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After year of tragedies, City returns to outer Division with an apology and a plan

Posted by on February 24th, 2017 at 12:06 pm

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PBOT’s yard signs were very popular last night.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman apologized to residents of the Jade District in person last night for a spate of fatal traffic crashes on outer Division Street.

Speaking as the new commissioner-in-charge of the transportation bureau, Saltzman stood in front of a mostly Chinese-speaking crowd and said, “We’re sorry and we’re bound and determined to do something about that.”

18 months ago in the exact same room as the meeting Saltzman attended last night — the Jade/APANO Multicultural Space on the corner of 82nd and Division — the City of Portland launched their Vision Zero effort. The Bureau of Transportation didn’t plan on coming back, but since that celebratory launch five people have died and three others have suffered life-altering injuries on outer Division. When two Chinese immigrants died trying to cross the street in separate collisions within just hours of each other back in December, PBOT swung into action and has been listening and formulating plans ever since.

Last night in a meeting hosted by the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, PBOT kicked off a community process slated to end with a plan adopted by City Council this fall.

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Commissioner Saltzman apologized for the lack of safety on Division.
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PBOT Director Leah Treat faced a crowd of Jade District residents who want safer streets.

PBOT Director Leah Treat was also in attendance last night. She looked over the crowd full of women and small children and said, “I’m struck by the many of you here with kids. I have four children of my own. I want for you to be able to walk out of this door and cross the street safely — and we need your help and ideas.”

“I want for you to be able to walk out of this door and cross the street safely — and we need your help and ideas.”
— Leah Treat, PBOT Director

Last night’s meeting was a listening session — the first step in the $300,000 outreach and education funding passed by council last month as an emergency response to December’s two fatalities. While PBOT uses their nonprofit partner APANO to organize the community and spur input from people who use Division, the City’s capital projects team has queued up a suite of projects worth about $7 million that aim to tame the dangerous arterial in a five-mile stretch from 82nd to the Portland-Gresham border at 174th.

On Vision Zero letterhead, the City passed out five-step “near-term safety strategy” for Division last night. The proposed steps include:

1) Increasing multilingual and multi-cultural traffic safety education: There’s a high percentage of non-English speakers who don’t own cars and live on and around Division. This step was requested by neighborhood groups and is spelled out in the city’s Vision Zero Action Plan. It will consist of new signage, listening sessions with city agencies, working with neighborhoods for “street team” education missions, safety messages on posters in local businesses and banners on/near the street.

2) Decreasing speed through automated enforcement: PBOT has bumped up installation of speed cameras at SE 156th by seven months and hopes to start issuing citations in a matter of weeks (instead of July).

3) Decreasing speed through speed reader boards: Plans call for four to six speed reader boards (yellow signs that read, “Your Speed XX”) spaced evenly throughout the corridor.

4) Decreasing speed through lowering posted speed: On March 2nd, PBOT will likely earn permission from Council to drop the speed limit 5 mph (from 35 to 30) for 120 days via an “emergency” declaration as outlined in a rarely-used Oregon law. In those 120 days PBOT will analyze how vehicle speeds have changed. If the plan works and speeds go down, PBOT hopes it will bolster their case to the Oregon Department of Transportation that the speed should be permanently lowered.

5) Decreasing speed through street design: PBOT will accelerate timelimes for projects already funded and planned for outer Division and will expand some other projects. Among the changes coming to the street between now and 2018 are: four rapid flashing beacons at 111th, 115th, 136th and 138th; two hybrid beacons (overhead signals that flash red when activated by a button) at 124th and 158th; improved crossings with median islands; more street lighting; completion of sidewalk gaps between 102nd and 148th; “vehicle access management” a.k.a. prohibiting certain types of dangerous turning movements; and protected bike lanes for the entire stretch.

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As for those bike lanes, PBOT project manager Elizabeth Mahon said at last night’s meeting the plan is to create buffered bike lanes from 82nd east to the city limits. They’d be striped by 2018 and would include some sort of physical barrier between bicycle and auto traffic. Mahon said PBOT would create room for the bike lanes by removing on-street parking along Division – most of which she said won’t cause “a significant amount of congestion” because it’s currently under-utilized. Once PBOT finalizes its preferred protected bike lane treatment (flex posts are considered an interim measure), they’d go back and upgrade the buffered bike lanes.

Here’s PBOT’s list of projects and expected completion dates:

And a visual PBOT provided with what the changes might look like:

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Division is currently 76-feet wide and has two standard vehicles lanes and bike lanes in both directions. So far PBOT hasn’t proposed anything that would reconfigure the standard lanes and/or reduce motor vehicle capacity. That’s a sore spot with activists from BikeLoudPDX who are fighting for changes on Division. They made their feelings known when the meeting split into two workgroups (one in Chinese, the other in English).

