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Category: street seats

PSU students back plan to add parklet to SW 4th Ave food carts

PSU students back plan to add parklet to SW 4th Ave food carts

A few blocks north of the spot where Southwest 4th Avenue becomes Barbur Boulevard, a five-lane city street has been slowly becoming a place for people to enjoy. A team of Portland State University students is pushing this spot to its next step.

If it comes together — the current step is a crowdfunding campaign that would raise $15,350 for construction and the first two years of maintenance — it’d be one of the first fully public Street Seats installation in the city.

Since Street Seats was introduced in 2012 after several years of advocacy by Rebecca Hamilton and others, about a dozen private shops have gotten city permits to convert car parking spaces in front of their storefronts to public seating.

The “SoMa” (South of Market) neighborhood has a line of top-notch food carts across the street from several office buildings for the university and other institutions. As described in the video above, the “SoMa Parklet Project” would give food cart patrons somewhere to sit.

But unlike some Street Seats, the idea is to make the parklets feel truly public — a place where “anyone can sit down and read a newspaper,” as city program specialist Sarah Figliozzi told the Portland Tribune last year.

Creating that feeling requires more than just park benches. Here’s the project’s budget, including two “extra” features if the effort can raise more than the minimum.

soma parklet budget

From the project’s website.

“Most people think of this district as a place to pass through,” B.D. Wortham-Galvin, a professor in PSU’s architecture school whose course “Contingent Urbanism” helped inform this project, told the Tribune. “We want it to be a place to stay.”

Correction 1/6: An earlier post incorrectly said this would be the first fully public parklet. It would be the third; the others are on Alberta Street in front of the Tin Shed and Vita cafes.

The post PSU students back plan to add parklet to SW 4th Ave food carts appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Postcard from San Francisco: How not to build a parklet

Postcard from San Francisco: How not to build a parklet

bad parklet lead

A parklet on Powell Street in San Francisco.
(Photos by Michael Andersen/BikePortland)

I spent a few days in San Francisco last week, learning and sharing stories at the NACTO Designing Cities Conference. It’s not my favorite city (obviously) but it’s a lovely place.

Once in a while, though, they definitely screw up.

A lot of downtown SF has reached the point that its sidewalks are pretty much crowded all day. Nowhere is that more true than Powell Street, a Times Square-tier tourism zone that runs alongside the thrumping cords of the city’s historic cable car.

crowded sidewalk

In 2011, with these crowds in mind, the city accepted a donation from Audi that paid for a row of aluminum parklets bumping out from the sidewalk along Powell.

Unlike with Portland’s “street seats,” there’s no pressure to buy a drink to use this public space. That’s nice. But the weird thing is that a bunch of this new “pedestrianized” space offers nothing at all to do.

bad parklet revisited

You can’t walk on it, except sort of as a right-side passing lane, because it ends after 20 feet. You can’t sit in it, because there’s nowhere to sit. You could lean; people occasionally leaned. You could park a bike; a few folks did this. But in general: there is no way to use large swaths of these parklets.

The obvious missing ingredient here is seating. And seating is not entirely missing from these parklets. Indeed, on almost every occasion that the parklets made seating available, it was being used:

seating 1

seating 2

seating 3

seating 4

I’m sure there are lots of things that people occasionally use this space for. I saw several cigarettes being smoked. On Friday night, I saw a man laying out artwork for sale, using this otherwise empty space as his display area.

And there’s little question that these parklets are doing Powell Street more good than they would as a few extra car parking spaces or a pair of additional travel lanes. Also, the plants look nice.

But for most of the day, these parklets are just pockets of dead real estate in the bustling, seating-starved city around them. I’m no landscape architect, but the lesson for cities couldn’t be clearer: if you build public parklets, put stuff in them.

The post Postcard from San Francisco: How not to build a parklet appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Fearing parking loss, downtown business group stops ‘Street Seats’ program

Fearing parking loss, downtown business group stops ‘Street Seats’ program

20121018-IMG_4324-2

The Downtown Retail Council, a Portland Business
Alliance affiliate, opposes parklets in the downtown core.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

After a successful pilot program last summer, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently announced an update of their Street Seats program. While the newly proposed guidelines show the scope of the program has broadened, a group that represents downtown businesses successfully lobbied to prevent the conversion of parking spots in the downtown core.

The Streets Seats program allows business owners and non-profits to convert public parking spaces into seating and patio space. For restaurants this means more dining tables, and for non-food establishments the program is an opportunity to use space for something other than private vehicle storage. In a PBOT survey published in January, 90% of businesses said Street Seats were good for their business and 80% of survey respondents said the program has a positive impact on street vitality.

