Open Thread: New Year’s Edition

What are your thoughts about transportation in the new year?

65 Comments

65 Responses to Open Thread: New Year’s Edition

  1. Reza
    January 3, 2014 at 7:09 am Link

    FYI, this site frequently crashes mobile Safari on my iPhone. Chris, you may want to look into this issue further. Anybody else experiencing this?

    • Chris Smith
      January 3, 2014 at 6:43 pm Link

      I can’t say I’ve seen that, but most of my mobile use is moderating comments, not viewing the site itself. What are other folks experiencing?

  2. Oregon Mamacita
    January 7, 2014 at 8:59 am Link

    There is an interesting article on density in the Atlantic Cities. This confirms my intuition that Portland is heading in the wrong direction planning-wise and that climate change needs to be addressed by making coal illegal and by forcing people like me to get a zero emission car.

    Is “smart growth” an ideology or a science?

    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2014/01/beefing-population-density-wont-curb-greenhouse-gas-emissions/8028/

  3. Lenny Anderson
    January 7, 2014 at 2:25 pm Link

    The strange headline notwithstanding, the maps in the AC article don’t lie…higher density communities produce fewer greenhouse gases. But that’s not what drives my desire to see Portland become a real city. Greater density brings more people into a community, supports more retail, makes it easier to get around without a car and makes life way less boring! Not to mention esthetics…no more vacant lots, parking lots, ugly car oriented strip malls, and it seems to be what a lot of folks want these days. And those that don’t can be happy in Clark county.

  4. Oregon Mamacita
    January 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm Link

    Lenny,

    If density is not a powerful tool for reducing greenhouse gases, then it becomes a personal preference and should not be forced on an unwilling neighborhood. You like it, but plenty folks don’t. It has a downside, you know.

    Planning looks less scientific every day- first the Oregonian articles on Outer SE fiasco and now suggestions that density is not a moral imperative to save Oregon’s climate (as it was presented to the public).

    Boring is in the eye of the beholder. The Pearl is an old rich person’s place, IMHO.

    • EngineerScotty
      January 8, 2014 at 5:52 pm Link

      A general problem with all of this:

      Developers like to build–and bankers like to lend (remember much real-estate construction is debt-financed)–where they can make the most money. Generally this means:

      1) Large developments in greenspace, where there are no land cleanup costs (no existing buildings to demolish, no toxic waste to clean, and often times no municipal government to get in the way) and plenty of economies of scale

      or

      2) Places where they can command high prices or rents (compared to the cost of construction): trendy neighborhoods like Division or NoPo.

      [Or both, which is why McMansions are so popular.]

      A big reason that otherwise-transit friendly places that could be turned into walkable housing AREN’T is simply that developers can make more money elsewhere. Brownfields have cleanup costs. Small lots cost more to develop (per unit) than do apartments or subdivisions. Many neighborhoods simply don’t command premium real estate prices that make construction pencil out.

      The reason many developers want to put up apartments along inner Division, or in Hollywood, is simply that many people want to live there. These neighborhoods are nice places, with lots of amenities (including, but not limited to, good quality transit). Many other neighborhoods in town have good transit access, but lack other amenities (much of suburbia), are sketchy, or have a pedestrian-hostile environment.

      Gateway is criss-crossed by two freeways and numerous wide avenues with high-speed traffic, for example. Much of the Blue Line in Beaverton is abutted by trailer parks that date back from the days when freight trains used those tracks (or more accurately, the rails that were torn out and replaced with the MAX line). Many people consider such housing nearby to be an anti-amenity, and developers and financiers thus consider adjoining lots to be poor candidates for development. (Two other trailer parks near the MAX line–one across the street from Nike and Tek, and one near Quatama, have been removed in recent years, and are now seeing new development).

      Division Street, in some ways, is a victim of its own success. It’s the nice restaurant that got a good review in the paper, and now is crowded all the time (and many of its original patrons no longer bother to go there as its no longer the quiet little place it used to be). Would I like to see more development in other areas of the metro area? Absolutely. Should existing neighborhoods–particularly those with amenities that attract customers from around the city–be frozen in amber? Probably not.

      • Oregon Mamacita
        January 9, 2014 at 10:41 am Link

        Scotty,

        I have been learning a lot on this thread. A meta question- why should I care about what developers want. We need city-wide zoning that leaves over-developed areas alone. So what if developers want McMansions- I want a pony. So what if developers want Division Street to become NW 23rd- the neighbors don’t.

