Neighbors say traffic calming on NE Sacramento ruins ‘view corridor’

(Photos of signs on NE Sacramento sent in by readers.)

Another neighborhood association is taking the City of Portland’s transportation bureau to task over a traffic-calming project.

An 10-block section of Northeast Sacramento Street west of 60th has become one of Portland’s most people-centric, calm and quiet streets for many reasons. Part of its appeal is organic — the low-volume, neighborhood street is perched on a ridge above a big golf course and boasts excellent views. But the Portland Bureau of Transportation has also had a big hand making this a destination for bikers, walkers, and rollers of all kinds.

When the pandemic first began, we highlighted NE Sacramento as one of the streets where droves of Portlanders flocked to for some much-needed exercise and social interaction. It was one of the first streets the Portland Bureau of Transportation targeted for their nascent Safe Streets campaign. Then in May we reported on how PBOT doubled-down by adding paint, plastic curbs and wands, large concrete barricades (which are planters turned upside-down), and “15 MPH Shared Street” signage to the excessively wide intersection of Sacramento, 64th and Brazee.

One of the concrete barricades on NE Sacramento photographed in May. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

These traffic-calming additions have helped solidify NE Sacramento as a low-car street that, from my perspective (as someone who bikes through it somewhat regularly), were a big success. But now I’ve learned that some nearby residents strongly object to the changes.

Two large, hand-written cardboard signs placed on a pair of newly-installed concrete barriers at NE 64th and Sacramento read: “This traffic has destroyed what PBOT and Portland city claims ‘Is a view corridor’… the view is ugly now!!!”

When I posted a photo of the sign on Twitter yesterday, another reader shared a flyer that’s been posted that expresses a similar sentiment:

“Unhappy about the ‘bollards’ on NE Sacramento and NE 64th? Think they destroy the view and the livability of the bluff? Wondering how they could be installed by PBOT without the support of the neighborhood? Then come to the Rose City Park Neighborhood Association’s Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting this Thursday July 21 at 7pm. Make your voice heard!!!”

Zoom screengrab from May 2022 Rose City Park Neighborhood Association meeting.

A quick glance at the May 2022 Rose City Park Neighborhood Association (RCPNA) newsletter (the most recent one available on their website) tells us that their board weighed in on this project at their April meeting. The RCPNA Board recommended to PBOT that they install the concrete barricades without the signage mounted on top. They also said there should be “No easterly bollard installed as it would interfere with the established view corridor.” At the RCPNA’s May Land Use and Transportation Committee meeting, it was clear by comments made by board members that a lot of residents who live on/near Sacramento object to the aesthetics of PBOT’s work and want something more “visually appealing”.

There’s seems to be a big mix of opinions from neighbors. According to what I’ve heard from LUT Committee member Ben Joy in a May 2022 meeting, some people think the changes have actually made the street less safe, others like the idea behind it but just think it looks terrible and hurts their property value, and others are very supportive of the project and are grateful for PBOT’s work.

There’s a long and frustrating legacy of neighborhood objections to PBOT traffic calming projects. Just yesterday we reported on how the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association is fighting a PBOT diverter on the grounds that it causes inconvenience for drivers and isn’t necessary at all. In that case, city staff have made it clear that neighborhood associations do not have veto power in these matters.

Rose City Park’s main objection to the project on Sacramento is more novel. I have never heard a neighborhood group use view corridors as a reason to protest a traffic calming project.

“The view is anything but ugly,” wrote the reader who emailed us photos of the sign. “Strange how something so relatively unobtrusive, which will enhance the enjoyment of the street and area for more and more folks, is met with such immediate overblown consternation.”

We’ll learn more about the neighborhood’s objections at their meeting tomorrow. See the RCPNA calendar or just save this Zoom meeting link if you’d like to attend.

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Stormcycler
Stormcycler
2 months ago

NIMBYism at it’s most absurd. Should we also remove stop signs that block their “view corridors”? This is a typical example of a handful of people using their privilege to subvert the public interest, and it really illustrates why it’s so hard to do things like take right-of-way away from parking and dedicate it to useful things like bikeways. I applaud PBOT’s spine to stick with what they’re doing here and at Fremont and Alameda despite some local opposition. How do we the non-rich citizens who only bike through these gilded neighborhoods demonstrate our support for these improvements?

Scott Bravmann
Scott Bravmann
2 months ago
Reply to  Stormcycler

And also remove the (what looks like a telephone pole) that the notice is attached to.

