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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 2, 2006 9:53 AM. The previous post in this blog was Remodel. The next post in this blog is Need Monday motivation?. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, October 2, 2006

Minor detail

By now most Portlanders have heard that there are wonderful traffic improvements being planned for close-in East Burnside and Couch Streets -- the famous one-way "couplet." But have you heard that the plan calls for permanently closing Sandy Boulevard between 12th and 14th, and having the land that's right in the middle of Sandy there now handed to a developer for "infill revitalization"?

Mmmmm... public right-of-way... private developer... infill.

Comments (28)

There must be some mistake, there are no trolley cars depicted in any of the renderings.

JK: How nice. Page 22 shows Couch with 12' sidewalks and two 11' traffic lanes. Take those sidewalks to 6' and you would have room for THREE 12' driving lanes. That would reduce congestion. (But Portland want to increase congestion because that drives those ugly businesses and their stinken jobs out of town.)
Then on page 24 we see the loss of one lane from Burnside to make room for 15' wide sidewalks and a bike path.

More evidence of PDC’s and PDOT’s total incompetence.

Thanks
JK

Portland wants to redevelop a tiny patch of land in the middle of one of the nastiest intersections in the city????

What's the plan, the world's first traffic circle condos?

Let me guess? They start at $499,000, affordable housing, for sure.

Well, it WOULD eliminate the worst intersection in the history of the world.

"Take those sidewalks to 6' and you would have room for THREE 12' driving lanes."

I don't know much, but with 6' sidewalks, by the time you put in street lights and street trees, you'd have a clear space about three feet wide - isn't that a little small?

PMG: (quoting JK) "Take those sidewalks to 6' and you would have room for THREE 12' driving lanes."

I don't know much, but with 6' sidewalks, by the time you put in street lights and street trees, you'd have a clear space about three feet wide - isn't that a little small?
JK Who said anything about street trees. Trees belong in people’s yards, not along the street where they add to the visual clutter, making pedestrians and animals harder to see and therefore more likely to get hit if they suddenly dart out into traffic.

This is yet another example of planner’s lack of regard for basic safety.

Thanks
JK

the worst intersection in the history of the world.

No kidding. A coworker visting from another office got her rental car creamed in that intersection just yesterday!
By an uninsured driver no less!

Aaaarrrgggghhh. Everytime I find a new route across town they build condos in the middle of it! PDOT's got it in for me.

I havent been over that way in a while, but my guess is they need the 12' sidewalks so you have room to sidestep the hookers and creepoids.
Who would want to walk through that area?
Better be well lighted.

PMG, a few years ago when they built the Avalon Hotel on the south end of North Macadam Urban Renewal area, PDOT reduced the street on the west side of the hotel down to just two narrow lanes (22 ft) with only a 42 inch sidewalk up against the seven story hotel. Minus the street furniture, etc. you end up with 36" of clear sidewalk-doesn't even meet ADA requirements or city sidewalk standards. Reducing the street width and sidewalk allowed the building to be another 12 ft. in bulk. It is "funny" how PDOT, Planning can manipulate all the requirements to appease their "song and dance" for that particular moment, developer, etc.

Now this narrow SW Moody street alignment is part of the traffic solution for the South Portal for NM. Fifteen thousand additional people and two narrow lanes-you bet!

Go by streetcar!

JK,

Maybe the trees aren't to blame if people "suddenly dart out into traffic."

And if Portland is in the midst of a "people obscured by trees but nevertheless darting into traffic" epidemic, I'm not aware of it. But I'm sure that's just the liberal media doing their usual tree-hugging . . .

"Trees belong in people’s yards, not along the street where they add to the visual clutter, making pedestrians and animals harder to see and therefore more likely to get hit if they suddenly dart out into traffic."

Gee, by this logic we should prohibit on-street parking so we can better see pedestrians...the point I was trying to make is that a six foot sidewalk is the same width as the sidewalk in my residential area....it seems awful small for the likely pedestrian volume.

Giving public R-O-W to a private developer? Does Measure 39, on November's ballot, address that? M. 39 prohibits state and local government officials "from condemning private property from one citizen to sell or ttransfer to another private citizen." This is to address the growing failure of governments to limit property condemnation to uses that are truly public, like schools, parks, libraries and roads.
Could that be extended to forbidding governments from giving away their public R-O-W?

