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Budget update: Safety upgrades to outer Halsey and ‘Seasonal Naito’ poised for funding

Budget update: Safety upgrades to outer Halsey and ‘Seasonal Naito’ poised for funding

NE Halsey in east Portland

Buffered bike lanes, safer crossings, and lower speed limits could be coming soon to Northeast Halsey.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

And then there were two.

Winners and losers are coming into focus in the mad dash for cash that is known as the Fall Budget Monitoring Process (BuMP). Two of the five Bureau of Transportation projects we’ve been tracking are now poised for funding.

$8 million from the city’s General Fund is up for grabs this go-round with about $4 million of that total set-aside for major maintenance and infrastructure projects. The process began with each city bureau submitting their funding requests. Then the City Budget Office offered their opinions to City Council. The final step before the budget is voted on at Council next week was to see what the Mayor wanted to do.

As we alluded to in a post this morning, we can now confirm that — out of the six PBOT projects in the discretionary category (as in, not part of the major maintenance and infrastructure list) — Mayor Hales has formally requested $350,000 for the Seasonal Naito project and $1 million for new sidewalks and other “safety improvements” on Northeast Halsey Street between 112th and 162nd Avenues (the Gresham border).

The projects that won’t be funded (see list below) include: a path connection between Milwaukie and Sellwood via the new Trolley Trail on SE 17th and the Springwater Corridor; a Vision Zero education and outreach campaign; and major changes to inner Southeast Hawthorne (including a new signal on the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge).

List of PBOT projects and the mayor's funding requests.(Graphic: City Auditor's Office)

List of PBOT projects and the mayor’s funding requests.
(Graphic: City Auditor’s Office)







To refresh your memory, PBOT is focused on Halsey because of its “high number” of crashes. Outer Halsey is also a top priority identified by the city’s East Portland in Motion initiative. The City wants to fill sidewalk gaps, narrow the existing vehicle lanes, add buffered bike lanes, improve and add existing crossings, and reduce the posted speed limit from 45 mph to 35 mph. “This project would support the agency’s Vision Zero goals, in addition to priorities identified in East Portland in Motion,” reads a PBOT description of the project, “by providing infrastructure improvements that are proven to reduce crashes.”

We already know why Mayor Hales is pushing for changes to Naito Parkway; but why Halsey (besides the aforementioned reasons)? By balancing out his request for Naito with a request east of I-205, he’s addressing well-known concerns about the geographic equity of transportation investment.

That tension between transportation investments in the central city and east Portland came up during a brief discussion among the mayor and commissioners at a Fall BuMP work session yesterday.

Commissioner Nick Fish started it off. “In the conversations I’ve had and in the emails I’ve received,” he said, “There’s this tension between wanting to do a seasonal Better Naito and also wanting to address vision zero challenges where equity has a sharper lens in east Portland. Does this proposal [$350,000 for Naito and $1 million for Halsey] get it about right?”

“I think it does,” replied Novick.

It’s important to note that Hales is only requesting half ($1 million) the funds needed for the Outer Halsey project. He’s then asking PBOT to fund the rest with money from their system development charges account. Based on what we heard at the budget work session yesterday, Novick has agreed to this. (Note: The other $900,000 that’s not being funded was for Vision Zero outreach and education along the corridor.)

These funding requests already have two votes (Novick and Hales) and only need one more to pass. (Update: Commissioner Fish supports it!). Council is scheduled to vote on the budget at their weekly meeting this coming Wednesday, October 26th at 9:45 am. In the meantime, please let Mayor Hales and the commissioners know how you feel about these projects.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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City Budget Office recommends no funding for Better Naito, vision zero, Springwater, Halsey and Hawthorne projects

City Budget Office recommends no funding for Better Naito, vision zero, Springwater, Halsey and Hawthorne projects

This version of inner southeast Hawthorne is still just a dream. For now.

This version of inner southeast Hawthorne is still just a dream. For now.

The City Budget Office (CBO) just threw a bunch of cold water on some hot active transportation projects.

Last month we were happy to share that the transportation bureau had requested city funding for five projects that would upgrade our streets and make them safer for everyone to use. The request was made as part of the fall budget monitoring process or “BUMP”. This is where the city takes the growth in tax revenue that went beyond projections and re-invests it back into worthy projects. Competition for the funds are fierce and all city bureaus compete for a limited pot of money (estimated to be about $8 million total this go-round2).

The Bureau of Transportation trotted out five projects that were especially exciting for transportation reform advocates: a seasonal reconfiguration of Naito Parkway (aka “Better Naito”); the Outer Halsey Streetscape Safety project and a Vision Zero educational effort; a new path connection for the Springwater, and a major redesign of inner Hawthorne Boulevard.

Unfortunately the CBO isn’t recommending funding for any of them.

That being said, they offered one ray of hope for the Outer Halsey project: “If Council decides that an infrastructure project addressing safety issues should be funded, CBO recommends this one over the others (Inner Hawthorne Corridor Transit & Bikeway, Better Naito, and Seasonal Naito) because it addresses an equity issue.”

For each project, the CBO provided feedback along with their recommendation. Here’s what they said:

Inner Hawthorne Corridor Transit & Bikeway

For the Fall BMP, CBO typically only recommends additional General Fund resources for requests that are urgent, well-developed, and unforeseen since the FY 2016-17 budget development process. While the needs that the protected bikeway seeks to address may be urgent, they are not unforeseen from a Fall BMP perspective since they have been well-documented long before the FY 2016-17 budget development process. CBO recommends that PBOT request the General Fund resources again during the FY 2017-18 budget development process if it has not secured other resources by then.

