Guest Article: How city silos lead to sidewalk and bikeway gaps in southwest

SW Capitol Hill Road, looking south, from the Habitat for Humanity frontage. (Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

This post is by Guest Contributor Don Baack

Don Baack

As our city government reorganizes itself to operate more efficiently, there has been a lot of talk this past couple of years about silos. Bureaus as silos, silos within bureaus. But what’s happening right now on SW Capitol Hill Road takes silos to a new level of inefficiency. It also illustrates how the piecemeal way sidewalks and bike lanes get built in the southwest results in so many gaps.

The simple outline of the story goes like this…

Hi-LO Trail

A few years ago, SWTrails PDX, an organization I founded nearly 30 years ago, successfully lobbied state representatives Senator Wagner and Congresswoman Salinas to fund a new trail, the Hillsdale to Lake Oswego (Hi-LO) trail. The Hi-LO trail includes a segment along SW Capitol Hill Road, a busy neighborhood collector in the Hillsdale Town Center that has a few stretches of sidewalks near Barbur Blvd, but mostly lacks a safe place for people to walk.

State funds came through in 2021, and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) planners were tasked with designing the new sidewalk segment between 19th Avenue and Nevada Court (segment 14 on the map above). After the usual rounds of public outreach, the planners decided it would sit on the east/south side of Capitol Hill Road, a placement which SWTrails supports.

Habitat for Humanity

Map of PBOT sidewalk infill projects on SW Capitol Hill Rd. BikePortland annotations in blue. Source: PBOT.

Meanwhile, north of Nevada Court, Habitat for Humanity acquired (also with state funding) a parcel of land from the Portland Bible Church which has about 400 feet of frontage on the west side of SW Capitol Hill Road. Habitat proposes to build 52 affordable housing units on the parcel.

City regulations call for a developer to build frontage improvements like sidewalks and bicycle lanes so that new development is accompanied by a supporting transportation network. The Development Review desk within PBOT oversees those public right-of-way requirements.

“The result is pedestrians walking in the street for the final 1,000 feet of dangerous road.”

But rather than requiring sidewalk and bike facilities that could possibly connect to PBOT’s Nevada Court work to the south, Development Review proposed a walking and bicycle path on private, Habitat for Humanity property—30 vertical feet above the street! The proposed path would dead-end about 300 feet north of the existing Nevada Court right-of-way. In other words, Development Review proposed a path which is up a steep hill, above the roadway, and does not connect to anything. Closing the 300 ft. gap between this proposed path and the nearest other right-of-way (SWTrail #3 and Capitol Hill Road) would require investment by either the City of Portland, the Portland Bible Church, or a future land purchaser. The connection, if built to existing bicycle route standards, would require about 300 feet (30 ft vertical at 10% grade) of steep grade from Capitol Hill Road.

So, to recap, on the same road one PBOT silo has designed infill sidewalk from the Safeway on Barbur Blvd to Nevada Court, while another PBOT silo (as part of code-required frontage improvements) is requiring a developer to build a public path on private property, above street grade—a path which will not connect to PBOT’s southern sidewalk infill projects. It’s not exactly the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, maybe the north and south hands?

The result is pedestrians walking in the street for the final 1,000 feet of dangerous road from Nevada Court up to the intersection of Capitol Hill Road with Bertha Boulevard.

Neighborhood pushback

SW Capitol Hill Road, looking north. This shows the beginning of the 1,000 foot sidewalk gap north of Nevada Court (Photo: Don Baack)

In response to neighborhood complaints, Habitat offered to contribute funding for a sidewalk on the east side of Capitol Hill Road, across the street from their property, in lieu of the above-grade path PBOT was requiring of them. An east side sidewalk would have partially filled the 1,000 foot sidewalk gap, and at least established a roadmap for future sidewalk infill on the northern third of Capitol Hill Road. PBOT responded with a firm no. [UPDATE: 4/5/2024, 10:45 AM — As part of fact-checking this post, Lisa Caballero made a public records request for the Habitat Public Works Alternative Review Decision form, which gives a summary of why Development Review required the path it did. The form was delivered after publication of this article.]

Source: PedPDX sidewalk completeness tool.

