more efficient and EVs come with all sorts of additional societal costs and throughput limitations.

          8. Adam H. Adam H. says:


            It’s not just about energy usage. EVs take up more space per person than a bus or train. Efficient land use and transportation is IMO a better way to reduce reliance on energy, no matter the source. Especially since we have an urban growth boundary and limited highways, it is very important that we ensure people are not tied to their cars for every trip. New York City is one of the most energy efficient cities in the world and that’s a function of density rather than how the energy is generated.

          9. Adam H. Adam H. says:

            Soren, sounds like we mostly agree. 🙂 I do think EVs could be great for freight, mass transit, or for people who absolutely need a car. Just not for intra-city personal transport.

          10. Avatar lop says:


            > the transmission systems used for light rail are very inefficient in comparison to EV charging.

            Is that true? Sounds interesting, have anything you can point me towards?

            How is the energy use calculated for rail? Are the reporting requirements for electric fuel use comparable to wall-wheel? If not, what is being reported?

          11. Avatar Matt S. says:

            The future: solar powered homes with Tesla installed garage batteries. Highly efficient AND fun to ride electric assist bikes. 3-4 miles from mass transit. Free wi-fi, email business-mates, drink coffee. Ride warm Max line 10-20 minutes. Roll into office with paying zero dollars for transit because your employer pays for a Trimet pass and your home net energy consumption is in the black—you sell back to the grid!

            A transportation system able to remain in play for many years.

            Recycle batteries
            Generate renewable electricity


            And boy do I love cars. Mid 1980’s Ford, Mustang. “5.0.” Stock. It will throw you in the back of your seat!!

            I will let it go for the betterment of humanity.

            Transition. Many years.

          12. Avatar Chris I says:

            When comparing LRV to electric cars, you also need to factor in the embodied energy per passenger mile over the life of the vehicle. LRVs will last 50+ years and don’t have batteries that need to be replaced every 100,000 miles.

          13. Avatar soren says:

            lop, i was wrong…turns out that loss during battery charging (~15%) makes the energy cost of running DC rail infrastructure a wash (~10%). my guess is that there must be additional energy costs for rail that are accounted for in the doe/oak ridge labs numbers i cited above.

        3. Avatar Pete says:

          This is exactly the vision many companies have with EVs. I just came from a conference where a certain large (southeast) power company was talking about their partnerships with EV companies for this purpose (and to help smooth out the unpredictability of renewable sources). Other companies, like Nissan and Qualcomm, are working on wireless charging systems they envision as embedded into roadways to charge EVs as they’re being driven.

          Electricity is a huge commodity, and we’re already producing more than we’re using (believe it or not). The consumer having the ability to store it will be a game-changer in leveraging against production manipulations for pricing purposes (like the oil companies and gas refiners do to us now).

          1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

            So then the battery companies will become the next oil companies. The new boss is always the same as the old boss.

            1. Avatar Pete says:

              Let’s not forget that Elon has invested heavily in lithium mining operations in several states as well. Some call it vision, some capitalism, some call it greed or exploitation of natural resources. But then again, how many other devices do we have with lion cells in them? And how much toxic alkaline has that kept from landfills?

              1. Avatar was carless says:

                According to Elon, lithium only composes around 2-3% of the total mass of a Li-ion battery. Most of the mass is in nickel and graphite.

              2. Adam H. Adam H. says:

                Graphite is 100% carbon, is it not?

            2. Yah know, horses are more eco-friendly than bicycles.

              They run 100% of solar power, don’t require any mining or drilling (in the case of carbon fiber frames which are an oil product not to mention lube and chain oil), they’re biodegradable (from cradle to grave), aren’t manufactured overseas and shipped over for purchase. They can be used as an emergency food source if things get really bad. You can even use their waste to fertilize your garden or burn it for light at night or to heat your home. Though usually single occupancy, they can sometimes take on additional riders, and if the need arises a cart (or perhaps even a tiny home) can be added for even more capacity.