The Portland Business Alliance (PBA), on the other hand, opposes the program. The Downtown Retail Council (DRC) — a PBA affiliate group who says they’re “the voice for downtown Portland’s consumer business” — successfully stopped the City from accepting applications for new Street Seats in the area between W Burnside St., SW Harrison St., SW 10th Ave. and SW 2nd Ave (see map below).

No Street Seats for you.

In an editorial published today, The Oregonian Editorial Board used this concern from the PBA to help make their case against the program. They argue that Street Seats are a sign of “mission creep” from PBOT and that we should not give up precious parking spaces for non-parking uses.

Why does the DRC oppose Street Seats? The answer lies in a memo to PBOT written on PBA letterhead and dated November 14th, 2012. In the memo (PDF), the DRC says they oppose the program because it “creates access, safety, and equity challenges in the downtown.”

Here’s more from the memo (emphases mine):

We appreciate the city’s to find ways to enhance street vitality and support businesses. However, given the limited supply of downtown on-street parking and right-of-way access, as well as the density of diverse uses that downtown serves, the DRC belives [sic] the Street Seats program would negatively impact the overall business environment. Specifically, Street Seats could negative affect business vitality by reducing the shared resource of on-street parking and loading zones, which causes equity disparities by enhancing some businesses to the detriment of others’ access. The DRC also is concerned with the safety issue of conflicts between patrons and vehicles, given that the Street Seats are adjacent to the travel lane and without buffer.

In the memo, the DRC went further and made specific recommendations on how they feel PBOT should manage not just Street Seats, but any “competing uses in the right-of-way”:

1) Protecting access should be the first priority; converting on-street metered parking spots and loading zones for non-auto parking use should be avoided… A no net loss policy of parking spaces and loading zones in the central city should be implemented. For areas that have on-street parking occupancy rates at 80 percent or higher during peak times, no on-street parking conversion should occur.

2) For areas that are outside of an 80 percent or higher parking occupancy rate, the following criteria should be applied:
… f. Street Seats should not be permitted on blocks where on-street parking has previously been removed for bike corrals or bike rental kiosks [bike share stations].

The DRC lists 57 members on their website including Travel Portland, Nordstrom, PBOT, TriMet, The Portland Art Museum, Columbia Sportswear, Macy’s, Powell’s Books and many others.

This memo shows that the Portland Business Alliance will not take any change in the allocation of roadway space lightly. Their concerns are sure to play a role in future discussions about the location of bike share stations, on-street bike parking corrals, protected bike lanes, and more. How large a role they play will be entirely up to PBOT, City Hall, and whether or not other interest groups make their perspectives known.

Fearing parking loss, downtown business group stops ‘Street Seats’ program

Fearing parking loss, downtown business group stops ‘Street Seats’ program

20121018-IMG_4324-2

The Downtown Retail Council, a Portland Business
Alliance affiliate, opposes parklets in the downtown core.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

After a successful pilot program last summer, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently announced an update of their Street Seats program. While the newly proposed guidelines show the scope of the program has broadened, a group that represents downtown businesses successfully lobbied to prevent the conversion of parking spots in the downtown core.

The Streets Seats program allows business owners and non-profits to convert public parking spaces into seating and patio space. For restaurants this means more dining tables, and for non-food establishments the program is an opportunity to use space for something other than private vehicle storage. In a PBOT survey published in January, 90% of businesses said Street Seats were good for their business and 80% of survey respondents said the program has a positive impact on street vitality.

The Portland Business Alliance (PBA), on the other hand, opposes the program. The Downtown Retail Council (DRC) — a PBA affiliate group who says they’re “the voice for downtown Portland’s consumer business” — successfully stopped the City from accepting applications for new Street Seats in the area between W Burnside St., SW Harrison St., SW 10th Ave. and SW 2nd Ave (see map below).

No Street Seats for you.

In an editorial published today, The Oregonian Editorial Board used this concern from the PBA to help make their case against the program. They argue that Street Seats are a sign of “mission creep” from PBOT and that we should not give up precious parking spaces for non-parking uses.

Why does the DRC oppose Street Seats? The answer lies in a memo to PBOT written on PBA letterhead and dated November 14th, 2012. In the memo (PDF), the DRC says they oppose the program because it “creates access, safety, and equity challenges in the downtown.”

