Diverters

Two competing perspectives about a PBOT-proposed street diverter at SE Lincoln and 50th circulated through the Mt. Tabor and Richmond neighborhoods last month.

Those supporting the diverter say it is essential for the Greenways bikeway program that extends from 60th along Lincoln, across 50th and through the Richmond neighborhood and into Ladds Addition.

Supporters are largely members of bicycle coalitions vested in more bikes and fewer cars on the road. PBOT says the plan will reduce cut-through car traffic and create low-stress environments for pedestrians as well as bikers.

Critics call for specific car counts and accident data, countering that traffic on Lincoln between 60th and 50th is generally light. Concerns about reduced access for residents and emergency vehicles were also raised at a packed Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association meeting attended by residents faced with detours around Mt. Tabor’s lengthy “super blocks” as well as increased congestion on “alternative routes” along Division and Hawthorne.

A PBOT Greenways meeting at Atkinson Elementary, 5800 SE Division St is scheduled for  Ruesday, December 5,  6 – 7:30 pm. MP

Trees

Portlanders raking the last of fallen leaves may grimace at the adage that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. As Portland faces what a speaker at the City’s annual tree summit called countless construction cranes and condos, the City’s tree canopy needs attention.

Trees are the lungs of the city – cleaning air, purifying water, shading children, abating traffic noise. Studies show they even improve mental health.  While the City pushes planting in low-income “tree deserts”, maintenance and renewal are also needed in leafy enclaves where mature trees may suffer from disease and neglect.

At roundtable breakouts during the Mt. Scott Community Center seminar, attendees reported the loss of beloved trees downed in demolitions. Citing instances in which developers had a healthy tree declared diseased in order to remove it, residents called for better protections with stiffer penalties and enforcement.

Though the City does not track the specific impact of construction on trees, more than half of Portland’s tree canopy is located in residential neighborhoods, areas targeted for Infill. As a result, tree removal and less space for planting trees may be inevitable.

“But despite this pressure,” according to Portland Parks and Recreation Urban Forestry Botanic Specialist Jeff Ramsey, “there remains ample space for tree planting and canopy expansion in most areas of the city.”

Ramsey said tree maintenance costs contribute to some resistance to planting. Property owners are required by code to maintain publically-owned street trees. He said the City is seeking solutions to the costly burden.

He stressed that tree planting efforts reflect goals of the City to ensure that low income neighborhoods have equal access to the real benefits of trees. His department has worked with homeowners to plant some 450 trees in private yards as part of a  Yard Tree Giveaway. MP