BikeLoudPDX Co-Chair Jessica Engelman said last night during a feedback session with PBOT (that included Commissioner Saltzman and Director Treat) that she was frustated how TriMet failed to get a dedicated bus-only lane for their upcoming Division Transit Project (largely because the agency was unwilling to create a bus-only lane). “Our conversation about capacity,” she said, “Needs to be about what kind of capacity do we really want?”. In Engelman’s view, Division needs less capacity for private car drivers and more capacity for people on foot, on bikes, in buses, and in emergency vehicles.

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PBOT Capital Program Division Manager Millicent Williams (center) listens to feedback.
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Commissioner Saltzman sat in on the group feedback session.

On the other side of the room at last night’s meeting, a workgroup of Chinese speakers who live in the Jade District shared their opinions and needs. A representative of the group said they want more streetlights to illuminate crossings, potholes to be fixed, better visibility when pulling out of driveways, and more education (and even tickets if necessary) for walkers who don’t use crosswalks.


What’s happening on outer Division matters in many ways.

This process is a test of Portland’s commitment to Vision Zero and to the people who are most vulnerable to the out-of-control driving culture on Division and the many streets like it throughout the city. We regularly fault how ODOT handles arterials — can PBOT show the state how it’s done? Will Division be a template for what PBOT can do on other arterials they might inherit from ODOT in the future?

Commissioner Saltzman also sees this process as a key organizing tool to help him pass a $2.2 million general fund budget request to fund several key elements of the Vision Zero program. During his opening remarks, Saltzman told the residents that he’s relying on them to turn out and testify. “We’re going to work hard to make this city safer for everybody, but we need your help,” he said. “I hope you’ll give us ideas about what we can we do, and I want you to know we’ll need you when we have budget hearings because we’ll be asking city council to put more money into Vision Zero and safety improvements into outer Division.”

Complicating things a bit is TriMet’s Division Transit Project. The transit agency will spend $175 million to improve bus service along Division with a scheduled completion date of 2021. PBOT’s timeline for making changes to Division doesn’t fully mesh with TriMet’s and the two agencies will have to coordinate to make sure no toes are stepped on and that changes to the street are as integrated as possible.

This project matters the most to the people who live, work, and play in the Division corridor.

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Hector Dominquez and his daughter.

Hector Dominquez spoke out repeatedly in the meeting last night. He lives nearby and walks on the street regularly. He also bikes his young daughter to school on a route that includes several stressful blocks along Division. He hopes changes will make the street safer. In the end, he said, “I just want to enjoy and be proud when I walk in my neighborhood.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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70 Comments
  • rick February 24, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Will the lower 30 mph speed limit signs be installed and enforced on March 2nd?

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    • John Brady February 24, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Rick,

      City Council will consider making a finding of emergency speed for Outer Division on March 2nd. If it passes, PBOT would install new 30 mph speed limit signs on Friday, March 3rd and the new speed limit could be enforced after that.

      cheers,

      John Brady
      PBOT

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      • J_R February 24, 2017 at 2:53 pm

        “Could” be enforced. I’ll believe it when I see it.

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  • Paul Atkinson February 24, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Why does “traffic safety education” always seem to focus on potential victims of traffic violence, rather than on potential perpetrators?

    Teaching “don’t kill” might be more effective than teaching “don’t die,” but I can only guess that because the latter doesn’t seem to work. “Be seen, be safe” can’t work without “see, be safe” directed at drivers…you can’t be seen by someone who’s not looking, and the passive voice hides that.

    I’m all for traffic safety education…to those who most need it. Can we be clearer on why we think that’s always pedestrians please?

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    • 9watts February 24, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      my comment that is stuck in moderation flagged this point as well.
      classic PBOT, and in my understanding at odds with how others have approached this topic (NYC and SF as two US counter-examples I’ve linked to here in comments in the past). No word there fingering pedestrians, teaching them how to behave, etc.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) February 24, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      Hi Paul,

      I hear you loud and clear. But in this case it’s important to understand the neighborhood context. The calls for more education of “potential victims” is coming from those potential victims themselves. Many people who live in the area and frequently walk on/across Division don’t speak English and were not born here. As such, they have different cultural behaviors around roads and they don’t pay much attention to signs in English. People in the n’hood feel it’s really important to increase education of those walkers immediately so they know what they’re up against and know how to use the roads in the safest way possible. That being said, the measures i reported on above – like the posters, banners, citations in the mail from the new cameras (!), community conversations, and so on — will definitely reach “potential perpetrators” as well.

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      • 9watts February 24, 2017 at 1:34 pm

        I figured as much. But given Paul’s and my concerns, and the way other jurisdictions seem to have approached this, those at PBOT who are overseeing this effort should take pains to differentiate what you said above from the usual boilerplate blame-the-pedestrians shtick we keep hearing from them.