Seasonal Naito Parkway Bikeway & Walkway

CBO does not recommend General Fund resources for either this scaled-down version, or the $3.7 million for the full, permanent Better Naito project during the Fall BMP. For the Fall BMP, CBO typically only recommends additional General Fund resources for requests that are urgent, well-developed, and unforeseen since the FY 2016-17 budget development process. The needs that the project seeks to address are not unforeseen from a Fall BMP perspective since they have been well-documented long before the FY 2016-17 budget development process. CBO recommends that PBOT request the General Fund resources again during the FY 2017-18 budget development process if it has not secured other resources by then.







Vision Zero – Outer Halsey Streetscape Project

For the Fall BMP, CBO typically only recommends additional General Fund resources for requests that are urgent, well-developed, and unforeseen since the FY 2016-17 budget development process. CBO also typically does not recommend one-time funds for needs that are ongoing and therefore, does not recommend the funding for the Target Outreach and Safe Routes to School in High Schools components of this request. As for the Community Requests component, while the needs that the request seeks to address may be urgent, they are not unforeseen from a Fall BMP perspective since they have been well-documented before the FY 2016-17 budget development process. CBO recommends that PBOT request the General Fund resources again during the FY 2017-18 budget development process if it has not secured other resources by then.

In regards to the Outer Halsey Safety Streetscape Project, CBO does not recommend the $2.0 million in additional General Fund resources for the same reasons mentioned above. While the High Crash Corridor issues of the street and surrounding area may be urgent, they are not unforeseen since the FY 2016-17 budget development process. However, if Council decides that an infrastructure project addressing safety issues should be funded, CBO recommends this one over the others (Inner Hawthorne Corridor Transit & Bikeway, Better Naito, and Seasonal Naito) because it addresses an equity issue. The area is in outer East Portland where a higher percentage of low-income residents live, and the City’s neglect of the needs of East Portland has been well-documented. CBO recommends that PBOT request the General Fund resources again during the FY 2017-18 budget development process if it has not secured other resources by then.

Connecting Trolley & Springwater Corridor

CBO does not recommend General Fund resources for this request during the Fall BMP. For the Fall BMP, CBO typically only recommends additional General Fund resources for requests that are urgent, well-developed, and unforeseen since the FY 2016-17 budget development process. CBO recommends that PBOT request the General Fund resources again during the FY 2017-18 budget development process if it has not secured other resources by then.

The CBO is essentially telling PBOT that these projects — necessary as they may be — simply aren’t the right fit for this particular pot of money.

So, what PBOT requests will they fund? The CBO recommends that City Council invests $1.8 million for two traffic signal-related projects (one for reconstruction and the other for software upgrades).

You can read more about all these projects in this CBO document (PDF).

Also, keep in mind that the CBO isn’t the final word on what gets funded by the fall BUMP process. Last year, after the CBO said no to funding bike trails at Gateway Green and the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan (both of which were able to find funding somewhere else), City Budget Director Andrew Scott told us their recommendations are, “a starting framework for Mayor and Council deliberations on the budget.”

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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Meet the people on the City’s most powerful transportation committee

Meet the people on the City’s most powerful transportation committee

11 of the 17 members of the PBOT Bureau and Budget Advisory Committee are new this year.(Photos: PBOT)

11 of the 17 members of the PBOT Bureau and Budget Advisory Committee are new this year. Their perspectives will inform how the city spends $300 million in transportation funds and what kind of bureau PBOT becomes.
(Photos: PBOT)

Portland city government is not lacking in advisory committees. It’s the butt of frequent jokes among local insiders that once an issue gets controversial or politically difficult, the response is to just form a committee while things calm down.

Joking aside, not all committees are created equally. Their influence on policy and projects varies greatly and some have more teeth than others. Some have teeth that belong to smart and engaged citizens and agency staffers who know where to find the levers of power — and more importantly — are not afraid to pull them.

“We want to better understand the people we serve and their concerns.”
— Leah Treat, Director of PBOT

One such committee is the Bureau of Transportation’s Budget Advisory Committee. These fine volunteers meet monthly to make sure PBOT’s $300 million (give or take) annual budget is spent in the wisest way possible. In the summer of 2015 this committee gained even more influence when PBOT expanded the committee’s mission to include general bureau governance and policies, not just the budget (which was only a seasonal assignment).

The newly renamed 2016-2017 PBOT Bureau and Budget Advisory Committee now meets year-round and has 17 members — 11 of whom are rookies this year. As we continue to cover PBOT in the coming months, we figured you should know a bit more about them. Before we share brief bios, here’s the committee’s current list of key responsibilities supplied by PBOT):

1. inform PBOT’s annual transportation budget
2. review program priorities and capital project lists;
3. provide input on the strategy for incorporating equity into PBOT’s work and direction on the inclusion of communities have been traditionally underserved by PBOT; and
4. think critically and strategically about the complete transportation system and provide input that champions the success of both the whole transportation system and the City of Portland and all of its residents.

With a plate that full, you won’t find any slouches on this committe. And that’s by design, according to PBOT Director Leah Treat. “PBOT believes that smart policy and programs start with the community,” she said in a prepared statement last week, “That is why we seek a diversity of voices. We want to better understand the people we serve and their concerns.”

And with that, here are there names and bios as supplied by the City of Portland:

Arlene Kimura
An East Portland supporter/activist since 1992. Arlene initially became involved through the neighborhood system with land use planning, transportation issues, including urban trails, and environmental concerns. As East Portland has changed, Kimura has also become interested in health and economic development opportunities.

David McCune
David has been working for PBOT for the last 22 years as a surveyor, which gives him a unique view of our city’s infrastructure. He has been serving as an officer for AFSCME Local 189 for the past 8 years.

David Sweet
A resident of Cully, David Sweet focusses on projects to make his neighborhood, the city, and the region more equitable, sustainable and resilient. I have been a neighborhood advocate on land use and transportation issues for some years. A co-founder of Portland For Everyone, a coalition advocating for diverse, abundant and affordable housing in all Portland’s neighborhoods, Sweet is also active in the Central Northeast Neighbors coalition.