        I feel that planning in PDX is based on pleasing developers/contributors, and
        it is time that attitude changed. The city should boss developers around, and not vice versa. We won’t die if development isn’t rapid. My neighborhood has changed in the last three months with six new large infill houses. We should have limited the size to make them affordable, but hey, Mayor Remmer would not allow that.

        • EngineerScotty
          January 9, 2014 at 11:53 am Link

          That brings up good questions!

          McMansion construction in the Portland metro area occurs with far less frequency than many other metros, because the UGB essentially limits the amount of land available. They still get built–but are more expensive than McMansions outside of Phoenix or thereabouts.

          The interesting question, of course, is how much regulation of developer activities is appropriate?

          Many strict libertarians oppose both broad land-use laws, including the existence of UGBs, as well as local zoning designations. Many liberals and non-libertarian conservatives tend to support one but not the other, with urbanists loving the UGB but preaching the free market when it comes to exclusionary zoning; many conservatives like the other way ’round: not minding at all if farms get turned into suburbs, but zealously guarding the character of their own neighborhoods, particularly against anything that might increase density and/or reduce property values.

          And I think we all agree that developers exert way too much influence on the planning and zoning process.

          A couple of thoughts:

          1) The main reason that Division and other close-in neighborhoods are receiving so much development pressure is that people want to live there. The restaurants are awesome, the schools are decent (if you avoid certain poor neighborhoods, PPS is not bad), the bus comes “frequent”ly, it’s a short hop to downtown, and crime is pretty low. Many other parts of Portland, however, have lousy local businesses (laundromats and pawn shops rather than cafes and bistros), lousy bus service, no sidewalks, high crime rates, and dysfunctional schools (even within PPS). Yet there is seldom much money to address these problems. Poor neighborhoods exert very little political power, and as a result, their needs are often neglected.

          2) The best hope for many of these neighborhoods is gentrification–the low rents attract productive businesses, bootstrapping the neighborhood. But often times the losers of gentrification are the original residents–many of them renters–who find themselves no longer able to afford the place.

          3) The city of Portland is not the only polity in the region. While Metro keeps the various cities in the region from trying to beggar each other as much as commonly happens elsewhere–competing for wealthy taxpayers and businesses and trying to slough off the poor–this sort of stuff still goes on. And quite a few cities in the region (cough Hillsboro cough)–subject to the constraints of the UGB–seem to make it a point to roll out the red carpet for developers as much as they can. Not all of what Hillsboro is doing is bad–urban infill projects like Amberglen deserve cheers, not jeers–but developers have long figured out that they can play different municipalities off of each other.

          4) And the problem gets worse when you are dealing with unincorporated areas–county governments simply lack the bandwidth to adequately deal with urban administration–resulting in fusterclucks like Bethany. (In the future–a condition of any UGB expansions should be the annexation of the land in question into a city, prior to any planning or development). Of course, many of our unincorporated urban areas–including much of East County between Portland and Gresham, as well as places like Aloha and Oak Grove–lack the tax base to finance adequate city government. (And many others view city government as an expensive nuisance to be avoided).

      • Cora Potter
        January 10, 2014 at 9:52 am Link

        So, why do you think Lents is not developing? The average block length there is less than 300 feet, there’s ample amounts of vacant land that needs very little work – some that even already had all the sidewalks built out – one that even has a parking lot and is already graded and ready to go…

        There’s a brand new streetscape, a well used MAX stop, two frequent service bus lines and two additional well used bus lines. There are two major bike/ped multi-use paths that provide remarkable regional access.The “bike score” at the major intersection in the area is actually 1 point higher than Williams at Fremont (it’s flat and has good access to everything by bike). The market area is well studied and robust. Lents has incredible access to parks and natural areas. According to Metro’s TOD the only thing missing is more people and “amenities” of the business/retail variety (ie they need to build dense housing and retail space on all that vacant property).

        I have a theory – and I suspect the reason why has nothing to do with quantitative market factors.

        • Oregon Mamacita
          January 10, 2014 at 12:33 pm Link

          Do tell. Does it have to do with the fact that some people in the Lents
          area are not “creatives” but actually work with their hands? Fear of babies? Very few babies in the Pearl, BTW.

          • Bob Richardson
            January 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm Link

            Very few babies in the Pearl, BTW.

            I suggest you check out Jamison Square or Tanner Springs on a weekend, especially a bright sunny day. Absolutely packed with families with small children.

