The City Budget Office (CBO) just threw a bunch of cold water on some hot active transportation projects.
Last month we were happy to share that the transportation bureau had requested city funding for five projects that would upgrade our streets and make them safer for everyone to use. The request was made as part of the fall budget monitoring process or “BUMP”. This is where the city takes the growth in tax revenue that went beyond projections and re-invests it back into worthy projects. Competition for the funds are fierce and all city bureaus compete for a limited pot of money (estimated to be about $8 million total this go-round2).
The Bureau of Transportation trotted out five projects that were especially exciting for transportation reform advocates: a seasonal reconfiguration of Naito Parkway (aka “Better Naito”); the Outer Halsey Streetscape Safety project and a Vision Zero educational effort; a new path connection for the Springwater, and a major redesign of inner Hawthorne Boulevard.
Unfortunately the CBO isn’t recommending funding for any of them.
That being said, they offered one ray of hope for the Outer Halsey project: “If Council decides that an infrastructure project addressing safety issues should be funded, CBO recommends this one over the others (Inner Hawthorne Corridor Transit & Bikeway, Better Naito, and Seasonal Naito) because it addresses an equity issue.”
For each project, the CBO provided feedback along with their recommendation. Here’s what they said:
Inner Hawthorne Corridor Transit & Bikeway
For the Fall BMP, CBO typically only recommends additional General Fund resources for requests that are urgent, well-developed, and unforeseen since the FY 2016-17 budget development process. While the needs that the protected bikeway seeks to address may be urgent, they are not unforeseen from a Fall BMP perspective since they have been well-documented long before the FY 2016-17 budget development process. CBO recommends that PBOT request the General Fund resources again during the FY 2017-18 budget development process if it has not secured other resources by then.
Seasonal Naito Parkway Bikeway & Walkway
CBO does not recommend General Fund resources for either this scaled-down version, or the $3.7 million for the full, permanent Better Naito project during the Fall BMP. For the Fall BMP, CBO typically only recommends additional General Fund resources for requests that are urgent, well-developed, and unforeseen since the FY 2016-17 budget development process. The needs that the project seeks to address are not unforeseen from a Fall BMP perspective since they have been well-documented long before the FY 2016-17 budget development process. CBO recommends that PBOT request the General Fund resources again during the FY 2017-18 budget development process if it has not secured other resources by then.
Vision Zero – Outer Halsey Streetscape Project
For the Fall BMP, CBO typically only recommends additional General Fund resources for requests that are urgent, well-developed, and unforeseen since the FY 2016-17 budget development process. CBO also typically does not recommend one-time funds for needs that are ongoing and therefore, does not recommend the funding for the Target Outreach and Safe Routes to School in High Schools components of this request. As for the Community Requests component, while the needs that the request seeks to address may be urgent, they are not unforeseen from a Fall BMP perspective since they have been well-documented before the FY 2016-17 budget development process. CBO recommends that PBOT request the General Fund resources again during the FY 2017-18 budget development process if it has not secured other resources by then.
In regards to the Outer Halsey Safety Streetscape Project, CBO does not recommend the $2.0 million in additional General Fund resources for the same reasons mentioned above. While the High Crash Corridor issues of the street and surrounding area may be urgent, they are not unforeseen since the FY 2016-17 budget development process. However, if Council decides that an infrastructure project addressing safety issues should be funded, CBO recommends this one over the others (Inner Hawthorne Corridor Transit & Bikeway, Better Naito, and Seasonal Naito) because it addresses an equity issue. The area is in outer East Portland where a higher percentage of low-income residents live, and the City’s neglect of the needs of East Portland has been well-documented. CBO recommends that PBOT request the General Fund resources again during the FY 2017-18 budget development process if it has not secured other resources by then.
Connecting Trolley & Springwater Corridor
CBO does not recommend General Fund resources for this request during the Fall BMP. For the Fall BMP, CBO typically only recommends additional General Fund resources for requests that are urgent, well-developed, and unforeseen since the FY 2016-17 budget development process. CBO recommends that PBOT request the General Fund resources again during the FY 2017-18 budget development process if it has not secured other resources by then.