This disjointed funding and implementation is why southwest Portland has so many gaps in its already paltry sidewalk network, and why the bicycle network is so incomplete. Unfortunately, this particular situation is not unique, similar scenarios play out all over our neighborhoods.

The City of Portland has neglected southwest sidewalk and bike infrastructure for half a century, even as the climate and pedestrian death crises have so visibly worsened in recent years. The reasons that the city doesn’t push developers to build sidewalks in the southwest are complicated, but if there is a root cause, it is our area’s lack of a formal stormwater conveyance system. We don’t have a Big Pipe (although we pay for it), our water runs off into creeks and streams.

Stormwater is too big a topic to go into in this short article, but we badly need representatives who understand the issue—let’s make learning on the job a thing of the past! We deserve better. Elections are coming up in seven months, our part of town needs representatives at all levels who know how to advocate for making our streets safer. And that means knowing something about transportation, development and stormwater.

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Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

UPDATE: 4/5/2024, 10:45 AM — As part of fact-checking this post, I made a public records request for the Habitat Public Works Alternative Review Decision form, which gives a summary of why Development Review required the path it did. The form was delivered after publication of this article:

  1. Findings:
  2. As previously documented, there are numerous challenges associated with constructing standard frontage improvements at this location and an alternative solution is warranted in order to preserve significant trees and limit ground disturbance within a Conservation zone / landslide hazard area.
  3. Now that the applicant is proceeding with an Environmental Review land-use case, the applicant has proposed a slightly narrower path in order to preserve additional trees within the Conservation zone. PBOT finds the proposal still maintains a path wide enough to accommodate both pedestrians and bicycles, and that adequate lighting and wayfinding measures will be incorporated into the design to ensure it will be safe and accessible for everyone. PBOT’s Modal Coordinators have been consulted and is supportive of the proposed alternative as conditioned.
  4. Conditions:
  5. 1) The applicant shall dedicate 10-ft of property along the site’s entire SW Capitol Hill Rd frontage to accommodate standard improvements in the future.
  6. 2) The paved portion of the trail shall be a minimum of 10-ft wide to accommodate pedestrians and bicycles, with targeted 8-ft wide section(s) as identified by the applicant in conjunction with approval from BDS via Environmental Review.
  7. 3) The on-site trail shall be reviewed and constructed under a Public Works Permit with final design to include:
  • Pedestrian scale lighting throughout the entire trail;
  • Appropriate wayfinding;
  • Stormwater management facilities as necessary to meet BES requirements;
  • Any proposed street tree removals and mitigation within the public Right-of-Way remains subject to
  • review and approval by Urban Forestry.
Cate
1 month ago

Thank you Lisa. I haven’t seen anything about what PBOT suggests pedestrians and bicyclists do when they get to the southern end of the Habitat for Humanity path. Am I missing? Do you know?

cct
cct
1 month ago

PBOT responded with a firm no.

Well, at least we now know SW Gibbs wasn’t just a screwup by PBOT – it’s POLICY.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

I once lived in a city in the Midwest that was trying to build out its network of sidewalks.

Of course homeowners would object – and obstruct! – when the city came calling to enforce the right of way and put a sidewalk through the area that the homeowner claimed as his front yard.

The city’s response was to SUE the homeowner to enforce the ROW, which belongs to ALL OF US, not just the homeowner.

The City of Portland’s response? Always capitulate to the homeowner!

Cate
1 month ago

SW Capitol Hill Road is designated as a Safe Route to School. It’s also a PPS bus route. I’m curious how the City thinks kids will safely walk or ride their bikes on the north end of the street. PBOT recognizes the north end on their walking map as a “More difficult connection” but they’re not ensuring safe improvements are made when the opportunity arises.
[Article written by Hillsdale resident, Don Baack. Don founded SWTrails in 1995 and is currently a vice-president on the SWTrails board of directors.]

Emily
Emily
1 month ago

Who is the best person to contact on this? We live at canby and Capitol Hill and we walk our kindergartners to school- this is the sketchiest part of the walk! I’m also curious when the green sidewalk connection will be built.