            The Pearl has plenty of families, many just starting out (it’s what happens when yuppies, creatives, students, laborers, and others mingle).

            The Pearl also happens to offer one of the highest percentages of income-tested affordable units anywhere in the city.

            Does it have to do with the fact that some people in the Lents area are not “creatives” but actually work with their hands?

            A good many people who want to rent close-in, including micro apartments and in the Pearl, are people who “actually work with your hands”. Please try to avoid stereotyping.

          • EngineerScotty
            January 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm Link

            Reasons why Lents isn’t developing?

            * Relative lack of high-end eating establishments? There’s lots of great (and inexpensive) Chinese food out thereabouts, but not much in the way of four-star foodie palaces. OTOH, Cartopia isn’t very far away….

            * I-205 casting a shadow over the neighborhood?

            * Too many poor people nearby, or other demographic objections? Lents is kind of in the middle of what is derisively known as “felony flats”–much of outer SE Portland, unless you wander up into Mt. Scott or thereabouts, is occupied by the poor. That said, I can easily see more gentrification occuring in the stretch essentially between Lents and Gateway. The area is already Portland’s dominant Asian enclave, particularly for shopping and eating (with Beaverton/Bethany probably second now, and Chinatown mostly irrelevant to these matters these days).

            The “young creatives” are not, in my experience, as snobby as Mamacita seems to think–and those who are actually young and creative (as opposed to yuppies who are their customers) generally LIKE things like cheap rent and cool hangouts.

            Plus, the mischievous side of me would love it dearly if the NCP were transformed into an avant-garde club, rather than the fratboy meat market it presently is, and has been seemingly forever. :)

            • Cora Potter
              January 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm Link

              * This is true – but it’s a bit of a chicken/egg/horse/cart paradox. However, chefs tend to eat at our “more authentic” places and enjoy them. So, while the ambiance may be lacking, what food there is here is foodie legit.

              * I-84 casts a shadow over Hollywood/Grant Park / Irvington, I-5 casts a shadow over Mississippi and Williams. I think I-205 is just a convenient excuse to discriminate that has been easily overcome in other areas.

              * Lents isn’t in the middle of Felony Flats and never has been. Over the years “Felony Flats” has grown to mean “anywhere in East Portland that I want to bag on”. But, historically, Felony Flats is the area of Brenwood-Darlington that’s directly adjacent to Woodstock/Eastmoreland and has never extended further east than SE 82nd. The area between Steele and Powell is already causing displacement as small houses that were previously rentals are torn down and replaced with 1-5 larger Happy Valley style stick-built homes with similar builder finishes. Many of the families that buy them are Asian. I’m not sure how that’s effecting demographics as far as income or educational attainment – but many are new Portlanders, so it could be deduced that some of their income is more “grey market” or send overseas, and that perhaps their educational acheivments aren’t accredited in the US.

              Having seen my friend try to rent a small 2 bedroom house that has been renovated top to bottom just down the street from mine – The “young creatives” are indeed that snobby. The laundry list of reasons they give is short and generally pretty lame.

          • Cora Potter
            January 14, 2014 at 6:18 pm Link

            A certain, now successful restaurateur, was sitting next to me at a communal dinner in Downtown Portland about 6-8 months before his restaurant opened. We got on the subject of the process of developing his new restaurant and financing it etc…

            I asked him why you don’t see restaurants like his built east of 50th. His reply was pretty quick and to the point -investors don’t want to drive that far for their free meals and most of them live in Lake O or the West Hills.

            I think it’s a pretty similar issue with development – the people with the financing don’t want to drive that far. They lack any “ground truth” concepts about the potential of the areas. They only go off the last three decades of poor media coverage and central-cityism that is really just plain old classcism.

            • Doug Klotz
              January 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm Link

              I think there is a gradual process of areas further out becoming the ‘hip’ places. I don’t think it’ll happen to Lents right away. But, I can imagine inner Foster Road picking up. The areas around it have nice, (albeit 30s-40s, not 1920s) bungalows, and there’s a stock of old storefront buildings to work with for a business district with a little cachet. You can see glimmers of this in a few spots. Perhaps the Foster Road Streetscape (leaving aside the section east of 72nd for another discussion) will help push along this improvement in public image for the inner Foster section. It’s not too far from Division, after all.