The CBO is essentially telling PBOT that these projects — necessary as they may be — simply aren’t the right fit for this particular pot of money.
So, what PBOT requests will they fund? The CBO recommends that City Council invests $1.8 million for two traffic signal-related projects (one for reconstruction and the other for software upgrades).
You can read more about all these projects in this CBO document (PDF).
Also, keep in mind that the CBO isn’t the final word on what gets funded by the fall BUMP process. Last year, after the CBO said no to funding bike trails at Gateway Green and the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan (both of which were able to find funding somewhere else), City Budget Director Andrew Scott told us their recommendations are, “a starting framework for Mayor and Council deliberations on the budget.”
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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What a joke.
“not unforeseen” -> this joke has a very long setup
“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden
Interesting quote attributed to Joe Biden. Question, is, did he say that, and in what context? Here’s a link to an ’08 NYtimes article offering the answer to those questions:
The article is a posting of Biden’s remarks that he may have given in a speech or some such thing, in Michigan, and that were provided to the times by the obama-biden campaign. Biden relates the words of the quote as an expression of his Dad’s. The whole of Biden’s remarks, and the quote, is Biden critiquing his feeling that essentially, the plans of the opposing presidential candidate of the time, McCain, did not satisfactorily meet the needs and interests, specifically, of the middle class in the U.S.
A question I’m asking myself is, here in Portland, what does the city’s support of or lack of for the four projects featured in this article, say about what citizens of this city value? Do projects like these, meet the interests and needs of any one particular socioeconomic class in the city, such as… are they something particularly important to improvements to quality of the middle class quality of life in the city?
Another quote at the bottom of the article, not particularly original, but worth bringing to mind from time to time: “…My father always told me, “Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up.” ” joeseph biden
Please note further replies on this that discuss national politics will be deleted. I’ve left wsbob’s because he contextualizes it.
Thanks, Ted. Yes, in regards to the quote Atkinson posted, it was fundamental values related to quality of life available to residents of this country that Biden was referring to, and I wanted to be sure that was the case.
Awareness of, and definite ideas about the quality of life available to people living in Portland, is something I think people need to be more acutely certain about.
While Portland has been venturing forward in experimenting with various forms of street infrastructure enabling walking and biking to be more realistic means of getting around rather than by motor vehicle…it’s difficult to also not be aware of how easily dispensable those kinds of infrastructure can be compared to other far more prominently used types of infrastructure supporting travel and transport by motor vehicle.
Compared to the interests of specifically walk and bike advocates and enthusiasts, how seriously is the public at large interested in moving forward with a road reconfiguration such as ‘Better Naito’, or the Springwater Corridor trail project?
That’s a question to be asking…because if the CBO just saying to city council ‘Hey…you don’t really have the money to prioritize these projects.’ …is all it takes to have the city drop the projects, that could be a very strong indication the interest in the projects is not widely supported by the public.
“…by the public?”
By and large I agree with you up until that point. However, the public isn’t really in charge of prioritizing things; what’s more, we don’t generally want a situation where a majority group gets its way 100% of the time. That’s why we have city planning; people have to look at the competing interests, weigh those against their values, and prioritize.
If these are the projects that always get cut then that tells us the values of the planners, not of the public.
The summary is hundreds of pages shorter and easier to sift through: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/article/594029
What they do recommend is a substantial increase in PBOT’s permanent headcount (35ish), including 13 FTEs “to work directly on delivering roadway and safety projects.” Why hire thirteen people if their work isn’t funded?
Have you heard of the Fixing Our Streets gas tax funding that passed earlier this year? It takes actual people to build those projects.
If you read the summary, you’d know they are recommending 5 FTE for that specifically.
the city govt is big enough
…those five are in addition to the aforementioned thirteen, adding up to roughly half of the new permanent headcount I was talking about.