Cate
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily

I live near Capitol Hill Road and Miles. I don’t know who the best person is, but you could contact PBOT SW Capitol Hill Rd and Troy/Canby Street Improvement Project Manager Ashley Lopez: ashley.lopez@portlandoregon.gov Maybe her project is what you mean by green sidewalk connection?
You could ask SWTrails who the best person to contact would be: https://swtrails.org
You may already know about https://www.facebook.com/CapitolHillRoad

Cate
1 month ago
Reply to  Emily
Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Emily

Thank you for posting, Emily. SWTrails has had it’s eye on this for a while, including giving elected representatives (or their staff) tours of the area. Don Baack has met with Mingus Mapps (the commissioner-in-charge of PBOT and BES). SWTrails has been in correspondence with Habitat for Humanity. Has met with Ashley Lopez, monitors those projects. The group is experienced with pulling the levers of government.

This is an election year. The place to put pressure right now is on the people running for office. (See my response to Bob Weinstein to better understand what the problem is.)

This stormwater/no-sidewalk problem happens all over the outer-westside. Neighbors/neighborhood associations regularly confront development with no safe walking/cycling infrastructure, but they are at a disadvantage because it is always their first rodeo. Development Review lives at the rodeo. Other recent/current rodeos include SW Gibbs St and the Alpenrose/Shattuck development. It’s non-stop.

We need to elect people who understand this and will do something about it. That’s what they get paid to do, and why they have staff.

HJ
HJ
1 month ago

Not just SW. This is happening all over the west hills. For example the French American school is planning a big expansion. They just took over the rest of the corner at Cornell and Miller and will be developing it.
Word on the street is they have tried to work with the various road agencies that control the edges of their property (poor guys get washco, multco, and pbot to deal with) to get bike lanes and sidewalks established but have gotten stonewalled. The impact of the school on local traffic has become outright dangerous, yet parents that live a mere block away have no safe way to walk their kid to school. So they drive.
Will anything change with their new development? I’m skeptical. But if we don’t make it happen with this project, which is on the Ronde route, it never will. Locals have been begging for this area to get addressed for over 30yrs and the demand lines in the dirt are well worn.
It would be a major step forward to getting folks out of their cars as a sidewalk and or bike lane on Miller in particular would give people in the area safe access to both basic essentials such as groceries as well as public transit.
Nobody seems to want to help though because it’s a jurisdictional nightmare spot and because it’s at the edges of everything. CPO1 has declined as it’s the edge of their area and they want to focus further in, Bikeloud never looks past the west edge of downtown, Washco Bikes doesn’t care because non- Washington county spots are involved. Please tell me how are we supposed to fix this spot?!

Bob Weunstein
Bob Weunstein
1 month ago

This is an important article for many reasons, not only pointing out the disjointed decision making by PBOT’s internal silos, but also noting that the City has failed to make pedestrian and bicyclist safety a priority in SW Portland in general- for years.

I am running for city council to change this City mindset, and start listening to people in the neighborhoods like Don Baack.

Bob Weinstein
City Council Candidate District 4
http://www.bobforportland.com

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Bob Weunstein

Hi Bob,

I smiled when I saw that you were running — good for you!

Don is a one-man wonder and has done an incredible job of inspiring others and focusing their efforts on creating a safe pedestrian network. He hasn’t done SWTrails by himself for 30 years, but he is quite a leader.

I think what is needed in southwest is, yes a change in mindset at city hall, but also East Portland sums of money — about $100 to 150 million. What has been lacking is any elected official who is willing to lobby the state or federal government for that sum of money.

I think that there is also just widespread ignorance, within PBOT, but also among the electeds, about what the problem is. The outer-westside doesn’t, and can’t, have sidewalks without a way of collecting stormwater run off. The area doesn’t connect to the BigPipe, so where sidewalks have been built (Capitol Highway), they require stormwater retention basins, which are expensive. That’s what the millions of dollars would build.

The City of Portland is completely focused on the east side and downtown, and the convenient myth that authorities tell themselves is that SW “doesn’t want sidewalks.”

What is needed is electeds who push-back against that false narrative and assertively go after the money that outer west Portland requires to responsibly grow, and to safely connect Portland to the economic centers in Washington County.

