Policy Changes and the Need for WPC

Changes in state transportation policy helped foster the conditions for WPC's start-up. In April 1991, the Land Conservation and Development Commission adopted the Transportation Planning Rule, which required Metro and local governments to reduce total automobile vehicle miles traveled by 10 percent over the next 20 years and another 10 percent over the next 30 years.           

As a result, cities and counties in the Portland area had to develop new Transportation System Plans and incorporate zoning and development standards that would make residences and businesses accessible to pedestrians, bicycles and transit riders.       

Portland's revision of the arterial street classification policy was already moving in that direction. The city had proposed a new "Transportation Element," which would incorporate existing arterial policy into a larger comprehensive plan. It also created a city Pedestrian Program, which would fund construction of sidewalks on major streets and create a pedestrian network policy, with a goal of having at least ten percent of all trips made on foot within twenty years.   

During a public hearing of the Portland Planning Commission in January 1992, six WPC officers and members testified in support of the program. "After seventy years of public investment in a single mode of transportation, it's time for a change in public policy and public investment," Klotz told the commission.       

WPC's efforts paid off. That summer, Bill Hoffman was hired as the manager for the new Pedestrian Program for the City of Portland. "The first place WPC had significant impact was in the creation of the city pedestrian program," says Dotterrer.   

The WPC also had a direct impact on the Transportation Planning Rule (TPR) itself, says Dotterrer. In 1993, board members testified in support of stringent regulations requiring all new buildings on designated transit streets to be oriented toward the street--a provision of the TPR that had come under attack by several retail developers. In 1995, in conjunction with 1000 Friends of Oregon and Sensible Transportation Options for People, the WPC successfully appealed a Washington County ordinance which would have violated the TPR by allowing buildings to be setback from the street behind acres of parking.