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      • 9watts February 24, 2017 at 1:42 pm

        Something else:
        “The calls for more education of ‘potential victims’ is coming from those potential victims themselves.”

        “People in the n’hood feel it’s really important to increase education of those walkers immediately…”

        My hunch is that those two groups are not actually the same. We have non-English speakers, and we have people speaking on their behalf, who are asking for better education. I for one would be very interested to hear some more about this, about the kinds of translations, and framings of the problem, and the role education is assigned by these various groups.

        We live in a society where (thanks to PBOT, Trimet, ODOT, and others) the trope of the inattentive, clueless, uneducated pedestrian has salience. Other societies do not view this group reflexively in that manner. My hunch here is that well meaning intermediaries were casting about for solutions and hit on the educate the non-native speakers as a bullet point. I’m not saying this strategy is misplaced or not needed, but I am objecting to any facile assumption that this is the natural order of things, or that—in the context of Vision Zero—we don’t need to distinguish it from the long standing penchant for victim blaming we live with in this society.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. February 24, 2017 at 2:06 pm

        Perhaps it is the street is that is not compatible with non-English speakers. Safe streets should be multilingual – I managed not to get hit by any cars (or bikes!) while in Amsterdam, despite my complete lack of Dutch language skills!

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      • 9watts February 24, 2017 at 2:08 pm

        Don’t tell PBOT. Their institutional head will explode.

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      • Paul Atkinson February 24, 2017 at 3:59 pm

        The plea for multilingual education is clear, and I agree that providing what’s requested is a positive step.

        However, if you teach folks to use the rapid-flash beacons yet drivers continue to direct their attention away from driving, you get…well, Division, where people get killed while crossing in crosswalks where rapid-flash beacons have been activated. No amount of reflective clothing can make a driver see you when she or he isn’t looking.

        And what’s truly frustrating is that among the items listed is literally nothing that says “let’s get drivers to pay attention to the road while driving and decrease distraction.” How many close calls do you avoid each day? How many of the drivers failed to see you because your clothing and/or lights weren’t visible from sufficiently far away, and how many because they never looked in your direction even once?

        That’s where we need education. We need it desperately, in many languages, citywide, and with a realistic plan of enforcement that’s designed to counteract the implicit bias we know exists.

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      • Spiffy February 27, 2017 at 7:53 am

        of course it’s coming from the victims themselves… these are marginalized people in a system they don’t understand where the penalty for disobeying is death…

        history shows that most people in such a situation will beg to be told what rules to obey even if the rules are oppressive…

        get rid of the jaywalking laws and slow down drivers so that the most vulnerable aren’t the most oppressed and those with the most power to kill are the ones with the most restrictions…

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    • Todd Hudson February 24, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      “Teaching “don’t kill” might be more effective”

      It’ll make the folks who care feel good. As for the folks who don’t care and don’t pay attention, they’ll keep driving 55 down Division. But I guess that lone traffic camera will slow down traffic for 100 yards or so.

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      • J_R February 25, 2017 at 5:47 pm

        Teaching “don’t kill” is a good idea. Unfortunately, every time the police provide an excuse for the driver (eg “no citations have been issued” or “the bicyclist was not wearing a helmet” or “the pedestrian was wearing dark clothing”) and every time the DA decides not to prosecute, they are sending the message that “it’s OK for a motorist to kill.” I’m sick of it.

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    • wsbob February 28, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      “Why does “traffic safety education” always seem to focus on potential victims of traffic violence, rather than on potential perpetrators? …” atkinson

      People that drive, and that ride in motor vehicles, also are “…potential victims of traffic…”. Not sure if you’re getting the message and not admitting it, but I hear the message ‘Drive Safely’ often, and by no means, not just in bikeportland stories, and people’s comments to them. The admonition is like a household word, a mantra, that many people hear over and over when they head out to their vehicle to drive.

      People walking, biking, etc, are comparatively vulnerable road users to motor vehicle traffic. They, like all road users…need at least a modicum of knowledge of self defensive procedures in using the road. Such as not entirely relying on the crosswalk signal to be certain people driving will stop for people crossing the road on foot; actually looking at oncoming traffic to be sure it’s going to stop, before walking in front of it. Basic procedures…believe it or not, some people either don’t know them, or may have forgotten the reasons for using them.

      No road user, except children and disabled people accompanied by a competent, responsible person, perhaps, is excluded from the personal duty they have to use the road safely.

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  • Cyclekrieg February 24, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    Do people need to start taking this Strong Towns meme with them to ever PBOT meeting?

    https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/11/19/if-you-need-a-giant-cat-to-tell-people-to-slow-down

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  • Pete S. February 24, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    This is a good start.

    When can we talk about fixing 82nd?

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  • 9watts February 24, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    It occurs to me (for the umpteenth time) that it might be wise to check with others (other countries, agencies, institutions) that have tackled Vision Zero successfully, see how they went about this. Perhaps our local representatives have done just that, but sometimes I get the feeling that we’re starting from scratch, casting about, flailing(?)