              Though with typical Portland lot, donkeys might be more appropriate.

              Heck, we already got hitching rings installed throughout the city. Screw bikes – Horse Portland!

    2. Avatar jamesjm says:

      Hey Debbie Downer, you are full of negativity today. Lighten up and smell the roses. Tesla did a good thing and other companies should take notice of community involvement. When you got your Starbucks Latte today, did you notice this corporation or Subway doing any community involvement? Tesla is a prime example of working toward environmentally responsible vehicles and home batteries while helping bicyclists and runners with a path. Enjoy it and shut the hell up…

    3. Avatar joebobpdx says:

      Don’t let the (very) good get in the way of the perfect. Hold out. Hold your breath. Pound the table. But the rest of us will get to see this critical missing link built in our lifetimes.

      No fan of the company owner, but happy to ride on his asphalt.

      1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

        I’m glad that this path is being built. But am I the only one who sees the absurdity of locating a car dealership in one of the densest parts of town? We don’t need to give people reasons to drive to South Waterfront.

        1. Avatar Dave says:

          Bingo!!! why are we celebrating a car dealership on the waterfront?

          1. Avatar Matt S. says:

            Because, Tesla’s hoping cyclists passing by will reconsider buying a car, one of their cars… Tesla makes a nice bike rack for that Cervelo…

          2. Avatar q`Tzal says:

            No, everything must be perfect before anyone is allowed to relax and smell the roses.

            Get back to work! No sunshine or happiness for you!

        2. Avatar q says:

          Where do you think they should have located? Somewhere without density, so they’d be further from customers, meaning more people driving further to get there? Somewhere without mass transit access, like the South Waterfront has? Somewhere further from downtown? Out in Milwaukee or Vancouver, where other car dealers are?

          1. Avatar J_R says:

            I think Adam H would rather that all autos be sold only in other galaxies.

          2. Avatar Dave says:

            They could have put this in the produce row area, NW industrial area, inner SE along the Orange Line. Lots of better places this could have gone. #WaterfrontCarDealershipWTF

            1. Avatar q says:

              It might work in the NW Industrial area. On the other hand, it’s not industrial, and that’s further away from the population. Inner SE could be great. Perhaps Tesla looked there, and didn’t like what was available. Or, it had reasons for preferring where it ended up to Inner SE.

              But what’s the problem with where it is? It replaces a warehouse/industrial use. It’s not a massively expensive redevelopment that would make redevelopment less likely later. It could be there for several years, then move out, and the shell left behind could house other uses, or at that point the whole thing could be redeveloped into a completely different use.

              I agree car dealerships on riverfront property aren’t the best ULTIMATE use, but until someone comes along to put that best ultimate use there, I see no problem, and some benefits (including the trail) to Tesla moving into this particular building, and replacing the current use.

        3. Avatar q says:

          Dave–the “celebration” is for Tesla’s decision to pay for the trail voluntarily, not for their locating on the waterfront. Although I see nothing wrong with that.

        4. It’s not a dealership. It’s a showroom. Meaning a handful of cars. Tesla doesn’t do dealerships like other car manufacturers.

    4. Avatar QualDude! says:

      ” continue their destructive habits while feeling better about themselves.”

      Should they do what you do? Constantly post negative things on this board, to make themselves feel better?

    5. Avatar Skid says:

      Not all of us are anti-car fruitcakes. Nobody is ever going to give up their living rooms on wheels, at least electric ones don’t have tailpipe emissions for cyclists to inhale.

  5. Avatar Pliny says:

    Perhaps it occurred to them that a connected Greenway path offered a better source of potential customer advertising than Moody.

    1. Avatar Spiffy says:

      I don’t own a car, but when I think of owning a car I think of owning an electric one… and I probably won’t be driving to the showroom…

  6. Go By Bike Go By Bike says:

    I like this “Good News” series on bikeportland, please keep it up!