            • Cora Potter
              January 15, 2014 at 10:44 am Link

              Doug, that’s the party line of developers in the Central city. But, the truth is there’s a contextual limit to the “from the center out” approach. After about 3 miles, you have to start making new (complete) centers to grow out from, otherwise you end up with the situation we have now which has services, amenities and cultural access focused in central areas in such a way that the travel time burden (and lack of transit at particular hours) limits and often eliminates access for people who reside in parts of the city that are beyond that 3-4 mile ring.

    • Bob Richardson
      January 8, 2014 at 6:11 pm Link

      Actually, Oregon Mamacita, one of the professors involved with the study on greenhouse emissions that you’re referencing, specifically singled out Portland in an interview as a city that’s getting things right and doing better along these lines, by integrating land use and public transportation:

      “This is not to condemn urban suburbs and just packing yourself in urban cores is a good thing,” Kammen explained. “We have cities that are relatively spread out — for example, Portland, Oregon, which has one of the best public transportation systems in the country and, as a result, Portland actually has the lowest per capita vehicle ownership of any big city.”

      Portland is a prime example of the emissions reduction benefit that results from thinking through transportation policies, said Kammen. So even if you live in the suburbs, its convenient to get to work in downtown Portland using public transportation. It may not come as a big surprise but the Berkeley analysis confirms that public transportation can have a big impact. “Well-working mass transit systems not only allow you to bring down the carbon footprint but we know that places where mass transit works well are cities that are seen as more equitable and more livable for lower income people.”

      (Emphasis added).

      • Ed
        January 8, 2014 at 7:56 pm Link

        I think Portland is doing some great things to reduce carbon emissions. But.. it’s not really true that we have the lowest per capita vehicle ownership, is it? According to Wikipedia we’re not even in the top 50 for most households without a car (admittedly not quite the same thing, but it seems like they should be similar). How on Earth did the author conclude that Portland has the lowest vehicle ownership?

        • Bob Richardson
          January 8, 2014 at 10:23 pm Link

          Ed –

          That’s a good point, I had glossed over it. Perhaps there’s a caveat there that was edited out, such as “outside the NE” or perhaps he meant “larger/medium”. But we don’t have anything more to go on.

          So the interviewee may have botched it, or the interviewer, or worse, it calls into question the level of scholarship behind the study.

          Nonetheless, I found the quote interesting. This report has been circulated widely in the past couple of days, and in some quarters used to bash Portland-style land use and transportation policies, when apparently one of the professors holds Portland up as an example of doing the right thing.

          So what gives?

  5. Oregon Mamacita
    January 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm Link

    “And I think we all agree that developers exert way too much influence on the planning and zoning process.”

    Scotty, thanks for agreeing that developers have too much influence on zoning and planning. But, that is not a sentiment I hear much on this blog or Bike Portland. I am called a tea partier or a NIMBY when I suggest that our city gov’t is not working in a democratic way re: planning.

    Okay- why aren’t folks in the planning community admitting/addressing this problem?

    • Bob Richardson
      January 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm Link

      “I am called a tea partier or a NIMBY”

      And I’m called a “anti-car” (a term you have happened to use here with regularity), “car-hater”, “communist”, “anti-bus” and a “NAZI” (there’s even a video about that one!) by folks who have frequented this blog from time-to-time.

      I did a search of our archives for “mamacita” and “tea party” or “tea partier” and could not find anyone calling you that here. If someone has stepped out of line and misidentified you with a particular political movement, please let me know and we can look at moderating the archived comment.

      Maybe it’s time to drop the name-calling, including on the opposed-to-current-policy side?

    • Anandakos
      January 14, 2014 at 12:00 am Link

      As I asked you on another thread Mamacita, “What is your alternative?”

      Since developers are construction workers have the most to gain or lose by planning and zoning decisions that change the rate and types of development that take place, they are the citizens who will lobby most vociferously for what they want. That’s a problem with which representative democracy is always struggling. If one believes in free-speech then one has to ask “what is the best way to reduce the effectiveness of that lobbying?”

      Personally, I think that publicly funded elections are the best of a bad lot; they give the opportunity to unprincipled scam artists to raid the public purse. But at least they do help genuine mavericks to be elected and reduce the influence of entrenched interests, both left and right.

      Portland already has the structure for such publicly subsidized campaigns; would you support increased funding for it? If not what is YOUR suggestion for reducing the affects of lobbying on land-use planning? Because whining about it hasn’t and won’t work.

      • Anandakos
        January 14, 2014 at 12:02 am Link

        developers AND construction workers….