    Those five priorities read a bit strangely. While four of the five listed points are about clamping down on speeding, the first is a bit incongruous, highlighting as it does the need for education (it is implied) of those not in cars. I see that this was requested by the neighborhood associations, but still question the prominence of it here. My sense of how other jurisdictions both in the US and beyond have gone about this does not focus on teaching the vulnerable how to better avoid the car menace.

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  • OregonJelly February 24, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    It would be interesting to hear how much of the $380,000 was spent on this meeting.

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  • soren February 24, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    Commissioner Saltzman also sees this process as a key organizing tool to help him pass a $2.2 million general fund budget request to fund several key elements of the Vision Zero program. During his opening remarks, Saltzman told the residents that he’s relying on them to turn out and testify.

    It’s about time that dedicated funding is being discussed for a program that was passed last year. But…this is peanuts. I promise Commissioners Saltzman that I and others will turn out and ask for more.

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    • David Hampsten February 24, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      When you do ask for more funding, go after the general fund reserves in the fall and spring BuMP budgets. There’s usually several million in each.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. February 24, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    PBOT project manager Elizabeth Mahon said at last night’s meeting the plan is to create buffered bike lanes from 82nd east to the city limits. They’d be striped by 2018 and would include some sort of physical barrier between bicycle and auto traffic. Mackin said PBOT would create room for the bike lanes by removing on-street parking along Division – most of which she said won’t cause “a significant amount of congestion” because it’s currently under-utilized.

    Glad PBOT is finally admitting that it’s okay to reallocate parking spots that hardly anyone uses, after years of defending them (see: Foster).

    …more education (and even tickets if necessary) for walkers who don’t use crosswalks

    This is misguided. Many of the people killed by drivers in Portland were using the crosswalks legally. The inherent problem here is not that people need to be educated on proper street crossing, but that the street design simple is hostile to people walking. No amount of education will change that fact. I agree with Jessica, that bus-only lanes could have been a perfect solution to this problem, so I have no idea why PBOT is not pursuing this option given how poorly-performing the “Division Rapid Bus” will perform without them.

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    • David Hampsten February 24, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      The sidewalks, the crosswalks, and the buffered bike lanes were all funded under Mayor Adams in 2012, but delayed by PBOT for years “because they wanted to study the corridor” when they started vision zero. 9 deaths and serious injuries later, they are finally apologizing and doing them. Shame on PBOT.

      Correction: Division was never an ODOT facility. It was, like most of the rest of East Portland, part of Multnomah County until annexed between 1986 and 1991, and built in its present form by the county. The city has had 26 years now to fix it. Again, shame on PBOT for delaying the fixes.

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    • David Hampsten February 24, 2017 at 5:02 pm

      On the parking, when East Portland was part of the county, the county banned parking on all arterial roadways, which is why there is a lot of off-street parking. Gresham a few years ago re-introduced parking bans to implement new bike lanes – quite successfully. First they put in no-parking signs, then added bike lanes a few months later, but gave local residents a 6-month grace period on ticketing and towing. Then the tickets. Then the towing. Folks got the point pretty quickly.

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    • Spiffy February 27, 2017 at 7:38 am

      instead of tickets for people not using crosswalks how about we use Vision Zero to get rid of that archaic oppressive corporate law?

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    • Alex Reedin February 27, 2017 at 8:42 am

      I’m sorry, just “82nd Ave.” doesn’t work all that well for the Jade District IMHO. 82nd ave. is a long road, from almost the airport down to Clackamas, and only a short portion of it serves as the center of a number of Portland’s present-day Asian-American communities. There’s the non-commercial part up by the airport which is brought down by the fast traffic and narrow sidewalks of 82nd, there’s the strip clubs, cheap motels, fast-food restaurants, Madison HS, and yuppie mountain bike playland part between Sandy and I-84, there’s the expanse of car dealerships and other older, mostly non-renovated businesses in the Montavilla portion of 82nd, there’s the Jade District, there’s the older urban strip-mally section of 82nd south of there that gets increasingly lower-rent and more neglected as you approach the Clackamas County border, and then there’s the archetypically middle-class suburban strip mall part of 82nd in Clackamas. Just referring to “82nd” will bring one or a number of those areas to mind depending on what part of 82nd the listener is most familiar with. The “Jade District” is much more specific than that within 82nd, and is also spreading along Division and Powell a little bit to the East.

      Why does Ladd’s Addition get to get its own, citywide-recognized name for a tiny portion of the city because that name is old, while the Jade District is disallowed because it’s new? I think it’s appropriate that white Portlanders who have lived here for a while accept some nods like Chavez to the non-white communities that live here (and have lived here for a while without nods).

