Letters to the Editor Jan 2018

To the Editor:

The City has been falsifying and covering up information regarding its plan to install traffic diverters on Lincoln St.

After the City installed traffic diverters on Clinton St. two years ago, I researched state guidelines, specifically, ODOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Guide.

I could not find anything to support the City’s claims, widely reported in the media at that time, that ODOT guidelines required the installation of traffic diverters on Clinton because the speed limit was 25 MPH and the vehicle count on some days was up to 3,000 cars.

What I did find instead is that there are no hard and fast requirements for the installation of traffic diverters on bicycle boulevards such as Clinton St.

In particular, the graphic, Urban Suburban Recommended Separation Matrix on PDF page 42 of ODOT’s guide, shows that Clinton, with a vehicle count of up to 3,000 cars per day, combined with a reduction in the speed limit to 20 MPH, would have clearly fallen within the recommended safety range, and would not have required the installation of traffic diverters or any other changes.

Those same guidelines apply to Lincoln St.

In fact, according to guidelines, when it comes to installing traffic diverters, there is a great deal of flexibility and many factors besides vehicle counts that need to be taken into consideration, including the negative impact of traffic being diverted onto nearby streets.

It turns out the City chose not to follow ODOT’s guidelines, and instead created its own, which arbitrarily mandated a maximum target of 1,000 vehicles per day.

Two years ago, the City chose to amend Transportation System Plan (TSP) Policy 6.13 Objective D, which, prior to being amended, would have essentially prohibited the use of traffic diverters along Clinton because of the negative impact that traffic diverters on so-called “cut-through” streets like Clinton impose on nearby streets.

In fact, last year I found a policy document still on the City’s website which described cut-through streets like Clinton and Lincoln as a vital component in any street grid plan, allowing drivers to efficiently bypass traffic congestion, construction zones and other obstructions.

The City falsely claimed it was prohibited by state law from reducing the speed limit on Clinton to 20 MPH. In fact, ORS 810.180(5) spells out routine procedures that would have allowed the City to apply to ODOT to have the speed limit on Clinton permanently reduced to 20 MPH. The same could be done on Lincoln rather than install traffic diverters.

Meanwhile, City documents contain misleading statistics. For example, the City reported 3,000 vehicles travelled on Clinton each day before the traffic diverters were installed.

That sounds like a lot of cars, but the City’s vehicle counts reveal that even during peak periods, there were rarely more than 240 cars per hour travelling in the same direction.

That’s 4 cars per minute, or one car every 15 seconds, on average, so that was barely a trickle – and that was during peak periods.

The bottom line is that there is simply no engineering methodology or data to support the City’s plan to install traffic diverters on Lincoln St., and that the City is basing its position on politics, not engineering.

Peter Apanel

To the Editor:

Thank you for covering the changes to our neighborhoods, i.e., the shortage of affordable housing options for new residents and some of the city’s one-sided responses.

We moved here twenty five years ago to be in an urban environment with all the extras Portland is justly proud of. We have supported the quality of life here, approving every school, park, and library bond measure.

Our business, Site Painters, producing commissioned art forms for public places, has done well enough for us to buy a modest home. Three years ago we built an art studio in our backyard, concerned that our rented studio would be gentrified out of our budget.

This dream goal was accomplished, we received notification this fall that the adjoining property was on the Map Refinement List proposing to up-zone it from split lot R2/R5 to entirely R2.

The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability explained that under R2 zoning the 3-bedroom 1920’s home could be demolished and replaced with several buildings with a height up to 40ft, 5 feet from the property line.

The collateral damage of the R2  density collision with our home and studio is the valuable solar energy resource of the studio roof, loss of light in the house, over-shadowing of gardens, and loss of three mature trees.

The four contiguous lots designated R2 adrift in a neighborhood of R5 do not conform to the city’s criterion for this zoning: major transportation corridors and retail hubs.

We are circulating a petition challenging this action and asking the City to respect and protect the investments current Portland residents have collectively made to the diversity of its distinctive neighborhoods.

A final decision will be made by the City Council this winter. A strong response to our petition will be very persuasive. For your copy contact john@sitepainters.net.

John Early

Letters to the Editor Jan 2018

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