Elaine O’Keefe
Elaine O’Keefe worked in local government for more than two decades. Including over a decade with Portland Fire and Rescue. Currently, she is a board member of the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League (SMILE), a member of the SMILE Transportation Committee, and a member of the Portland Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Heather Bowman
Heather Bowman is a partner with the law firm Bodyfelt Mount where her litigation practice includes employment discrimination and professional liability defense. Bowman’s practice includes engagement in civil rights issues and other volunteer work includes examining equity issues in legal practice. She uses all forms of transportation, and particularly appreciates transportation cycling.

Heather McCarey
Heather McCarey has a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech and works with Transportation Management Associations in urban, suburban, and park settings. McCarey is currently the Executive Director of Explore Washington Park, one of the first Transportation Management Associations in the nation created to address transportation issues both to and throughout a city park.

Kaliska Day
Kaliska Day, is a native Oregonian and an Alaska Native of the Tligint/Haida Tribe. With a degree in Construction Management from Arizona State University, Day has multi-year experience in the construction management sector, including serving as a construction management consultant for various public works agencies in California and Oregon.







Laura Becker
Currently the Operations Manager at Northeast Coalition of Neighbors, Laura Becker has more than 15 years of nonprofit and public sector experience. She is Board Secretary of Oregon Walks, a non-profit membership organization dedicated to promoting walking and making the conditions for walking safe, convenient and attractive for everyone. Oregon Walks has been working on bringing Vision Zero to the Portland metropolitan region as well as statewide since 2013.

Meesa Long
A resident of Southeast Portland, Meesa Long is a Reading Specialist in an East County Middle School and is also passionate about serving her community and neighborhood. In her work with transportation issues in Portland, Long’s main goal has been to increase safe pedestrian travel for children and families within under-served neighborhoods, and to think outside the box to create positive and equitable transportation improvements within the city.

Momoko Saunders
Momoko Saunders is an software engineer at Rigado and resident of East Portland. She is on the board of the non-profit Bike Farm, which she co-founded in 2007. Momoko is also an active volunteer for App Camp 4 Girls and Portland Society.

Orlando Lopez Bautista
The son of migrant farmworkers, Orlando Lopez Bautista worked side by side with his parents and other migrant workers during summers growing up in Woodburn. Bautista’s parents were some of the first members of Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), helping organize other Mixteco farmworkers to improve pay and working conditions. A Bus Riders Unite organizer with Organizing People/Activating Leaders (OPAL), Bautista will soon receive an interdisciplinary degree in Political Science and Sociology from Western Oregon University.

Pia Welch
Pia Welch began her career with Flying Tigers in California which was later acquired by FedEx Express. She has since worked for FedEx for close to three decades. Welch has served as President of Portland Air Cargo Association, Board Member American Association of University Women, and member and Vice Chair of the Portland Freight Committee. She is currently the Chair of the Freight Committee. She has been involved in city projects including; The Comprehensive Plan, Airport Way Project and various sub-committee groups when topics required more in-depth study.

Ruthanne Bennett
An civil engineer with PBOT, Ruthanne Bennett represents PTE Local 17/COPPEA Chapter. She has been a union member for 20 years and a COPPEA Steward for five years. She has consistently advocated for transportation priorities, including supporting the Fix Our Streets package and the COPPEA Value Capture program. She was instrumental in creating the COPPEA Value Capture program, which is an innovative program to encourage and fund the construction of safe street infrastructure during development projects. In addition to her B.S. in Civil Engineering she has a B.S. and M.S. in Mathematics from Portland State University.

Ryan Hashagen
Ryan Hashagen is a volunteer with Better Block PDX. A Professional Tricyclist, he has founded and run several tricycle based businesses in Canada & the U.S. Hashagen won the Cargo Messenger World Championship in 2003 & 2004 in Seattle & Edmonton. He enjoys working to connect, collaborate, and facilitate tactical urbanism projects with a wide range of organizations, businesses, and agencies.

Samuel Gollah
Sam Gollah has over a decade of experience in entitlement processing, including land use and permit compliance as a public and private planner throughout the Willamette Valley. Gollah has also provided zoning and equity consulting services for the City of Portland’s Comprehensive Plan update (2035). He currently serves as a member of the City of Portland’s Transportation Expert Group (TEG).

Thomas Karwaki
Thomas Karwaki chairs the University Park Neighborhood Association, an organization with over 9,000 members and that includes the University of Portland. Karwaki coordinates land use, public safety, emergency response, communication and public relations efforts of the UPNA.

Tony Lamb
Tony is a graduate of Portland State University’s Community Development program with a focus on community empowerment, economic development and the creation of a livable community for all without displacement. He currently serves as the Director of Economic Development for The Rosewood Initiative. Tony has served on numerous social justice and economic development initiatives including among others: Social Justice and Civic Leadership Cohort with the Urban League of Portland, East Portland Action Plan Economic Development Subcommittee, and PBOT’s Transportation Expert Group.

If you’d like to be a fly-on-the-wall or even share a comment at their next meeting, the public is encouraged to attend. They meet in the Rose Room of City Hall (1221 SW 4th Ave) on the third Thursday of every month.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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PBOT requests $350,000 for ‘Seasonal Naito’ (aka Better Naito)

PBOT requests $350,000 for ‘Seasonal Naito’ (aka Better Naito)

Naito Parkway traffic observations -11.jpg

Naito during the Better Naito pilot project in July.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

“Better Naito” just became “Seasonal Naito”. That’s the new name the City of Portland’s transportation bureau has given the project in a budget request document that was first reported on by The Oregonian today.

