“The preference is to have the dedicated bike lanes… on Broadway. Cyclists will actually be safer there with fewer pedestrian encounters.”
— Wendy Rahm, Downtown Neighborhood Association
The City of Portland is working on a master plan for the South Park Blocks and there’s a key element that doesn’t sit well with the Downtown Neighborhood Association: bike lanes.
The South Park Blocks are considered a shoe-in for the alignment of the forthcoming Green Loop, which the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability describes as, “a signature 6-mile linear park and active transportation path.” Design concepts for the South Parks Master Plan released last month offered the most detailed look yet at how the Green Loop would travel through the 12-block SW Park Avenue couplet. All the concepts under consideration include a mix of dedicated bikeways and shared-use paths.
The Downtown Neighborhood Association (DNA) thinks that’s a bad idea.(South Parks Master Plan design concepts via City of Portland)
In a November 27th letter (PDF) signed by DNA Chair Walter Weyler and DNA Land Use Transportation Committee Chair Wendy Rahm, they argue that bicycle riders in the Park Blocks will pose safety hazards to people walking. The DNA wants the bike route to be focused one block over on SW Broadway.
Here’s a list of reasons the DNA gives for their opposition to the bikeways:
– Many school children cross Park Avenue on field trips every week. The DNA doesn’t give a specific reason why this is a problem, but it’s clear they believe bicycle riders pose an imminent safety hazard to these children.
– Bicycle users have other places to ride, but this is the only park for many people in the neighborhood:
“There is no alternative green space for this population [of West End residents], but there are plenty of other streets where bicycles can ride.”
– Bicycle users and busy walking zones (like those around streetcar stops) are incompatible. By contrast, the DNA believes cars and the people who drive them are just fine:
“Because current on-street parking reduces the single car lane to one narrow lane, cars go very slowly; parked cars on both sides of the street currently act to protect pedestrians on sidewalks. Pedestrians can easily and safely cross a narrow, single lane of slow-moving cars.”
More bicycle riders would mean more scofflaws:
“Auto drivers are licensed and cars registered, so tracking and enforcement of violations is possible. Because cyclists are neither trained nor licensed and because bicycles are not registered so not traceable, it is not possible to report violations. This lack of enforcement likely contributes to the many violations and “encounters” nearby residents witness/experience already today, without an increase of more cyclists the Green Loop would bring.”
A dedicated bikeway is incompatible with the Farmers Market:
“Vendors also need temporary parking to be able to deliver their produce and set up their temporary stands in Shemanski Park which would be complicated by a bike lane in place of parking spaces. To reduce conflicts between distracted shoppers and cyclists, at least on market-day, closing down these bike lanes would also seem advisable.”
People who attend churches along the South Park Blocks don’t ride bikes and they need a place to park their cars:
“Hundreds of people attend the churches that line the South Park Blocks certainly on Sundays, which is also a popular day for cycling. Worshippers come by foot, by public transportation or car from the suburbs (needing parking), but they all end up on the sidewalks and the park blocks as pedestrians… We suggest it will be important to contact all these churches directly to hear their assessment of the impact of an increase in bicycles and a loss of parking.”
Only a small percentage of people currently bike to the South Park Blocks, so we don’t need to improve conditions for them:
“When asked in the Parks survey how people usually travel to the South Park Blocks, the overwhelming majority come by foot (nearly 90%). Cyclists weren’t even close (less than 10%).”
To minimize what they see as the negative impacts of dedicated bike lanes, the DNA offers several counter-proposals. They want the Parks Blocks to be a “pedestrian priority area” and to move the Green Loop to SW Broadway. If Broadway isn’t feasible, they want bicycle riders to dismount and walk in the busiest blocks and they’re asking PBOT to install stop signs for bicycle lanes only. “Cars already stop at any sign of pedestrians midblock or at crosswalks, but cyclists do not,” the letter reads. If dedicated bike lanes are installed, they should come with, “Design features that effectively force cyclists to slow down.” And to improve compliance with traffic laws, the DNA wants the city to create a “cyclist licensing and bicycle registration program.”
Asked today for an update and clarification on their stance, DNA’s Wendy Rahm said the letter was approved by the DNA Board and sent to Mayor Ted Wheeler, Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, and Parks Commissioner Nick Fish. Rahm added that no one in attendance at the neighborhood’s Land Use Transportation Committee meeting this morning supported dedicated bike lanes along the Park Blocks. “The preference is to have the dedicated bike lanes run where the planned commuter lane is to be, on Broadway,” Rahm shared in an email. “Cyclists will actually be safer there with fewer pedestrian encounters. That is not to say bikes cannot use the streets along the Park Blocks, just that there would not be dedicated lanes there so they would need to follow all traffic laws.”
