Remember earlier today when I told you tonight’s PBOT open house for the Lincoln-Harrison Neighborhood Greenway Enhancement project might get interesting? Well from what we’re hearing so far, interesting doesn’t even describe it.
I wasn’t there, but several sources are reporting that it was completely bonkers. The crowd that’s vehemently opposed to a diverter at 50th and Lincoln was apparently very aggressive and nearly took over the meeting.
Here’s what what we’ve gleaned so far about how it went from emails, comments and tweets:
“It was a disaster. They never should have agreed to give a presentation and let the pitchforks form around them.”
“The nimbys were out in force for this one. I don’t think I’ve seen a more hostile open house. One guy was actually asking to see people’s drivers licences to see if they had lived here long enough to be ‘real’ Oregonians.”
“2nd Lincoln Harrison meeting blowing up. Commandeered by anti group.”
Joe Bike (via Twitter):
“Judging by hands raised, the anti group didn’t have anywhere near the kind of majority they had in the last meeting. They were just really loud.”
BikeLoudPDX via Twitter:
“Wow. Just left Lincoln greenway open house. Anti diverter spokeswoman actually hijacked mtg during Q & A and then only called on anti ppl 2 speak, despite strong pro-diverter support. Appalling behavior from small group of neighbors & shocked @PBOTinfo didn’t stop it sooner… They brought signs that looked like official signs and one guy actually put his sign over @PBOTinfo’s until I asked him to move it. Outrageous tactics.”
vs via a BikePortland comment:
“Just back from the open house on this project and I am shocked and disturbed by what was on display from the opponents of this project.
The opponents were well organized and angry. Dare I say belligerent. One person was assertively questioning a PBOT staff person about, ‘who thought up this thing, everyone who lives around here hates this project.’ A couple of us spoke up saying we live in the neighborhood and we think it’s a good project. We were curtly told that ‘bikers need to learn to share the road’.
The event was intended as an open house and the ‘no on 50th’ crowd demanded a person to speak. A city staffer was trying to explain the reason for the project (the greenway is failing and if we are to follow our plans as a city we need to lower traffic and slow it down) only to be shouted down. When he said, “as a city we decided we aren’t going to build freeways’ people shouted that down and shouted out, ‘who decided that?’
Remember, this is Mount Tabor in SE Portland. I felt like I was watching the Tea Party shouting down someone trying to talk about Obamacare. It definitely had a mob-like and hostile feel.
I am shocked by the way the opponents behaved. I was holding a bike helmet and had a few people angrily say, ‘you cyclists need to learn to share the road’. When we replied that we don’t think Lincoln is safe for kids, people said, in direct response, ‘well, I don’t want to have to drive on Division, it’s too busy.
Yes, in SE Portland, liberal mecca, where we all hate Roy Moore, a few minutes saved is more important than the safety of kids. I am extremely disappointed in my neighbors tonight.
That said, PBOT staff were great, super professional and they kept their cool despite treatment no one deserves.”
Andrea B via BikePortland comment:
“Fortunately at that point the Bikeloud contingent arrived, it was like the cavalry, they all hauled their bikes in there and we wished them well. The meeting being co-opted by the neighborhood was a big fail on PBOT’s part but they held their own well and I hope everybody here sends a short note of appreciation to their staff. I am really starting to think that the public comment venues are counterproductive. As somebody just noted on Nextdoor, “No stage, no drama.””
I’ve seen some pretty racuous and angry crowds at PBOT open houses over the years, but this one sounds like the worst. It will be interesting to see what PBOT does from here. Remember that there’s also an online survey that PBOT will likely lean on heavily in tallying community response to this project.
Were you at tonight’s meeting? Please share your thoughts so we can gain a better understanding of what happened — and what is likely to happen next.
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