Letters to the Editor December 2017

Dear Editor:

We are Mt. Tabor neighbors who oppose the proposed diverter at SE 50th and Lincoln St.

Along the proposed greenway, none of the diverters push vehicles as far south as Division or as far north as Hawthorne except 50th and Lincoln.

With the proposed diverter, people could travel 12 extra blocks. PBOT needs to address the effects on these two streets and the neighborhood.

From 50th to 60th, the street layout is unique. Unbroken super-blocks, six times normal length run from Hawthorne to Lincoln; four block distances run from Lincoln to Division.

The diverter would create large amounts of cut-through traffic, allowing up to 1000 cars/day. Past 50th to 60th, 55th is the only straight shot north. Cars on east Lincoln or Hawthorne wanting to get to Belmont or Stark will funnel onto SE 55th.

Navigation systems, like WAZE and Google Maps encourage this type of cut-through use.  Other factors encourage cut-throughs: Division’s clogged traffic and soon-to-be super-sized buses, many new housing units, and the 52nd and Division diverter.

The diverter would encourage more traffic at the already dysfunctional 55th and Hawthorne intersection. Many drivers here cannot see other vehicles.

Hawthorne is Designated Pedestrian Walkway and adding more traffic is contrary to this designation. The 20’ wide road east of 55th has no planter strips, thus no buffer between sidewalks and traffic.  Driveways sloping across and utility poles poking through create dangerous sidewalks.  Additional traffic here exacerbates an already dangerous situation.

Many who ride bikes on Lincoln said at neighborhood meetings that their major danger is drivers cutting through the neighborhoods and then crossing Lincoln without looking/stopping.

The final public comment meeting is Tuesday, Dec. 5, 6 to 7:30 pm, at Atkinson Elementary, SE 58th and Division St.

Sign the Petition AGAINST the diverter at 50th/Lincoln at gopetition.com/petitions/petition-opposing-proposed-traffic-diverter-at-se-lincoln50th-streets.html.

Take the PBOT Online Survey: portlandoregon.gov/transportation/75123

Write/call Commissioner Dan Saltzman at dan@portlandoregon.gov and PBOT at 1221 SW 4th Ave Ste 230, Portland, OR 97204. 503.823.4151

Molly Cliff Hilts and Kent Kirkpatrick


Dear Southeast Examiner,

We would like to give praises and thanks to Don MacGillivray and Midge Pierce for the excellent writing in the November 2017 SE Examiner about the RIP problems going on in the City of Portland. Their article hits the subject matter smack dab in the middle. Their description of the problem and consequences are spot-on, and so well said.  We thank you for articulating the subject so well!


Dennis & Donna

To Portland Infill Project

(Submitted via email)


I am a resident affected by this project and have already submitted comments via your online survey. However, I wish by this letter to get my name into the record and to provide you with specific comments not addressed by your survey format.


I am a retired planner and have been observing with great interest Portland’s procedures in light of the major problems with housing availability and affordability in Portland these past few years. My first observation is that Portland has lost track of the need to plan comprehensively and to view planning issues holistically. This has resulted in multiple separate projects which are addressing problems in a piecemeal fashion. In such a situation, problems (more often than not) do not get resolved.


I recently was a moderator at the joint ISOCARP/OAPA conference in Portland. I attended 2 other sessions with Portland Planning speakers who talked about the Portland Plan and the Southwest Corridor Project. In both sessions, the speakers admitted that the Portland Plan was lacking in how it addressed housing needs in light of State Goal 10 (Housing). The plan did not adequately address the need for a variety of housing types to fit a variety of income levels. This is likely one reason why there is a “missing middle” in terms of available housing and a housing affordability crisis in Portland today.


The Infill Project is a piecemeal approach to address the above. However, it does not look at the issues of housing availability, variety and affordability in a holistic manner. In fact, this project has the potential to greatly impact the livability and character of many older established neighborhoods in Portland without consideration of the “missing middle”, infrastructure needs, needs for new parks, street maintenance needs, etc. In short, this is a piecemeal approach to planning.