Rahm added that in her mind, the DNA is taking a “pro bike position” and that their concerns are for, “both pedestrian and cyclist’s safety and convenience.”
If you’d like to learn more about the South Parks Master Plan and share your feedback about cycling in the Park Blocks, check out the project website and take the visioning survey. Comments will be accepted until 5:00 pm on December 30th.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
I agree that it’s a bad idea — the park blocks offer a lousy riding experience because of the need to stop frequently and cross busy streets without signals.
As a commuter route, I would agree. For a leisurely ride, a visit to the farmer’s market, family stroll to the food carts, etc. it would be great. I love the Park blocks for sightseeing.
I believe it’s time we stopped caring what NA’s think. We need politicians who can see through this NIMBY BS.
But only if the NA’s are affluent.
NAs express the opinions of residents that choose to use them as a vehicle for communicating with one another and with the city. If you don’t care what people on NAs think, you don’t care what residents think, which sounds a bit anti-democratic to me.
There is absolutely nothing stopping people from joining their NAs and changing their positions, or, if that’s just too oppressive, starting another association of their neighbors to write letters to the city.
That seems reasonable except that most neighborhoods associations concern themselves primarily with Maintaining Property Values.
In pursuit of this they shun anything that doesn’t display conspicuous consumption.
() pedestrians are all homeless and/or criminals.
() cyclists aren’t much better.
() anything different is bad
() conform or the HOA contract allows us to sue you.
Sure, their honest opinion is honest but it is only that: an opinion.
And their NIMBY talking points are usually just local news FUD parroted back with no basis in real facts.
>>> most neighborhoods associations concern themselves primarily with Maintaining Property Values <<<
They do? Not the ones I'm familiar with. Mostly they work helping people connect with one another to help solve problems in their neighborhoods, with the goal of making them a better place to live. That may have the incidental effect of Maintaining Property Values, but it's not the driving motivator for the vast majority of people who participate.
You are inaccurately painting a large number of people with a very broad and fairly offensive brush.
(Or, perhaps, you are confusing an HOA with a Neighborhood Association, which is something altogether different.)
Mine seems to spend most of their time fighting density and anything that makes the roads safer.
It’s not that we don’t care what they think. Rather, we shoudn’t let their opinion overrule safety. They should give their opinion in case there are aspects that the city didn’t think about. But when they express opinions as facts that have been debunked then those opinions should be dismissed.
I’m very anti-democratic. Letting a majority of people control what a minority of people do is a bad idea. People are selfish and vote to make their lives better at the expense of others.
There are plenty of things preventing ordinary citizens from leaving their house and subjecting themselves to the opinions of hundreds of their neighbors.
I think of NAs as any other elected member of government. Many people will agree with them, and many people will disagree, but in the end we expect them to do what’s right. They don’t always do that. We have good and bad in government. Like any politician they are born out of the people that put them on the pedestal and will reflect those views, good or bad. Unfortunately we give the bad too much power.
We should listen to the people and then do what’s right for everybody, even if it makes are lives more difficult.
Your anti-democratic sentiments were shared by those who designed our electoral college.
Here’s irony: the next story is about a ‘pedestrian-friendly’ car driver hit-and-run interaction with a pedestrian and their dog.
The South Park Blocks are great for bicycling, especially if you’re going south. I agree that the stop signs aren’t ideal. However, the incline makes it a slower ride anyway, so it’s easier to stop at the stop signs. It’s a low stress route without a lot of cars.
Broadway is pretty awful. I ride from inner NE to the South Park Blocks many times a week, and I find Broadway quite stressful even as a confident bike commuter. Right hooks are always a concern, at every intersection. There are hotel zones and taxis and lots of service trucks that block the too-narrow bike lane. It also has steep inclines and descents that you don’t have on the Park Blocks.
What if one side of the Park Blocks was a two-way bikeway and the stop signs were flipped? That could facilitate a lot of bike traffic through downtown and make the Park Blocks a much better experience for everyone.
The only time I ever collided with someone who right hooked me was on Broadway although it was closer to the bridge. Traffic was backed up and a guy on a harley with a woman on the back decided he was done waiting and that he was suddenly going to turn across the bike lane right in front of me. Broadway is a much worse choice than the park blocks for a bikeway IMHO.
SW Broadway is also where Kristine was killed by someone driving a semi in 2005.
I like that idea, Joan, and it seems like a compromise worthy of pursuit.