    1. Avatar Dave says:

      What if Ron Tonkin placed a dealership on the waterfront, would you still consider that good news? How is this different?

      1. Avatar Chris I says:

        If it filled in a significant gap in a greenway trail at the same time? I’d be okay with that.

        1. Avatar Dave says:

          I really doubt you would feel the same if this was a Chevy dealership. Double standard?

          1. Avatar Chris I says:

            It could be a factory that made truck nuts for all I care. I just want the pathway improvements. Businesses come and go, but this greenway connection will now be here forever.

  7. Avatar Social Engineer says:

    Thanks goes to to maccoinnich for bringing light to this issue and for Tesla for agreeing to build this missing section!

  8. John Liu John Liu says:

    I’m glad to see Tesla doing the right thing.

    1. Avatar Dave says:

      What’s right about putting a car repair joint on the waterfront?

      1. Avatar J_R says:

        Maybe if Portland zoning prohibited auto repair shops anywhere in town that would eventually cause the demise of autos. At least it would cause motorheads from moving here. That would cause celebrations among some commenters here.

        1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

          Right, why does my neighborhood need two motorcycle repair shops and two auto repair shops all within a 1/2 mile radius? That land could be more efficiently used for housing, grocery stores, pharmacies, etc.

          1. Avatar J_R says:

            If it would be more efficient to turn it to another use, why don’t you buy them and make it so?

          2. Avatar Mike 2 says:

            Apparently the market wants and supports these shops.
            Too bad not everyone follows your doctrine – think of how much happier you would be if everyone thought exactly like you do.

            1. Avatar Dave says:

              Tesla is losing money big time so I’m not sure your statement that the market supports these shops is all that accurate.

              1. Avatar Mike 2 says:

                I was speaking to the 2 motorcycle shops and auto repair shops.

                As for Tesla losing money (big time is a rather relative term), I think that is about to change with the release of the Model 3 and the planned increase in production.


              2. Avatar Athena L Smith says:

                There is a HUGE difference between “losing” money and “reinvesting profits”. Tesla is absolutely NOT losing money, they make a 25% profit on every Model S and Model X sold. Now they are making profits on the manufacture and sale of batteries, Powerwalls (residential electric storage), and Powerpacks (commercial/bulk electric storage), solar farms, and industrial-scale power generation and storage facilities. Soon, the Model 3. ALL of this profit is being reinvested at a high rate, to enable them to fulfill their mission statement, which is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. This (reinvestment) is an old concept of company formation and growth which many younger investors, CEOs, boards, and other modern business types seem to either have forgotten, or are too young to have learned. It’s called “reinvest in your company and people”. It takes awhile to see a free and clear profit, & is risky, but if your instincts are sound (& Elon’s appear to be scary-good), you can make money, provide good products and service, and grow. Tesla, while yes having made many mistakes and narrowly escaping death a couple of times, is doing just this, and more. Helping with the bike path is right up his alley. And no, he’s neither a saint, nor uninterested in his bottom line, but this is a dream of his that has been documented elsewhere multiple times. He seriously wants the transition to sustainable energy to happen, and has paid a huge price to do what he believed right to do to see it through. You may disagree with his methods & tactics, but they ARE working. He is but one man on a mission, and the world is a big place.

          3. Avatar q says:

            There are lots of efficiencies to consider beyond travel distance.

            And, it’s probably true they’re not all “needed” by your neighborhood, which also probably doesn’t “need” half the other businesses there, either.

            And as you move away from the most basic businesses like the ones you mentioned, it becomes less likely that one neighborhood can support them. But they have to locate somewhere.

      2. Avatar q says:

        It replaces a warehouse/industrial use with a use more compatible with the types of uses that many people would like to see developed along the river; it converts a tilt-up concrete building with no windows, and probably no energy or seismic upgrades in years or decades into a safer, more energy-efficient, more attractive building; it adds a trail and public access to river views where none existed before; and it does nothing that would preclude the site from being redeveloped in the future to something different. That’s a few reasons.