The Infill Project also appears to be extremely biased in trying to “inject” substantial density into Portland’s east side neighborhoods (east of the river out to I-205) with very little impact on Portland’s west side. This protects the integrity of neighborhoods in west Portland while exposing thousands of acres of existing older single family neighborhoods in east Portland (which includes north Portland, east Portland and SE) to the potential for demolition of older houses and replacement by skinny homes, duplexes/triplexes, and ADU’s. The density increases proposed by your half mile corridor swath rezonings, the proposed ‘a’ overlay, and the push for ADU’s will result in increases of from 2 to 4 times the current density allowances, depending on the parent zone. The areas involved with these proposed changes will no longer be low density residential. They will, in essence, be moved into a moderate density range. Is the Infill Project attempting to make existing low density areas into areas that can accommodate the “missing middle”? If so, that is not the way concentric zoning theory works and something the flawed Portland Plan should have addressed, but evidently didn’t.


As mentioned, the ‘a’ overlay and zone density increases along a ¼ mile radius from transit streets (a half mile swath) is a substantial change to neighborhood character. My own property is proposed by this for a change from R5 to R2.5. And my neighborhood is an older neighborhood of craftsman bungalows, cottage style, cape cod, and other varieties of homes. Under the proposal, I fully anticipate many of these homes will ultimately be torn down and replaced by skinny homes, duplexes/triplexes, and rowhomes, which will clash with existing architectural styles. I also anticipate many homes, because of the tight fit of homes on smaller lots, will not provide any landscaping or driveways, and that parking onstreet will be in complete chaos because of this new density and from all the new apartment buildings going up on nearby transit streets which do not have their own parking. In short, you’re going to turn our neighborhoods into crowded ant farms, but you won’t be fixing the streets, doing anything about parking problems, or adding new neighborhood level parks to accommodate the thousands of anticipated new residents. How do you justify this by the Statewide Planning Goals? Granted, the changes will not come overnight as planning doesn’t work that way. However, in 20 years our neighborhoods will not be the same as now. The question then becomes, will they be better or worse?


And what about the “missing middle”? Wouldn’t it make sense to hold off on the Infill Project until you can figure out how to accommodate the “missing middle”? Think of the potential to provide for housing needs if you had areas designated in moderate to medium density which could contain courtyard apartments, garden apartments, tiny home clusters, communal living clusters, etc. Take a look at the housing cluster located at SE 41st and SE Division to see how a variety of housing sizes/shapes can be located on a smallish site but including landscaping for separation and buffers. We need more of these types of developments! Again, the housing crisis should be looked at holistically, not in piecemeal fashion, as good comprehensive planning calls out for. And if you had areas identified to accommodate the “missing middle” you wouldn’t need to densify the “heck” out of our traditional single family neighborhoods.


Your proposed bonus unit in the ‘a’ overlay for affordable housing is questionable. How would this be implemented? Also, you need to realize that the 80% mark indicated is still substantially higher than a person earning minimum wage can afford. You need to lower the bar or your level of affordability will be too high. And the push for ADU’s is surprising since for years these were not considered to be viable to count as “units”, but now they are?


And if you do go ahead with changing the lot size allowance per unit for R5 (from 1/5000 sf to 1/3000 sf), you should change the name of the district to R3 so as not to be misleading.


In defense of home builders, Portland has the reputation of being the most expensive and bureaucratic city to build in within Oregon and most of Washington. Part of the problem is, the bigger Portland becomes, the more cumbersome and expensive the permitting processes. In addition, the current archaic commission form of government complicates processes because of the separation of bureaus under different commissioners leads to budget competition and lack of cooperation between bureaus. You might consider major simplification to permit processes with dedicated staff to work just in those areas and with specific processing timelines. If you improved processing and cut expenses, you would see better quality housing being constructed and it would be easier to encourage the construction of more affordable (to all) units.


Finally, I resent that East Portland appears to be singled out for densification while the west side gets to keep its character and integrity. This type of activity has the potential to create not only a new type of gentrification within our older east side neighborhoods, but to also change the character and livability of those neighborhoods in a negative way. What is the justification for this, and, why the rush? I also urge you to extend the comment period for this project. I only discovered the project website recently and others I’ve talked to were unaware of it at all (the project has not been well advertised considering the large area of the City it impacts). Please plan for Portland’s growth holistically and get it right the first time, otherwise we will all suffer in the future from today’s mistakes.


Thanks for your consideration.


David Krogh, AICP

Retired Planner

Letters to the Editor December 2017

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