LUTC Minutes 2012-03-19


Eliot Land Use and Transportation Committee

Minutes for March 19th, 2012

Submitted by Chair, Mike Warwick

6:35 pm call to order

Present:  Mike, Clint, Allan, Laurie, Kirsten, and Lee.  Visitors from Project Network and Home Forward (formerly Housing Authority of Portland)


Minutes from the January meeting were approved by consensus.  Allan posted the draft minutes on the Eliot web site.  Allan asked if we needed a recorder.  I noted that I take notes in case I have to do something and had been preparing the minutes.  Laurie said she liked how I provided additional information in them.

Project Network Relocation

Representatives from Project Network asked to meet with the LUTC to discuss their plans to relocate just north of Fremont from their current location in Lower Albina.  Project Network’s current program in Lower Albina is in a former apartment building owned by the African American Health Coalition.  It provides housing and services for black women with children receiving drug and alcohol treatment.  The lease at the current location expires in 2014 and they plan to partner with Home Forward on a new facility for when it does.  The new facility will be on Beech between Mallory and Garfield, across from another Home Forward facility, the Mallory Court apartments.  The present site has 22 studio apartments,  The partnership with Home Forward will provide more post-treatment housing to compliment the treatment units operated by Project Network.  There will be 31 units in the treatment part of the project and 33 units of housing operated by Home Forward, in addition to treatment facilities, common areas, and playgrounds.  Gerding Edlen is the developer and Holst the architect.  Unfortunately, Holst is responsible for one of the ugliest new buildings in Eliot as well as other neighborhoods.  The proposed design for this facility looks similar, but it may be clad in brick, which would help.

There was little discussion of the proposal other than clarifying questions about the program and the relationship to Home Forward.  Kirsten noted that Mallory Court has a reputation for being a drug supermarket.  That apparently wasn’t mentioned at the presentation to the Boise neighborhood; however the new facility will have 24 hour staffing so it will be easier for Home Forward to keep an eye out for those kinds of problems and to better coordinate with the management of the Mallory Court.  Questions were asked about the fate of the current building.  There wasn’t any information on that score and it is likely the owners haven’t given it much thought because Project Network won’t be out for another two years.

Williams Avenue Improvement Project

Allan provided an update on the status of the project and indicated the next meeting will be “decision time.”  He thinks there is consensus to eliminate one through traffic lane to accommodate a bike track on the left side of the street.  That will allow buses to pull over to the right for passengers without crossing the bike lane.  In the most congested area (around Fremont) the bike track will be a shared left turn only lane.  The City intends to install traffic lights on Cook, although they have not identified a source of funds. There was a brief discussion of the attitude toward the recommendation and Allan indicated everyone seemed fairly supportive of the changes.

NE Quadrant Update

Mike provided an overview of the numerous discussions that have been underway among stakeholders west of I-5 that will be most affected by realignment of Flint, Vancouver, and Williams and from a new Hancock overpass.  Some of the proposals would bring significantly more traffic or disrupt traffic flows and parking for the Blazers, Left Bank, Paramount Apartments, and the cancer center, which is unacceptable to each and all.  Laurie and I have had a series of discussions with Planning staff regarding the Eliot’s objection to a Hancock overpass.  The City has been discussing redevelopment of the Blanchard site with both developers and prospective tenants.  One of the barriers to redevelopment that was cited was the need for all traffic to and from the site to have to flow through Broadway/Weidler.  The current congestion is a problem, and more intense use of the site will aggravate it further.  Providing additional connections to Vancouver/Williams and maybe Larabee/Interstate would address this issue.  Because redevelopment of that area as a vibrant, urban neighborhood is desired by Eliot and the Blazers as well as the City, we have been working to identify a solution that protects Eliot from cut through traffic; our primary concern.

Mike met with Lloyd Lindley, the co-chair of the NE Quadrant SAC to explore some options that met the needs of both Eliot and the west of I-5 (or South Albina) stakeholders.  What emerged was a proposal to retain at least the Vancouver/Williams overcrossings in the present alignment and a Hancock overpass that would connect directly to Dixon, rather than through a merge with Vancouver as proposed by City staff.  This proposal was introduced to the City planning team at a design charrette and it emerged as one of two preferred options.  It will now be presented to the NE Quadrant SAC in April.  Further meetings and discussions with South Albina, and interested Eliot stakeholders, are planned prior to that meeting.  The City is also going to draft some potential paths for the Hancock/Dixon connection, as it appears it will require raking part of the parking lot for the Paramount apartments.

Mike indicated the SAC process is accelerating, which is rubbing some members the wrong way.  Discussions are being cut short and materials dropped on SAC members at the last minute with the expectation the SAC will adopt them without sufficient time to read and consider them.  Three more SAC meetings are scheduled, with the critical votes coming in May and June.  At this point, the South Albina and most of the neighborhood stakeholders are unconvinced the investment in freeway improvements can be justified on safety grounds and that disruption during construction will damage the area more than the project will help future development.  City staff maintains that without the federal funds from the freeway project, the improvements to the surface streets the stakeholders want cannot be implemented.

Mike concluded by noting the schedule of two upcoming meetings.

Meeting was adjourned at 8 PM.