Bob Weinstein
Bob Weinstein
1 month ago

Lisa: Thanks for your comments. I agree with you. I had almost included a phrase about East Portland not being the only only part of the city that needs massive infrastructure improvements. Thanks for doing that for me!

Don gave me a tour of some of the trails a few weeks ago, and I intend to take a look with him at this issue in the near future.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

the convenient myth that authorities tell themselves is that SW “doesn’t want sidewalks.

It’s worse than that: I’ve heard soooo many people say that since SW is where “the rich people live,” we have the money to do whatever is needed ON OUR OWN.

It’s just not true but it was perpetuated in these very pages when whatshisname from Sightline wrote that SW shouldn’t have a MAX train b/c we are too rich to deserve one.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

The bigger joke is that even if you had the cash and wanted to put sidewlks in, PBOT often says NO.

 
 
1 month ago

I think some people are missing the true takeaway from this article. The issue isn’t that the city isn’t playing hardball with developers to put in sidewalks. It’s actually much worse: PBOT is actively blocking developers from putting in sidewalks even when they want to! Completely inexcusable; I don’t buy the stormwater excuses in the slightest. The only reasonable conclusion I can draw is that PBOT couldn’t care less about active transportation in southwest and wants the region to remain car-centric, while they funnel all their money towards the inner eastside.

Sorry for sounding bitter, but this happens over and over again. There’s a reason that those of us who have actually lived in SW think that WashCo and Beaverton roads are way better than PBOT or MultCo roads for active transportation.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to   

Huh. I have to sorta defend PBOT here. I like trees, but I like not being dead in a ditch better, so that priority seems to need some adjustment… but stormwater is an issue. PBOT’s problem is that it throws up its hands and say ‘nothing ya can do about it; too expensive.’ They have flat-out said if they have 10 million, it goes farther elsewhere, and the money is better spent in higher equity-score areas. As we know, ALL westside neighborhoods are full of chauffered Kristal-drinking NIMBY racists (as so helpfully revealed by texts of Eudaly’s staffers). So why help those people out?

I’m sure the folks living in the Habitat development will be able to afford a Chevy Suburban or two and won’t have to walk anywhere, or -shudder- get to public transit.

This is the fault of certain managers at PBOT who have decided the way to develop SW ped/bike infrastructure is one Megaproject like Capitol Highway at a time, once per generation. This is cowardace in leadership, but it has paid off for them career-wise.

True leadership is not tossing entire areas overboard because things are hard, or budgets tight. It’s advocating for state and national leaders to help. It’s fighting for pedestrian safety as hard as driver convenience, or maximum density. It’s saying ‘no’ to things that make something worse once in a while.

It ain’t all PBOT – Wheeler and council have slowly whittled away the system designed to provide some balance; most egregiously, city code used to say a project ‘MUST meet’ all conditions, INCLUDING pedestrian safety, or it was denied. Wheeler spearheaded changing it to “MOSTLY meets’ all conditions. Who gets to decide if it ‘mostly’ is safe? Certainly not the users! So if a staffer decides that 6′ wide shoulder you get to walk 6” from cars at 40+MPH is MOSTLY safe, thank them next time you are ‘mostly alive’ after being struck by a car.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

They have flat-out said if they have 10 million, it goes farther elsewhere, and the money is better spent in higher equity-score areas.

I wish you (or someone – Lisa?) could please educate us about these “equity-score areas.”

That’s a great post and my nominee for comment of the week (next week).

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Fred

Hi Fred, read this post, and my comment to Brendan:

https://bikeportland.org/2021/05/19/book-review-calling-bullshit-will-help-you-be-a-better-advocate-331276

I’m leaving for a week, so I don’t have time to answer you, but my review uses an example of the PedPDX prioritization method, which is applied mathematical malpractice. The really bad thing is that those scores (prioritizations) then feed into, are the basis of, all further decisions about what walking projects to fund. For example, want to fund a SWIM crosswalk project or a CCIM crosswalk project? — what PedPDX has determined is the priority for the two streets will inform what PBOT decides to fund. And the PedPDX method is incorrect, flawed, wouldn’t pass the muster in a first semester stats class.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