Sigma
Sigma
2 months ago

Terry Parker, checking in from behind the wheel of his car. Never change, Terry.

mechanic mark
mechanic mark
2 months ago
Reply to  Sigma

Is that evidence enough to issue a distracted driving/unlawful use of device citation? If not, why?

Tomas Paella
Tomas Paella
2 months ago
Reply to  Sigma

Some people (especially since the pandemic) do not have the luxury of a quiet space at home in which to take online meetings. I sometimes sit in my car– parked in my driveway– to participate when home is too chaotic.

Lowell
Lowell
2 months ago
Reply to  Sigma

Well, hey, if it’s good enough for Mayor Ted Wheeler, then it’s good enough for some neighborhood association NIMBYs.

Jonno
Jonno
2 months ago
Reply to  Sigma

That guy is a piece of work. I went to some RCPNA meetings when I was dealing with safety and livability issues caused by drivers behaving badly en route to Rose City Futsal. He referred to me as “the instigator” in one meeting. He also referred to non-car-users of the new Sellwood Bridge as freeloaders making unfair use of taxpayer funded infrastructure. With that kind of attitude I’m surprised he hasn’t managed to make Sandy Blvd an elevated freeway east of 39th.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonno

People will take power where they can get it. When responsible citizens don’t step up, irresponsible ones will.

soren
soren
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

People can easily take power in neighborhood associations because they are fundamentally undemocratic, are largely unregulated by the city (despite receiving public funds), and have a long-history of racist and classist exclusion.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  soren

Any institution that has been around for a while can be vaguely accused of “a long history of racist and classist behavior”. Neighborhood Associations reflect those who choose to be involved. What a group did 5 years ago doesn’t reflect on what it does today if the membership is different.

I realize you don’t feel comfortable giving a voice to “those people”, and maybe there’s a better way, but most people (including you, on this topic) seem to want to tear things down rather than build something better.

Serenity
Serenity
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Any institution that has been around for a while can be vaguely accused of “a long history of racist and classist behavior”

Yeah, that’s most likely because they have a long history of being racist and classist.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

Voting has a long history of being racist and classist, but that says nothing about whether we should continue the practice.

But thanks for the thoughtful comment!

Serenity
Serenity
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

No, the people doing voting & setting up the voting systems have a long history of being racist and classist, but thanks for playing.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

Thank you for making my point.

It’s the people not the institutions that are a problem (though no one seems to know any specific problems, just a general sense that there must have been one), and the people now are not those who were there before.

Karl Dickman
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Please name one time voting has been racist or classist. I’m serious, because I can’t imagine what you could mean.

mark
mark
2 months ago

Boo hoo.

If you don’t want ‘ugly’ infrastructure, try operating your motor vehicles responsibly in the first place.

qqq
qqq
2 months ago

Portland does have designated “view corridors” and “scenic corridors” but I didn’t see this street having any designation of any kind in PBOT or zoning info. So the assertion that “PBOT and Portland city claims (this) ‘Is a view corridor’” seems false.

Much of the street is zoned Open Space with a Conservation overlay, but the signs are exempted from the regulations that come with that, and moving away from vehicle use to walking and biking is encouraged by that zoning.

So that just leaves the idea that the signs and “bollards” are ugly. Maybe, if taken out of context. But when you consider what they represent and accomplish–slowing vehicle traffic, and making the street quieter, and friendlier for biking and walking–they’re beautiful to me. And I have no idea how they could possibly “destroy the…livability of the bluff”.

Boyd
Boyd
2 months ago
Reply to  qqq

There is a designated scenic viewpoint and associated scenic view corridor in that neighborhood. But the viewpoint is on the bluff above the golf course, at the south edge of the right of way, and it looks out towards mount hood (you can see the view corridor in the official zoning maps. It’s signified by the s overlay). Neither the viewpoint nor the view corridor are in any way impacted by infrastructure in the street. The designated view corridor is in the golf course, not the street.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  qqq

Portland does have designated “view corridors” 

I don’t think this is true any more. Surely the spectacular view of Mt Hood from West Burnside would have been protected if it were.

qqq
qqq
2 months ago
Reply to  Watts

They’re throughout the city in the zoning code, and projects are still reviewed against them. Here are “scenic view streets”, for example:
https://gis-pdx.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/scenic-view-streets/explore?location=45.521093%2C-122.649642%2C13.78
And “scenic corridors’:
https://gis-pdx.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/scenic-corridors/explore?location=45.517570%2C-122.692235%2C12.00

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  qqq

Yes, ok. In light of that, I wonder how the Ritz got approved, as it blocks one of the key views listed on the Scenic View Streets map (I’m told, I haven’t seen it myself).