        1. Avatar Dave says:

          Where does it say that they are adding windows around the entire building? Showroom yes, repair facility…I doubt it.

          1. Avatar q says:

            Well, where did I say they were adding windows around the entire building? If you want to dispute that things I listed aren’t benefits, at least try disputing things I actually said.

            1. Avatar Dave says:

              Sorry by more attractive, I thought you had written windows. So yeah, a beautified concrete box continues to sit on the waterfront. Fantastic! Only Elon Musk and his many minions could get away with this.

              1. Avatar q says:

                But if they hadn’t swooped in, it would still be a concrete box, but an un-beautified one with no trail. I’d rather have that until the time comes when it ultimately becomes something even better.

          2. Avatar poncho says:

            Do you really think a high end auto company is going to sell $100,000+ cars out of an old windowless concrete bunker warehouse on a prime site on the river? Of course they are going to extensively remodel if not rebuild. I would think on a bike blog, it would be obvious that 95% of automobiles is about marketing and sales. Quite frankly the path greatly increases the showroom’s visibility.

            1. Avatar q says:

              They’re adding some windows at the showroom end. I don’t know if they’re adding any anywhere else, but I doubt they would add many. It’s a remodel, but I wouldn’t call it extensive, especially on the exterior. If by “showroom” you mean the actual showroom/display area, not the whole building, the showroom is at the opposite end from the river, so it won’t be visible from the path.

  9. Avatar Tom Hardy says:

    And I am glad to see that someone beside Google is making progress on self driving cars, even though it is an option on the Tesla.

    1. Avatar Pete says:

      Check out the work that VW/Audi is doing, and there are actually many others. There are two former military sites here in the bay area (Alameda and Concord) that are used as proving grounds for autonomous vehicles.

  10. Avatar Phil Richman says:

    Just a couple of weeks ago my spouse and I arrived at Wentworth Chevy on our e-Big Dummy. The Big Dummy was welcomed into the showroom and was getting more looks than any of the cars from both employees and sidewalk gazers. I rode away and my spouse drove away 3 hours later having leased our first EV. Taking great comfort in the fact my 15-year-old who is anxious to drive will never be going to the gas station to fill up. She hates bikes mostly because of her BikePortland trolling bike-Nazi of a Dad who “forced” her onto a cargo-bike for school commutes. Unfortunately her TriMet pass dies at the end of the school year. We can’t change the system over night and driving still sucks compared to being on a bike, but my teenager needs to figure that out for herself. Elon Musk even realizes driving sucks, hence the rapid development of the Hyperloop.

    1. Avatar Chris I says:

      Hyperloop is a distraction and merely an attempt by Musk to kill the California HSR project so he can sell more self-driving electric cars.

  11. Avatar eawrist says:

    The spaghetti factory may need to know about this.

    1. Avatar Pete says:

      …so they can add more bike parking. 😉

    2. Avatar poncho says:

      sell more high carb spaghetti meals with all the new bike traffic passing by

  12. Avatar Dave says:

    With all the kudos for Tesla, let’s not miss the obvious. We’re putting a car showroom and service center on waterfront property? How messed up is that? Think about it, is a car repair place, what we want on our waterfront???

    1. Avatar Matt S. says:

      Think of it more as a computer repair center. They’ll probably be able to service your iphone!

      Bah, how about we put a non-profit social service center to help all the homeless that meander through the area.

      Oh wait, nah probably just another coffee shop/brewer/weed shop/local food chain/over priced boutique/ice cream.

      It’s all a joke…

      1. Avatar q says:

        Matt–good reminder that people who live close-in should have access to things like car dealerships and other goods and services beyond the expensive boutique ones, without having to travel to the suburbs.

        1. Avatar Dave says:

          Great, so you would have rather seen a home depot built where the Yard is going on?