Honestly, I don’t trust PBOT to get any of these projects right, maybe it’s better this way…
Yes, the opening illustration with a right turn lane well to the left of the bike lane is a nightmare proposal. Some things, like jumping across a chasm, can’t be done a piece at a time.
Who else is going to do them?
I am afraid, that despite our best efforts, this will be our future for a while. As the boom times appear behind us in the rear view mirror and we go in to the next economic cycle ( pretty much every 7 or 8 years if history is a guide) competition for money will get tighter. The crumbs that the auto industrial complex has dropped off for cycling and pedestrians will be cut back as the purse-strings are tightened. The good news is that the number of cyclists will increase as the number of people who can afford a car declines.
Not being able to afford a car doesn’t seem to be stopping a whole slew of spanky new car- & truck-drivin’ drivers now. Not actually having the money for things doesn’t seem to slow Americans down at all anymore.
Yeah, too bad they threw more unnecessary money at the police, otherwise we may have been able to fund these needed projects. No faith in Mayor Hales at all.
Hmm. I’m uncomfortable with that comparison. No matter your feelings on how policing is done, we are understaffed.
Violent crime is at an all time low, so why do we need more police?
They don’t enforce traffic laws now, so why would more police help with that? I’d rather that money be spent on more diverters and protected cycleways than going toward a corrupt police contract.
A friend of a friend is in the PPD. Apparently they are stretched much too thin to do traffic enforcement. If you go to the suburbs, with better funded police forces, apparently they are much better about enforcing speeding, running dark orange (but actually red) lights, etc.
stretched too thin macing young women and brutalizing non-violent protesters.
Follow the money from traffic citations in Beaverton vs Portland. Beaverton’s enforcement pays for itself. AFAICT, Portland’s enforcement is paid for by Portland but all proceeds go to Multnomah County.
Law enforcement should never be a way to generate revenue. Even (especially) not to pay for itself.
I actually agree with you on this one. Only exception I would make is for automated camera enforcement, since there’s no subjectivity to influence enforcement.
“You break it, you buy it.” Maybe enforcement should be partly funded by registration and gas tax. But it sure shouldn’t be on everyone else to enforce the rules on out-of-town drivers, and should only fall on the drivers who follow the rules after those who break the rules have paid.
The cops have their priorities all wrong is the problem, I’d vote for traffic enforcement as well, except they’ll probably screw that up too, by targeting cyclists and peds rather than motorists. Ladd’s Addition stop sign stings, anyone?
Yep, despite what some politicians like people to *feel* about crime, it’s been on a steady decrease for a long time. It still seems our police are stretched thin- I don’t know what a bored police department in Portland looks like, but this ain’t it. Certainly traffic enforcement (hey, we’re foaming-at-the-mouth bike crazies, right?), but it also takes bigger numbers to do community policing: walking the streets, knowing people on the beat, etc.
I seem to be in the minority of safety advocates in that I don’t think that police enforcement is a viable solution to street safety. The Portland Police did not seem “stretched thin” when they sent three trucks of armed riot police to harass and assault peaceful protesters on Wednesday. This unnecessary demonstration of force cemented my feelings about being able to trust the police to enforce traffic safety equitably and without racial bias.
It is interesting to note that there never seems to be a shortage of law enforcement personnel when it comes to cracking down on protests, evicting tennants , raiding hip hop clubs, or protecting vip motorcades. If you didn’t know better you would think that real purpose of the police is not the same as what we were taught in grade school.
I don’t think it’s *the* solution, I think a little bit helps, though.
The protest/riot response and everything related to that is deplorable but doesn’t invalidate staffing ratios.
No, it doesn’t invalidate the data, but it certainly does not instill trust and respect of the Portland Police Bureau or City Council. Government agencies must be trustworthy and respectable to be effective, and when that breaks down, civil unrest ensues. Mayor Hales, Commissioner Fritz, Commissioner Fish, and the Police Bureau are not doing themselves any favors by shoving this police contract through in the manner they did.