The gist of them (and not claiming this is specifically what PBOT uses) is allocating a value to factors like lower income areas, places where more people of color live, areas historically redlined… people and places generally ignored or punished in some way in our society. Ramming highways through them, poor school investment, etc. Equity scores seek to prioritize which areas could benefit the most from remediation efforts; in PBOT’s case, fixing highways and stroads. The issue Lisa had (and she will correct me if wrong!) is that NOT having a sidewalk was counted as ‘safe.’ So an area with no sidewalks, but a middle-class or higher income according to census data, would be rated as safer for peds than an area with lower income, but WITH sidewalks, So it will never score high enough on any of the equity matrices, and be allocated no funding for projects. Lisa pointed this out to a city council session, much to PBOT’s chagrin. I believe PBOT amended the calulations a bit after her talk.

Now, I am fine with being told “you have no sidewalks; that’s dangerous. But this place we’ve historically ignored is just as bad, so we’re going to fix that first. We’ll get to you when we can.” But being told “You are safe, go away” was a bit much.

The irony is that Eudaly’s surveys that produced the formula showed that the equity areas actually have sidewalks, ped crossings, streetlights, etc. The main complaints were speeding, and racist twits refusing to stop for people of color at those crosswalks.

Unfortunately, there are no AASHTO guidelines on how to fix racists.

Keviniano
Keviniano
1 month ago

I think it’s always helpful to shed light on governmental shortcomings and opportunities, and for that I really appreciate this article.

I’m a little surprised by missing out on some of the root causes for the lack of sidewalks. Certainly, wasn’t much of SW developed precisely because it’s difficult to get to, and thus a more exclusive/elite place to live? If it weren’t for that market incentive, I would think a lot more of it would have been left alone as woods. A lot of developers probably saw the difficulty putting in sidewalks as more reason to build there.

I mean, I’m glad the tide is turning, and folks living there want it to be a more accessible place, but if we’re looking for root causes…

I’m also confused by the off-hand reference to SW residents paying for the Big Pipe even though they “don’t have” it. Is the implied meaning that SW Portlanders shouldn’t have had to contribute to that project?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Keviniano

Thank you for commenting, Keviniano.

Certainly, wasn’t much of SW developed precisely because it’s difficult to get to, and thus a more exclusive/elite place to live?

That is incorrect, but it is the type of insidious narrative that is used to justify continuing to neglect the area’s infrastructure needs. I’m not going to write more, but this past post explains the history of Portland sidewalks: https://bikeportland.org/2021/08/12/sidewalks-and-portland-its-not-so-simple-336493

Keviniano
Keviniano
1 month ago

Hi Lisa,

I don’t understand your argument yet. What part is incorrect? Are you saying that the exclusivity of some areas in SW Portland based on geographic barriers has had no influence at all on the absence of sidewalks there? That seems to fly in the face of how US elite culture operates. Rich people love their enclaves. It’s often couched in language like, “It’s nice and quiet here,” or “feels rural” as cct mentioned. Yeah, it feels rural in the middle of an urban area because it was designed to be difficult for people to get there except for those who could afford to do so.

Historically, the West Hills have been the seat of Portland’s political and economic power based on average house cost and where elected leaders have made their homes. Based on their leverage, it seems to me that if the folks living in those neighborhoods had valued sidewalks, they would have gotten them, especially in decades past when equity was not nearly the consideration in decision-making as it is now.

None of this is to justify these neighborhoods’ lack of sidewalks. We agree that they should! But to assert, as the author does, that “lack of a formal stormwater conveyance system” is the only root cause that merits mention—it just seems so wide off the mark that I can’t let it stand without comment.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Keviniano

Keviano, you don’t know what you are talking about and you are trying too hard.

The wealthiest patch of SW Portland, Portland Heights, has sidewalks. So does Council Crest. I’ve got a nice hundred year old sidewalk in front of my house.

Southwest Portland is not the same as “the West Hills.”