Agreed. A 2 way cycle track seems ideal. I frequently ride the Park blocks, especially on BikeTown. It’s less variable and hectic than Broadway and not once have I had a pedestrian conflict (then again, I commonly yield to pedestrians).
That is a good suggestion.
The letter almost read to me as advocating for directing more vehicles into the south park blocks, due to all of the licensing, training and compliance.
Maybe then SW Broadway could be part of the green loop?!
So, read between the lines and they claim that pedestrians can’t mix well with bikes, but they mix just great with cars?
How many pedestrians in this city have been hit by bikes, compared to how many pedestrians have been hit by cars.
Even stronger, how many pedestrians didn’t survive their run in with a car vs how many pedestrians have died being hit by a car?
“Cars already stop at any sign of pedestrians midblock or at crosswalks, but cyclists do not,”
Thanks for the laugh!
Cars don’t stop, even when you are in front of them, they still try to force you out of their way.
As a pedestrian, this whole letter is offensive.
It’s amazing that folks can surmise and state that cars are safer than bikes to pedestrians. Wow.
Does anyone remember when parking was prohibited on the Park Blocks along the ‘inside’ curb? It was only about 10 years ago that parking was added – more than doubling the vehicles sitting next to a lovely park, impeding views, taking up space. It was indicated to be temporary but never left. The cross-section image above shows that parking lane removed – as it should have been long ago.
I do hope that the City stands up for the greater good – and follows it’s own stated policies toward safety and climate change. The obviousness of aligning the Green Loop with the Park Blocks is blinding.
“…vehicles sitting next to a lovely park, impeding views, taking up space.”
I remember when they first put the bus/bike lane in on Madison for the block between 3rd/4th and removed the parking next to Chapman Square. I was surprised at how much less stressful it felt just having that parking removed.
Total NIMBY viewpoints with an argument for and against everything, using “stats” as desired!
I’d take a park with bike lanes next to it over more cars any day. Kids aren’t going to ride their bikes on dangerous Broadway, but they might learn to ride if they can do loops around a nice park area with good visibility.
Interesting Rahm quote in WW, with the same questionable arguments used against building heights in NW, (she lives in Eliot Tower next to the Art Museum…):
“Wendy Rahm, who bought a 10th-floor condo more than a decade ago, has repeatedly testified for lowering the height limits in the West End.
‘Recent studies indicate millennials also prefer the ‘authenticity’ of the old to the new,’ wrote Rahm in an August letter to the City Council advocating height limits lower than the building she currently lives in. ‘There is a reason we flock to old city centers and villages overseas.'”
It seems like park blocks with bike lanes would be MORE like “old city centers and villages overseas”…?!
This lady sounds like a real piece of work.
(At least) 12,000 live downtown and this letter was signed by two people who both live in the same condo building.
“Cars already stop at any sign of pedestrians midblock or at crosswalks…”
This made me laugh.
Very telling. I hope this letter went straight into the recycling shredder. Obviously downtown neighbors need broader representation. Where are the PSU students on this?
Well this person is clearly a trump voter and possibly the entire board is as well. Also this is a good reason why neighborhood associations should go away. Every single time they say or write anything they simply harm what is actually a good thing.
I will tell you this that bikes have been banned from a Street in Denver Colorado during the weekdays. It makes out early no sense why that is and it’s become a militant position at this point. You can look it up it is the 16th Street Mall. If you let these Neanderthals keep bike Lanes off of the Park blocks it will become a rallying point for future losses
I think all of us on this website probably strongly disagee with this letter. But let’s leave Trump out of it. First of all, what you are saying is ridiculous: the likelihood that an entire board in downtown Portland would be all Trump supporters is close to zero. More importantly, we are not going to be successful in our advocacy for better bicycling infrastructure if we alienate half the country. Also, people’s political views are wholly unrelated to individuals’ intelligence and virtue. Trump supporters collectively are not any worse or any better than any other large group of people, just like communists are not any worse or any better than libertarians, and monarchists are not any better than any worse than social democrats.
Well you are clearly an ANTIFA member.
I used to have neighbors who were antifa back when that was a good thing, or did you not learn about WWII in school? One had a bullet hole and PTSD from being antifa. Of course we didn’t call it PTSD then, it was “battle fatigue” or “shell shock”.
Please do not draw an equivalence between wartime resistance in the face of 1940s fascism and contemporary brawling on Portland’s streets. That’s just insulting.
Anti-fascism is anti-fascism regardless of the era. Standing up to fascists tends to cause some turmoil.
Seriously? Standing up to fascists during WWII often got you tortured to death and you family and neighbors shot.