        • Oregon Mamacita
          January 14, 2014 at 2:20 pm Link

          Pubic funding for elections- yes. Also, I am working to toss Nick Fish out.
          We need higher voter turnout in areas like Brentwood. That would change the conversation.

          • Anandakos
            January 18, 2014 at 4:08 pm Link

            Mamacita,

            Thanks for replying.

            I don’t know enough about Nick Fish to have a dog in that fight (and, of course, I live in Vantucky sooooooo… I shouldn’t!). And thumbs-up to more turnout in Brentwood (and everywhere!)

      • Jason Barbour
        January 15, 2014 at 1:02 pm Link

        Portland already has the structure for such publicly subsidized campaigns…

        Re: campaign welfare; voters rejected Measure 26-108 in November, 2010, thereby ending the system in Portland.
        http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=53806&a=329306 (Clicking on “Measure 26-108″ in the link will bring up the summary text.)

        We need higher voter turnout in areas like Brentwood.
        We need higher voter turnout and higher participation, period. I do my part every election, and encourage everyone else to do the same. I also recommend individuals inform themselves of candidates and issues (beyond media coverage and the Voters Pamphlet).

        With that said, someone like Chris or Bob will probably post an official reminder to all of us that this site is a 501(c)(3) which cannot support/oppose candidates for public office or take stands on ballot measures.

        • Anandakos
          January 18, 2014 at 4:10 pm Link

          So you think that the damage done by narcissistic jerks ripping off the system of public financing (“re campaign welfare”) is worse than the damage done by the legalized bribery of large and bundled campaign contributions?

          Well, you’re certainly free to hold that opinion, but it’s not one well-anchored in reality.

  6. Lenny Anderson
    January 9, 2014 at 5:32 pm Link

    OM,
    You cannot build out a city…and Portland is a long way from being built out with vacant lots, parking lots and underused land everywhere…without private capital. URAs are not going to get it done, in fact their job is to attract private capital to less attractive areas…Lents, Gateway and at one time Interstate. Private capital =developers. Some are very good, some very bad…they are all human.
    We elected the members of city council that approved higher density housing along commercial/transit streets back in the 90’s. This action, along with the plans for North River District (Pearl) and South Waterfront, demonstrated the City’s capacity to accommodate the expected increase in population that state land use laws require. The bulk of the residential neighborhoods in N, NE, SE as well as SW were protected by this compromise; we (I live in Alameda/Irvington) need not fear six or 12 unit or bigger apartments on our blocks, though granny flats are now allowed. These are restricted to busy, commercial/transit streets.
    In the end it really boils down to this: do you want the rich farmland of the Tualatin and Willamette Valleys converted to subdivisions or can we accommodate the folks that want (and will) come to the region within the existing boundaries. The latter, inevitably means more density. Which I happen to believe has other benefits…supporting more and more varied retail, making streets safer (ie. slower motorized traffic), better transit, bike and walk possibilities and so on.
    I really do fail to understand what residents in North, NE & inner SE are so afraid of, and on thing is for sure…you cannot stop this tide. It may go away and Portland will again become the quiet backwater I remember from youth and even the 80’s after the great Regan Recession almost emptied the place out. But we are on the map now, and its too bad we can’t all enjoy being the next big thing. It will pass in its own good time; its what Detroit is now dreaming of.

    • Oregon Mamacita
      January 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm Link

      Lenny,

      I am not afraid of anything. Things look bad and unfair in PDX right now.
      I am going to write a check to the gal running against Fish because I think
      that we need smarter planners. Tired of hearing that if I don’t allow an architectual abortion or micro-dorms next door Remmer will plow under Helvetia.

      I don’t have the answers- but I am also not buying the arguments where the Planners throw their hands up in the air and say that the fiasco in Outer SE was an act of nature.

      • Bob Richardson
        January 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm Link

        “architectual abortion”

        That’s a bit hyperbolic, isn’t it?

        micro-dorms

        Advocates of forced-parking created that situation by explicitly outlawing the alternative, compact individual apartments with little or no off-street parking, and refusal to explore market pricing schemes for “free” on-street parking.

        • Oregon Mamacita
          January 12, 2014 at 9:28 am Link

          Bob,

          Micro-dorms are an exploitation of a loophole for convents.

          So the fact that I don’t have a crush on Shoup is not the cause of the micro-dorms. Developer control of BDS is the reason for the micro-dorms.

          • Bob Richardson
            January 12, 2014 at 11:20 am Link

            “Micro-dorms” as a moniker is a rather strange construction.