“When dollars are scarce, it’s always good to have a low-cost option that can provide improvements and we felt like this was a good option to move forward.”
— Dylan Rivera, PBOT

The city is going through its fall budget readjustment process where actual revenues are reconciled with estimated revenues. Since Portland’s economy is chugging along, there’s about $8 million up for grabs from the city’s General Fund (which comes from business and property taxes). And with half that money set-aside for citywide critical maintenance and infrastructure projects (not just transportation-related), it’s a major battle to win these funds.

It’s in that context that PBOT has put in a request to fund the “Seasonal Naito” project. Before we share the plans, here’s a bit of background.

For the past two summers, the City of Portland worked closely with nonprofit Better Block PDX to reconfigure Naito between the Hawthorne and Steel Bridges. Impetus for the project came out of a need to better manage north-south traffic in the Waterfront Park/Naito corridor — especially during the busy festival season when private vendors fence off the grassy portion of the park and the Waterfront Path gets packed with people. The existing, five-foot bike lane on Naito is inadequate and unsafe by today’s design standards.

Because Better Naito was such a success, Mayor Charlie Hales and the partners and advocates who made it happen, wanted to make it permanent. Hales proposed a $1.5 million project to do that back in May; but it was a last-minute effort and he (quite unfortunately) failed to whip up any support for it on council.







Then in July Hales hinted that he wouldn’t give up on the idea — and that he needed citizens to step up and make their voices heard. When it came to public feedback, the City heard vast amounts of praise and very few complaints from people who use Naito.

did not complain

Data based on City data on feedback about the project. More analysis here.
(Graphic: BikePortland)

Despite what seemed like a slam dunk to make it permanent, PBOT has opted to put forward another temporary proposal.

Their request includes $200,000 in capital investment and $150,000 in materials and staffing to, “provide a high-quality seasonal delineated shared bicycle and pedestrian path on the west east side of Naito Parkway.”

The project would use removable plastic bollards that would be installed at the start of the summer and then taken down when all the big festivals are over. The $350,000 would allow PBOT to do this for five years and they would take full ownership of a project that has been essentially owned and operated by a scrappy nonprofit.

This $350,000 is a much lower amount of investment than the $1.5 million Hales proposed back in May. Also in this budget request, PBOT made a less emphatic pitch for a $3.7 Better Naito project. That project would be permanent and would be a physically separated path complete with connections to other facilities. Unfortunately it’s on a list of very competitive “major maintenance and infrastructure” projects (like replacing old bridges and repaving major streets) and it’s unlikely to see the light of day.

Over on The Oregonian, they say a big reason PBOT has lost their enthusiasm on Naito is pushback from people concerned about increased driving times. They hired an outside firm who found driving times went up as much as two minutes during the PM peak.

That amount of delay for the sake of a more safe and humane environment on our waterfront is just unacceptable to some people — including Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish. At a Council meeting in late July, Fish shared his concerns that Portland’s “livable streets strategy” was making it harder for him drive.

“When I am in a car and trying to get from point a to point b,” he said, “There are huge consequences when we take a lane out of Naito or we close a street. And effectively what it means is that you just can’t get from here to there.”

PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera said the agency is just hedging bets and trying to get something positive for Naito out of the fall budget process. “Dollars are scarce and we’re at the point where we’re competing for citywide General Fund dollars,” he told us in an interview today. “In that environment, when dollars are scarce, it’s always good to have a low-cost option that can provide improvements and we felt like this was a good option to move forward.”

From here the City Council will have work sessions on the bureau budgets and City Budget Office will also weigh in before final decisions are made.

UPDATE: PBOT sent us over the new “City Post” flexible bollards they play to use in the Seasonal Naito project:
cityposts

cityposts

Stay tuned for a separate post on other requests PBOT is making as part of this budget process, including a major project for SE Hawthorne and Vision Zero-related projects in east Portland.

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

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subscriber or make a donation today.

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Would-be fuel exporters offer annual payment that might fund transportation projects

Would-be fuel exporters offer annual payment that might fund transportation projects

Going bike boulevard at MLK Jr. Blvd-7

Brought to you by… Pembina?
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Though it’s not likely to appease many Portlanders fighting to block the deal, there’s a chance that the construction of a propane export terminal in Portland could result in money for local biking improvements.

The opportunity arises as part of an offer from Pembina, the Calgary-based extraction company that needs city approval to run its pipeline through an environmental preservation zone on the way to the Port. Pembina has agreed that if its facility is built, it will among other things pay $6.2 million annually into a new “Portland Carbon Fund.”

According to the city, “the fund will be used for projects that reduce energy consumption, generate renewable energy and sequester carbon.”

The issue was covered Tuesday by the Portland Business Journal, which quoted mayoral spokesman Dana Haynes as saying “we haven’t had an opportunity to completely analyze what the planning commission has set forward.”

For comparison’s sake, the most recent draft of the city’s proposed street fund would bring $20 million a year for assorted street safety projects.

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If the project were approved by city council at an expected hearing on April 30, there would surely be many hands reaching toward that new stream of money. The city is near the end of a six-year update to its Climate Action Plan, which calculates that transportation accounts for 37 percent of the region’s carbon emissions.

That makes transportation the largest single share of local carbon pollution, but that doesn’t mean that reducing transportation emissions would be seen as the highest-reward use of each Carbon Fund dollar.

Still, even $1 million of those $6.2 million would be enough for quite a bit of bike infrastructure. That’d be enough to fully restore the city’s defunct neighborhood greenway expansion program, for example, or to imitate Minneapolis’s new $750,000-a-year fund for protected bike lane construction, or to build 12 high-end signalized crosswalks each year, or to triple the number of regional Safe Routes to Schools programs from 40 to 130.

On the other hand, the propane export terminal would if built be responsible for shipping an estimated 0.01 percent of the planet’s annual carbon pollution.

In a closely watched vote last week, the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission voted 6-4 to recommend a change to city zoning laws that would allow the project to be built.

