What do Pine State Biscuits, Sizzle Pie Pizza, the Community Cycling Center, and Reverend Nat’s Cider have in common? All are expected to be new tenants in the re-purposed Trade Bindery building on NE Schuyler between NE 1st and 2nd. In fact, the Community Cycling Center moved their administrative office around the first of March (their storefront on Alberta is unaffected).
Eliot’s proximity to the river, the Fremont Bridge, and the established trees in our yards and nearby parks makes it one of the better eastside habitats for birds and bird watching. This includes Cooper’s Hawks that periodically visit (and nest) in Irving Park, Peregrine Falcons that nest in the Fremont Bridge, and Red Tailed Hawks that try to take backyard chickens. I have been visited by Great Blue Herons eating fish out of my, now empty, pond.
Readers of this column will know that the NE Quadrant phase of the Central City Plan update recently finished. The resulting Plan was approved by City Council. This plan is “advisory” and may be changed of modified subsequently. Concern about possible changes that would upset the compromises agreed to by the stakeholder committee resulted in a request that the committee be notified of any prospective changes and re-engaged to review and comment before they are adopted. It isn’t clear Council will be bound by that request, but here is hoping it will be.
The Eliot News is one of the primary ways our neighborhood association reaches out to our neighbors: ALL of them, some of whom are elderly and/or poor and do not have internet access and whose views would otherwise ignored. It is one of the few remaining ink and paper neighborhood association newsletters.
When I sent the moldings in my home off to the stripper, I noted the name on the back appeared to be German. I also suspected the owner worked for the railroad because the front door is a custom size, probably to accommodate a window in the shape of a Union Pacific shield, which dates from the 1880s, and my home was built in 1908. A recent Oregonian article, (“NE Portland church tells story…” 1/12/2013) confirmed these suspicions. Although the article warned of the potential tragic loss of churches founded by German immigrants, it noted that these settlers were from the Volga region of Russia.
Eliot’s reputation as a high crime area, along with NE Portland generally, is undeserved. Crime statistics are skewed by criminal activity directed at visitors from out of the area to the Rose Quarter and Lloyd Center, primarily car prowls and thefts, but thefts from stores and offices as well. As the bank robber Willy Horton said, “You go where the money is.”
The State requires the City to adopt and update a comprehensive land use plan for a 25 year future period. Multiple plans are embedded within this process, including transportation plans, district plans, and Portland’s Central City Plan. The City is in the midst of updates to both the Central City and Comprehensive (city-wide) Plans. Portions of Eliot are in the Central City and are covered by that Plan update, as has been described in this column for the past two years. The Central City update is proceeding in four stages corresponding to different quadrants of the central city. Eliot is in the Northeast Quadrant, which is the first part of the central city plan to be updated. That update is now complete after two years of meetings, in which Eliot was well represented. The final plan will go to City Council for review and approval in October, with the other central city quadrants to follow.
One of the hot button issues in the NE Quadrant Plan process was bike and pedestrian safety, particularly along Broadway near I-5. In response to a spate of recent vehicle/bike accidents and pressure from multiple parties, including Eliot, City staff have agreed to try and speed the adoption of some of the proposals in the Plan. One of these was to limit access to North Wheeler from Broadway as that has been a contributor to bike accident statistics. To do so the City erected temporary wooden barriers with “no right turn” signs.
This column has described the NE Quadrant Planning process over the past 20 months of Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) meetings. That portion of the Central City Plan is nearing its end with the SAC’s adoption of the Facility Plan. The process has been driven by the desire of ODOT to expand I-5 between I-405 and I-84 and PDOT’s hope of leveraging federal freeway dollars for surface street improvements. Because the City’s hope depends on federal money, this hope has always been a house of cards and remains so.
The NE Quadrant planning process is part of the Central City Plan, which is part of the longer term Comprehensive Plan. Each of these plans are required by State law and need to be updated every 20 to 25 years. Now that the transportation component of the Quadrant plan is ending, the land use component will wrap up over the summer. This will only cover Eliot land use issues in Lower Albina and along Broadway. The rest of Eliot (and the City) will be covered in the Comp Plan, due in two years.
Lori Simpson and I have represented Eliot in a joint State/City effort to plan the NE quadrant of the as part of the larger Central City Plan. The Central City includes all of downtown as well as the Southeast Industrial area and our quadrant that is the area from the river east to 15th, south of Broadway to I-84, including Lower Albina and part of Eliot west of Williams south of Russell. The process is near its end after 15 months of meetings. This link provides access to the formal proceedings, which are well worth reviewing: http://www.portlandonline.com/bps/index.cfm?c=53257.
The NE Quadrant Plan has two primary purposes; to evaluate options to enhance I-5 performance (meaning expand) between I-84 and I-405, and to update the Central City Plan (including revising zoning as necessary). This is a lot of work for both City and State staff and for the Citizen Advisors (CAC) from each of the neighborhood association and other stakeholders. As a result, the process has frequent meetings of separate “transportation” and “land use” subcommittees of the CAC that discuss options in-between roughly monthly CAC meetings and quarterly public Open Houses.
New Construction Means New Residents
Two new residential in-fill developments are moving forward in Eliot. The first one is rising on the site of the former Morning Star Baptist Church. While it was sad to see the church leave the neighborhood, the vacant lot wasn’t a welcome replacement. Now several duplex-style townhomes are being built on the site. These will soon be joined by five single homes on the parking lot of the former Cox and Cox funeral home (Graham and Rodney). Despite the sour real estate market, Eliot remains an attractive location and the builders of both projects claim they have had no problem selling these types of homes elsewhere.
The recession has slowed development activities in Eliot so the major land use action involves City plans for the NE Quadrant as part of the Central City Plan update. The Central City Plan covers the downtown area east of the West Hills as well as our area of NE (Lower Albina, Lloyd District, Rose Quarter, and points in-between). The NE Quadrant plan is the first to be developed of the four quadrants in the Central City. The plan is a partnership between the City and the State because the Department of Transportation wants to improve freeway capacity on I-5 between I-84 and I-405 and needs to replace ramps and overpasses to do so. That will require changes to surface streets so it makes sense to plan for that within the Central City Plan update. The proposed freeway changes are expected to be “temporary,” which means sufficient for the next 20 to 30 years only. The freeway element has dictated that the Plan process proceed on two tracks, one for freeway improvements and one for land use.
The Central City plan process is in full swing in N/NE Portland. The process will re-examine and rezone the entire “central city” which includes the Lloyd District, Convention Center, Broadway/Weidler corridor, and portions of Eliot south of Russell. Our area of town is the first of the four central city “quadrants” to plan. The effort in this quadrant is unusual in that it includes the participation (and funding) of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). ODOT’s interest is in improving the freeway between I-84 and I-405. Improvements to the freeway mainline will require changes to the freeway ramps as they intersect Broadway and Weidler. ODOT’s preference is for a conventional freeway interchange, which will take up a much larger part of the neighborhood than the current ramps do. In order to minimize property condemnation and demolition many of their options make use of existing surface streets. In Eliot, this includes Flint and Hancock, which ODOT’s plans envision as part of the freeway access system. As a result, traffic on these streets will increase significantly.