IMO, you could not be more mistaken about this whole line of reasoning. If ordinary people had identified a nascent fascist movement as the evil that was, resisted the bullying tactics, refused to support it politically, and not conformed to the demands of national governments coopted by fascist regimes there would have been no need for foreign wars against it.
It’s like saying wait until your face falls off to do something about the skin cancer. Oh wait it’s in the liver too?
The Proud Boys are hardly the vanguard of a coming fascist state, they are a loose association of people who love to brawl, and has found that right-wing rhetoric is an effective way to get people to face off against them. Antifa can’t resist the provocation, and gives them their raison d’etre.
These things come and go… this isn’t Europe in the 1930s, and when their hobby starts getting old, or too many of them get warrants here, or when they stop provoking such a reaction, the Proud Boys will fade away. It would happen that much sooner if people could just stop giving them attention.
Ignoring a thing works sometimes. But should we ignore people whose hobby of brawling in the street has support and fellow travelling at all levels of government? Whose politics and icons resemble those of regimes we fought at great cost? Do we honor the war heroes you mentioned, who bled and died to punch holes in anything and anybody wearing the symbols bruited about by these people, by letting this pass as a foible of some hotheaded youths?
Some Americans and others paid a hard price before war was declared against Fascism in the last century, fighting without government approval against the nations, the ideology, the weapons and strategies that we later faced in World War II. Premature Antifascism may be the most ironic phrase of the 20th century.
I cannot answer your general framing; I can say that I am convinced that ignoring this particular group would greatly sap their energy. Ideology isn’t the driving issue; it’s more motivation and capacity.
OK if 90% walk and 10% bike who drives all the cars clogging the street?
And speaking as a person who was hit by a bike (once) and hit by cars (numerous times) let me just say that when I was hit by the bike I had a sprained ankle. When I was hit by the cars I had injuries ranging from road rash to multiple broken bones and TBI and compartment syndrome. Given the choice I would take getting hit by a bicycle any day. Oh and in the wreck that caused multiple broken bones, compartment syndrome, and TBI I also was dead for at least 2 minutes, maybe as much as 4 minutes.
The opinion of riding on Broadway: “Cyclists will actually be safer there with fewer pedestrian encounters. That is not to say bikes cannot use the streets along the Park Blocks, just that there would not be dedicated lanes there so they would need to follow all traffic laws.” Since when can you ride a bike anywhere without obeying traffic laws? There is an overwhelming suggestion that a majority of Portland’s 40,000+ regular cyclists are scofflaws, how do we change this false public narrarative? I have gotten into some heated discussions about this with people whom I expected to know basic rules of the road, but they did not. I had even had to school some cops, I have stickers on my vehicles that show relevant city ordinances so they can look them up without need for unpleasant conversation.
Is it in fact a false narrative?
The false narrative is that bicyclists are greater and more dangerous scofflaws than drivers. Everyone who uses the roads is an imperfect law-follower; whether everyone actually “scoffs” at the law, vs. taking chagrined, pragmatic license with compliance is an assumption.
The other false narrative is that if bike lanes are installed, it would somehow grant bicyclists license to ignore the law, vs. if they are just “using the street”.
Also false: using Broadway (at least in the parked-car
gauntlet“protected” bike lane) is “safer” and poses “fewer pedestrian encounters”. That whole debacle through the “Hotel Zone” and past PSU is one giant pedestrian encounter.
>>> The false narrative is that bicyclists are greater and more dangerous scofflaws than drivers. <<<
That's not what Caelin wrote (or implied contextually), but it's hard to disagree that scofflaws riding bikes are less of a danger than scofflaws driving cars.
The number of car drivers that are scofflaws must be extremely high or we wouldn’t need speed bumps and other traffic calming design features when a simple speed limit sign would suffice.
Oh, sorry. That was my own characterization of the true false narrative (heh), I wasn’t trying to state it was what caelin meant or implied.
My first reaction to this NAs letter was how “refreshingly” old school it was …thought I was back in Portland of the 90s (or Vancouver today)…unlicensed cyclists as the worst threat etc. [Don’t “they” know that most adult cyclists are now law abiding tax paying car owners and licensed drivers!]
On further thought perhaps this NA can be an ally to get bikeway upgrade on Broadway?! (A ‘quid pro quo’ if you know what I mean, ‘wink wink nudge nudge, ay’).
Glad to see CoP making the Parks Blocks more of a place vs. a cross road highway…though I am surprised they are retaining as much parking as the cross-section makes it look like. (Hope they design those parking spaces to be less street like and more like a place space.)
The Park Blocks were designed and built when people walked and biked, decades before motor vehicles existed. It’s hard to take seriously any argument that bicycles could be more of a problem on the Parks Blocks streets than motor vehicles.
