With a packed June agenda, largely related to issues of traffic and growth in the neighborhood, Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association facilitator Nancy Norby began and ended the meeting with a call for more citizen volunteer help with community issues and committees as well as advance notice and brevity in presentations.
First up, residents along Thorburn St. described horrific hundred-fold increases in traffic and speed along a very dangerous stretch of road not designed for heavy vehicular transport and that features no shoulder or sidewalks. The MTNA voted to support them.
A review of the new 52nd street bikeway broke into a heated exchange between residents and city transportation official Rich Newlands. While residents along 52nd were generally pleased with closure of the street to northbound cars at Division, residents of adjacent streets said they were absorbing increased traffic with frustrated drivers speeding through.
They challenged Newlands’ incomplete and flawed traffic data, for example the results from traffic clickers claimed to measure speeds but placed on the back side of speedbumps. Among the multiple problems was that the tests lasted only days rather than months as neighbors expected. MTNA called on the City to redo the tests accurately and as originally promised.
Draft recommendations for the Comprehensive Plan related to infill and mixed use zones were reviewed by Portland Planning and Sustainability liaison Marty Stockton who reminded citizens to provide input. Examples of proposed changes include a compromise for split designation at Portland Nursery and a change of Warner Pacific College from multi-dwelling to mixed use.
With the neighborhood facing so many development pressures, Stockton’s explanation was timely of how developers are taking advantage of some historic lots of record that are 25X100 plats, enabling developers to split lots and build skinny houses. A final plan will be recommended to City Council in late summer, and the public may then provide testimony.
Developers for the Mt. Tabor Commons project at SE 62nd and Yamhill were back with revisions to their plan.They indicated that some changes that had upset neighbors such as losing potential view corridors were the result of city directives for sidewalk improvements and site repositioning.
A proposal for a flag lot to be split a lot from a stately property at 60th on the privately-owned portion of Salmon St. was reviewed; MTNA voted to support neighbors in asking BDS to deny setback variances.
Of course, the June 25th reservoir disconnection land use hearing before City Council was a topic. Of note, the Friends of Mt. Tabor Reservoir shared copies of their written testimony in support of the Historic Landmarks Commission conditions of water in the reservoirs and preservation of the historic structures.
The owners of the new Coquine restaurant, formerly the Songbird, received a warm welcome. Special events are planned at the Mt. Tabor hilltop venue with an official opening in September. Coquine will be a casual, counter service coffeeshop and lunch space by day, and a full service restaurant by night.
MTNA meetings are held the third Wednesday of every month in the basement of Tabor Space between 54th and 55th on SE Belmont.