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  • B. Carfree February 24, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Regarding point 2, decreasing speed through automated enforcement: Unless the typical speeder is going 11 mph or more over the posted speed limit, this isn’t going to actually reduce speeds. Only those excessive speeders will be cited; it’s the lame free 10 mph over the limit that will keep speeds high.

    Note that PBoT clearly thinks that smaller increments of speed are important (as do I). They are going to temporarily reduce the posted speed limit by a mere 5 mph. It must be frustrating for any people at PBoT who really want to create safe streets to be constantly hamstrung by misguided state laws.

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  • B. Carfree February 24, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Can the temporary speed limit reduction be repeated? What’s to stop PBoT from reducing the speed limit for 90 days, returning it for a day, and repeating the reduction?

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  • Jim Lee February 24, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Bob Lutz, big-time executive auto-industry honcho, says that the age of the personal motor-vehicle has about another 20 years to run. The rationale is simple.

    The great preponderance of capital invested in auto-centric transportation is in the vehicles themselves, not the roads that carry them nor the factories that produce them. Plus, on average, a personal motor-vehicle sits idle more than 90% of its lifetime. Only a nation that generates great excesses of capital can afford such a system, and the US quickly is reaching diminishing returns in that respect.

    So if we just hang on a while our system will inherently correct itself, and we all will live healthier, happier, longer lives.

    Eventually.

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  • curly February 24, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    Of the top 30 “High Crash Intersections” in the city of Portland, 27 of them are at, or east of 82nd Ave. according to Vision Zero statistics. 8 of the top ten are on either Division, or Powell from 82nd Ave. east. Taking active transportation, or transit means you’re relying on drivers to be aware of your presence on the roadway. A lower speed limit should help tremendously on Division from 82nd Ave. east. Nice to hear something is being done. It always takes a fatality, or two, to bring this issue to the forefront, yet again. East Portland residents continue to advocate for improvements to these very dangerous roadways, yet there is always a reason funding goes elsewhere. Baby steps are no longer acceptable to fixing the transportation issues in east Portland. Waves of funding dollars need to continue to flow east! And wouldn’t it be nice if ODOT and PBOT would work together to make these facilities safer!

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  • rachel b February 24, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    This is heartening. I hope they follow through.

    #1 should be #5, if any number at all. I don’t remember feeling hampered walking or driving around in Quebec and Montreal by not knowing French (except for “où sont les toilettes?”, “oui, oui!” and “merci!”).

    Also: what the hell is the Jade District? I hate this irritating recent phenomenon of renaming things in Portland and then throwing those terms around like, ‘oh, this is what we’ve always called it…’ It’s like kudzu, that tactic. I hate to see it work. Grumble, grumble. Just like taking pictures of your feet at the airport is ‘a Portland tradition’ (of about three years, I’d say…).

    p.s…apparently we have “quadrants” now, too. Five of them. Yup. Sigh.

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    • David Hampsten February 24, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      The Jade District is one of six “Neighborhood Prosperity Initiatives” or miniature urban renewal areas that the Portland Development Commission (PDC) set up in 2013 or so. The others are the Rosewood Initiative (SE 162nd & Stark), Historic Parkrose (NE 105th & Sandy), Division-Midway Alliance (122nd & Division), Cully, & NE 42nd. http://www.pdc.us/for-businesses/business-district-programs-support/neighborhood-prosperity.aspx

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. February 24, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Portland has had quadrants since 1931. 😉

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      • rachel b February 24, 2017 at 9:06 pm

        Shouldn’t they be called quintrants? 🙂 No one ever, in my entire life here, has ever referred to Portland’s “quadrants” until the last few years.

        At least Cully, Division and Parkrose renamings have some connection to the actual historic designations. “Jade District” was manufactured wholesale because of the stigma of “82nd Avenue.” Very like The Pearl, which I’ll always think of as the NW Industrial area. I say embrace “82nd Avenue!” It retains more of Portland’s original character than almost anywhere else in town, anymore. Or, at least it did a month ago. Who knows now, in Monster Morph Town.

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      • David Hampsten February 24, 2017 at 10:04 pm

        From when I worked at PBOT mapping 2000-2005, we found that Portland actually had 8 addressing systems. The most common 5 are SW, NW, N, NE, & SE. There is a portion of SW that is between SW 1st and the Willamette River that is “SW” but with leading zeros before the numbers, in the Macadam & South Waterfront areas. And then there is Burnside. East of the river its addresses are “E”, and on the west side, “W”. Go figure.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. February 24, 2017 at 10:44 pm

        Cities are by definition dynamic. Sometimes things change and I think that’s what makes living in them so fascinating! I would hate to be stuck in a never-changing cookie-cutter suburb!