Chris Smith, a low-car transportation advocate who led opposition to the export terminal on the planning commission, downplayed the chances that it might result in better bike infrastructure if built.

“You’d have to make the case that the infrastructure was getting people out of cars,” Smith said in an email Wednesday. “That’s possible of course, but I would guess that programs that can show carbon reduction more directly, and with a stronger equity case (e.g., low-income weatherization) are going to compete more strongly.”

“I think most people will decide to support or oppose the terminal on more fundamental principles,” Smith concluded.

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City Budget Office denies Parks’ request for Gateway Green and off-road cycling plan funds

City Budget Office denies Parks’ request for Gateway Green and off-road cycling plan funds

BAC Bike Ride East Portland-19

Riders in Gateway Green, a future bike park.
(Photo J Maus/BikePortland)

Portlanders itching for more places to ride bikes in the dirt will now have to work extra hard, thanks to a report from the City Budget Office (PDF) that recommends zero funding for two Portland Parks & Recreation projects we’ve been following very closely: Gateway Green and the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan.

Does this mean those two projects won’t be funded? No. The report is just one factor Mayor Hales and City Council will use to decide where money should be spent. But the CBO recommendation does underscore the difficult politics around these two projects and it means anyone who wants to see them become reality will have to make sure their voices are heard in the coming weeks and months.

We reached out the Budget Office, Commissioner Fritz’s office, and supporters of these projects to learn more about what this all means…

Each budget cycle the City Budget Office (CBO) reviews each bureau’s budget requests and issues a report that is then passed onto the commissioners and the mayor. The CBO refers to its work as, “timely, accurate, and unfiltered information and analysis regarding budgeting, forecasting, and fiscal policy issues.” As part of the review, the CBO looks at a range of factors before deciding whether or not a specific project should be funded. Those factors include: how strongly the project aligns with adopted plans, priorities, and policy goals (like equity and maintaining existing assets), whether or not there’s a more suitable revenue source, how important the requested funding amount is relative to the entire project, and so on.

Parks has requested $250,000 in “one-time” funding to help with the ongoing development of Gateway Green (the total phase one project cost is $5.4 million). The project will build a network of bike trails, a bike skills area, and other new outdoor recreational opportunities on a 36-acre parcel at the confluence of I-84 and I-205. This past fall, we reported on an exhibition cyclocross event held on the parcel that gave an exciting glimpse into its potential.

Parks’ $250,000 ask would help the non-profit Friends of Gateway Green raise $1 million by 2016, a fundraising goal teed up by a Metro Nature in Neighborhood Grant they won back in July.

Unfortunately, the CBO does not think this a worthy funding request. Here’s their reasoning:

“The completed Gateway Green will primarily serve cyclocross riders but also include pedestrian trails, a children’s play area, and a field house for environmental education classes. With the planned access improvements, the park will serve 413 households within 1⁄2 mile of the park to the west of I‐205.

While this project does increase park access to households, other bureau capital projects would provide greater increased access to a broader group of residents. As such, CBO does not recommend funding for this project at this time.”

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It’s important to note that this funding request is not tied to any actual capital construction. If it was, the CBO says System Development Charges could be a possible source of funds.

We asked Friends of Gateway Green Chair Linda Robinson for her response to the CBO recommendations. “What it means to me,” she said, “is that it will be very important for folks to show up at the budget hearings this spring and advocate for this one-time funding for Gateway Green!” While Robinson will obviously be pushing for this funding, she told us her group has other options they are pursuing in case in doesn’t come through.

The Parks bureau has also requested $350,000 for the Off-Road Cycling Master Plan. This plan has made headlines recently because Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz says it must be completed before off-road biking access is added or improved in any city park. Bike advocates have strongly supported the funding of this plan, but their willingness to support Parks in the request has been seriously tested after the recent decision by Fritz and Environmental Services Commissioner Nick Fish to ban biking at River View Natural Area.

Here’s why the CBO doesn’t think the plan is a wise use of city funds:

“The cycling community has expressed strong interest in expanding off‐road cycling options; however, the current focus of the bureau’s current capital plan reflects its most pressing needs: maintaining assets and expanding access to underserved resident [sic]. Because this project is not included in capital plans and the bureau has other, higher priority capital needs, CBO does not recommend funding this project.”

Advocates for off-road biking have expressed concerns to us about the information the CBO used to reach their decision. For instance, the CBO cites an estimated cost of $120,000 to $300,000 per mile for building trails while one trail building expert we talked to said the actual cost would be closer to $50,000 per mile. The CBO analysis also mentioned that the plan “may identify four to six miles of new trails.”

According to City Budget Office analyst Ryan Kinsella, both of these figures came directly from the Parks bureau. “They did caveat their estimates as being ‘low confidence’,” he shared. While the direct costs of single-track construction can vary anywhere from $60,000 to $150,000 per mile, he said the “soft costs” like staff and design time would double that amount.

While the CBO review of these project is a respected voice in the budget process, even City Budget Director Andrew Scott calls his reviews nothing more than, “a starting framework for Mayor and Council deliberations on the budget.”

Commissioner Fritz’s Policy Advisor Patti Howard put a positive spin on the recommendations. She told us that since they came out earlier this month, “revenues projections have increased significantly so there are now more funds to be allocated.” She also added that Fritz and Commissioner Fish still support both of these projects and urged citizens to speak up for them during the budget process.

Even so, simply having the support of Fish and Fritz will not be nearly enough to get the Off-Road Cycling Plan fully funded. As Scott, the CBO chief told us, “Even in a year with a surplus, there are far more requests than available funding, so we’re comparing requests like the off-road cycling master plan against requests for housing, firefighters, street paving, etc.”

From here, Council will hold work sessions on the budget with CBO staff and public hearings are scheduled for April and May.