Bike theft is at an all time high….
Theft seems to be much higher than usual, though.
Do you have any data to back this up? You can look up crime stats on PPB’s website, however stats only go back to 2014. On close glance, theft seems to be about level compared to 2011 (as far back as the system will let you look).
Sorry, that should be 2015. Stats only go back to March of 2015.
Crime statistics, specifically relating current numbers to historical trends, have become virtually useless.
Large city police departments have simply stopped taking reports and slowed arrests, and are actively downgrading charges of those that are arrested to create an appearance.
Agree w/ Ted & HK, Adam. It’s not just a dire need for traffic enforcement (I mean, just look at what’s happened w/ scofflaw drivers since the seemingly complete disappearance of traffic cops on neighborhood streets. Slippery slope in action).
My faith in the PPD has fallen since hearing about their weak response to women being stalked, women & kids being flashed, crimes of theft, crimes of vandalism and destruction of property. I know it’s because they’re severely understaffed and I feel for the PPD–they’ve been demoralized and undercut for years now, as the city grows and grows and experiences more and more of a need for their help/services.
In the not so recent past, I might’ve called the non-emergency line for some serious neighborhood issues. Now, I don’t bother. I know they don’t have the forces or the time.
It’s worth noting that I have never called for zero enforcement. I believe the solution involves some enforcement but not a reliance on it. Instead, the infrastructure should be designed to enforce itself (e.g. narrow lanes, movable bollards, raised crosswalks, diverters, separated cycleways, etc.) We should be designing our streets to encourage the behavior that we want, instead of using humans to force that behavior. Automated speed and red light cameras are also a valuable tool.
These ideas can also help self-enforce other issues, like homelessness. Giving people a more robust social safety net though health coverage, temporary housing, public facilities like showers and restrooms, etc. can help with the “illegal camping” issue without having to send in more officers to deal with issues.
Some enforcement is part of the solution, but “more enforcement” is not. Far too often, Americans react to problems by throwing more cops at them, and that is almost always the wrong approach.
Well, I think it’s less (on my part) a cry for “more enforcement” and more a cry for “standard enforcement” of a few years ago—i.e., simply providing the increasing population (with their increasing demands) w/ the additional officers needed to serve this morphing, swelling city in a way consistent with standards of the past. We’ve slipped, mightily, in keeping up, and it shows in so many wretched ways.
The police force is woefully understaffed. I would argue that a safer city for all takes precedence over some bike projects (which no doubt would be nice).
Necessity is more important than enhancement. Perhaps crime is not a big issue in your neighborhood, but it is in mine.
Violent crime is down city-wide. We already have a safer city, more police or not.
If safety is what you care about – we already have at least as many traffic deaths as murders annually on average in the City of Portland. And, the recent trend is that murders are way down in 2016 and traffic deaths are up.
Yep. Another reason to spend money on infrastructure rather than policing.
This seems like more of a reply to Middle of the Road Guy. Traffic violence is the #1 public safety problem in our city, and the PPB somehow don’t have the resources to enforce dangerous driving?
“Robberies are up, as are burglaries at businesses, bike thefts, thefts from and of cars, vandalism, and weapons offense.”
Thanks for the links, SE Rider.
Personally, I don’t really care that much whether an assault is part of police-defined “gang violence” or not. I’d rather have two fewer people be the victims of “normal” assaults than have one fewer person be the victim of a “gang” assault as the impacts on one’s life are largely the same. But media coverage doesn’t work that way….
Sounds like property crimes are up and violent crime as a whole is down. I’d like them both to be down but if we gotta choose one, violent crime is a good one. http://www.wweek.com/news/2016/06/18/homicide-totals-in-portland-on-pace-for-record-low/
The banksters are safer from prosecution than ever. Crime and vandalism are down in Dunthorpe and Council Crest. The landlords are getting the deadbeat tennents hauled away in record time. What makes you think that reducing crime in your neighborhood has ever been a priority?