Here’s more from the memo (emphases mine):

We appreciate the city’s to find ways to enhance street vitality and support businesses. However, given the limited supply of downtown on-street parking and right-of-way access, as well as the density of diverse uses that downtown serves, the DRC belives [sic] the Street Seats program would negatively impact the overall business environment. Specifically, Street Seats could negative affect business vitality by reducing the shared resource of on-street parking and loading zones, which causes equity disparities by enhancing some businesses to the detriment of others’ access. The DRC also is concerned with the safety issue of conflicts between patrons and vehicles, given that the Street Seats are adjacent to the travel lane and without buffer.

In the memo, the DRC went further and made specific recommendations on how they feel PBOT should manage not just Street Seats, but any “competing uses in the right-of-way”:

1) Protecting access should be the first priority; converting on-street metered parking spots and loading zones for non-auto parking use should be avoided… A no net loss policy of parking spaces and loading zones in the central city should be implemented. For areas that have on-street parking occupancy rates at 80 percent or higher during peak times, no on-street parking conversion should occur.

2) For areas that are outside of an 80 percent or higher parking occupancy rate, the following criteria should be applied:
… f. Street Seats should not be permitted on blocks where on-street parking has previously been removed for bike corrals or bike rental kiosks [bike share stations].

The DRC lists 57 members on their website including Travel Portland, Nordstrom, PBOT, TriMet, The Portland Art Museum, Columbia Sportswear, Macy’s, Powell’s Books and many others. (UPDATE, 4/17: The Portland Art Museum says they do not oppose the Street Seats program)

This memo shows that the Portland Business Alliance will not take any change in the allocation of roadway space lightly. Their concerns are sure to play a role in future discussions about the location of bike share stations, on-street bike parking corrals, protected bike lanes, and more. How large a role they play will be entirely up to PBOT, City Hall, and whether or not other interest groups make their perspectives known.

‘Street Seats’ program extended after positive feedback

‘Street Seats’ program extended after positive feedback

20121019-IMG_4353-2

The Street Seat installation on N Mississippi Ave.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation says its ‘Street Seats’ program has been so well-received by business owners and citizens that it will be extended. The program, which allows cafe owners to extend their seating areas into the parking lane, was launched in August of last year and was originally set to expire at the end of December.

Now, PBOT says they’ve already extended one of the Street Seat installation permits and they plan to begin accepting new applications after the program guidelines are updated this spring.

During the pilot period, three Streets Seat installations were built: Wafu (3113 SE Division), Oven & Shaker (1134 NW Everett St) and Mississippi Pizza Pub (3552 N Mississippi Ave). Of those three, only Mississippi Pizza’s is still intact. They’ve requested (and received) a permit extension for their installation that runs through April 2013.

In a web post published yesterday, PBOT says they conducted an online survey about the program and received nearly 100 responses. Of those, 90% of businesses “believed that the Street Seats program would benefit neighborhood businesses” and 80% of citizens surveyed, “felt that Street Seats positively impacted their street’s vitality.” (You can still give feedback via email to streetseats@portlandoregon.gov.)

Back in September, PBOT was asked if the program would be extended to residential areas. Spokesman Dan Anderson told The Oregonian that, “If the pilot proves successful and becomes and ongoing program, we’ll consider expanding it to other types of land use.”

I shared my thoughts on the program back in October. While I have some qualms about dedicating precious road space to dining patios, overall it seems like a great way to create a more humane streetscape. It’s also a much more thoughtful way of using public space than parking two automobiles. While in San Francisco (the city that pioneered this idea, calling them “parklets“) over the holidays, I was inspired by their designs. One of their parklets even incorporated bike parking.

No word yet from PBOT on how/if their program will significantly change. If you have thoughts about this, remember to send them in via the email above. We’ll share the new guidelines once they come out.

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‘Street Seats’ program extended after positive feedback

‘Street Seats’ program extended after positive feedback

20121019-IMG_4353-2

The Street Seat installation on N Mississippi Ave.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation says its ‘Street Seats’ program has been so well-received by business owners and citizens that it will be extended. The program, which allows cafe owners to extend their seating areas into the parking lane, was launched in August of last year and was originally set to expire at the end of December.

Now, PBOT says they’ve already extended one of the Street Seat installation permits and they plan to begin accepting new applications after the program guidelines are updated this spring.

During the pilot period, three Streets Seat installations were built: Wafu (3113 SE Division), Oven & Shaker (1134 NW Everett St) and Mississippi Pizza Pub (3552 N Mississippi Ave). Of those three, only Mississippi Pizza’s is still intact. They’ve requested (and received) a permit extension for their installation that runs through April 2013.