          1. Avatar q says:

            No, of course not. It’s one thing to be in favor of making sure close-in people have access to nearby goods and services beyond the expensive, boutiquey ones. It’s another to think a project like Yard should have been a Home Depot. Why would try to turn a reasonable thought into an extreme position like that?

      2. Avatar Granpa says:

        That is the ticket Matt! They (the royal They) should build an all purpose utopia fulfillment center there. Anything else is the devils playground.

      3. Avatar El Biciclero says:

        “Think of it more as a computer repair center.”

        This is true. While the desirability of having any auto-oriented business anywhere could be debated, as repair shops go, a Tesla shop should be a lot “cleaner” than a shop focused on internal combustion engines. No gasoline, no oil, no antifreeze—do Teslas even use brake fluid, or is it all electronic? Yes there would still be waste products (some of them toxic), but I would imagine they would be mostly of the solid variety, unlikely to leak and leach into the surrounding soil and water.

        If one must have an auto repair shop next to a river…

        1. Avatar El Biciclero says:

          Well, and if it’s merely a showroom, then none of the repair-oriented concerns apply.

          1. Avatar Dave says:

            This place is primarily a car repair joint. Look at the diagram above. There is zero reason to have a car repair facility on waterfront property. There are better places for it near by. But most people are being suckered by the allure of Tesla. Visit their Tigard repair joint, that’s in an industrial area.

            1. Avatar q says:

              If there’s zero reason to have a car dealership that includes both sales and repair (it’s not just a car repair facility, no matter how many times you repeat that) on waterfront property, there’s also zero reason to have a warehouse or industrial facility that has no river-related function, especially in an area people are hoping to have transition from that type of use to more intense, higher-density uses. And this site transitioning from what it is now to Tesla’s facility should help move that transition along.

              I’d love to see that site be something like a sailboat showroom (river-related use) with housing above (greater density) but so far, nobody has shown up to do that. Until they do, Tesla is a better use than the current one.

              1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

                A grocery store would have been a good use for that building, as the neighborhood lacks a nearby option.

              2. Avatar q says:

                Yes, it might have been a great use for that building. But no grocery store decided to locate there, or at least wasn’t willing to make as good a deal with the owner as Tesla did.

              3. Avatar Grandpa says:

                Although it may appear so, Portland is not Simcity where we can sweep our hands across the video display terminal and social-engineer society. The free enterprise system exercises its darwinian experimentation where successes remain and failures disappear. Issuing proclamations that chastise perceived societal missteps from a soap box of moral superiority does nothing. If your insight into the neighborhood’s need is accurate (a possibility) then get loans, acquire property and be the solution you are clamoring for. If it works, you get rich and then you can be a stronger force for societal change. Or continue correcting wrong thinking on an internet blog like I do.

              4. Avatar lop says:


                There are limits to the control the city can/is willing to exercise, but it’s not leaving it up to the whims of the free market (given how heavily regulated all development is, thinking there is much of a free market in Portland real estate seems naive.) The city can and does change and bend it’s rules to encourage the sort of development it wants. It does this citywide as part of its goal of creating ’20 minute neighborhoods’. Specific to the south waterfront area, they issued a request for proposals not long ago:


                “In making the Property available for purchase and redevelopment, PDC seeks to achieve the following primary goals:

                Mixed-Use: For the project to include ground-floor commercial uses, with a preference for neighborhood serving retail such as a grocery store”

                This site is walking distance from the south waterfront, even easier biking distance, and right on the streetcar line. The project is moving along.


                No guarantees there will be a small grocery store here. If not, there are other sites better located to serve existing south waterfront development than either riverplace parcel 3 or the tesla site where the city can and likely will work to encourage that sort of retail. However, given the economics involved, the south waterfront area might not be able to support a large grocery store until further development takes place.