I understand the concerns about the possibility of pedestrian and cyclist conflicts, especially during the farmers market days. That said, they can be easily addressed. The design concepts all have separation between the bikeway and the center park already, stop signs specific to the bikeway could be added to control speed and crossings, and I’d have no problem shutting down the bikeway during market hours and directing the bikeway traffic to the street with added sharrows.
Well, as an avid gardener I’m in favor of farmer’s markets. . .but if an activity needs a loading dock let’s put it somewhere that inherently has one. Where’s our downtown produce market?
I was a bit stunned by that letter. My hat is off to a fairly deft bit of satire. Bingo on two cards!
I’m all for keeping ‘developed’ bikeways off this route, PBOT will just F it up. What’s needed is simply (1) so much bike traffic motorists won’t find the route attractive, or (2) leave as-is but close to motor vehicles entirely. The N-Hood Assns. are simply more interested in access for their constituents who drive.
How is it “anti-democratic” to criticize NAs?
NAs are private organizations that were created by the City in the 1970s (they did not arise on their own, they are not “grassroots”) and are given an official voice in planning and funding.
It is not true that you can create another association, the City defines NAs by geography, and once one is officially “recognized”, there is no space for an alternative organization to form and get the same funding and support from the City.
None of this would be a problem except that other than open meetings requirements, there are almost no accountability mechanisms for NAs. They claim to represent the voice of local neighborhoods but how do we know?
They hold their own elections and participation in highly varied, as is meeting participation. They are under no obligation to solicit structured input from their “members” when they lobby the city or express opinions about planning.
Glad that you’ve had good experiences with NAs. The ones I’ve seen are dominated by a small number of older homeowners with a very conservative bent toward a changing city.
I’ve been involved in NAs that have done good things that have been good for people outside the neighborhood as well as in it. Often those efforts got dismissed as “NIMBY” activity by others. But there’s also plenty of NIMBY activity that does go on in NAs.
My misgivings about them aren’t focused on what NAs do, but on how city bureaus often treat them–as a shortcut to doing proper public outreach. When I was a NA president, I’d regularly get calls from city bureaus asking for my approval for various city projects. I always objected, and told them to do outreach to the people affected, which usually angered them. What they wanted was for me to sign off on whatever they called about on the spot–in other words to speak for dozens or hundreds or thousands of people.
I’ve often found myself working against my own NA, and it’s really a battle when the NA takes the position the City wants to hear.
My best example of what’s wrong with NAs is the time my NA president met outside my house with a county official and some other neighbors with personal interests discussing condemning my house, which would benefit them at my obvious expense. I was inside my house at the time! But nobody felt I had a right to be involved in the discussion, even though all they’d had to do was knock on my door.
NAs are fundamentally an organizing paradigm for people to get together and talk about issues that affect them. All that I know of are open to any resident, and have to follow strict standards of transparency and inclusivity. They most certainly are “grass roots” in any meaningful sense, more than most organizations, even if they were originally created by the city. There are a few special roles that they play officially (mostly in the form of receiving official notices, and it’s not NAs fault if the city won’t send mail to you, though they probably would if you asked), but probably 90-95% of what they do could be done equally well by an unrecognized association of neighbors. Write letters? Organize cleanups? Help settle disputes between neighbors? Raise funds for movies in the park? Plant trees? Any group is free to participate in those activities on an equal footing with their local NA.
NAs should not claim to represent anyone other than themselves. I know that some do, but a great many organizations make similar misstatements. And you are right that they have no means for soliciting “structured input” from residents; they don’t have the capacity or resources to do that, and it isn’t their role. That’s what votes are for (not just citywide; there are well-established city processes requiring the votes of residents on a particular street for example; NAs do not operate those).
If they do not represent your voice, it is a reflection that either you do not choose to participate, or your voice is not shared by enough of your neighbors. Those are not NA problems; those are problems inherent in any democracy.
Complaining that those who participate do not reflect you, without doing so yourself, seems a tad ironic.
One shouldn’t feel compelled to participate in a process they disagree with in order to change it. There are many reasons why residents cannot participate in NAs. We can criticize them and work to remove them from our city if we like.
Absolutely (though I think you missed the thrust of my comment). Reforming the system will be more successful if it doesn’t rely on creating false divisions, spreading misinformation, or making demonstrably false statements and assertions, as much of the current effort does.
Neighborhood association meetings/elections are not advertised or announced to the public in a way that conforms to requirements for city government organizations. Neighborhood organizations also never hold elections that conform to Oregon laws. Essentially, they are a undemocratic private clubs that are allowed to function as a governmental organizations.
