What's happening now

Formerly the home of Beaumont-Wilshire Neighbors for Responsible Growth, the Portland Land Matters blog explores citywide land-use concerns, such as home demolitions, with the belief that development should create an improvement.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Turns out, We agree

After relentless neighbor testimony against megadevelopments dropped in their midst, City Council in its afternoon session today saw the point. The impact of this kind of project—I think particularly of the four-story, 50-unit building proposed for Northeast Fremont—unacceptably puts people (tenants included); public safety; the responsible planning done so far to create pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods; and more at risk.

It was good to see the newly reconfigured council taking a stand and moving forward on the issue. I have high hopes that the creative people at Planning and Sustainability can come up with proposals to mitigate this impact. After a study showing that 72 percent of people living in this kind of building own cars regardless of whether parking is offered, it would be Nixonian to deny that there would be any impact at all. As one of today's commenters said, "These developers are laughing at you. They're laughing at us."

Five or 10 years down the road, after Wally Remmers sells the Northeast Fremont building per his stated plan, he'll likely still be laughing all the way to the bank, while we're stuck with a behemoth so low on amenities for both tenants and Beaumont Wilshire residents it may well be a blight.

While Planning and Sustainability chief Joe Zehnder gave his summary of the studies, I couldn't help but notice the fact that 80% of residents in the subject areas looked for parking for no more than 5 minutes. That leaves 20% (or 1 in 5 drivers) of us circling for more than 5 minutes (the upper extent of time was not quantified), adding more congestion to already burdened streets. Driving around like that, you can quickly erase all the environmental gains claimed by parking-less buildings.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New City Council can help avoid a development mess

I just had it confirmed that City Council will take a look at apartments without parking from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth. Hopefully the lack of timely notice (or, in some cases, notice at all) and midday scheduling won't keep the concerned citizens away. Let's surprise them with the solid turnout we've seen so far.

A quarter of the allotted hour is reserved for the studies done in November by the Planning and Sustainability Commission. I hope some of the key findings are presented, namely that 72 percent of the people will bring their cars, impacting traffic and pedestrian safety on already burdened street systems. In the case of Northeast Fremont, a two-lane thoroughfare already designated a major emergency response route, how much more traffic can be handled without an uptick in collisions?

In addition the site is more than 500 feet away from the proscribed distance to frequent transit for this type of building, so people living in the proposed project might be more inclined beyond that 72 percent to own cars. The very nature of the site (landlocked on three sides) and its lack of amenities do not support the proposed size of the building.

Hopefully the new atmosphere at City Council and a new year make a difference on this issue.