Historically, the inner east side has been Portland’s seat of political power, although the false narrative that SW controls everything is a strong one. Here’s an interactive map put together by the Oregonian in 2014, which shows, by year, where Portland City Council members have lived. Keep in mind that it doesn’t include the last 10 years, which saw Hardesty, Eudaly, Mapps, Ryan, Rubio, Gonzalez … all from the east side: https://projects.oregonlive.com/maps/eastpdx/power/

I’m getting bored, but the area that Don writes about was chosen by PBOT as one of three neighborhoods to receive LTIC funded improvements in part because of it’s equity profile.

Don doesn’t state anything about “the only root cause.”

Keviniano
Keviniano
1 month ago

Look at me: I don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m trying too hard, and I’ve triggered boredom. My work is done here!

As to root causes, I didn’t mean to say that Don said that stormwater conveyance was the only root cause. I said it was the only one he deemed worthy to mention.

But to the broader point, I’m clearly misinformed on multiple fronts here. Thanks for the link to where Portland City Council members have lived. I’m schooled.

I’ll confess that much of my perspective comes as an east-sider who worked in downtown Beaverton for years. I’d take my bike onto the MAX to work in the morning and ride my bike home in the evening. I took a ton of different routes home over the hills. Lots of beautiful, narrow, windy roads (subject to landslides in the winter). I’d ride past so many really beautiful homes on plots so steep the houses built on them required true feats of engineering to exist. One year, I got to follow the progress of one homeowner bringing in everything he could—an enormous crane at one point— to keep his precariously perched house from literally sliding down the hill.

The thought that would come to me over and over again was, “This stuff should never have been allowed here in the first place.” So many roads and homes, built not because it was sensible from any urban planning perspective but because (my story here) the owners wanted the view, the quiet, the exclusivity, and nature out their back door. They had the resources to make it happen, and so they did, social and environmental costs be damned.

So, I’ve got a longstanding grudge against parts of the West side and brought it to this conversation. In hindsight, it’s not very relevant to the topic at hand. As you hinted, most of those houses I would take umbrage at probably had sidewalks in front of them.

Oh well! Thanks for the engaging.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Keviniano

If you look at Vintagepotrtland, there are some amazingly rickety structures perched on cliffs out here even in 1880s – a number of them in poorer areas; at that time the land was undesirable, and wood and labor were cheap. Now, of course, the opposite is true, seismic codes, etc. so you do need big pockets.

“This stuff should never have been allowed here in the first place.”

Guess what? Wheeler and his councils have been removing thousands of lot restrictions that will increase the number of those homes you found troubling: my favorite was the “Environmental Zone” update, which trumpeted loudly how it was protecting more of our wetlands and riparian areas – by cutting their protection in HALF. Now they’ve decided we haven;t had a really good landslide epidemic for a while, so they are redoing the landslide codes as well (to be fair on that one, they have added some sections , but did remove some pretty large areas). Both will lead to more cliff-perched homes.

I am for increasing density. I am not for dooming my children to global warming and being mowed down by the roadside. You build density. you build infrastructure. Period.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Keviniano

it was designed to be difficult for people to get there except for those who could afford to do so.

The SW Hills was mostly populated by farms, orchards, and working and middleclass folks prior to 1890 DUE TO its inaccesibility; Nob Hill was really more the place to be. The cable car brought easier access, especially in winter, and led to a real estate boom; by 1901 you can count a dozen or so truly large houses at its end. The Ford Street and Vista Bridge then brought more, of course. Many of those homes and residents wer no more prosperous than their counterparts in East Portland; a 1910 census for my area lists a printer (in his shed), a clark, a stone mason. Also timber barons, lawyers and politicians, sure. I note in 1930 residents repeated their pleas to please build a sidewalk up SW Broadway Dr. from downtown (still not built).

So no nefarious plan to keep the poors out (folks of color, well…) and until the 80s no gated communities that i know of. If your thesis was strictly true, why does Alameda have sidewalks? Or Ladd’s?

I think you two are at poles; one thinks this has nothing to do with, and the other most to do with; the truth is as always a complicated mix.

Keviniano
Keviniano
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

My thesis that the lack of sidewalks and neighborhood exclusivity are linked is in tatters. There may be something there, but as for evidence to defend it, I got nothing! Thanks for engaging.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Keviniano

You got schooled in the very best way, Kev. You started by going along with the old trope that rich people want to be removed from larger society and therefore deserve nothing from society, which is something we SW Portlanders hear all the time (even BP has given space to this view), even though very few of us are rich or asked to be “removed from larger society.”