They are private clubs that are open to everyone, controlled by members, and are subject to open meetings laws, just like every other private club. They are not a government agency.
“they are not a government agency”
then why are you so incredibly upset about a change in the city charter?
PS, got cojones? Remove all the parking and repave the damn street, so it’s safer for cyclists, then close it entirely to motorists.
Car users in the Park Blocks pose safety hazards to people walking. Car users have other places to drive.
Jonathan – any way you can get a hold of the number of downtown residents that voted for these board members? In my neighborhood it’s less than one percent. And that would be why Chloe is trying to open official channels to other organizations. And the NAs are very unhappy with this change.
This is completely untrue. Most people involved in the NA system support the goals (the stated ones at least) of Eudaly’s changes; what they oppose is overhauling our mechanisms of public involvement in a way that makes a mockery of the city’s well-established standards for public involvement.
It takes a special talent to spend a year crafting a proposal with goals that are nearly universally supported and convince all 4 of your fellow councilmembers to oppose it. Those are the sorts of unique skills Eudaly brings to her office.
She’s just that much smarter than the rest of them.
And she can rally support – have you seen how much support she can rally?
Hello Kitty – did you attend the public meetings the city held about code change? Did you notice how everyone on the NA side was white and older? It was a stark contrast. The city’s well established system makes a mockery of inclusion and diversity.
Are you part of a NA? What percentage of residents participate in your NA? In your opinion, what is a good minimum number to guage that the system is working? IMO, if 95% of citizens don’t participate in the designated public participation system, then the system is severely broken.
I don’t have a problem with NA’s. I have a problem with them being designated as being somehow special by the city. Getting insurance, fiscal sponsorship, free park permits, funding from the city, etc. The list is huge. Why not share a little?
NA’s aren’t going away with Chloe’s proposal. They are just going to have the same level of influence as other groups. What’s the problem with that?
>>> Getting insurance, fiscal sponsorship, free park permits, funding from the city, etc. The list is huge. Why not share a little? <<<
I don't think NAs get all that stuff, but leaving that aside, I have exactly zero objection to any general-purpose civic organization that is open to all, and is transparent and controlled by its members having access to the same things. Why do you think I would?
As well as de facto veto power when it comes to land use decisions (a governmental power) and the de facto ability to interface with the PPB as a governmental organization.
Essentially, Neighborhood Associations have some of the powers of an Aldermanic city government without any semblance of democracy or equity.
Veto power? Do you seriously believe that? That is utterly false.
And no, NAs don’t interact with PPB as governmental organizations, or really even much at all.
Where are you getting your information?
As you know very well since you are involved in the H-A NA, any major land use change involves de facto meetings with NAs. Likewise the city pays PPB officers to attend neighborhood meetings and address the concerns of the miniscule fraction of residents who are members of the NA club (disproportionately white and well-off as documented by the City’s own reports).
HK: “NAs should not claim to represent anyone other than themselves. I know that some do, but a great many organizations make similar misstatements.”
Also HK: “Most people involved in the NA system support the goals (the stated ones at least) of Eudaly’s changes; what they oppose is overhauling our mechanisms of public involvement in a way that makes a mockery of the city’s well-established standards for public involvement.”
You should heed your own advice and speak only for yourself. It’s clear you like your NA; it presumably fits your needs and objectives. The reason participation is low is because it’s a self-selective process that requires time and effort that most of us simply can’t give it. The NA then does have an official channel that gives its voice, even if in perception alone, greater weight then the small proportion of the community it actually represents. Are NAs “deomcratic”? Sure, in theory. But just like a poll tax isn’t discriminatory on its face, it is in practice.
You can’t have it both ways: either make sure the NA lowers barriers to participation (e.g., information and ballots mailed to every house), or take away their official role.
I don’t really understand your comment. It is hard to participate in a participatory organization without participating. I get that it doesn’t work for everyone, and I agree there should be multiple (many, even) avenues for voicing your opinion with the city, and that the city should be responsive to all. And I think it would be great if NAs had the resources to mail information to everyone in the neighborhood, and access to staffing to support that function.
What exactly do you see as the “official role” of NAs?
NA input should be sought out by the city only when they are looking for the opinions of longtime homeowners who are white, wealthier, older residents. That is the makeup of the majority of the NA boards in the city.
The results speak to the process and structure of the system. Your points are basically just academic. The reality is right in front of us.
Almost everybody recognizes this problem and the desire to improve the city’s mechanisms of public involvement is nearly universal; they aren’t really working for anyone.