In a web post published yesterday, PBOT says they conducted an online survey about the program and received nearly 100 responses. Of those, 90% of businesses “believed that the Street Seats program would benefit neighborhood businesses” and 80% of citizens surveyed, “felt that Street Seats positively impacted their street’s vitality.” (You can still give feedback via email to streetseats@portlandoregon.gov.)

Back in September, PBOT was asked if the program would be extended to residential areas. Spokesman Dan Anderson told The Oregonian that, “If the pilot proves successful and becomes and ongoing program, we’ll consider expanding it to other types of land use.”

I shared my thoughts on the program back in October. While I have some qualms about dedicating precious road space to dining patios, overall it seems like a great way to create a more humane streetscape. It’s also a much more thoughtful way of using public space than parking two automobiles. While in San Francisco (the city that pioneered this idea, calling them “parklets“) over the holidays, I was inspired by their designs. One of their parklets even incorporated bike parking.

No word yet from PBOT on how/if their program will significantly change. If you have thoughts about this, remember to send them in via the email above. We’ll share the new guidelines once they come out.

Share

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

As more ‘street seats’ pop up, thoughts about access impacts

As more ‘street seats’ pop up, thoughts about access impacts

20121019-IMG_4351-2

New ‘street seat’ on Mississippi Ave makes
a future bikeway hard(er) to envision.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Two new ‘street seats’ installations have popped up around Portland recently. The City of Portland program allows cafe owners to pay for a permit (along with other fees) and then install a patio seating structure in the street. Instead of car parking, businesses get more human parking, expand their dining footprint, and (potentially) expand their revenue.

The other day I noticed one on NW Everett between 10th and 11th (outside Oven & Shaker pizza joint) and on N Mississippi north of Fremont (in front of Mississippi Pizza Pub).

The Oven & Shaker installation is pretty minimal at this point, with just the wooden structure and side railings.

20121018-IMG_4324-2s

But the Mississippi Pizza structure is the largest and most elaborate one of the three I’ve seen so far. It looks to be twice as long as the others and it’s fully decorated with a covered booth for seating, a giraffe sculpture, and for some reason, a bathtub and sink!

street seats on mississippi

20121019-IMG_4353-2

street seat on mississipi

My first reaction to this program was excitement — I love how it reclaims public space for humans and away from toxic, loud, and dangerous vehicles. But seeing the large installation on Mississippi also brings up another thought: How is bike access impacted?

Narrow, two-lane commercial main streets like Mississippi, Alberta, NE/SE 28th, and so on, lack adequate bicycle access. Instead of the low-stress facilities we aim for, these streets are dominated by auto and bus traffic. Those who do ride bicycles on them are either strong and fearless enough to ride fast while taking the lane; or worse, they squeeze along the right side just inches between parked cars and moving vehicles. I have long held out hope that the on-street parking lane is the future location of a dedicated cycle-track or some other type of low-stress bikeway.

With ‘street seat’ patios now in the parking lane, will that make it even more difficult to consider using that space as a bikeway in the future? It has taken decades to pry auto parking out of the hands of business owners. Now the City has managed to do it by giving them more seating space. (The same can be said for on-street bike corrals, but those are less “owned” by the businesses and therefore seem like they would be easier to move for a future bikeway.)

Will these business owners want to uproot their nice patio seating for a bikeway someday? Or, perhaps this isn’t the end of the bikeway discussion but the beginning of the carfree street discussion?

Reader Michael Berg emailed me this morning with some good insight. He said the type of space reclamation being hastened by this patio parking is how Copenhagen started what he calls their “walking streets.”

“Cafes kept creeping out further and further in the street, making it more and more difficult to drive,” he wrote. “Eventually people stopped driving the streets because it was a PITA [pain in the ass] and nobody complained when cars were removed completely. It really is a brilliant way to go about it because it happens so naturally.” (All deliveries would be done before 10:00 am, he said, and then it’s humans only.)

That’s an exciting idea to consider. For now though, we’ve got these permanent structures taking up space in an extremely limited right of way. It’s important to note that, according to the permit language, PBOT says they’ll issue 15 permits during this “pilot” phase, which ends on December 31st. After that date, the structures must be removed — unless of course the program is renewed.

What do you think?

As more ‘street seats’ pop up, thoughts about access impacts

As more ‘street seats’ pop up, thoughts about access impacts

20121019-IMG_4351-2

New ‘street seat’ on Mississippi Ave makes
a future bikeway hard(er) to envision.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Two new ‘street seats’ installations have popped up around Portland recently. The City of Portland program allows cafe owners to pay for a permit (along with other fees) and then install a patio seating structure in the street. Instead of car parking, businesses get more human parking, expand their dining footprint, and (potentially) expand their revenue.

