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Revisting TriMet and Metro

Garlynn Woodsong is a planner and a frequent commenter from Portland Transport’s early days. He has recently returned to Portland after an assignment in California.

A recent visit to San Diego opened my eyes to another possibility for the reorganization of transit in the Portland region.

Currently, Metro does regional transportation and land use planning, while Tri-Met does regional transit planning (finer grain of detail than Metro), transit project construction and transit operations and maintenance.

In San Diego, SANDAG does regional transportation (including transit) and land use planning, as well as transit capital projects (construction); the transit operators just handle simple service planning, operations and maintenance.

We have previously discussed having Metro perform a wholesale takeover of TriMet, and the pros and cons of this approach.

But, what if Metro were to only take over the TriMet Capital Projects Office and long-rang planning functions, leaving TriMet to handle short-range service planning, operations and maintenance?

This would allow Metro to have a more direct link between long-range planning (coordinating land use and transportation) and the implementation of those plans; it could also handle the funding of those capital projects.

TriMet could then be freed from the political heat involved in capital projects; it could focus on its core strengths of running the regional transit system. Shenanigans involving taking from the TriMet general fund to pay for capital projects would be made more difficult… which would hopefully free up funding to pay for the operations of new lines constructed by Metro.

The two agencies would still need to work as closely together as they do today, especially with regards to find operations funding for new lines, and for projects like system-wide electrification (if something like that were to happen). But, it could be a win-win…

I’m not necessarily advocating for this move; I’m simply putting it out there for discussion of a possibility that I don’t think has been thoroughly vetted in this region yet.

Any thoughts?

Metro seeking TPAC applicants

It’s fall, which means that Metro is seeking citizen applicants to serve on the Transportation Policy Advisory Committee. There are four openings.

According to Metro:

TPAC is an advisory committee that reviews regional plans and federally funded transportation projects across the three-county Portland area. It advises local and regional leaders on transportation spending priorities as well as policies related to transportation, such as efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and create communities with easy access to public transit. It also recommends needs and opportunities for involving the public in transportation matters.

An essential responsibility of TPAC is to advise the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation, JPACT, a panel of elected officials and transportation agency executives that controls federal transportation spending in the Portland area. TPAC also advises the Metro Council, which reviews and must approve all major JPACT actions.

Application materials are available here.

Not a good night for TriMet (UPDATED)

November 2010 election results not good for TriMet
UPDATE: KPTV projects that Kitzhaber will win.

As you probably have heard, Ballot Measure 26-119 has been defeated, 54-46%. It passed in Multnomah County, but failed in Washington and Clackamas Counties.

In other races, Tom Hughes leads Bob Stacey by a narrow margin (51%-49%); though no media organizations have called the race. And Chris Dudley leads John Kitzhaber by a narrow margin with about 3/4 of the votes counted.

One other major decision affecting TriMet, but one which isn’t forthcoming for a while, will be the arbitrator’s ruling in the labor dispute. A ruling against the union would help stem the bleeding at the agency; a ruling against the agency would likely mean another round of service cuts.


Metro President Candidate Presentations

Earlier this week, my neighborhood association (Rose City Park) held its candidates fair. A number of candidates were present, as were presenters representing various ballot measures.

Of particular relevance to PortlandTransport readers are the two candidates for Metro President.

Here are videos of their presentations and Q&A sessions, presented in order of appearance and without commentary. (The non-profit, non-partisan nature of this blog prohibits candidate endorsements.)

RCPNA Candidates Fair, Tom Hughes Presentation, 2010-10-26

RCPNA Candidates Fair, Bob Stacey Presentation, 2010-10-26

UPDATED: LCDC rejects Forest Grove, Council Creek plots, accepts remainder of urban reserves

While it isn’t official, the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Condition is set to issue a ruling accepting all of Metro’s recent designations of urban and rural reserves, without amendment, according to Metro councilor Robert Liberty.


Councilor Liberty’s report of the Oregon LCDC affirming all Metro urban/rural reserves designations was in error. Today, the LCDC issued their recommendations, and many environmentalists are happy–whereas the mayors of Cornelius and Forest Grove, both of which were looking to add industrial tracts within their respective city limits, are not. The Council Creek parcel–a 624-acre plot north of Cornelius was rejected outright, and a plot north of Forest Grove was remanded for further consideration. The list of rural reserves was also remanded for further investigation, with metro permitted to add these plots to rural reserves if it deems appropriate, and find other parcels (including those currently designated as rural, but less suitable for agriculture) to add to urban reserves instead.

The remainder of the Metro’s recommendations, including all designations in Multnomah and Clackamas Counties, were accepted.

Due to the delays involved in the partial remand of the designations, Metro stated that it was unlikely any UGB expansions would occur until next year.

(The remainder of the post below the line is the original content, which is preserved–but is now largely superseded.)

While it isn’t official, the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Condition is set to issue a ruling accepting all of Metro’s recent designations of urban and rural reserves, without amendment, according to Metro councilor Robert Liberty. The decision, which was set to be announced last Friday and delayed, is expected this Friday (the 29th). Quite a few objections and amendments were raised to the LCDC, which rejected the lot of them. The LCDC only has authority to rule on legal objections, not technical objections.

While the LCDC is expected to approve the designations, it did have a few sharp words for the process–suggesting that Senate Bill 1011, the 2007 legislation which created the urban/rural reserves designations, results in a more politicized process than the prior method. This claim drew a rebuke from Mr. Liberty, who articulated the opposite opinion–that the UR/RR process involves more technical analysis, and less horsetrading, then before.

One example of that, of course, is the Stafford Basin. The basin, an area which is surrounded by urbanization on three sides, bisected by I-205, and is too hilly to be useful for agriculture, had nonetheless resisted any urban designations for years–unsurprising given that its full of wealthy homeowners living on large lots. The three cities bordering the basin–West Linn, Lake Oswego, and Tualatin, all oppose its inclusion, and were busy trying to convince the LCDC to overrule Metro on its inclusion.

Other parties bound to be disappointed by the upcoming ruling include 1000 Friends of Oregon, who were hoping that LDCD would overturn the inclusion of Washington County farmland in the Cornelius area into the urban reserves. It would be interesting to see how Bob Stacey, should he win next Tuesday, goes about implementing a decision he disagrees with.