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      • rachel b February 24, 2017 at 11:46 pm

        Octrants, David! 🙂 I don’t think the city’s place named are defined by the addressing system, though. We all just used NW, SW, SE, etc….John’s Landing, Goose Hollow. I notice “district” (barf) is the moniker of choice now with the advent of so many newcomers. I can’t remember anything being called a district, growing up…

        “Cities are by definition dynamic. Sometimes things change and I think that’s what makes living in them so fascinating! I would hate to be stuck in a never-changing cookie-cutter suburb!”

        Oh, garghhh, Adam. You always go there! I have lived through a lot more change than you have and nothing about what I say here automatically = “change averse.” So stop it! We agree that life can be a fascinating whirligig-kaleidoscope of whimwhistical wonderful change! What we don’t agree on, apparently, is that there can be a dark side to change, too–especially if it’s juggernaut and Agent Orange-like in its ferocity. People are being displaced willy nilly here–people who’ve lived here a long time. That’s nothing to celebrate. This city’s evidencing a lot of sickness right now, due to a lot of rapid, poorly-facilitated change. We’ve got work to do, and a lot of thoughtful evaluation to engage in.

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      • Alex Reedin February 25, 2017 at 5:56 am

        I get the vertigo at the rapid change and lack of respect for history… But on the Jade District in particular, it seems like a healthy, affirming response to the rapid change for the Asian community which was historically centered in Chinatown and is now centered around 82nd & Division/Powell. To just leave it as “That part of 82nd around Division with a bunch of Asian-American businesses” is a mouthful, and makes it seem like just a commercial center that can and should be changed with the whims of The Market when in fact it is a community that deserves respect. Although I understand why Black institutions are still based in greater Albina in inner N/NE, I wonder if it might be healthy to establish a “Soul District” or similar in Rosewood or Gresham.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. February 25, 2017 at 8:47 am

        I was mostly just referring to neighborhoods getting names… Obviously there are some bad change happing in Portland right now.

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      • rachel b February 25, 2017 at 1:13 pm

        Alex–Do we really have to meme-ify and brand EVERYthing, though? We never used to, and what tends to happen without that unnatural (and rather hubristic) interference is that names and identities more naturally occur, over time. As they should, in my humble opine.

        There seems to be a real (repugnant) trend in ‘hip’ Richard Florida-esque cities to waltz in and brand everything and market the bloody hell out of it. It turns me off in a big way, though I know the tourists and many newcomers love it. I guess it (my antipathy) is because, yeah–it’s a lot presumptuous, and even contemptuous of our actual roots and history here.

        Adam: Got it. 🙂

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      • Alex Reedin February 25, 2017 at 1:43 pm

        That trend as a whole sounds bad to me… Yet, looking at any particular new name, adding it allows some sort of useful distinction. The Pearl sounds gross and boostery, I don’t like that name, but there is value to making a distinction between the area that was once the heart of the Northwest industrial district and is now a highish-rise, residential/office/retail mix, and the area further north that is what’s left of the Northwest Industrial District. The Jade District in particular I feel strongly about – why should Portland’s historical names (almost all given by white people, many named after white people) have precedence over a new community of non-white people that is literally on the border between North Tabor, Lents, Powellhurst-Gilbert, and Montavilla? I don’t really like the South Waterfront neighborhood, but there’s a real difference between it and adjoining areas of South Portland. Calling it “Eastern South Portland” would probably be fine, I guess, but “South Waterfront” is I think clearer and more descriptive.

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      • rachel b February 25, 2017 at 6:45 pm

        I think that is the idea indeed, Alex–that “there is value” in all this fake naming. And I guess I disagree with that. I think the only value it holds is for developers, property owners (looking to rent/sell) and TravelPortland. And I don’t count that as the kind of value that benefits me or the community in any meaningful way. Rather, I think it cheapens and meme-ifies and degrades, in the long run. It’s catchy! It’s cute (to some; not me, for whom it promotes barfing). And it’s–ultimately–false.

        The thing that attracted people to Portland, that I’ve heard trumpeted over and over again by the likes of TravelPortland and everyone selling selling selling us, is “authenticity.” And I’d argue that at this point, in large part because of b.s. like fake naming of “quadrants” and “districts” etc., and fetishizing of taking pictures of our shoes on the carpet at the airport, and donuts, and the unipiper, and “weird!”, and Powell’s, and Mt. Hood, and NATURE!, and just unfettered “branding” and basic meme-ifying to death, we’ve utterly lost anything that was, at one time, truly authentic about Portland. We’ve been well and truly Disneyfied at this point, and marketed to the brink of world saturation.

        South Waterfront was a whole manufactured, new neighborhood that’s only existed a handful of years, so naming it makes a little more sense. I actually think Zidell Yards is a better name, and that’s what it was, pretty much. It claims the history, at least. I would call The Jade District simply SE 82nd (that road is known, and it has history! Claim the name! Erase the shame!). Or The Organ Grinder District. 🙂

        The Pearl I would simply call The Clam. Or just, Clam.