Had Eudaly taken a more constructive approach from the outset, reforms would probably already have been enacted. Instead, she sowed division, the prospect of change is now distant, and her efforts may well have cost her the election.
A few observations:
1) The NAs can put forward some horribly unrepresentative claptrap. This letter sounds like it falls into that category, and I hope no one at city gov’t will take it as the basis for any plan or action.
2) Just because the NAs do sometimes put forward some HUC, that doesn’t mean they are all bad and should be disbanded. As Kitty has said, the NAs are a vital voice for people who love their neighborhoods and want to preserve the love they have invested in them.
3) The NAs are especially vital in a city like Portland where voters have no geographical representation. Portland city gov’t has been dominated forever (since the founding of the city) by wealthy white men from the west side. The way to end this dominance is not to disband the NAs but to end Portland’s archaic “commission”-style gov’t. People like Chloe are fine to represent their constituents but should never put their hands on the actual machinery of gov’t. Running that machinery should be the job of professionals who know what they are doing and should not be in the hands of amateur electeds.
@Fred – I’m definitely a fan of city managers and geographic representation.
However, NA’s are mostly old white guys who own their homes and drive cars as their chosen form of transportation. Just not all from the west side.
I agree that NA’s can do good stuff. But I feel like that may be influenced by the city giving them funds and privileges. For instance, the Hawthorne cleanup is run by the Richmond NA. It could easily be organized by a group like Inner Southeast Action, except the city gives funds and Metro gives free dumpsters only to Richmond Neighborhood Associations.
RNA does a good job, but could the money be better spent elsewhere? We’ll never know unless we open up the system.
BTW, I’m a member of Inner Southeast Action, and RNA is the group where a board member filed an official ethics complaint because a cyclist on the board called him, “less than bike friendly.”
About 6 months ago, RNA organized a cleanup where volunteers walked around the neighborhood picking up trash. I brought my own bag and ended up leaving what I collected in my own trash can. Is there any reason why Inner SE Alliance couldn’t do something similar?
@Brighton: You are pointing out shortcomings of one NA, but your Inner SE organization has its own shortcomings – namely that it may exclude whomever it wants. An NA may not exclude anyone, which I suppose is why the annoying people tend to congregate there and do silly things like file frivolous ethics complaints.
I repeat: The NAs cannot go away until Portland’s archaic commission-style gov’t goes away. We simply cannot turn over what little representation we have to private groups who can exclude anyone they want. The representation provided by the NAs is obviously not perfect but it’s the only representation we currently have.
Fred and Hello Kitty.
Inner SE action is honest about their vision:Embracing change around inclusion (for the under-represented) livability, sustainability and climate action. If you are opposed to those things, then why would you want to be part of it? except to try to disrupt?
NAs are dishonest when they say they welcome everyone and represent everyone. Can you walk through the door, yes. Will you feel welcome, maybe not. Try to change the board makeup and someone will file ethics complaints, recalls and grievances. And there are no checks and balances on that behavior – the only thing to do is quit and give the NA back to the people complaining.
As to cleanups, to do that cleanup RNA needs insurance and a dumpster. Both provided at no cost by the city / metro. It’s possible for anyone to do good things. But it’s easier when someone is giving your group special privileges.
I’m just asking for honesty and equal treatment.
@Brighton: I’m sorry, but your thinking here betrays a kind of laziness. You say that you can show up at an NA meeting and feel unwelcome; thus the NA doesn’t work and should be disbanded, and you can fly back to the warm embrace of your private organization where you feel comfortable (and can exclude whomever you want).
If you don’t like the way your NA makes you feel, then you have to do the hard work of building a group of like-minded people who can change your NA from within. That’s how democracy works, unfortunately. The alternative that you and Chloe suggest – just put our representation in the hands of private groups – is a recipe for tyranny of the minority. I know you think we presently have the same thing right now in the NAs, but that’s only b/c not enough people (you included) care to do the hard work of coalition-building that will create the system you want. I think you should get to work on that and quit looking for a hail-mary from Chloe.
Of course there are a lot of a**holes in the NAs – people take power where they can find it. And that happens when caring people vacate the space for the a**holes to move into and occupy.
I have no problems with Inner SE Action having access to dumpsters and insurance. You have a lot of hostility towards NAs, but the system is a neutral vessel which residents can use to communicate whatever message they want, including everything that Inner SE Action is promoting. What you are really saying is that your neighbors do not support your message. That is not a problem with NAs, that’s a problem with your neighbors.
One fundamental question which remains unanswered is that if we’re going to give many organizations access to governmental resources, how do we provide accountability, and how, given constitutional restrictions on viewpoint discrimination, do we ensure that the Proud Boys Athletic Association does not get access to the same resources that Inner SE Action does?
