THE "LETTERS TO THE EDITOR" ARE BELOW THE EDITORIAL

From The Editor

So are people really abandoning cars here or not?
Apartments with no parking provided, aspirational planning
Multnomah County gas sales vs. car registrations

One of the perplexing things about living in Portland, as opposed to anywhere else in the real world, is that the city is perfectly all right with developers building apartment houses without any provided parking.

We are told that, increasingly, the younger residents are giving up cars, and instead turning to bicycles or taxicabs or buses or MAX. Therefore it is unnecessary to provide parking for apartment dwellers – and this will not materially impact residents around them who otherwise might fear that there would suddenly be no place for THEM to park.

…And anyway, cars are nasty, and we shouldn’t make it easy to continue to use them…

That last thought may well be the actual situation more than is the previous, given the statistics turned up for automobile use and gasoline sales in the metro area by professional researcher Robert McCulloch. If the name seems familiar, Mr. McCulloch is also the Chair of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association, and also of the Inner Southeast nonprofit “neighborhood coalition”, Southeast Uplift.

McCulloch calls what the city is doing by these policies “Aspirational Planning”.

He has prepared a brief but telling report for THE BEE.

Transportation Planning in Portland, he calls, “Policy without plans; plans without data”.

We quote him:

“The Great Recession coincided with an aspirational belief that Portland’s affection for the personal family car was ending. It also coincided with a political desire to subsidize developers by eliminating the requirement for parking in apartment buildings.

“The data behind the planning was not available at the time. Today, eight years after the onset of the recession, the data is gradually and partially available.

“Cars registered in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington County fell during the recession, but the fall has been offset by new car purchases as the recession ended.

“Traffic in Portland is due to local traffic – plus traffic from the surrounding counties due to commuting daily to work, school, or for shopping.

“Portland’s parking problems increased by 2.92% in 2015. Portland’s traffic (based on the three-county total) increased by 3.83%. Portland’s population increased by 1.3% last year, according to the PSU Population Research Center.

“Gasoline sales in Multnomah County increased by 3.83% in 2015.”

And as for public transportation?

After two years of actual declines, “TriMet ridership rose slightly in 2015.”

McCulloch provided links to the charts he provided, in case you would like to look them up for yourself:

Multnomah car registrations:

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/pages/news/vehicle_stats.aspx

Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington County passenger cars:

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/pages/news/vehicle_stats.aspx

Multnomah County gasoline sales:

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/pages/news/vehicle_stats.aspx

Multnomah County car registrations:

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/CS/FTG/Pages/reports.aspx

TriMet rides:

https://trimet.org/pdfs/publications/trimetridership.pdf

So, McCulloch is right. The statistics certainly do not support not providing parking for those who choose to rent apartments. Maybe they don’t need as much parking as they once did, but they sure do need some! And existing residents on these streets are already finding it much harder for themselves and their friends to park near their houses.

However, not to be deterred by the facts, an even more dismaying policy appears to be in the works. We quote from Jim Redden’s front-page article in our sister newspaper, the Portland Tribune, on March 3:

“Portland officials are considering a ‘radical’ new ranking of who should be given priority for using city streets. The new priority list puts pedestrians and bicyclists above TriMet buses, MAX trains, and the Portland Streetcar. It places conventional single-occupancy vehicles at the bottom, after taxis and electric vehicles.

“The new ranking would be an official reversal of historic policies that favored cars and trucks after the demise of the city’s original streetcar system in the 1950s. . .

“The list is included in the recommended Comprehensive Plan update the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission approved last year and sent to the City Council.”

“Aspirational planning” for sure, and reportedly motivated by a desire to “reduce greenhouse emissions and encourage walkable neighborhoods”.

THE BEE submits that if we are ever to accomplish benefits such as these, and make the city more liveable, it is necessary to start with reality and recognize human nature, or the whole effort is a fantasy and the outcome will be far from what is intended.

And simply one example of that is how liveability here is actually diminishing is the placement of a multitude of apartment houses in residential neighborhoods; and the lining of nearby streets with the cars of those who live in these apartments, and who have no other place to park.