Painting everyone with such a broad brush really isn’t helpful but life is all about second chances.

Also I don’t think Lisa mentioned that runoff from SW doesn’t go to The Big Pipe so we don’t benefit from it even though we helped to pay for it. Every runoff project in SW is a one-off and has to be funded from somewhere. The answer recently from PBOT has been fuhgeddaboutit, unless it’s part of a huge project like the SW Capitol improvement project.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Keviniano

I disagree with Lisa a bit here; a few people I have met DID state that they liked ‘the rural feel’ and that sidewalks made it too urban. A lot of development occurred during 50/60s when people had no issues driving for every task. However, the population has obviously increased, times have changed, and so has density, so time to adapt a bit.

If City Hall wants density it needs to pony up on the infrastructure and transit to support it, or climate change and pedestrian deaths are baked in.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  cct

CCT, people like the sidewalk-less little local street they live on. The issue is the collectors and arterials. You know that.

Have you heard anyone say that they just really love not having a sidewalk on Broadway, Patton, Dosch, BBH, Capitol Hill Rd, Taylors Ferry, Boones Ferry . . . ? Read the open-ended response (Appendix A) in the survey for the recent SWIM update — pages and pages about wanting safe places to walk, bike facilities and traffic calming.

cct
cct
1 month ago

At least one of those comments came from someone I encountered while on Patton, walking to a home off Shattuck. We were squeezed against a guardrail at the time, waiting for traffic to ease so we could get around each other.

I failed to see the charm.

cct
cct
1 month ago

I have a question for our knowledgeable readers!

Do any of you know if anyone – ANYONE – from PBOT or elsewhere in City Hall asked for any of the federal infrastructure money Uncle Joe was handing out a little while ago? I’m not sure of all the caveats that came with the handout, but two projects came to my mind at the time: siesmic retrofit and suicide netting for the Vista Bridge (already designed and costed), and ped/bike/stormwater infrastructure in SW and SE. 5 or 10 million would have been nice.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

Some path oppositon is based on people not wanting folks walking through ‘their’ property, but much was supposedly due to laws which make adjacent homeowner responsible legally for injuries on that path section. Hopefully the new laws being written will address this,

Don, do you get answers when you ask why PBOT opposes or balks at something?

As Lisa has pointed out it’s a losing game to pick a candidate and educate them on the issue – pick a candidate who already knows about it and runs with it in their platform.

Don Baack
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

First on liability. SETrails enlisted the City of Portland during the 2011 session of the Legislature to modify the liability law in Portland. The signed law as I understand it gives a non profit builder of the trail AND ADJACENT PROPERTY OWNERS a waiver from liability if the City approves the trail. This has helped a great deal in building our many connections in SW Portland.

Second on Council Members: we have had some important breakthroughs with some: Vera Katz was very helpful, Mayor Potter single-handedly allocated funds so SWTrails could develop the 4T Trail. The original unworkable permitting system developed under Novick was a disaster. Just one trail was permitted using it although many requests were made. It was an expensive pointless waste of time and required lots of unnecessary staff process to no end! Thankfully wiser PBOT heads have developed (2022) something we can work with-if they will issue the permits.

I am hopeful a new counsel focused on a smaller and more similar area will take the time to understand the constrained transportation network, Stormwater management and the fact that while our average SW income is high, we have many low income people in our midst who deserve thevsame city support as folks living in east Portland.

Some candidates seem to be running on just one issue. Be careful of those who will not take the time to understand the causes of our problems and listen to citizen ideas for solutions.

Don Baack
1 month ago

A little history. Look at the map of city annexations of SW Portland. Most of the east slopes of SW Portland hills were annexed into the city in 1880-90. Most of SW Portland was farm land and forest and was gradually partially developed, mostly a working class area, and all major as arterials were established before the areas were annexed to the city. Multnomah County set the default NO SIDEWALKS standards. Most of SW Portland was annexed from the 1940’s through 1970’s. I understand that city lawmakers decided not to improve our SW arterials. Presently 75% of our streets do not have sidewalks. We are seeking sidewalks where they are needed, along our arterials!

