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Free and easy: Portland loosens rules for carfree block parties

From a PBOT email sent out yesterday.

Streets are not just for driving on. This is a fact that the City of Portland’s transportation bureau is embracing wholeheartedly these days. A few new tweaks to the City’s rules for neighborhood block parties is the most recent example.

With spring weather finally here after one of the darkest and wettest and coldest winters on record, Portlanders are ready to party in the street — and PBOT just made it much easier and cheaper to do it officially and safely.

Starting this year PBOT no longer requires block party permit applicants to get signatures from all the residents on the block. All you have to do is share a flyer about the event with your neighbors. Also new this year is the ability to do the entire application online.

In another new policy twist, if you live east of 82nd Avenue you can get a block party permit for free. Typical permits cost $10 for a one-block party and $5 for each additional block (the permit gives you permission to put up barricades and prohibit driving on the street). PBOT will also provide free barricades and signage (with the pink “Portland in the Streets” logo) that can be picked up at several locations in east Portland. In another step toward encouraging more Portlanders to party in the street, block party applications are now avilable in Spanish, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Somali and Russian. Check out PBOTBlockParty.com for all the info.

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These new block party rules are part of PBOT’s Livable Streets Strategy, which City Council gave its blessing to last summer. The initiative will encourage more public space projects — like block parties, intersection paintings, parklets, demonstration projects, plazas, and so on — into city policy. A stakeholder and a technical committee have been meeting monthly since October. Those meetings are set to wrap up this month and PBOT is due to come up with a final report and list of pilot projects in June. If all goes according to plan, the Livable Streets Strategy will be passed by council in July.

Learn more at the city’s website.

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

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