Eliot Land Use and Transportation Committee
Meeting Minutes – January 16, 2012
Meeting was called to order by Chair, Mike Warwick at 6:30 PM as scheduled. A quorum was present.
Review of NE Quadrant freeway proposals
Mike reviewed the current status of the freeway options being considered by ODOT and PDOT as part of the NE Quadrant planning process. The three neighborhood representatives to the NE Quadrant advisory committee were invited to review the most recent analyses and proposed options based on the December advisory committee discussion and decisions. Staff from ODTO and PDOT spent the time over the holidays simulating a variety of options and their impact on freeway and surface street traffic. Staff wanted to present these to the neighborhood representatives in advance of the meeting. There was a limited amount of information handed out at the meeting so Mike brought what he could to review with the LUC. He prepared a more complete description of the options which is posted on the Eliot website. It updates his article in the Eliot News. The same materials were presented to the NE Quadrant committee January 19th and are available in the “packet” for that meeting on the Portland Plan web site.
In summary, staff determined the greatest improvements were provided by removing and replacing the existing freeway overcrossings and adding an auxiliary lane for merging/exiting traffic. Additional benefits are provided using the braided ramps south of Broadway. This results is two options the staff want to consider (aux lane and braided ramp). Staff developed two options for reconfiguration of surface streets to manage freeway traffic and reduce conflicts between pedestrians and bikes. One option involves putting “lids” over the freeway at Broadway/Weidler and Vancouver/Hancock. The Vancouver/Hancock lid creates a connection across the freeway at Hancock that is new; that connection is expected to create cut-through traffic in Eliot and is, therefore, being opposed by Eliot’s representatives (as well as residents on Hancock and adjacent to Rodney Street.
Proposed “New Seasons” Development
The owners of the former Wonder Bread site south of Fremont between Williams and Vancouver have asked for a pre-application meeting with the city to discuss their proposal for a new single story building and associated parking that may be used for a New Seasons store. New Seasons will (may) be a tenant only. They are not the project developer and therefore, aren’t the one that needs to comply with zoning and building codes. The committee shared their knowledge of the project. Mike will attend the pre-app. The meeting is for the benefit of the developer, however if neighborhood representatives show up they are usually asked for comment, so Mike asked the committee for any comments he should make. The committee agreed on three major concerns: first, management of traffic the store will attract given the area already suffers from poor traffic flow and conflicts with bike commuters; second, opening up the right of way to extend Ivy Street through the site; third, building the building to allow for future expansion upwards (adding floors over the store).
At the pre-app the City responded that traffic wasn’t a planning issue and therefore couldn’t be a basis for objecting to a proposal. Mike made it clear that simply adding traffic signals on Cook would not address the likely problems that will develop because the site plan doesn’t have a surplus of parking. He said there will be conflicts over parking on residential streets that the City will have to address. That seemed to fall on deaf ears. The developer indicated the parking lot would be accessed via an alley through the site, but the lot lines are such that it doesn’t line up exactly with Ivy. They will provide sidewalks that will align with the sidewalks on the south side of Ivy as a result. They also indicated they only intend for this to be a single story building.
Pre-app for Proposed High Rise Apartment Building on the SE corner of Williams and Fremont
Ben Kaiser is proposing to build a new multi-story apartment block on the block facing the proposed New Seasons. His application requests a change from a medium density residential (R) zone to an “employment” (E) zone. The primary purpose of a E zone it to support employment/job creation activities, typically light industrial. While residential development is allowed, it is not encouraged. However, the E zone provides more leeway for development, including fewer restrictions on building setbacks and other features that makes it attractive for lazy developers, as is painfully obvious in some of the new apartment blocks on Williams north of Fremont. Ben’s pre-app appears to envision towers of 45 and 65 feet high adjacent to single story residences on the edge of the Eliot Historic Conservation District. Mike suggested that Eliot oppose the zone change since it does not provide any employment as well as the proposed heights next to the historic district. The committee agreed and Mike will carry that message to the pre-app meeting. Since Ben is known to at least two committee members, he will be given a heads up prior to the meeting and offered a chance to amend his proposal at the pre-app.
Lot Division for 18 NE Stanton
A developer recently purchased this lot, which is substandard (40 feet wide instead of 50). It is adjacent to the residence of Board member Joan Ivan who lives in one of Eliot’s few remaining Victorian cottages. The developer is proposing to partition the lot into 3 parcels with two in the rear and one in the front with a common green to tie the rear lots to the street frontage. The front parcel will abut Joan’s property. They also intend to ask for a variance for the side set back to compensate for the fact the lot is narrower than normal. Once the partition is granted, the buildings on each parcel the single buildings can be approved without LUC review. It wasn’t clear to Mike how we could affect that element of the proposal or even if we could change the planned partition. The committee agreed that if the common green and front parcel were reversed, we wouldn’t have a problem, but that if they are not, we would not approve the side setback request, at least, if it was in our purview. Mike is going to find out what power we have and present our concerns to whatever staff he can as well as to the developer.
Meeting was adjourned shortly before its 8:30 scheduled end.