Good news: Tesla agrees to build Willamette Greenway path segment

Good news: Tesla agrees to build Willamette Greenway path segment

New design drawing showing where the path will go.

Latest plan drawing shows where the new path will go (in blue, existing path is in red).

They didn’t have to do it, but they did.

I’m happy to report that Tesla Motors has decided to pave a new section of the Willamette Greenway path that runs across a parcel they plan to develop in the South Waterfront neighborhood.

(Image: Bob Cronk via South Waterfront Facebook group)

(Image: Bob Cronk via South Waterfront Facebook group)

This story started a month ago when we learned that Tesla planned to turn a vacant warehouse at 4330 SW Macadam Avenue into their new Portland showroom and repair center. We wouldn’t have noticed this project at all if the parcel didn’t happen to be smack-dab in the middle of a major (and majorly annoying) gap in the Willamette Greenway Trail. In many cases development projects like this would trigger a requirement by the business owner to pave a path if an easement exists. But in this case, due to a special exception in city zoning code that applies to the South Waterfront, Tesla wasn’t required to build the path because their project was smaller than 50,000 square feet.

The City of Portland was in a bind. They knew the value of connecting the path but they also had no legal leverage at their disposal. The only chance to capitalize on this rare and valuable opportunity to get the path built was for everyone — Tesla, the landowner, Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau — to sit down and talk it out. It also didn’t hurt that South Waterfront resident Bob Cronk posted to the South Waterfront Facebook page encouraging people to email the city and let them know who important the trail would be.

Land use application map showing "recreational trail" easement across Tesla parcel (in red).

Land use application map showing “recreational trail” easement across Tesla parcel (in red).







Dozens of people emailed the city. “It would be a huge shame if this gap remained for decades,” wrote Iain MacKenzie who runs NextPortland.com, a blog that tracks Portland development.

And on Friday they all got their answer. It came via email from Pooja Bhatt, senior policy advisor in the Office of (Parks) Commissioner Amanda Fritz:

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I am pleased to share that I’ve been informed that Tesla has agreed to pave the Greenway trail connection on the property. This will be documented in their land use application. Thank you for your advocacy.

That’s great news.

We don’t yet know why Tesla decided to build the trail (we’ve got emails out to City of Portland staff and Tesla and will update this post when we hear back). It’s possible they weren’t aware of the trail situation at all and obliged without hesitation. Or they could have thought nobody would notice and that the trail wasn’t that big of deal. To that I’ll just say: Welcome to Portland Tesla!

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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