I was told the city no longer protected these, but perhaps I’m misinformed. If you’re right, that’s good news.

Clem Fandango
Clem Fandango
2 months ago

Judging by how many of the tabs were pulled off of that flyer (none it appears to me), this claim isn’t getting much traction.

EP
EP
2 months ago
Reply to  Clem Fandango

That’s the kind of flyer where you should just put the whole thing right into the ol’ circular file. OR make an identical flyer praising the “bollards” and setup another zoom meeting and…wow that sounds like exactly what I’d be doing if I had a little more free time!

EP
EP
2 months ago

“Destroying the livability of the bluff” = These improvements make it safer and easier for other people to ride through our neighborhood and we need to do more to keep the poors out.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 months ago

Parallel to the debate about wind turbines. Yes, they produce green energy, but I think they are ugly and destroy many an open vista. The clutter in our cities is becoming overwhelming, with a negative consequence to the human sole.

Ron G.
Ron G.
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

I don’t see how that affects my soles.

Steve Scarich
Steve Scarich
2 months ago
Reply to  Ron G.

It is very telling when readers are more interested in poor spelling (I confess), than to the actual content of a comment.

mark
mark
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

Okay Steve, I’ll address the content of your comment. The visual clutter of our city streets is an eyesore, I’ll agree. But I’ll assert that it is only a symptom of the real issue, which degrades the soul – lack of respect for others. If we could trust people to look out for each other, and make good decisions, we wouldn’t need signs and bollards everywhere. Alas, our society is awash in selfish individuals, who cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

Damien
Damien
2 months ago
Reply to  mark

Alas, our society is awash in selfish individuals, who cannot be trusted to do the right thing.

I mean, this is the logical conclusion of rugged individualism – the heart of American culture. Which is to say I’m in agreement, but that is to us what water is to fish.

Paul
Paul
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Scarich

I think windmills are pretty.

Champs
Champs
2 months ago

Hear me out on this one, but maybe PBOT should take its traffic calming time and money and divert it to neighborhoods that are actually pleading for it and being told that there are higher priorities? Everybody wins.

JR
JR
2 months ago
Reply to  Champs

Let’s not confuse a handful of NIMBY’s with a neighborhood’s actual desires. Even though I live in Rose City Park neighborhood I detest the neighborhood association because it’s just a bunch of micro-aggressive NIMBYs that bicker over the most asinine things. I put a couple years in my previous neighborhood association and it was such a waste of time. The new diverters and street markings on NE Sacramento as well as NE 53rd (went in over the weekend) are much welcomed by me and many others in the neighborhood. But in reality, who cares about the arbitrary boundaries of a neighborhood association when we all travel in and through multiple neighborhoods all the time to make trips.

cc_rider
cc_rider
2 months ago
Reply to  Champs

Everybody wins.

I don’t know about you but I leave my neighborhood. It’d be like saying “this neighborhood doesn’t want stop lights or speed limits”. That’s cool, but non-neighborhood residents still have to transit through the neighborhood.

it’s the public right-of-way. It doesn’t belong to the homeowners who live near it, and they should get zero say when it comes to making the roads safer.

cyclops
cyclops
2 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

On the other hand, I would like there to be a bit more weight to when homeowners want to have more say in making their streets safer for peds, cyclist and motorists. Seems like the commonly requested safety precaution this is traffic calming which like Champs refers to. Some areas are clamoring for but tend to not be prioritized for reasons I’m still trying to figure out.

Matt D.
Matt D.
2 months ago

What view are they referring to? All I see is concrete and some grass.

Toadslick
2 months ago

Interesting how rows of oversized automobiles do not count as “obscuring the view corridor”

Anon
Anon
2 months ago

The barricades fit perfectly into the existing aesthetically marred streetscape of asphalt, parked cars, and traffic. To suggest they could ruin the view or livability of the area seems quite hyperbolic.

If they’re really concerned about aesthetics and livability, it seems to me that they should be advocating to narrow the street significantly, disallow street parking, and add a wider, separated path on the bluff side.