Letters to the Editor

Dangerous crossing on Milwaukie Avenue

Editor,

In December, Elen Goss, a resident at Sacred Heart Villa, and in a wheelchair, was struck by a car and seriously injured trying to cross Milwaukie Avenue at Center Street in Brooklyn. Her wheelchair was destroyed. “When I was hit, there was a lady and three dogs waiting to cross with me at the crosswalk. When the car barreled up on us, she was able to escape with the dogs. I was on a mobility scooter and unable to react fast enough to avoid being hit,” she said.

The Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association has been trying for years to get a pedestrian crosswalk light for that intersection, due to the bus stop opposite the Villa and the blind spot created by cars parking along the west side of the street. Also, many children use that intersection. A city engineer came out Jan 13, 2016, for 20 minutes and ascertained that “a light was not needed”. When could he have possibly come when there was not a long line of cars going both directions? Definitely not in the early morning or late afternoon, when it’s heavily used by commuters.

Besides the light being urgently needed there, there is no access for wheelchairs to ride the new Orange MAX line due to the lack of ADA sidewalks on Center Street from Milwaukie Avenue to 17th Avenue. The sidewalk across the street from the Villa is also in such terrible disrepair that a wheelchair or push walker cannot access the northbound bus.

Just this last year, the city (or TriMet) put in at least ten ADA curbs west of Milwaukie Avenue for access to Bus #33 on McLoughlin. That bus line has since been cancelled north of Clackamas County. When does this lunacy end? When are basic needs of children and elderly residents addressed? Where are the priorities of our city leaders?

If you would like to have a conversation with him, the city engineer who decided that the light was unnecessary was: Carlos Hernández P.E., City of Portland Bureau of Transportation, 1120 S.W. 5th Ave, Suite 800, Portland, 97204; telephone: 503/823-3173.

Questions:

  • Does it take someone getting killed to get the recognition that this light will save lives and limb? The speed limit is 30 MPH, but most cars travel much faster when possible.
  • Why does Milwaukie Avenue have a 30 MPH speed limit through the Brooklyn neighborhood, but changes to 25 MPH in the Westmoreland neighborhood, just south of the overpass of McLoughlin?

UPDATE: TriMet and the city have been notified once again of the problems. Will Brooklyn now get the attention it needs from them?

Marie Phillippi
Brooklyn Action Corps News Editor

 

Creepy letter

Editor,

Am I the only one who finds this creepy? My Woodstock home is a pristine 3,000 sq.ft. Arts & Crafts house on a 50 x 100 corner lot, and lately I've been receiving letters in the mail from developers who are offering to buy my house as-is. The latest one came from Spartan Redevelopment. I can only assume this guy would love to tear down my house and build 2 or 3 sliver houses.

I am so angry that perfectly good houses of quality materials are being torn down all over the city to build houses that probably will fall down in 40 years. Our city government has their priorities all wrong. Even if you recycle some of the materials, there is still a lot of material that ends up in the landfill. How “green” is that? What is being done to change this?

Sandy Profeta
Woodstock



Sellwood Community Center threatened by city – again

Editor,

Sellwood Community Center is once again on the “hit list” of possible cuts to the city’s budget. The city is proposing to eliminate approximately $80,000 in General Fund money that helps the Center to operate. Even though this year the Center will generate about $450,000! The math just does not make sense. Why close a center, especially a small one like Sellwood, that does not have some of the amenities of other centers, when it generates so much money! The center is utilized to its maximum capacity for much of each day, and it serves hundreds of residents in Sellwood-Westmoreland. This proposed cut also comes at a time when the Boys and Girls Club is leaving our neighborhood. The Sellwood Community Center is needed now more than ever.

It is important for us to band together to make sure our well-used and well-loved Center continues to operate in our neighborhood. The squeaky wheel really makes a difference! There are several ways you can help us convince the Portland City Council that our community center needs to be funded.

First, sign the petition that was originally started at Llewelyn School. Click here: http://tinyurl.com/hpkobgs

This is a great petition, because once you sign the petition it goes to all four City Commissioners and the Mayor.

Second, you can write individual letters to the Commissioners and the Mayor to let them know how important Sellwood Community Center has been to you and your family.

Third, come to one or both of the following two budget meetings to show your support for the Center. We need to pack the meeting! The budget hearings will take place as follows:

** Tuesday, April 5, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Wilson High School, 1151 S.W. Vermont Street, Portland

** Tuesday, April 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Alice Ott Middle School, 12500 S.E. Ramona Street, Portland

Finally, get on the list of the Friends of Sellwood Community Center Committee, so you can help advocate for the long term health of the program. To sign up to receive notices of upcoming Friends events, contact me at: smileghoffnagle@gmail.com

Sellwood Community Center needs your support!