In addition, recent TriMet route changes have REDUCED the access to transit for many SW residents. TriMet has failed to supply us with the details of the actual numbers. We have documentation showing that the recent changes eliminated accessible transit for an additional 7%! of our residents. SW is becoming more car dependent —- and PBOT jams the unneeded Rose Lane on Capitol Highway down our throats.

AND while we have had a plan for a major multimodal trail, The Red Electric, parts of it seem to have been actively opposed by both PBOT and City Council. For example, deliberately removing the Red Electric from the SW Corridor plans.

SW Portland has not been equitably served or fairly served by the current and past city councils.

SWTrails was formed to develop a safe network of places to walk. We have had some great support from PBOT in the past. However they refuse to issue permits for key connections we need to build if there is even the slightest opposition. They look at flat maps and decide that a project is not needed if a walk-around is available, totally disregarding the elevation difference the walk-around entails. State law gives residents the right to use our rights of way. PBOT has told us we cannot use these rights of way. In one case, we requested that a right of way blocked by vegetation be cleared. It was posted—-but PBOT required the posting to be removed.

We have several permit applications to build or improve key connections which have been pending since 2017.

If we choose the right objective, experienced, council members, I hope this skewed resource allocation will end.

Educate the would-be council candidates on what is happening and show them why change is needed.

cct
cct
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Baack

Some path oppositon is based on people not wanting folks walking through ‘their’ property, but much was supposedly due to laws which make adjacent homeowner responsible legally for injuries on that ROW section. Hopefully the new laws being written will address this,
Don, do you get answers when you ask why PBOT opposes or balks at something? 
As some have pointed out it’s a losing game to pick a candidate and educate them on the issue – pick a candidate who already knows about it and runs with it prominently in their platform.

Don Baack
1 month ago
Reply to  cct

SWTrail with City help successfully got Oregon’s trail liability law changes to provide protections for the nonprofit builder of the trail AND THE ADJACENT PROPERTY OWNER.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Baack

Don, you have done a lot of good things but you are wrong about the Rose Lane thru Hillsdale.

That change has been GREAT for transit riders like me. No longer do we sit in traffic behind the cars as we slowly inch our way up the hill to the Sunset stop (true in both directions but especially coming from downtown after a long workday). I have probably been given back close to two hours each week (10 minutes in each direction) since the Rose Lanes went in. That’s almost 100 hours per year!

The Rose Lane has also been great for cyclists who now have a little more separation from traffic as we climb the hill on Cap Hwy. We can (mostly) trust the bus drivers not to hit us.

As someone who advocates for walking, you should support changes that make people less car-dependent. I really don’t understand your opposition to the Rose Lanes at all.

Chad Lykins
1 month ago

Chad Lykins here, candidate for Portland City Council District Four. I live in SW Portland and regularly commute by bike. My kids have had practice at A Park for years. I also run after-school programs at the elementary schools surrounding the areas you mention. I am deeply grateful that Lisa keeps bringing attention to our transportation needs.

Winning money for any new project is difficult given the enormous PBOT backlog, and winning money for SW is even more difficult to pull off politically.

Because of the jurisdictional complications, it really will take city councilors who are deeply rooted in their community and who have excellent relations with other elected representatives. I’ve talked about SW Portland’s needs with Metro Councilor Duncan Hwang, Rep. Dacia Grayber, and Rep. Mark Gamba. They’ve all endorsed my campaign and know I will be pushing hard to bring improvements to SW.

We will also need to get support from our city councilors on the eastside. Steph Routh is running a great campaign in D1. I think she’s someone who will be a great ally for those who want to see connected and safe neighborhoods all over the city.

I’ll leave my contact info here in case anyone might want to invite me to pedal over to a problem area. My inboxes are always open.

Chad Lykins
Candidate for Portland City Council District Four
lykinsforportland.com
info@lykinsforportland.com

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Chad Lykins

Thank you Chad, I’ve been on vacation for a week and just noticed your note. Good luck with your run, I appreciate you commenting here.