After those hearings, Mayor Hales will release his proposed budget and the final budget won’t adopted until late June. Stay tuned.

The post City Budget Office denies Parks’ request for Gateway Green and off-road cycling plan funds appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Special report: How Portland stopped building neighborhood greenways

Special report: How Portland stopped building neighborhood greenways

A family ride from NoPo to Sellwood-18

Portland’s construction of low-traffic, low-stress neighborhood streets for biking, walking and recreation has slowed to a crawl. What happened?
(Photos by J.Maus and M.Andersen/BikePortland)

If Portland has contributed any innovations of its own to the craft of designing great streets, it’s this two-word idea: neighborhood greenways.

A remix of ideas from Utrecht and Vancouver BC, these low-cost retrofits of low-traffic side streets — adding speed humps, sharrow markings, traffic diverters and signalized crossings of big arterials — have taken the national bike world by storm since Portland’s Greg Raisman and Mark Lear developed the concept in 2008 or so. In 2010, a citywide network of greenways became the first priority to emerge from Portland’s landmark 25-year bike plan.

The concept went viral.

Within a few years, Transport for London had flown a planner to camp out at Raisman’s house and learn about the system. Chicago is now planning to build a 40-mile greenway network by 2020. Los Angeles, Ithaca, Santa Monica and St. Louis are all planning their own greenways. Seattle may be the biggest fan of all: it has its own advocacy organization devoted entirely to the concept, with paid staff and 3,000 people on its mailing list.

Portland, meanwhile, has eliminated its dedicated funding for neighborhood greenways.

Planned greenways on SE 19th Avenue near Sellwood; NE 77th and Sacramento; and SE Mill, Market and Main between I-205 and 130th Avenue have all been put on ice. Improvements to older greenways like NE Tillamook, SE Salmon, SE Ankeny or SE Clinton are indefinitely postponed, too. This year, only a few miles of the grant-funded 50s Bikeway will add to the network.

Why? And what’s likely to happen next?

BAC bike ride-8

The city’s decision to nearly eliminate local funding for neighborhood greenway construction isn’t due to any conscious opposition in the Portland Bureau of Transportation. At every level, PBOT officials are proud of the program and eager for it to resume.

Instead, it’s a sign of just how severe PBOT’s revenue crunch is — and of the sacrifices the city has made in order to fulfil the $100 million commitments of former Mayor Sam Adams to the new Sellwood Bridge and Orange Line MAX, and also Mayor Charlie Hales’ $11.3-million promise to change PBOT’s image by paving — or in many cases, as it turned out, fog-sealing — 100 miles of city streets.

“The neighborhood greenways become the bus system for biking and walking. Our big commercial street projects are more akin to the light rail and streetcar projects.”
— Greg Raisman, PBOT traffic safety specialist

“With the launch of the bike plan, we had about about $1.3 million for bike stuff” each year, PBOT Active Transportation Manager Dan Bower said in an interview. “It wasn’t really a line item for neighborhood greenways, per se, but … because the implementation strategy was for greenways, it went to greenways.”

The strategy looked like this: low-cost neighborhood greenways would make biking more popular, and that popularity would then drive political support for a far more expensive protected bike lane network that would make biking the fastest and most comfortable way for Portlanders to make trips of 3 miles or less.

At $250,000 per mile — most of it going to new traffic signals that cross big streets — greenways are “a way to put a bunch of miles on the ground really quick and serve a lot of people,” Bower said. “It’s a great way to get more and more people out riding. it’s a base network.”

“In an American context, neighborhood greenways really make a lot of sense, because 70 percent of roads in America are residential,” Raisman said. “It’s like using the transit model for active transportation. The neighborhood greenways become the bus system for biking and walking. … Our big commercial street projects are more akin to the light rail and streetcar projects.”

The strategy seemed plausible. But it didn’t survive the city’s 2013 budget.

Source: Portland Bureau of Transportation.

As the city refocused PBOT’s priorities on shoring up a street maintenance backlog that the city’s auditor had warned was dangerously underfunded, its standing budget for biking and walking projects was halved, from about $2 million to about $1 million. Due to the size of that cut, Bower decided he had no choice but to eliminate all the “buckets” for new projects, including the biggest one: new greenways.

Bower said his department is trying to make the remaining million go as far as it can, including continued sidewalk work, new rapid-flash crossing beacons and local matches for federal grants, which are now the main funding source for new greenways.

“We’re using that million bucks to match the 20s Bikeway, the 50s Bikeway, the 100s, the 130s and the 150s — those are all funded in grants,” Bower said.

But Raisman and Bower said the city hasn’t steered every grant application toward greenways because, essentially, they’re hard to sell to grantors like Metro — not flashy and not perceived as transformative in the way a big project might be.

So what’s next for neighborhood greenways, and for the fate of the 2010 bike plan in general? Though the federally funded 20s, 50s, 100s, 130s and 150s greenways will keep rolling out until 2017, it’s not clear if or how PBOT will find the money to once again make greenways the focus of their effort to improve local biking.

The number of Portlanders using bikes for their commutes, seen as a useful indicator of bike transportation in general, leveled off in 2008 and hasn’t increased since. It’s not clear if or how that’s related to the city’s shift to prioritizing greenways, which are safer, more comfortable and more expensive than door-zone bike lanes but also tend to be less direct and may be less intuitive to new bikers.

Thursday was the third of three “town halls” at which Mayor Hales, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and PBOT Director Leah Treat heard from citizens about which projects should be included in the city’s new transportation spending package — a measure into which PBOT is piling more or less all of its hopes.

Platinum celebration at City Hall-62.jpg

Future neighborhood greenways team leaders Mark Lear,
left, and Greg Raisman, right, with former Bicycle
Transportation Alliance Director Scott Bricker in 2008.