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. February 25, 2017 at 7:43 pm

        Try coming over to my neck of the woods sometime. Definitely nothing Disney about Foster. 🙂

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    • rachel b February 25, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      Adam–You mean “FoPo,” don’t you? 😉 Yechh.

      I’m very familiar with Foster! It used to have some amazing thrift shops! 🙂

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      • rachel b February 25, 2017 at 11:24 pm

        And…weird! I have a comment waiting for moderation right above yours that mentions Disney…

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  • SD February 25, 2017 at 11:42 am

    “Increasing multilingual and multi-cultural traffic safety education” sounds benign enough and really any guidance form the city should be accessible by everyone. But the contribution of not speaking English to any of the traffic fatalities in Portland is dubious. It is also a distraction from the fact that poorly designed and controlled highways are more likely to be in lower income areas where there may be less English speakers. And, the political influence to “humanize” these neighborhoods is lacking or opposed by freight and ODOT.

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  • David Hampsten February 25, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    South Portland is actually the name of a good-sized city in Maine, which I suspect is the reason the City of Portland (Oregon) avoids the use of “South Portland.” “East Portland” was an incorporated city in Oregon until it was annexed by the City of Portland in 1926; it’s now the Kerns and Hobsford-Abernathy neighborhoods of southeast portland. The current “East Portland” is a much more vast and somewhat less developed area between 82nd and Gresham/175th, but with more people than any other district. 20% of the city area (29 sq mi/145) and over 28% of the city’s residents.

    One of the real ongoing issues of East Portland is that “there is no there, there”, to use a quote from a famous planner. Most of the 13 city-recognized EPNO neighborhoods have no real identity. Everyone knows Lents, but no one knows where it ends or begins. People who live in Argay know where it is, even if no one in the rest of the city does. The 3 largest neighborhoods in the city, all in East Portland, each have over 25,000 residents – the size of small cities – but does anyone know where Hazelwood, Centennial, and Powellhurst-Gilbert actually are? Would you know it if you rode your bike through them?

    So the creation of artificial districts is a response by the city, local business groups, residents, and activists intent on creating neighborhood identity, like “Uptown”, “Goose Hollow”, or “Pearl District”. Jade District is between Lents and Montevilla – most of it is in fact in Powellhurst-Gilbert, but it only occupies a small portion of that vast neighborhood. Division-Midway is literally at the midpoint of Division, given that part of it’s length extends into Gresham. It is in 4 neighborhoods you have never heard of – Mill Park, Hazelwood, Powellhurst-Gilbert, and Centennial. Rosewood is next to the Gresham district of Rockwood, in Glenfair, Centennial, & Hazelwood. And so on.

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    • rachel b February 25, 2017 at 11:34 pm

      I actually do know or recognize all those neighborhood names, David. Lived my first four years in Powellhurst-Gilbert. Then we moved to unincorporated Boring/Gresham/Damascus.

      Goose Hollow’s not a manufactured neighborhood–that’s an old name. I frequently hear newcomers pronounce “Montavilla” wrong and I’m just waiting for that to catch on (due to sheer newbie numbers) and become the new pronunciation.

      I live in Hosford-Abernethy now.

      I say just keep the names, or make an amalgam that incorporates the names. Like HazPleasCentenValleyWood.

      🙂

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      • MaxD February 27, 2017 at 11:00 am

        To be fair part of old Portland is a lot of ugly racism that red-lined neighborhoods, wouldn’t allow Chinese-americans to own property, wouldn’t sell property to black or Jewish people. I am wary of marketing efforts, but I support the Jade district designation. I think it empowers a community that is frequently disenfranchised and it provides something positive to plan around to avoid gentrification. I appreciate organic, urban growth, but we should acknowledge that Oregon and Portland have long-standing racist histories that need to confronted and openly acknowledged to change them. any of the founding families in Oregon were Chinese workers who helped build the railroads but they actively marginalized for decades

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      • El Biciclero February 27, 2017 at 11:21 am

        What’s the new pronunciation of “Montavilla”? My dad grew up there and it was always “monnahvillah”. Are you hearing “moan-ta-veeya”?

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      • rachel b February 27, 2017 at 12:08 pm

        Yes–I’m hearing “mahn-tuh-VEE-yuh.” From a realtor, even!

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      • 9watts February 27, 2017 at 12:16 pm

        Welcome to my club.
        My grandmother was friends with Rodney Glisan’s children…

        “Glisan is honored by the naming of a street in Northwest Portland, Oregon. His name is pronounced “GLISS-an”. Longtime residents of Portland are sometimes fond of correcting outsiders who mispronounce the street as “GLEE-son.”

        also – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rodney_Glisan

        And don’t get me started on Sauvie’s (SEW-veez) Island.