Don’t forget these two that BPS: Allocate $40,000 in new one-time General Fund resources for additional costs associated with Off-Road Cycling Master Plan development (Recommended)
Fund $90,000 for the first phase of “Green Loop” implementation (Not recommended)
lol. ‘this has been a well documented need for more than a year, therefore no money for you!’
Hey now, this is Portland! We need a well-documented need for at least 15 years before anything can get started.
In their defense, if their policy is to prioritize money for unforeseen and urgent expenses, it is kind of logical to prioritize unforeseen and urgent expenses, and not use it for routine project funding.
I think, generally speaking, this policy makes sense, even if I share the general sense of disappointment people are expressing.
Yeah, I have to agree with you. In fact that policy even seems kind of reasonable. The bigger question might be “What does PBOT’s budget look like? Have they allocated funds to Vision Zero?”
I would think the “unforseen” death of Fallon Smart on Hawthorne would warrant “urgent” use of funds to address any part of that corridor… If a death caused in large part by poor road design that led to months of public outcry and vigilante traffic control doesn’t trigger emergency funding then what will?
Yes these are different parts of Hawthorne but from a 30k foot view how does the city not want to dedicate funds to improving road safety on a road that caused such visible frustration and discussion. Not only is it needed but from a shallow perspective why would they pass up on the PR opportunity of showing they care about Vision Zero and tie the funding of the Inner Hawthorne project to address issues with Hawthorne as a whole.
But PBOT did urgently use funds in response to this incident. They used them to remove the memorial and other community-installed crosswalks, coupled with a feel-good public meeting designed to shut everyone up.
I don’t live in Portland, but if I did and you ran for city council I would be one of your volunteers.
Heh thanks. 🙂 I did run for my neighborhood association board and didn’t get elected. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
The budget office is saying we should close those roads to cars. It’s the financially prudent thing to do.
Is that what they’re saying?
I’m not sure anyone would believe there was a connection between what happened to Smart and the proposal for fixing Hawthorne between Grand and 12th.
If a budget request was unforseen, how can it be already well-developed? And it we take a few years to develop a project then it is no longer unforseen?
With the uptick of deaths in Portland streets over the last few years, and the looming immenent destruction of the planets ecosystems, I would argue that all active transportation projects are URGENT.
Bean counters are essentially saying, “You’ve known about this problem for a long and did not ask for money in the last normal budgeting cycle. Wait for the next budgeting cycle.” This is exactly what we expect bean counters to do. I’m hard pressed to see why their response is a surprise.
In other words: Wait for the next President to be elected – and wait for the next mayor, who doesn’t take office until New Year’s Day.
“Bean counters are essentially saying, …” keller
It’s a casual term to use ‘bean counters’ in reference to them, but the term isn’t necessarily disrespectful, and it does seem that City Budget Office (CBO) staff’s job is oversight of city halls’ spending of taxpayers’ money. These staff are just work in an advisory capacity.
The mayor, commissioners and citizens, together could, if they really wanted to…decide to fund all or whichever of any of the projects they chose. Would there be citizens ticked off if they did this? Very possibly. Would funding these projects dig the city deeper into debt? That’s a great thing to avoid having happen, but of course, if a particular project really is worth that kind of burden, proceeding despite the conclusions of the bean counters can be a good choice.
**No national politics, please -ted**
I feel projects that improve safety for pedestrians, elderly, children and non auto users are URGENT. But what do I know.
If you’re disappointed, it’s imperative you contact the City Budget Office and let them know how you feel: CityBudgetOffice@portlandoregon.gov
So tired of police and fire unions whining about facilities, pay and head counts. They have gotten everything they wanted for decades. Has anyone stopped to actually think about prioritizing these things? Time to reel it in.
In my neighborhood, car break in has become a frequent occurrence (our cars 3x in three years), three houses within a five house radius of mine have been burglarized in the past two years, other property crime has become commonplace. The PPD works on the house entry crimes but does nothing on the rest of it. They simply don’t have the manpower any more.