Gail Hoffnagle
Friends of Sellwood Community Center Chair, and
Vice President of SMILE

Loved CHS show

Editor,

On Saturday, February 27th, my classmate and friend Sharon Wilson MacPherson and I  attended the Cleveland High School Spring production of “Fiddler on the Roof”.  I took my 1958-59 student body card with me, in case they felt the need to ID me, for my senior discount ticket. :)

While waiting for the auditorium doors to open, we walked the main hall, soon to realize, it was the “wall of fame”, with pictures of the school Principals, Rose Festival Princesses, and star athletes. The production was wonderful in every way, with music, song, and dance. The students’ acting showed a lot of emotion – happy, sad, and angry -- I must admit, I got a bit emotional when – I believe it was the second daughter – was at the train station. She was leaving her family and home – as I recalled my Nonna Antrosio telling us about when she left Italy as a 16 year old bride – to come to “A-med-e-ca”, never knowing if she would ever see her family again. Great acting, Cleveland High School students, you touched our hearts. Looking forward to your next production!

Carol Antrosio Helvey
via e-mail 

PS about CHS

Editor,

A P.S. to my letter last month from The Commerce-Cleveland High School Alumni Association about all the upcoming events to celebrate the school's 100th Anniversary. So much to celebrate for this wonderful old school.

In addition to the periodic observance of the history of the school and the upcoming school events mentioned in my previous letter, a book commemorating the 100th anniversary of the school has been written by alumni. Please check out this and other information on the celebrations at: http://www.chs-alum.blogspot.com.

Also, don't forget to look for the Cleveland High School Band and marchers in the Starlight Parade on June 4th. See you there!

Neshia Branson-Cameron
Class of 1963

Eastmoreland and its trees

Editor,

When I tell people I live in Eastmoreland, they often comment about its abundance of mature, large-canopy street trees. Our trees are a defining characteristic of the neighborhood, and they were certainly a major reason we ourselves bought our house here 18 years ago. Most of the trees responsible for our shady streets and sidewalks are American elms and Norway maples, planted by the original developers early in the 20th Century. The remaining American elms, about 200, are disappearing fairly rapidly despite an inoculation program for Dutch elm disease – and many of the Norway maples, now on the city's nuisance tree list, have been pruned into unnatural shapes due to high-voltage lines. As the original elms and maples are removed due to disease and structural failure, what does the future look like? How do we maintain the general impression of an abundance of mature trees with shaded streets and sidewalks?

We know that it takes several decades for a young tree, 1-2” in diameter, to develop into one that has the physical presence of a large-canopy street tree. Hence, trees we plant now won't contribute much to our impression of shaded streets and sidewalks for some time; but the trees planted now determine the future of our tree population.

Some recommend that we maintain and reinforce the historical planting pattern of elms on east-west streets, and maples on north-south streets. This approach is appealing because it's what we have on S.E. 36th Avenue west to the golf course. Well, not quite. Many of the original elms and maples have been replaced over the years with other trees, such as sweet gum, tupelo, and hawthorn. Also, the historical pattern can't be applied to parts of the neighborhood east of S.E. 36th Ave due to narrower planting strips.

Portland’s tree code requires that homeowners obtain permits to remove or plant street trees, and that new trees be chosen from the city's approved street tree planting lists (see: http://www.portlandoregon.gov/trees/66682). Urban Forestry recommends that we plant a diverse population of large-canopy trees in planting strips wider than six feet and without overhead high-voltage lines, and plant moderate to small trees in narrower strips and along overhead HV lines. Sizing trees for the space is referred to as “right-tree, right-place”.

The policy of planting large-canopy trees where they can thrive without major reshaping due to high-voltage lines is crucial. High-voltage lines are present on one side of most Eastmoreland streets; hence, the number of spaces for large trees is limited to about half of all spaces. Planting a small tree where a large one might thrive ties up that space for many years; it's also a violation of the tree code.

Eastmorelanders, please take care of your street trees, replant with appropriate trees, and fill those empty spaces. Future residents will be indebted to you just as we are indebted to the original developers of Eastmoreland.

Tren Haselton
S.E. 34th Avenue




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All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.


 


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