Ultimately, I support your goal to gain access to the system. I do not share your misplaced hostility towards the NA system.
Fred – wanna have coffee to continue this conversation in real life? This message board seems to be just a back and forth. I’d love to give you the details of how hard we worked in Richmond to participate in RNA. The city even hired a mediator and the offending board members were just obstinate in the mediation.
But it’s time this conversation involved two real people and coffee. I’m email@example.com if your open to it.
BTW,I never suggested disbanding NAs.
There should be no role for bigoted and undemocratic clubs in this city. If you and your predominantly white and well-off neighbors want to have a club there is nothing stopping from doing this on your own.
Exactly. This is what Inner SE Action has done. I should add that I support most of their stated goals, and do not believe them to be bigoted, and I think they and similar private clubs should have equal access to resources if they adhere to some basic standards of conduct.
Maybe the folks at PSU should inform their NA that riding on Broadway is stressful. According to the bylaws anyone who works or attends schools at PSU can join for free.
Actually, they don’t even need to “join”. They can just show up at meetings and participate.
A few things that don’t make much sense to me.:
They think bikes are more of a hazard to pedestrians then cars. Despite the fact that vastly more people are injured and killed by cars then bikes. Including this year a person dying just off of the park blocks from a driver that backed into them.
Their logic for why they think cars are safer on these streets then bikes is because drivers go slower due to the narrow lane. How fast do they think the cyclists are going? I’m betting drivers are still going faster then cyclists not to mention being many 100s of times more massive.
How is biking on Broadway, a major thoroughfare through downtown for drivers, safer for cyclists? Right and left hooks and getting doored are major problems on Broadway.
Then they say they need that space for temporary use for a few blocks for a couple of days during the week (farmers market and church). Does it really make sense to dedicate this space solely for these purposes that only use it a couple times a week and not even for the entire length of the park blocks but only a few short blocks?
Finally their last point about the percent of people that use the park blocks 90% pedestrians 10% cyclists. Isn’t the point of these projects to address the concerns of that group of people that are interested but concerned about cycling? Maybe only 10% bike along here now but don’t the surveys suggest a number of those pedestrians would like to bike if they felt safer using these roads? Isn’t the danger they feel coming from drivers? How is telling them to go bike on Broadway next to faster moving cars ever going to get them to feel safer?
The same tired tropes again but here we go.
What the NA people need to do is learn about how design influences behaviour. Make a good design and people will behave according to what “feels right” in it one way or the other. The “encounters” they might have had are the result of the design of those environments that put people in conflict with each other when they’re walking and cycling.
These people on the NA likely observed people cycling in environments that were designed to disenfranchise that activity. The people cycling are responding to not being included in a variety of ways in order to have their needs met (and to survive it.) Consideration of the law goes out the window when one realizes that obeying it will hurt them. The NA people probably think this behaviour is not from the environment’s disenfranchisement but must be intrinsic to “cyclists”. This conclusion is incorrect.
Good design influences behaviour more than any laws do. We all know that sticking up a speed limit sign does little if the street is designed for high speeds. Only design will work.
Two of the concepts have shared use paths. This is not good. It’ll only create conflict between walking and cycling. There should only be shared use paths out in the countryside where few people are. Not in a city where many people are expected to be. The Braided Districts concept has separation of walking and cycling.
One thing I’ll say is that if there is any attempt to ban cycling on SW Park West it will be ineffective and unenforceable. This design will create an attractive place to be and to cycle. It’s a given. The only option they have is to have the design minimize conflict.
It’s hilarious that they think that cycling and a farmer’s market are incompatible. Cycling goes hand in hand with this kind of shopping and should be expected and accommodated. Put some racks at the ends of where the market happens, create some delivery zones for the vendors, have a bypass route for cycling around it for those not shopping at it.
Their wording makes me think that they believe people will be only cycling through here. This is wrong. This will be the cycling destination for many.
I’d always wondered why they put the Abraham Lincoln statue in the Southerner’s Park Blocks instead of in the Northerner’s Park Blocks.
“Shoo-in” not “shoe-in”
If you engage with this car centric bigotry, you are only giving credence to a letter of a crazy person. Why are they crazy? Because they think from under the hood of their car. That’s all they care about. Any logical person sees that bikes aren’t any more dangerous …than well a bike. But give this person credence by debating with them..that’s what they want. Attention. It’s pandering to their bases.
And by the way, you missed the point about trump voter. It’s not who they voted for in the last election, it’s that they are effectively supporting trump through their pandering to cars.