chris smith

Guest post: Biking away (some of) my Amazon Prime guilt

Avatar by on August 20th, 2019 at 9:49 am

The author on his Benno e-bike.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This story is by northwest Portland resident, Planning & Sustainability Commissioner and devoted civic activist, Chris Smith.

I confess, I’m a heavy user of Amazon Prime. Not in the “I’m too lazy to go to the grocery store” way, but more of a “there’s so much selection, I can get exactly the thing I’m looking for!” way. If I can buy what I need locally, I definitely do.

I’m aware of the potential negative impacts of this convenience: exploitation of workers at Amazon warehouses, impact on local retail and — especially given the focus of my activism — last mile impacts on the local transportation system.

I think I have an answer for that last point: Amazon Lockers.[Read more…]

City of Portland wants to make side guards mandatory on all garbage and recycling trucks by 2022

Avatar by on May 30th, 2019 at 11:50 am

Side guards installed on a garbage truck during a City of Portland pilot project.

It’s been a long time coming, but Portland is finally about to take a big step forward in road safety. The Bureau of Planning & Sustainability (BPS) announced today they’ll propose a change to the City’s administrative rules that would require all garbage and recycling contractors to fill gaps in the sides of their trucks by 2022. The new mandate would apply to about 195 vehicles that currently don’t meet federal safety standards.
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Planning Commission finds ‘missing middle,’ votes for more housing citywide

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on September 17th, 2018 at 1:04 pm

A 1905 duplex on SE 33rd Avenue in Portland. Like many other cities, Portland made these illegal on most lots in the mid 20th century. Photo by Portland for Everyone.

“What do the neighbors have to be afraid of? It’s buildings, people or cars.”
— Chris Smith, Planning Commissioner

An earlier version of this post was published by the Sightline Institute. It’s by BikePortland’s former news editor, Michael Andersen, who started covering the need for “missing middle” housing — especially in Portland’s most bikeable neighborhoods — for us in 2015. We last covered this issue in May, just before the crucial public hearings described here.

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The most provocative housing policy event of this week in the Pacific Northwest started happening four months ago.
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Planning commissioner forces City to defend I-5 widening project

Avatar by on March 2nd, 2017 at 2:53 pm

N Williams Ave Community Forum.JPG-24

Chris Smith thinks widening I-5 in Portland is a big mistake.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Noted transportation activist and Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioner Chris Smith made a bold move Tuesday night that could have thrown a wrench in the works the State of Oregon’s top transportation priority.

Smith put forward a motion at a work session meeting of the Planning Commission that would have taken the I-5 Broadway Weidler Facility Plan out of the City of Portland’s Transportation System Plan. The TSP is Portland’s road investment guidebook and any major project that wants funding must be listed in it. As we reported yesterday, this $450 million (estimated) project is one of three freeway mega-projects lined up to receive significant funding in the transportation package currently being negotiated in Salem.

Smith was the sole PSC Commissioner to vote against the project when it was passed as part of the N/NE Quadrant Plan (a component of the Central City 2035 Plan) back in 2012. Judging from his pointed remarks about the project Tuesday night, he still hasn’t warmed up to the idea.
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Wonk Nights work! 30 months later, city kicks off bike parking reform

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on February 23rd, 2016 at 3:16 pm

Bike Parking Wonk Night-7

The crowd of problem-solvers in 2013.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

BikePortlanders may remember that a few years ago, Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioner Chris Smith approached us with an idea: he felt the city’s bike parking rules needed an update, and wanted help proving it.

So we teamed up with our friends at Lancaster Engineering to host a “wonk night” at which 30 attendees broke into groups and brainstormed ideas for updating the city code that tells developers how to design bike parking and how much of each type to include.

Smith wrote us this week to share some good news: Tomorrow night is the first meeting of the Bicycle Parking Stakeholder Working Group, which has been officially tasked with rewriting the city’s code.

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Commissioner Fritz questions city plan to legalize tiny homes near property lines, a perk currently given to auto storage

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on November 20th, 2015 at 10:55 am

Sally Spear, right, lives in a backyard home in Northeast Portland with her daughter’s family.
(Photos by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Until this week, Portland seemed poised to eliminate one of the many ways it prioritizes housing for cars over housing for people.

For decades, there’s been exactly one way to build a 15-foot-tall structure up to the edge of most Portland property lines: put a car in it.

Want an accessory dwelling unit the same size as a garage? Sorry, that’ll have to be set back five feet from the property line, even if it has no windows or doors facing the property edge.

Bike sheds currently face the same restriction: unlike garages that were designed for cars, bike sheds must be at least five feet away from the property line in all single-family residential zones.

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How much should parking permits cost? Four ways the city could find out

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on October 1st, 2015 at 10:07 am

Space is valuable. But who wants to vote on what it’s worth?
(Photos: M.Andersen and J.Maus/BikePortland)

Last year, Portland hired a top-dollar consulting firm for advice on the best way to manage the auto parking that’s become increasingly scarce in a few neighborhoods.

Twelve months later, the city is taking steps toward some of its recommendations: for example, proposing an opt-in parking permit system that would let residential neighborhoods block their street parking spaces from being used by people living or shopping on commercial corridors.

But at the moment, Portland is on course to ignore a different suggestion made very clearly by the firm, Nelson\Nygaard: that elected officials should “never, ever” be the ones to set the price of parking.

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Portland parking reformers puzzle over how to value bike lanes

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on January 30th, 2015 at 10:28 am

New striping on Broadway ramp-2

What’s it worth?
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

How much is a bike lane worth?

As the City of Portland begins moving toward an overhaul of its auto parking policy, the people on two massive parking-reform stakeholder committees (one for the central city and one for neighborhood commercial districts) are beginning to confront an interesting problem.

If modern acolytes of market-priced street parking are correct, it’s actually not hard to discover the economic value of an on-street auto parking space: use meters or permits to raise the price of parking until 15 percent of spaces in a given area — about one per block — are always empty and available. It’s the curbside equivalent of a store that’s acquiring new inventory at the same rate that it sells its current stock.

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What if you could auction off the right to park a car in front of your home?

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on November 26th, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Auto parking on Southeast Division Street.
(Photos by M.Andersen)

Unlimited free on-street car parking is one of the big problems stopping Portland from becoming a better place to live, work, ride a bike, and do business — and a Portland planning expert is floating an interesting solution.

[Read more…]

Wonk Night kickstarts effort to reform Portland’s bike parking code

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on October 31st, 2013 at 10:33 am

Bike Parking Wonk Night-7

An unprecedented gathering of bike parking
brain-power met at Lancaster Engineering
Tuesday night.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Staple racks at the grocery store blocked by piles of pumpkins; events with 800 people and zero additional bike parking; apartment buildings with dozens of wall hooks that are difficult and awkward to use for many people…

Portland is full of bike parking problems. Fortunately, most of them are solvable.

On Tuesday night, Jonathan and I joined the bike coordinators for Oregon’s two largest-employment universities, three representatives of bike parking equipment companies, two city employees, three architects, a team of engineers, the operator of the largest bike valet in North America and 25 other wonky Portland citizens for drinks and sandwiches to start talking about the solutions.[Read more…]