The other day I noticed one on NW Everett between 10th and 11th (outside Oven & Shaker pizza joint) and on N Mississippi north of Fremont (in front of Mississippi Pizza Pub).

The Oven & Shaker installation is pretty minimal at this point, with just the wooden structure and side railings.

20121018-IMG_4324-2s

But the Mississippi Pizza structure is the largest and most elaborate one of the three I’ve seen so far. It looks to be twice as long as the others and it’s fully decorated with a covered booth for seating, a giraffe sculpture, and for some reason, a bathtub and sink!

street seats on mississippi

20121019-IMG_4353-2

street seat on mississipi

My first reaction to this program was excitement — I love how it reclaims public space for humans and away from toxic, loud, and dangerous vehicles. But seeing the large installation on Mississippi also brings up another thought: How is bike access impacted?

Narrow, two-lane commercial main streets like Mississippi, Alberta, NE/SE 28th, and so on, lack adequate bicycle access. Instead of the low-stress facilities we aim for, these streets are dominated by auto and bus traffic. Those who do ride bicycles on them are either strong and fearless enough to ride fast while taking the lane; or worse, they squeeze along the right side just inches between parked cars and moving vehicles. I have long held out hope that the on-street parking lane is the future location of a dedicated cycle-track or some other type of low-stress bikeway.

With ‘street seat’ patios now in the parking lane, will that make it even more difficult to consider using that space as a bikeway in the future? It has taken decades to pry auto parking out of the hands of business owners. Now the City has managed to do it by giving them more seating space. (The same can be said for on-street bike corrals, but those are less “owned” by the businesses and therefore seem like they would be easier to move for a future bikeway.)

Will these business owners want to uproot their nice patio seating for a bikeway someday? Or, perhaps this isn’t the end of the bikeway discussion but the beginning of the carfree street discussion?

Reader Michael Berg emailed me this morning with some good insight. He said the type of space reclamation being hastened by this patio parking is how Copenhagen started what he calls their “walking streets.”

“Cafes kept creeping out further and further in the street, making it more and more difficult to drive,” he wrote. “Eventually people stopped driving the streets because it was a PITA [pain in the ass] and nobody complained when cars were removed completely. It really is a brilliant way to go about it because it happens so naturally.” (All deliveries would be done before 10:00 am, he said, and then it’s humans only.)

That’s an exciting idea to consider. For now though, we’ve got these permanent structures taking up space in an extremely limited right of way. It’s important to note that, according to the permit language, PBOT says they’ll issue 15 permits during this “pilot” phase, which ends on December 31st. After that date, the structures must be removed — unless of course the program is renewed.

What do you think?

Spotted: Portland’s first ‘street seats’

Spotted: Portland’s first ‘street seats’

Wafu on SE Division is the first business in Portland to replace on-street auto parking spots with customer seating as part of PBOT’s new “Street Seats” program.
(Photos from anonymous BikePortland reader.)


A reader has sent in a few images of the first “street seats” installation in Portland. The new program was launched last Friday (8/11) to little fanfare by the Bureau of Transportation; but it looks like Japanese ramen joint Wafu got a head start.

Directly in front of their location on SE Division at 31st, Wafu has installed a large wooden deck with three tables and seats for 18 customers in a space of about two on-street auto parking spots. According to head chef Trent Pierce, they finished constructing the deck on Saturday and opened it for business for the evening dinner crowd last night. “It’s awesome,” said Pierce, “It was packed out there last night.”

Read More Read More

Spotted: Portland’s first ‘street seats’ – UPDATED

Spotted: Portland’s first ‘street seats’ – UPDATED

Wafu on SE Division is the first business in Portland to replace on-street auto parking spots with customer seating as part of PBOT’s new “Street Seats” program.
(Photos from anonymous BikePortland reader.)


A reader has sent in a few images of the first “street seats” installation in Portland. The new program was launched last Friday (8/11) to little fanfare by the Bureau of Transportation; but it looks like Japanese ramen joint Wafu got a head start.

Directly in front of their location on SE Division at 31st, Wafu has installed a large wooden deck with three tables and seats for 18 customers in a space of about two on-street auto parking spots. According to head chef Trent Pierce, they finished constructing the deck on Saturday and opened it for business for the evening dinner crowd last night. “It’s awesome,” said Pierce, “It was packed out there last night.”

Read More Read More