              5. Avatar q says:

                lop–that’s an informative post, and exactly why I think it’s a bit silly to fret about Tesla not being something else. There’s lots of development left to happen over the years in the area. For whatever reasons, the property became Tesla and not a grocery store or high-density housing or whatever some people might prefer. That’s not bad.

                As you said, a large grocery store might not be supportable there yet. (And the area isn’t convenient for anyone who doesn’t live there, so any grocery store can’t rely on many customers coming from outside the immediate area.) The same might be said for other uses that would be great additions. They’ll come in time.

                But having that property move from warehouse/industrial to a Tesla facility moves the area in the right direction. And that’s far preferable to having the property remain what it is until the point it can become its best ultimate use, for both the property and the area.

              6. Avatar Dave says:

                @Grandpa – ever heard of zoning? You can’t build what you want where you want in these neck of the woods.

              7. Avatar q says:

                Dave–there’s nothing Grandpa said that indicates he doesn’t know about zoning, or that conflicts with the fact that zoning exists. He was just saying that only property owners get to choose the specific use at a site. Of course they still have to choose a use that zoning allows.

    2. Avatar q says:

      I believe it is replacing an industrial or warehouse use. The building is already there. It can be remodeled into Tesla’s facility fairly easily. I’d rather see a river-dependent use, or more intense use, but this doesn’t preclude that from coming in the future. Moving from the current use to Tesla’s use may help that come sooner, on this property and others nearby, than if it stayed warehouse/industrial.

      It’s also a retail showroom, as I (and you in your previous sentence) understand, not just a “car repair place”.

  13. Avatar Mossby Pomegranate says:

    For a company that wouldn’t even exist were it not for help from the tax paying public, it’s the least they can do for us that can’t afford their rich toys.

  14. Avatar Joe Adamski says:

    Regardless of what company bought that property, I am happy for the result. PR posturing or respect of community, I do not know. I do know how difficult it is to build a trail, especially with a multitude of owners and interests to negotiate with. Good on Tesla. One more piece of the trail connects.
    That said, looking at the sad state of affairs with other trails in our city, that Tesla said yes is a huge leap of faith on their part. Careful design is indicated here.

    1. Avatar Dave says:

      Would you feel the same if this was a chevy dealership?

      1. Avatar Brian says:

        I would prefer a Nissan or Toyota dealership. I’m in the market for a truck and I could kayak over to check out the new line-up.

        1. Avatar Dave says:

          Amazing that at one point the city was trying to drive car dealerships out of the city but now we are happy that because it’s Tesla, it’s OK. Love the inconsistency.

          1. Avatar q says:

            The City has tried to do all kinds of things that it later realized were wrong. I don’t know if it’s true it was trying to drive car dealerships out, but if so apparently the City has had a change of heart. That’s good. Driving car dealerships out would have meant more driving to get to and from dealers for tens of thousands of people.

            Plus some people are happy that it’s Tesla, but others here have the particular company wouldn’t have mattered to them.

      2. Avatar Mike 2 says:

        I would if it was Subaru or Toyota. Maybe even Mazda.

    2. Avatar Joe Adamski says:

      Is more of an issue of property rights and ownership. Tesla are not required to provide an easement. Eminent domain taking are rare in Oregon relatively. So anyways, it is a permitted use and Tesla is the owner. Regardless of how you feel about cars, this is a generous gift to Portland from Tesla

      1. Adam H. Adam H. says:

        So will we end up in a similar situation as the River District path where Tesla can just close “their” path with no notice?

        1. Avatar dan says:

          Quite possibly, so let’s hope the city doesn’t decide to use the new connector as a dumping ground for the homeless problem…

        2. Avatar Mike 2 says:

          And they’ll probably do it too, just because they hate cyclists. That will be their devious plot to get more people to buy they single occupancy vehicles.

        3. Avatar q says:

          Well, it is “their” path, as in Tesla (actually the landlord) owns it. The City is free to buy an easement to prevent that, at either location.

