Oregon Walks Testimony on Portland Central City 2035 Plan

September​ ​6th,​ ​2017

Portland​ ​City​ ​Council

Re:​ ​Testimony​ ​on​ ​Central​ ​City​ ​2035​ ​Plan

Mayor Wheeler & Commissioners,

Oregon Walks appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on Portland’s Central City 2035 Plan. We are the state’s pedestrian advocacy organization and we work to ensure that walking is safe, convenient and accessible for everyone.

We believe there are a lot of important and exciting elements to this plan, as well as some serious concerns that we ask you to address before adopting.

We support the designation of the Central City as a Multimodal Mixed-Use Area (MMA), as it encourages further high quality connectivity and pedestrian oriented mixed use development. We are excited about the City’s analysis of barriers for people to walk into and around the Central City as part of the MMA, and encourage the City to address those barriers as part of the Central City Multimodal Safety Project.

We also support the new Central City Pedestrian Classifications - particularly the addition of several new Transit/Pedestrian streets. However, the list and descriptions of Central City projects included in the TSP should reflect those classifications. For example, many projects on the lists that are designed to serve bicycles, should be revisited to look for opportunities to improve the pedestrian environment at the same time.

Additionally, we appreciate and are very excited about the new Work Zone requirements for maintaining pedestrian passage during construction. Sidewalk closures have been an especially acute problem in the Central City which has seen a lot of development activity.

We applaud the incorporation of 2035 Performance Targets for non single occupancy vehicle mode share. However, we would prefer to see the performance targets be applied to all trips, not just commute trips, in order to fully capture the travel behavior of all citizens for all their daily needs.

Consistent with Policy 9.48 of the Portland Comprehensive Plan, which prioritizes walking as the highest priority to consider when making transportation systems decisions, we recommend prioritizing investments in pedestrian improvement projects, and revisiting previously identified projects for other modes to ensure they also benefit people walking.

To be consistent with this recommendation, as well as the City’s 2016 Vision Zero Action Plan, and the 2015 Climate Action Plan -​ ​we​ ​specifically​ ​request​ ​the removal​ ​of​ ​#20119,​ ​#20120​ ​and​ ​#20121​ ​from​ ​the​ ​list​ ​of​ ​projects,​ ​and​ ​the adoption​ ​of​ ​road​ ​pricing​ ​that​ ​is​ ​reinvested​ ​into​ ​equity​ ​&​ ​safety​ ​concerns,​ ​as well​ ​as​ ​transit​ ​options​ ​to​ ​increasing​ ​travelling​ ​capacity​ ​through​ ​the​ ​region. Investing in these projects, that require acquisition of right-of-way for additional freeway capacity, does not align with the stated goals of these adopted policies, nor do they benefit the safety, health, or livability of Portland residents.

In​ ​addition,​ ​we​ ​support​ ​the​ ​Climate​ ​Justice​ ​Collaborative’s​ ​call​ ​for​ ​a​ ​halt​ ​to staff​ ​time​ ​and​ ​resources​ ​dedicated​ ​toward​ ​the​ ​Green​ ​Loop​ ​project​ ​until​ ​the same​ ​investments​ ​are​ ​made​ ​in​ ​areas​ ​of​ ​the​ ​greatest​ ​need,​ ​on​ ​projects​ ​driven
by​ ​frontline​ ​communities.​ ​We support the Green Loop concept, but while many low-income communities and communities of color lack even the most basic pedestrian infrastructure, we simply cannot support this project moving forward without equal investment and resources dedicated toward projects like the Lents Green Ring, improving pedestrian safety in the Cully neighborhood, and developing green spaces and safe routes in the Jade District.

We believe that scarce transportation resources and serious climate, safety, and equity concerns facing Portlanders - that are more apparent than ever - are clear indicators that we need bold change. This requires thoughtful investments in our city’s future, and we believe that the Central City 2035 Plan is an opportunity to showcase that commitment to change.

Please continue to move important elements of the Central City Plan forward, while showing Portlanders that we can do things differently - and remove, pause, or scale back projects that do not address our safety, equity, and climate priorities.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to comment.

Sincerely,

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Noel Mickelberry
Executive Director