            As “apartments”, these units are somewhat on the small side (although as I previously discussed in another thread, square footage per person is not unprecedentedly small).

            However, as “dorms”, the units are clearly much larger than a typical dorm. I know, I’ve lived in dorms.

            So “micro-apartments” is a bit of an exaggeration, but “micro-dorms” makes no sense whatsoever – it’s inherently contradictory.

            Call them “dorms” if you like but “micro-dorms” is inherently misleading.

  7. Bob Richardson
    January 9, 2014 at 10:58 pm Link

    It occurs to me that 20 years ago the vision was for higher density and less auto-dependance and planners were criticized that developers would never go along with it. 10 years ago, planners were criticized that it was only happening because of urban renewal districts and taxpayer subsidies. Now, it’s happening everywhere*, including especially areas without direct subsidy, and now planners are being criticized for doing nothing to stop it!

    And the proposed remedy? Vastly more heavy-handed planning, increasing the list of things property owners must do to develop, or outright preventing property owners from doing anything different. Our glorious auto-dominated republic must build off-street parking spaces for all, and all on-street parking spaces must remain free! And your house is too big, and your apartment is too small. And so it shall be planned, now and forever more.

    (*Everywhere, meaning the small percentage of corridors where it’s actually allowed.)

  8. Lenny Anderson
    January 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm Link

    Outer SE was not an act of nature, it was the result of virtually no planning in the days it was unincorporated Multnomah county.
    Portland has little architecture of note; it is not a rich city even compared to Seattle; requiring excessive parking just makes the cost of construction that much higher. For me just about any structure is better than a vacant lot or parking lot.

  9. Lenny Anderson
    January 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm Link

    Freeways are loud, toxic rivers (see PSU Metroscape article by Linda George), and I-205 is a big one, so Lents and Gateway have huge holes out of which to dig themselves. Hollywood is only now beginning to show signs of life despite its great bones thanks to I-84. The Interstate Corridor was trashed for 40 years after I-5 went in and has only begun to recover in the last 10 years. Freeways of the 50s-70s were huge self inflicted wounds on the urban fabric of Portland which in places (South Portland) has never totally recovered. The PSU student “ghetto” in Goose Hollow was totally wiped out.
    Proximity to the center of town is the ticket to success, and once housing this side of 82nd is too expensive for folks wanting to rent or buy, they will (some already have) cross the great divide. I crossed it in ’92 to buy a house when east of Chavez (39th) was “beyond the pale.”

  10. EngineerScotty
    January 13, 2014 at 11:33 pm Link

    TriMet to change procedures for board meetings to respond to complaints from the public. In particular, public comment portion will be moved to the front, so commissioners will have the opportunity to hear earfuls prior to voting, instead of hearing earfuls afterwards. :)

    • Bob Richardson
      January 14, 2014 at 11:39 am Link

      Sheesh, I suggested this to them at a board meeting over 2 years ago. (And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one!).

      The board chair’s explanation was that items being voted on at the top of the agenda had already had public comment at the previous meeting(s). But members of the public quite understandably see something on the agenda and want to comment on it at the same meeting, before a vote.

      Ideally (and this should go for all public meetings, at least ones run in a formal fashion where the opportunity to interject doesn’t repeatedly arise) there should be a comment period at the beginning pertaining to items on the agenda, and then a comment period at the end for new business and general commentary.

      • Jason McHuff
        January 14, 2014 at 12:53 pm Link

        They usually have taken comment on individual agenda items when they are brought up.

        Also, agenda items aren’t necessarily known by previously meetings.

  11. Jason McHuff
    January 14, 2014 at 1:17 am Link

    While there are no net new train trips, counting buses there are now 4.5 more Amtrak trips from Portland to Eugene than to Seattle, and some of the buses stop in Woodburn.
    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/Pages/nr14010301.aspx
    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/docs/AmtrakCascades_Jan.14.pdf

    Though one of the Oregon-purchased train sets is only going north of Seattle.

  12. Allan
    January 15, 2014 at 11:26 am Link

    Transit bridge names released, and: ugh

    Members of the community-based committee reviewed and considered submissions through the lens of the following the criteria they had discussed and adopted earlier in the process:

    Origin of name
    Meaning of proposed name
    Is it inspirational? If so, why?
    Does it reflect how bridge connects people? If so, how?
    Historical significance (if any)
    Biographical info (if commemorative)
    Any special cultural meaning?
    Regional perspective
    What it will mean 100 years from now
    Spelling and pronunciation
    Sound/ring/flow—does it “roll off your tongue?”