  15. Avatar Mike Sanders says:

    The Old Spaghetti Factory does have a section of the trail on the Eastside of their property, facing the river and the trail, and they support it. Good to see Tesla doing the right thing. As I said in reaction to the original story: renenber, this trail runs all the way along the river to Eugene. There are other gaps that exist along this alignment. What Tesla says they’ll do (and let’s hope they follow thru on the promise) could be a precedent for filling in other gaps upriver and downriver. The result should be something to be proud of and use. Could also be a precedent for other trail alignments as the trail network is built, locally and statewide. Let’s hope that this will be the case moving onward.

  16. They open sourced most their battery patents a year or two ago. At the time it didn’t make much sense to me since it was really their intellectual properties were what drove (pun not intended) their success.

    But since then the partnerships and business allies they’ve been creating (Toyota, Solar City, Panasonic, Mercedes, Daimler, and GE) makes me believe their name will likely be on some of the first driverless cars. (Especially considering their connections to Google.) And if it’s not driverless cars, I’d find it hard to believe they don’t have something big and beyond a new EV planned in the near future.

  17. Avatar GlowBoy says:

    Fine with me if Tesla is there. There are plenty of more-offensive automotive business further down Macadam.

    As a former Johns Landing resident who always found that trail gap inconvenient on a daily basis, I’m thrilled to see this happening.

  18. Avatar localresident says:

    I think I’ll promote Adam H. for mayor. He”ll certainly enhance the livabilaty of Portland by compelling the entire city to ride bikes or use public transportation (preferably solar powered). I can see it now; pedal powered ambulances, firetrucks, police vehicles, taxis. I wonder when the pedal powered people will begin to respect stop signs, stop-lights, right-of-way conventions, wear helmets at the rate that drivers buckle up, put on some real lights and high visibility clothing so they can be seen by our aging eyes at between dusk and dawn. How many of you have tried to cross a street with a bike thoroughfare in Amsterdam? Were you aware you can get seriously injured or killed in a bike-on-bike accident? Elderly pedestrians can be sent into the hereafter by an aggressive bicyclist. Not to mention that it’s convenient to ride on the wrong side of the road and on the sidewalk when it shaves a bit of time off the transit.

    I ride a bike. I have commuted along the Greenway from my SW home to work in N. Portland and back many times. I own two electric vehicles, both of them 2-wheeled, as well as at least 4 more pedal-powered vehicles. I also have to get from one end of the metro area to another more than once a day on many days to fulfill the requirements of my work. 2 hour bus rides with multiple transfers, or 150 miles of biking a day isn’t actually a practical solution to the scourge of automotive death-mobiles that convey our modern world.
    I’ll take the path across Tesla’s new showroom and let incremental change continue to make our city a better place to live.

    1. Avatar Pete says:

      “wear helmets at the rate that drivers buckle up”

      Now that’s a false equivalency that I get a little tired of hearing. For one thing, they are entirely different protection mechanisms for different purposes. But drivers don’t wear seatbelts because they are a good idea, they wear them because several generations back the auto insurance lobbies put enough pressure on Congress to force the federal government to hold back highway funding for states that didn’t mandate their use. Cars in the 1970s were equipped with mandatory lap belts, but their use by the driving public was very low, and in the 1980s several organizations successfully repealed mandatory seatbelt laws in many states, and actually argued that their use was more dangerous to occupants (in cases of fire or rollover).

      Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of using a helmet when cycling, but it would take a significant financial burden to the healthcare and/or medical insurance companies to mandate their use across all ages. That’s how laws get passed in this country…

    2. Avatar eddie says:

      I’ve biked all over Amsterdam all times of night and day. Never seen a collision.

      1. Avatar Robert Burchett says:

        On my one visit to Amsterdam (without a bike) I saw a bike-on-bike collision, followed by fisticuffs. No helmets employed by either party.

  19. Avatar Jesse says:

    Path is open now. Ran along the gravel path last weekend. It is really nice to have that connection. Do you know if it will be paved?

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