I don't think so. There's a whole state law set up about street abandonment, or "vacation." The adjacent property owners get full use of the property, out to the middle of street, more or less. Technically, you already own the street and sidewalk in front of your property; the public has a mere right-of-way.

I'm sure there are already real estate investors and developers who have that stretch of Sandy all mapped out, and it's known who will own what if the plan goes through. The same for the west side "couplet," being salivated over by Mike Powell.

Save the Visual Clutter!!

AAArrrrgghh is right.
As a many-year resident of the Central Eastside Industrial/lower Burnside area (aka ground zero for the latest in urban planning on steroids; aka welfare for rich developers)I cringe with each new revelation of what has been planned for this part of town by the powers that be, the Burnside/Couch couplet w/ a condo in the middle of Sandy Blvd being the latest example.
This part of town has seen a fair amount of revitalization on its own dime, where folks have put a good chunk of their own sweat and money into getting a business off the ground. It seems the Adams family at City Hall is chomping at the bit to chase the little folks out of here and make way for the well-connected high rollers.
Funny thing, whilst this part of town may not exactly be a 'family' neighborhood, it really ain't all that bad either. Which is something we've tried to keep secret for awhile. We figured that so long as outsiders were under the impression that this area was chock full o' hookers, creepoids and other miscreants (ok, so maybe there's a few- but they're part of the scenery) then the WestHills/Suburban crowd would stay the heck out of here and leave us with at least somewhat affordable apartments and storefronts. Apparently, the cat is out of the bag on that one. I can't wait for the traffic jam as a result of all this couplet mess....

Technically, you do NOT own the property out to the middle of the street.

Yikes, where did you get this notion?

The city owns it, has all rights, unless and untill IT abandons them, ie', turns them over to the adjacent property owners. And they never never never do this, unless the property owner in question can show that all public benefit of ownership is null.

Oh yes, and everybody else on the street, agrees with that...

You don't control the trees you plant in your median, (or anything else you plant there.) Gift to the people... We've put in an Asian pear, a European pear, a plum and three different blueberries -- also an heirloom black currant (you can make a very ancient liquer out of this puppy) is in our median.

This is an issue in SW in particular. Because of the lack of sidewalks folks just kind of sort of well what whould you have done? Ran their boundaries and yards and gardens, out to the street edge. Not realizing that that really wasn't their land.

Now you have some serious issues if you ever try and reclaim city rights, for, oh say a sidewalk -- on what someone else condsiders, "my front yard."

And, Jack, if you're going to venture further here -- can we get Rusty to come with us? I like that horse's bony, mournful, intellegent face. He's clearly a born philosopher --

PMG: Gee, by this logic we should prohibit on-street parking so we can better see pedestrians...
JK: That would reduce accidents, but accidents are not the only consideration. Unfortunately, the city does not require off street parking for most businesses, so the on street parking has become essential to the livelihood of many small businesses. Another example of city planners not caring about safety.

PMG: the point I was trying to make is that a six foot sidewalk is the same width as the sidewalk in my residential area....it seems awful small for the likely pedestrian volume.
JK: Probably excessive for the LIKELY ped volume.

Thanks
JK

If you study the aerial perspective of the old Sandy and Burnside intersection, you see that the placement of the Condo project develops three control intersections versus the orginal ONE control intersection at Sandy and Burnside.

That is not to say that the existing intersection is not dangerous; and it can be improved for safety reasons but without impeding traffic by three fold. But then maybe that is what PDOT/Planners want to do-impede vehicular traffic.

And maybe morty has it right-the city implements "planning" to facilitate the exchange of land to the "development club". Screw free enterprize that has shown results along Sandy and Burnside, but not in the fashion that City Planners may want. Urban Renewal, here we come.