You can register your own opinion about the city’s priorities by emailing the man running that campaign: Mark Lear, the co-creator of the neighborhood greenways concept, now reassigned to manage the revenue effort. He’s at mark.lear@portlandoregon.gov. The city also has an online survey that takes 10 minutes or so to complete.

Cathy Tuttle, executive director of Seattle Greenways, said in an interview Wednesday that Portland should be proud of its role in popularizing greenways, which she said aren’t so much a cheap way to build bikeways but a new way of thinking about what a city street can be.

“People love their parks, and we’re trying to get people to love their streets the same way,” Tuttle said. “Because they are just another big piece of canvas as far as I’m concerned.”

The real “missing piece” in Portland’s neighborhood greenway network, Tuttle said, is that its biggest advocates have come mostly from the city government, not from private citizens.

“It really does have to come from the community,” Tuttle said. “It can’t be something that comes from the government. Because once it does come from the government, people lose that sense of ownership. … To actually get that funding, we need to own them in that way.”

Fall leaves on SE Ankeny-6

Tonight’s ‘Transportation Town Hall’ is big chance to share your priorities

Tonight’s ‘Transportation Town Hall’ is big chance to share your priorities

Transportation Safety Summit-8

A PBOT staffer takes down a suggestion at a PBOT Transportation Safety Summit in 2010.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

A two-hour “town hall” this evening at SE 34th and Salmon will be the Portland public’s first chance to turn out in support of their priorities in the next decade of Portland transportation budgets.

What Mayor Charlie Hales, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and Transportation Director Leah Treat hear tonight and at two more planned town halls this month will undoubtedly shape the way they think about the looming political battle over both the city’s transportation spending and transportation revenue.

The town halls are also, to be sure, part of the city’s effort to build support for its big pitch to voters this fall: a new transportation revenue source, most likely including a per-household and per-business fee, that could bring the city tens of millions of dollars a year for new street projects and maintenance. But before the city asks voters for money, it needs to decide which projects will be on the top of its list.

Willamette Week quoted Hales’ spokesman Wednesday as saying the transportation revenue proposal is “likely” to go to voters in November. City leaders have said they’ll bring a specific project list to the public when that happens.

Tonight’s event is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Environmental School, 3421 SE Salmon St.

Last month, the city conducted a telephone poll testing voters’ opinions about transportation. We first covered that poll Feb. 3; among the findings were that younger people, lower-income Portlanders and people of color are disproportionately likely to support investments in biking, walking and public transit.

At the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting last week, chair Suzanne Veaudry Casaus urged the city to heavily weight the results of that phone survey rather than feedback it receives at the public meeting. “I’ve been to a lot of public meetings, and the public meetings do not have a great deal of diversity,” she said.

Even so, there’s no question that political leaders tend to be influenced deeply by their direct encounters with voters.

We’ll be interested to see how Novick, Hales, and Treat frame the transportation problem. Messaging around this effort will be key to whether it succeeds or fails. And thus far they’ve talked mostly about preventative maintenance and “pedestrian safety” while shying away from strong words about the need for improved bicycling access.

Here’s the city’s official news release:

The Portland Bureau of Transportation reminds the public and news media to attend three town halls on transportation funding – the first to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20 at Sunnyside Environmental School.

“As we consider ways to meet the city’s transportation needs, we want to hear from as many people as possible,” said City Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees the transportation bureau. “Portlanders recognize that we need to invest more in preventive maintenance and safety improvements.”

Mayor Charlie Hales, Novick and Transportation Director Leah Treat will welcome the public and discuss transportation needs at the three events:

  • Thursday, Feb. 20, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Environmental School, 3421 SE Salmon St.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 25, 6:30 to 8:30 at Immigrant & Refuge Community Organization (IRCO), 10301 NE Glisan St.
  • Thursday, Feb. 27, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Highway

The town hall meetings will provide an opportunity for the public to speak with transportation staff, ask questions and make comments for the mayor and commissioner to consider as they explore ways to improve transportation funding. A keypad polling exercise and written comment opportunities will provide other ways for the public to provide comments.

Hales and Novick convened a Transportation Needs and Funding Advisory Committee in January to advise the commissioner on a transportation funding package. The committee helped draft the language used in a telephone survey in January.

Tonight’s ‘Transportation Town Hall’ is big chance to share your priorities

Tonight’s ‘Transportation Town Hall’ is big chance to share your priorities

Transportation Safety Summit-8

An attendee of PBOT’s 2010 Transportation Safety Summit makes her opinion known.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

A two-hour “town hall” this evening at SE 34th and Salmon will be the Portland public’s first chance to turn out in support of their priorities in the next decade of Portland transportation budgets.

What Mayor Charlie Hales, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and Transportation Director Leah Treat hear tonight and at two more planned town halls this month will undoubtedly shape the way they think about the looming political battle over both the city’s transportation spending and transportation revenue.

The town halls are also, to be sure, part of the city’s effort to build support for its big pitch to voters this fall: a new transportation revenue source, most likely including a per-household and per-business fee, that could bring the city tens of millions of dollars a year for new street projects and maintenance. But before the city asks voters for money, it needs to decide which projects will be on the top of its list.

Willamette Week quoted Hales’ spokesman Wednesday as saying the transportation revenue proposal is “likely” to go to voters in November. City leaders have said they’ll bring a specific project list to the public when that happens.

Tonight’s event is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Environmental School, 3421 SE Salmon St.

Last month, the city conducted a telephone poll testing voters’ opinions about transportation. We first covered that poll Feb. 3; among the findings were that younger people, lower-income Portlanders and people of color are disproportionately likely to support investments in biking, walking and public transit.

At the city’s Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting last week, chair Suzanne Veaudry Casaus urged the city to heavily weight the results of that phone survey rather than feedback it receives at the public meeting. “I’ve been to a lot of public meetings, and the public meetings do not have a great deal of diversity,” she said.