    The short list of names selected by the committee reflects unanimous agreement among committee members are:

    Abigail Scott Duniway Transit Bridge
    Cascadia Crossing Transit Bridge
    Tillicum Crossing Transit Bridge, Bridge of the People
    Wy’east Transit Bridge

    • Jason Barbour
      January 15, 2014 at 12:38 pm Link

      I’m rather disappointed by the proposed bridge names.
      Tillicum Crossing Transit Bridge, Bridge of the People
      If that’s the translation, it sounds like it’s straight out of the USSR.

    • dan w
      January 15, 2014 at 2:31 pm Link

      Duniway Bridge probably rolls off the tongue the easiest (although it sounds too much like “done away”).

    • EngineerScotty
      January 15, 2014 at 3:43 pm Link

      It appears that “Bridge of the People” is an approximate translation of “Tillicum Bridge”, with “Tillicum” meaning “people” or “of the people”. I seriously doubt the proposed name of the bridge is the string “Tillicum Crossing Transit Bridge, Bridge of the People”, though TriMet might clarify that.

      One other interesting tidbit about Duniway (according to her Wikipedia article: While she was editor of The New Northwest her brother Harvey W. Scott was the editor of The Oregonian (and opposed to her support of woman’s suffrage).

      Out of the four finalists, I probably like Duniway and Wy’east the best. We’ve got too many things named after “Cascadia” around here…

  13. Lenny Anderson
    January 15, 2014 at 1:47 pm Link

    Transit bridge? What about bikes and peds. All terrible names to boot. Please go back to square one on this. or just call it “Newbridge.”

  14. Allan
    January 15, 2014 at 4:24 pm Link

    I think ‘crossing’ implies that its a bridge- I would be good calling it ‘cascadia crossing’ or ‘Tillicum crossing’ – less is more when it comes to wordcount.

  15. Lenny Anderson
    January 15, 2014 at 5:02 pm Link

    re Lents. Cora, I hope I am wrong and I am sure Doug and other do to, but Lents has a steep mountain to climb. I-205 is a massive affair, much more dominant than I-84 in the Gulch or even I-5 in its trench with sound walls. And Lents has a couplet running east-west, another dagger to its heart, much like Broadway-Weidler in NE. That said, you are correct that to make it Lents has to become a recognized “place” apart from the “center,” maybe like Multnomah (Village) in SW.

    • Cora Potter
      January 16, 2014 at 3:46 pm Link

      Lenny – I suspect that if you came out and spent some time in Lents Town Center, without preconceived notions, you’d find that when you’re already on the West side of the Freeway, it’s not as dominating as it seems. We’ve already mitigated the couplet and it’s actually less intrusive in couplet form than it would be if the streets were put back to two-way (there’s a whole study from 2009 validating this).

      Williams Vancouver is a couplet next to a freeway and a huge interchange and they’re doing just fine. Stark Washington is a couplet and Montavilla is moving right along adding shops and services.

      It’s about perceived wealth and education – about the perceived level of sophistication/worthiness of residents based on their socio-economic status. And, the arguments about the physical environment are just used to mask classism.

  16. Lenny Anderson
    January 16, 2014 at 9:28 am Link

    My post on BikePortland…

    Frankfurt as the “Old Bridge,” as does Florence. Paris has the Pont Neuf or New Bridge, built under Henry IV in the late 16th, early 17th century.
    It was the first bridge in Europe without houses and shops, was very wide with a view of the river, so it was new in more ways than one. As is our new bridge…both the first one in 40 years and also a new kind of bridge…everything but private motorized vehicles. Hence “NewBridge” is very appropriate!

  17. Lenny Anderson
    January 16, 2014 at 5:56 pm Link

    A visit to Lents is on my list! I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
    PS tech question: why is this site so, so slow? Is it me?

  18. Cameron Johnson
    January 22, 2014 at 2:57 pm Link

    http://news.trimet.org/2014/01/proposal-to-extend-transfer-time-by-30-minutes-on-hold-following-complaint-filed-by-opal/

    So now TriMet’s going straight to blackmailing OPAL by denying the entire region improvements in an attempt to silence them on a valid complaint.

    • Bob R.
      January 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm Link

      Since it isn’t easily discernible from the TriMet statement, can you describe how, in your opinion, today’s delay by the TriMet Board constitutes blackmail? Is there something about this delay which prevents OPAL from speaking (“silence them”) at future hearings?