Morty speaks to something that seems vital to any kind of real community. "This part of town has seen a fair amount of revitalization on its own dime, where folks have put a good chunk of their own sweat and money into getting a business off the ground". All this one way this and one way that is going to mess up a natural development process that will make the area lose it's character and soul. All the people who rag about the unbeautiful down and out on Lower Burnside can just stay away and let the people who didn't sell their two bedroom ranch in Cali for $750,000 have their chance. Subsidizing another yuppieville off the backs of families and small businesses is the last thing we need in this town. Of course all the big players in this scheme locked in their profits over a decade ago by snatching up the choice parcels for zilch.

Technically, you do NOT own the property out to the middle of the street.

Not to out-technical you here, Anne, but you do. The city has the right of way, but it is not legally the owner of the street. If the street is ever vacated, the original property owner gets his or her rights back -- the person whose title goes all the way back to the land grant days. The street trees technically belong to the property owner, too.

Of course, this is all legal theory, as you point. The property owner's rights on the right-of-way are nil, while his or her duties are numerous. But the underlying ownership of the land under the street has never been conveyed to the city, and the city certainly cannot sell it.

On a brighter note, Rusty's over in Wolf Point, Montana. Maybe we should take a ride over there and chat with him before the snow starts flying.

The importance of "boulevards" to the matrix of a city is not being respected by the proposed closing of Sandy Boulevard. Boulevards, even at the small scale of Sandy, are usually historical streets of a city. Sandy was an early 1850 wagon road from the Gorge and beyond into the just beginning city of Portland. It is like Broadway is to NY-the earliest connection of the beginning of NY at the Battery to the farms of upper Manhatten Island and beyond.

Can you image taking NY Broadway at 42nd or Time Square and diverting Broadway traffic and its vistas around a huge Condo Project (a Homer Williams project?)? So much of the meaning, the history of Broadway would be lost. Same goes for Portland's Sandy. And for both scenarios the traffic consequences would be terrible.

Driving west on Sandy there is the wonderful west, southwest vista of the WestHills, the city, and the sense/ presence of the Willamette. That would be lost with this proposal. Where is the respect for the topography, sense of place of Portland? Is this all for "density"?

Who thinks up these ideas? Who respects Portland's history. Who respects the history of Burnside and Sandy? Even the couplet idea for Burnside, east and west, is disrespectful; and does nothing to help vehicular traffic, and costing over $75M.

Let us loan our Portland Planners to Paris and let then suggest closing off their Boulevards. Good luck, and a true "terrorist attack".

Technically, you do NOT own the property out to the middle of the street.

I gotta agree with Jack on this one...I have been looking at new homes lately (in the SW 'burbs), and for all of them, the lot size is measured to the middle of the street.
A buddy of mine bought a house recently in Aloha, and his lot is 20' wide (yes, 20 FEET), by 100 feet long. No yard front or back, and its three stories on top of a 2-car garage. (Two car lengthwise, it has a single-width garage door.) Craziest thing I have ever seen.

I agree with most of the angst about this project. Obviously the people who drew this up didn't study their urban design manuals well (or they're from the school that urban design only needs to be slick and pretty and attract cosmopolitan money).
I take Sandy from downtown all the time. There's a reason it's known as the worst intersection in the known universe. It's that it is one of the main routes in and out of downtown for communters and busses. How exactly do they plan on re-routing all that traffic?
About the only commute-related winners I see here are bikers. Right now I wouldn't be caught dead biking down Sandy, as it's probably the most dangerous street on the east-side. No - wait - actually if I rode down Sandy I WOULD be dead. With this reconstruction, the traffic on Sandy would drop tenfold, making it safer for bikers.

I was just walking across the Burnside/
Sandy/12th Avenue monstrosity today; it is
one of the most hostile environments for
pedestrians that I have ever seen, making
me apprehensive whenever I cross.

Whatever they decide to do in this area,
there had better be designs for decent
pedestrian crossings at this intersection.

BTW, 6 feet of walking area is adequate
for a sidewalk; however it is desirable to
have 3 foot buffers between the walking
areas and traffic lanes for safety.

Of course it's currently a disaster. But in Erik and Sam's Portland, you let the disaster sit there for years and years, and then the only solution you have for it is a condo tower.

How exactly do they plan on re-routing all that traffic?

They dont. Thats the point. They want people frustrated enough with driving downtown that we keep our cars out of there completely.



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