Even so, there’s no question that political leaders tend to be influenced deeply by their direct encounters with voters.

We’ll be interested to see how Novick, Hales, and Treat frame the transportation problem. Messaging around this effort will be key to whether it succeeds or fails. And thus far they’ve talked mostly about preventative maintenance and “pedestrian safety” while shying away from strong words about the need for improved bicycling access.

Here’s the city’s official news release:

The Portland Bureau of Transportation reminds the public and news media to attend three town halls on transportation funding – the first to be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20 at Sunnyside Environmental School.

“As we consider ways to meet the city’s transportation needs, we want to hear from as many people as possible,” said City Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees the transportation bureau. “Portlanders recognize that we need to invest more in preventive maintenance and safety improvements.”

Mayor Charlie Hales, Novick and Transportation Director Leah Treat will welcome the public and discuss transportation needs at the three events:

  • Thursday, Feb. 20, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Sunnyside Environmental School, 3421 SE Salmon St.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 25, 6:30 to 8:30 at Immigrant & Refuge Community Organization (IRCO), 10301 NE Glisan St.
  • Thursday, Feb. 27, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Multnomah Arts Center, 7688 SW Capitol Highway

The town hall meetings will provide an opportunity for the public to speak with transportation staff, ask questions and make comments for the mayor and commissioner to consider as they explore ways to improve transportation funding. A keypad polling exercise and written comment opportunities will provide other ways for the public to provide comments.

Hales and Novick convened a Transportation Needs and Funding Advisory Committee in January to advise the commissioner on a transportation funding package. The committee helped draft the language used in a telephone survey in January.

City assembles ‘sales team’ for street fee plan (updated)

City assembles ‘sales team’ for street fee plan (updated)

Three members of PBOT’s standing Budget
Advisory Committee Tuesday.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Portland voters could decide as soon as November whether to approve a per-household and per-business fee expected to raise about $25 million a year for street upgrades.

Alternatively, the proposal to pay for transportation infrastructure might simply be approved by the city council after extensive public outreach, a citizen committee member said Tuesday.

With that in mind, Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales have created a new committee of stakeholders expected to vet the plan and, over the coming months, help persuade the city of its merits.

“It’s a sales team,” Steph Routh, a member of the new “Transportation Needs and Funding Advisory Committee,” said last week.

The city says its aging street network is badly in need of maintenance, with $1.5 billion required just to clear the maintenance backlog for the city’s $15 billion transportation system. Novick also frequently mentions the importance of better sidewalk and crossing improvements in East Portland, including them in a $1.3 billion wish list shared with the media last month.

In a potentially related effort, the city is preparing an online community survey intended to gather a sense East Portlanders’ top priority. There’s a meeting about the multi-lingual survey, expected to be usable on a range of phones and devices, 10 a.m. tomorrow at the East Portland Neighborhood Office, 1017 Northeast 117th Avenue.

David Sweet, a member of the city transportation bureau’s standing budget advisory committee, said Tuesday that though Novick hadn’t expressed certainty that the proposal would go up for a direct public vote, the commissioner seemed adamant that this November, which will also see two city council races, the national midterm elections and a high-profile ballot measure to allow gay marriage, would be the best time to put a new fee before voters.

“It’ll be a better attended, higher-turnout election than a primary or a special election or an off year,” Sweet said. “High turnout generally favors progressive ideas.”

Sweet also warned the Budget Advisory Committee Tuesday to expect pushback from people who will say the city should be spending even more on auto infrastructure than it plans to.

“There’s going to be an argument that the revenue needs to be spent to facilitate the unimpeded movement of motor vehicles at all times,” Sweet said, referring to an Oregonian editorial published last week.

Well, the newspaper’s editorial board won’t have a seat on the new committee, Portland Business Alliance Vice President Bernie Bottomly replied, to laughter.

Update 1/17: Here’s the committee listing:

Charlie Hales, Mayor, City of Portland
Steve Novick, Commissioner of Transportation, City of Portland
Leah Treat, Director, Portland Bureau of Transportation
Craig Beebe, Member, City Club of Portland
Richard “Buz” Beetle, Business Manager, Laborers’ Local 483
Bernie Bottomly, Vice President of Government Affairs & Economic Development, Portland Business Alliance
Corky Collier, Executive Director, Columbia Corridor Association
Noelle Dobson, Associate Director, Oregon Public Health Institute
Marie Dodds, Local Dir. of Government and Public Affairs, AAA
Deborah Dunn, President, Oregon Trucking Association
Marianne Fitzgerald, President, SWNI
Maxine Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc.
Leslie Foren, Executive Director, Elders in Action
Deane Funk, Local Government Affairs Manager, Portland General Electric
Chris Hagerbaumer, Deputy Director, Oregon Environmental Council
Tom Lewis, Chair, Centennial Community Association
Matt Morton, Executive Director, NAYA
Stanley Moy, Organizer, APANO / Jade District
Linda Nettekoven, Past Chair, SE Uplift
Jonathan Ostar, Executive Director, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
Vic Rhodes, Rhodes Consulting, Inc Rhodes Consulting, Inc.
Steph Routh, past Director, Oregon Walks
Carmen Rubio, Executive Director Latino Network
Rob Sadowsky, Executive Director Bicycle Transportation Alliance
Mychal Tetteh, Chief Executive Officer Community Cycling Center
Joe VanderVeer, Chair Portland Commission on Disabilities
Dan Zalkow, Executive Director of Planning, Construction, and Real Estate, Portland State University

Publisher/editor Jonathan Maus contributed reporting.

Correction 5:45 pm: An earlier version of this post incorrectly implied a direct link between the city’s project list and a forthcoming East Portland priority survey, and incorrectly reported the new committee’s name.