      • EngineerScotty
        January 22, 2014 at 5:49 pm Link

        I think Cameron is suggesting that the delay is tit-for-tat retaliation for the Title VI complaint; “silence” in this context refers to OPAL’s ability to seek judicial or administrative remedies, as opposed to speak out at board meetings.

        Putting on the Machiavelli hat…

        OPAL has improved its political effectiveness–but still has a few tricks to learn. One of such tricks is that you don’t sue the agency in one forum while seeking voluntarily concessions from them in another. (Threaten to, yes. Actually following through, though, causes the agency to not like you much).

        It’s called “good cop, bad cop”.

        There are plenty of other groups (Cascade Policy Institute comes to mind as an obvious example, ATU 757 is another) who would be happy to haul TriMet before Uncle Sam (regardless of the merits of the advanced transfer proposal), and allow OPAL to continue to play the role of good cop.

  19. EngineerScotty
    January 28, 2014 at 2:51 pm Link

    Interesting article on the so-called Google bus controversy in San Francisco.

    For those unfamiliar, many longtime poor residents of SF are finding their neighborhoods being gentrified as young urban engineering/IT professionals are choosing to live in the SF rather than the Valley or East Bay–and spending lots of money to rent/buy housing stock in the City, displacing folks who lived there before. Many of these high-tech companies–most noticeably Google–are providing employee shuttles between the city and jobsites down in Silicon Valley, public transit options connecting SF to San Jose and its suburbs being difficult and inconvenient to use–these shuttles are commonly known as “Google busses”. Some poverty activists have been trying to shut down this service–both by legal means, such as complaints that private shuttles have no legal right to load/unload from public curbs (similar tactics have been used in NYC to attack “Chinatown” bus service), and by illegal means such as vandalism.

    • Jason McHuff
      January 28, 2014 at 3:46 pm Link

      I think there was a protest in Oakland too over the buses, meaning the East Bay is not unaffected.

  20. Steve
    January 28, 2014 at 3:24 pm Link

    Is it just me or has TriMet’s website has been down all day?

    • Chris Smith
      January 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm Link

      Yes, they had a power outage in their data center. Transit Tracker is out as well.

  21. Charlie
    January 29, 2014 at 1:22 pm Link

    This is an interesting idea:
    http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/Double-decker_train_cars_for_SEPTA_.html

    Anyone think this could work for Portland? Might be a good way to add more capacity to existing max lines without trying to squeeze more trains across the steel bridge, hiring extra drivers, or having longer trains that can’t fit through downtown.

    Might be too tall for some places though.

    • Anandakos
      January 29, 2014 at 9:26 pm Link

      Yes indeed, “some places”, like the Robertson Tunnel perhaps? Or maybe the u-turn tunnel under 26 at Sunset?

      To my limited knowledge there are no bi-level LRT cars manufactured anywhere. Not that it’s not an interesting idea, but existing infrastructure would probably shoot it Dow SOMEWHERE in any LRT system.

      • Charlie
        January 30, 2014 at 10:29 am Link

        The question is, though- how much would it cost to raise the height of those choke points, conpared to building a whole new rail line, if we want to aff capacity? Eventually we need to do *something*. The max is pretty much jam packed during rush hour right now.

        • carrythebanner
          January 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm Link

          I wonder what the cost is compared to double tracking select track segments to allow for express (skip-stop) service. That does require more train stock, but then at least all trains in the fleet would have the same capacity (which would avoid reliance on a small subset of special double-decker trains for extra capacity).

        • Anandakos
          January 30, 2014 at 5:17 pm Link

          The Robertson Tunnel is a bored tunnel nearly three miles long. You CAN’T raise the height because the tunnel walls consist of circular concrete rings. You certainly could dig the Sunset station and u-turn deeper, but the Robertson would have to be replaced completely.

          • Charlie
            January 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm Link

            Yeah, thats a good point. If they tried to rebore the entire tunnel it would probably cost more than even building a whole new line and bridge.

            They could avoid that, though, by running them only on the yellow and green lines.

            • EngineerScotty
              January 31, 2014 at 12:12 am Link

              If MAX reaches that point where they can’t add capacity by adding trains–it would probably be cheaper to replace the Steel Bridge (or build another bridge nearby).

            • Charlie
              January 31, 2014 at 11:59 am Link

              I thought the steel bridge was already at max capacity for trains?

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