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      • rachel b February 27, 2017 at 12:17 pm

        Good points, Max D, and Alex Reedin, re: the Jade District. I don’t object to a people/community choosing a name–just to City of Portland’s unfortunate new enthusiasm for creating cute names for stuff. The renaming of 39th to Cesar Chavez & Union & Grand to MLK is a different thing altogether, as those name changes were clearly meant as honoraries, tributes, and worthy ones in my opine.

        Did Portland’s Asian community indeed propose the Jade name/district? I have no idea who came up with it…

        You’ll have to (please) excuse my kneejerk dislike of anything with a whiff of Portland “branding” to it. City leaders have been on a bit of a gleeful tear for several years now, in league w/ TravelPortland and with the aim of marketing the aitch ee double toothpicks out of the city. It’s gross.

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      • rachel b February 28, 2017 at 12:14 pm

        9watts–Guilty! I grew up here hearing (and pronouncing) only “GLEE-suhn.” I do know that story–only heard it as an adult. The shame! I think we always said “So-vee’s Island” too. Doh! 😉 But I was from Boring. Just a hick. With a crick. In the stick(s).

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 8:29 pm

        Or clearing out a swath of forest and calling the town within “The Clearing”. 😉

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  • Spiffy February 26, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    “two standard vehicles lanes and bike lanes”

    I’m sure you meant “two standard motor vehicle lanes and a bike lane”…

    however, counting parking there’s 3 motor vehicle lanes… counting the center lane that’s 3.5 in each direction dedicated to motor vehicles…

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  • Spiffy February 26, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    the list has a lot of things that will encourage drivers to slow down but nothing that will force them to…

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  • SD February 26, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    “Increasing multilingual and multi-cultural traffic safety education” sounds benign enough and really any instruction from the city should be accessible by everyone. But the contribution of not speaking English or cultural differences to any of the traffic fatalities in Portland is dubious. It is also a distraction from the fact that poorly designed and controlled highways are more likely to be in lower income areas where there may be less English speakers. And, the political influence to “humanize” these neighborhoods is lacking or opposed by freight and ODOT.

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  • Edward February 27, 2017 at 9:58 am

    The info-graphic picture has a box that says, “safer signal timing.” I love the sound of that. “Safer” should be an improvement. But what does it actually mean and what is it they are going to do to make the signals timing “safer”?

    Will they set them so traffic can only get through at 22 mph? Would that actually be safer? Or would it encourage drivers to become impatiently enraged? There must be some data on stuff on like this. Anybody?

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  • Joe February 27, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    I feel that most ppl speeding and driving wreckless have very little respect for
    anything outside their bubble.

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    • 9watts February 27, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      Driving wreckless is a good thing; we should all be so lucky. I think you meant something else.

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  • Kate February 27, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    South Waterfront was a whole manufactured, new neighborhood that’s only existed a handful of years, so naming it makes a little more sense. I actually think Zidell Yards is a better name, and that’s what it was, pretty much. It claims the history, at least. I would call The Jade District simply SE 82nd (that road is known, and it has history! Claim the name! Erase the shame!). Or The Organ Grinder District.
    The Pearl I would simply call The Clam. Or just, Clam.
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    Total sidenote to jump in and say that I grew up off 82nd and loved the Organ Grinder as a kid. Man, what a place!

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    • 9watts February 27, 2017 at 2:49 pm

      Zidell Yards doesn’t “claim the history,” it follows the long and venerable tradition in the US of naming housing developments after the cultural, geographic, economic, agricultural history they just summarily destroyed.

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      • rachel b February 27, 2017 at 7:27 pm

        Well, but you know what I mean, 9. Not a fan of the pollution-a-poppin’ Zidells. But it was what was there for a loooong time. At least there’s some connection. Even (especially) if the history’s bad, I think it pays to remember it.

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      • 9watts February 27, 2017 at 7:33 pm

        Oh that was something you suggested? I thought it was Kate.
        I certainly understand the sentiment. But I also recognize the sentimental urge, the obfuscatory tendency to try to mask the destruction by appropriating the name.

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      • rachel b March 1, 2017 at 8:03 pm

        9watts–we both said it! Using “Zidell Yards” would probably not be too popular with anyone who knows the Superfundy history there! 🙂 Probably why it was never an option. I dislike the practice of mowing down meadows and filling in wetlands and then calling the place “Tranquil Meadows” or “Prancing Pristine Ponds.” Place. Prancing Pristine Ponds Place. Actually, I might live there, just for the name… 😉

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. March 1, 2017 at 8:30 pm

        Or clearing out a swath of forest and calling the town within “The Clearing”? 😉

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    • rachel b February 27, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      Kate–I loved The Organ Grinder too! It was always such a thrill to go there–usually reserved for “special” events, like birthdays. Fascinating to watch the workings of that thing! 🙂 I was seriously bummed when it closed down.

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