Amit Zinman (Contributor)
2 months ago

Who put all these ugly metal boxes on the side of the street? So hideous. That said, with more money, probably could put some nice planters with actual plants instead.

ActualPractical
ActualPractical
2 months ago

The bollards and signage could be a little better, but it is a vastly better space than before. Perhaps PBOT proposes striping 4 lanes instead and see how many people chime in to support the new configuration

Lenny Anderson
Lenny Anderson
2 months ago

One of our favorite walks! but Sacramento is too wide, so encourages excessive auto speeds…hence all the paint, signs, etc. Perhaps a better project would be to narrow the street by a dozen or more feet on the bluff side (actually this is a gravel bar formed by the numerous Missoula floods at the end of the last Ice Age), and make a real promenade. My guess is cost would be the big issue, and there will be objections from residents who prefer not to attract non-residents like us.
The real story here is the volunteer work done by folks in the neighborhood to reclaim the wild hillside from invasive blackberries. Check it out!

Barbara
Barbara
2 months ago
Reply to  Lenny Anderson

Lenny is totally correct. I happen to be staying in Alameda, CA. I’ve been bicycling in the area along with Berkeley, Oakland. It has really shown me how ineffective the PDX bicycle ped infrastructure is. Disappointing really. Wide clear lane marking and green paint everywhere. Clear signs, along with long long sections of separated bicycle lane. All just common place.T hey are separated with concrete or concrete parking stops like the ones used in parking lots for cars.
I also have lived for 41 yrs right where the ugly yellow concrete diverter were put up. Would be nice to see something similar to the attached photo taken by Jonathan. Much more effective for all.

Alameda J.jpg
Mark McClure
2 months ago
Reply to  Barbara

Agree. This is slightly off-topic; it’s PP&R and not PBOT, but this is my view and perspective below the bluff.

Mark McClure
2 months ago
Reply to  Mark McClure

Oops. Here is the link I meant to include.

Cale
Cale
2 months ago

Left this comment in their feedback form, link found here at the bottom https://www.rcpna.org/rcpna-land-use-and-transportation-meeting-july-21-2022-zoom/

“This is in response to the bollards on NE Sacramento and 64th, as a user of Sacramento street I could not disagree with more with the sentiment that they “Destroy the view and livability of the bluff”. On the contrary they make it a more welcoming place for greenway users and make a tiny move in the right direction of prioritizing people over cars. This notion of traffic calming ruining the view is completely and unacceptably out of touch with keeping our city equitable for all people.”

ivan
ivan
2 months ago

Unhappy about the ‘bollards’ on NE Sacramento and NE 64th? Think they destroy the view and the livability of the bluff?

stuff-white-people-like.gif

Chris I
Chris I
2 months ago

We live in the RCPNA area, and I run/bike this corridor quite a bit. The temporary signs PBOT put in were universally ignored, so it’s welcome to see this permanent installation. Even with the speed bumps, many people drive very fast on this stretch.

RCPNA has a strong boomer NIMBY energy, and this doesn’t shock me. We have a lot of new, younger families in the neighborhood, but the RCPNA is firmly controlled by a small group of older residents that have strong opinions on development of any kind. Fortunately, they are mostly powerless.

Fred
Fred
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

You nailed it, Chris, when you said NAs are mostly “controlled by a small group of older residents who have strong opinions on development of any kind.”

The Hillsdale NA in SW Portland has been convinced by its older residents to resist Trimet’s rose lanes and NOT give buses priority on Capitol Hwy:

https://www.hillsdalepdx.com/

Not all NIMBYism is bad – when it comes from an instinct to preserve what is good about a place. But when it resists any change as a knee-jerk reaction, then it should be questioned and overruled.

Watts
Watts
2 months ago
Reply to  Fred

when it comes from an instinct to preserve what is good about a place. 

Why do you think folks don’t have this motivation? Could there be a difference of opinion about “what is good”?

Watts
Watts
2 months ago

Discussions like the one here all seem to degenerate into finger pointing, name calling, and vague accusations of ill will and hidden agendas.

There’s often a compromise solution if folks would just come out of their corners, listen to one another, assume good faith, and talk like adults.

The inability to do this is part of what’s wrong with Portland, and, frankly, America today.

Scott Kocher
2 months ago

Would be nice if PBOT would calm streets without deploying highway-style ugliness. Some combination of wine barrels full of flowers, speed cushions, narrowing / separation, chicanes, 10 or 15 MPH speeds and getting rid of all the paint would probably work.