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Last active Aug 29, 2015
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Comprehensive Plan Testimony

I'm capturing my testimony here for others to use / remix / refute / get inspired. Please do the same. I'll just collect everything I sent into one email. It was all sent out as individual mails, to psc@portlandoregon.gov and tsp@portlandoregon.gov - don't forget to include your name and address!

I couldn't find the CRC on the map app, maybe someone can point me to how to comment against it.

Alternative Dwelling Units

ADUs are our best shot at maintaining neighborhood character. Character comes not only from the style of the housing stock, but also from maintaining the affordability of dense central neighborhoods as places for the types of creative people who made Portland what it is today. ADUs should be encouraged anywhere single family housing is found. Affordability in the central city is an equity issue, so the faster we can create housing the better our chances of weathering our current boom and coming out the other side as city that's affordable for people who put quality of life about income.

Study I-5 Removal

It's commonly acknowledged in urban planning circles, that the 20th century's freeway boom was regretful mistake. Restoring public access and productive land use to areas of the city currently blighted by highways is an investment our grandchildren will thank us for. This is a big task, but by 2035 we'll wish we had started studying it earlier. There's no reason not to start now.

End Parking Minimums

Over-investment in parking is un-economical and places a burden on future generations. The Comprehensive Plan should favor drawing down the amount of land dedicated to automobile storage. Removing minimum parking requirements from new construction, and encouraging the conversion of existing parking lots and structures to more productive use should be a key tenet of our land use policy.

Parking is also an equity issue as the money developers spend on automobile storage goes directly to the rent people pay. Without the requirement to include parking in new development, we'll end up with affordable density, a much better state of affairs than the current trend of pushing low-income folks to the suburbs so they end up driving (and parking) in Portland.

Inclusionary Zoning

Inclusionary Zoning is a critical tool for maintaining equity as Portland becomes more desirable. Currently there are state-level constraints on what we can do, but a long-range plan like the 2035 Comprehensive Plan should assume those state-level constraints will be resolved in it's time frame. As new zones comparable to existing zones are developed, they should describe inclusionary zoning policies consistent with our values, so that when these tools become available to us, we are ready to use them.

Route Redundancy

An important concept in any transportation network is Route Redundancy. It animates many of our discussions when it comes to automobile traffic planning, but is also needed in multi-modal planning. By treating bicyclists as first class citizens on our commercial corridors, we'll also mitigate issues that can occur when Neighborhood Greenways are closed for repair or other reasons.

When automobile drivers encounter construction or delay, it's expected that they'll just use the "next best" route. For walkers, bikers, and transit riders, there frequently isn't a next best route. This is why we should prioritize redundant routes for all modes.

Transportation Hierarchy

The best part of Chapter 9 in the current Comprehensive Plan draft is the transportation hierarchy. This policy will allow the city to make the right choices more of the time. Only by following the hierarchy will we be able to grow Portland over the next decades, and maintain our quality of life.

Additionally, I'd like to see safety as the #1 item in the hierarchy, above all specific modes. Safety is the most comprehensive way to contextualize the rest of our prioritization.

Vision Zero

As father who chose Portland over any other city in the United States, because of the opportunity to raise my kids with a healthy and happy lifestyle, with no car in the picture, I am dismayed by the city government's inability to make meaningful changes to improve safety and comfort. A strong endorsement of Vision Zero, by putting safety at the top of the transportation hierarchy, above walking, cycling, and transit, will open the doors to so much low hanging fruit, and anchor the hierarchy in a truly multi-modal way.

Diverters on Local Service Streets

This is to reiterate testimony I gave at the BPS office hours last month.

The Transportation System Plan's local service street is missing a bullet point: Diversion: Local Service Traffic Streets should feature frequent traffic diverters to discourage motor vehicle through traffic. This is important to me because my wife and I use Greenways and other neighborhood streets as our primary route for pre-school drop-off and pickup, to shopping, and to downtown. Not a month goes by that we don't deal with some form of motorist harassment / threatening of traffic violence. I think this is the norm for bicyclists in the city. While some may accept it, now that my four year old is on her own two wheels, I won't.

The places that have the mode share we want, get there by making bicycling the most direct and convenient mode for neighborhood trips. Portland has the scale and density to pull this off, but we have a structural deficiency that will hold us back until we address it: the grid system. Only by preventing neighborhood cut through traffic, will we stand a chance to turn Portland into the sort of place most parents would be comfortable letting their children bike independently.

The solution is diversion by default, on all local service traffic streets. This accomplishes both goals about safety and comfort, and goals about making biking the most direct and convenient mode for grocery shopping / school pick-up / getting to the restaurant. Piecemeal diversion pits neighbor against neighbor, so the only answer is diverters every 2-3 blocks on all neighborhood streets.

Repurposing Street Space

I fully support Policy 9.15, Repurposing street space. Encourage repurposing street segments that are not critical for transportation connectivity to other community purposes.

This helps East Portland make the best of the unpaved roads, and gives all neighborhoods more freedom for place-making and community building.

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