ODOT Teases New Highway Covers Options

For many years, The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been planning to do a major widening of I-5 through the “Rose Quarter” (underneath the Flint, Broadway, Weidler, Williams, and Vancouver bridges). This project will be at least $800 Million and cause severe disruption to the southern Eliot Neighborhood if built. Recently,

Continue reading ODOT Teases New Highway Covers Options

What’s so Scary about RIP? Residential Infill Project – Part Two

The City of Portland initiated the Residential Infill Project (RIP) to enable the development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and Air B-and-B type units on properties zoned “exclusively” for single-family homes.  The logic was that this zoning was intentionally discriminatory.  Although it does prevent the development of duplexes and other multi-unit buildings, it is arguable that it was specifically to discriminate against residents without the means to own or rent a single-family home on a single lot. 

Continue reading What’s so Scary about RIP? Residential Infill Project – Part Two

Does Portland have an Appetite for Restitution?

Restitution – noun – the restoration of something lost or stolen to its proper owner.

Across the country, movements are underway to give land back to descendants of people who had land taken from them. Urban renewal, freeway construction, and other uses of eminent domain removed people from their property at below-market rates across the country. Locally, the City of Portland, Emanuel Hospital, the Oregon Department of Transportation, and others had a hand in a number of these actions in and around our neighborhood. Several large top-down projects cut pieces out of a thriving majority-black neighborhood. There were many more minor land grabs, as well, which are not well documented, about which I have only learned bits and pieces from my older neighbors. Every time the City proposes a new project in the area, this old history is brought up because the impacted residents don’t want the City to forget and because until we make amends, we cannot move forward.

Continue reading Does Portland have an Appetite for Restitution?

Watch This Space for a New Art Installation

By Sue Stringer and Mike Warwick

North Russell at MLK Blvd

Do you recognize this building? In the past years the ENA Board has talked about getting a mural or some art installed on this wall. It is where NE Russell Street ends on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Baileywick Properties is working on a new art installation on the building. Stay tuned for more details in the next issue.

Also, in our next issue, we will have a map of all the art and murals in the neighborhood. If you have a favorite mural, we’d like it if you could email a photo and location or just the intersection to news@eliotneighborhood.org and we’ll add it to the map.

An Innovative Home Ownership Option

There isn’t anything about the building at 2021-2025 NE Rodney to indicate it is unconventional, but there is. It is the way the current owners financed its purchase for an affordable price and how that good fortune will be “paid forward.”

Typically, a home is purchased on a “fee simple” basis. You own the home, the land it sits on, and are free to do with it what you will – within the limits of local zoning and building regulations. One of the most important benefits of this form of ownership is that the owner is entitled to all profits upon the sale of the home.

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What’s So Scary about RIP?

Previous editions of the Eliot News have discussed Portland’s new, and novel, Residential Infill Project (RIP). On paper, it changes the zoning code to allow “higher” density development on what we normally consider single-family lots and associated neighborhoods. The objective is to address the “missing middle” of housing options between single-family homes and large apartment blocks by mixing other multi-family dwelling types amongst single-family homes. Two of the obvious examples of this are Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) and “flag” lots, both of which incorporate new dwelling units on a single lot.

Continue reading What’s So Scary about RIP?

Who pays property taxes and who does not? Land speculation has been hurting Eliot for generations

The Eliot neighborhood in 1937. Flint and Russell streets are noted and the area marked in black includes where Harriet Tubman Middle School is today and some of Legacy Emanuel property. Photo courtesy Portland Archives

The Eliot Neighborhood is a geographically unique neighborhood in Portland. Bounded geographically from the Willamette River to NE 7th Avenue and the Fremont Bridge/Fremont Street to N/NE Broadway Avenue, Eliot is shaped like a rectangle plus a triangle. While most current residents in Eliot live between N Vancouver and NE 7th, that was not always the case.

Continue reading Who pays property taxes and who does not? Land speculation has been hurting Eliot for generations

First Rose Lanes Painted in Eliot

The most progressive and potentially transformative transportation program in the City of Portland this century is a sneaky transit efficiency-boosting project called the Rose Lane Project. The goal of this project is to improve the speed of transit across the City. Many of the places where buses get most stuck in traffic are in central Portland, so you may have noticed some small upgrades already. Bus-only lanes heading towards the Steel Bridge on NW Everett Street were an early project that affects the #44, #4, and #35 routes that run through Eliot by serving as a northern extension of the Transit Mall into the Rose Quarter Transit Center.

Recently, the Rose Lanes have been painted in Southern Eliot along NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The right lane of the road is now transit and right-turns only for several miles. I have been using this route a lot on my commute by bike and I have noticed that the road feels a bit tamer with a small portion of the street designated for transit instead of the entire road being for all vehicles. It does not appear that traffic has been slowed at all by this change. I look forward to more changes from this project. You can find out more information about this by looking up the Portland Rose Lane Project.

The Human Cost of the I-5 Widening Project

The State and Regional governments renewed their commitment to the community destroying I-5 project by accepting the Transportation Department’s (ODOT) Environmental Assessment (EA).  To recap, ODOT, with the support of State leaders, intends to increase travel lanes in the Rose Quarter to eliminate the current lane-change bottleneck.  ODOT has tried to justify a project likely to cost a Billion dollars (!) for multiple reasons but has settled on “accident prevention.”  In so doing it can claim the additional lanes will not increase traffic volumes or speeds.  What it will do is make it easier for truck traffic from Lower Albina to merge onto I-5 and for all trucks to switch lanes to and from I-84 and I-405.  In other words, they claim commuters won’t benefit from time savings but lane changers will have fewer accidents.  Most of these claims have been either proven false or dependent on false assumptions.

Continue reading The Human Cost of the I-5 Widening Project

I-5 Community Advisory Board Disbanded

I-5 freeway and surrounding area. This aerial view is from Google Maps.

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The Oregon Department of Transportation just decided to dissolve its community advisory committee (right before a meeting where about half the committee was going to resign) because they wanted to “ensure more input from Albina’s historic Black community”.

Not mentioned was the fact that the community advisory committee was given almost no power to make any changes to the project and was basically asked to be a rubber stamp on the project. The city of Portland and the Albina Vision Trust have both stepped back from the project, removing their support.

It feels like the internal politicians inside ODOT are trying desperately to keep this project moving in their desired direction. It also feels like community activists are very close to getting the project killed completely.

The Road to a New Road, Interstate 5 Updates

By Ruth Eddy

The Oregon Department Of Transportation’s (ODOT)  plans to expand I-5 in our neighborhood are not moving at highway speeds. The reshaping of an asphalt landscape is slow. The big machinery that digs the dirt is quiet, the bureaucratic gears of planning and design are fully in motion, with three significant meetings occurring in the last few months.

First, the Oregon Transportation Committee (OTC) met on April 2nd to make a decision that had been delayed since December at Governor Brown’s request. At the end of the three-hour meeting, which was held on Zoom and live-streamed for the public on YouTube, the five-member board voted unanimously to move forward into a design phase on the I-5 Rose Quarter Project without completing an Environmental Impact Statement

In response to the forward motion set by the OTC, the project’s Executive Steering Committee (ESC) had its first Zoom meeting on May 22nd to set a framework by which to make future decisions about the project.  The 16 members of the ESC were led by facilitator Dr. Steven Holt. Half of nearly two-hour-long meeting was dedicated to introductions. Dr. Holt asked each of the members to answer the question, “What does restorative justice mean to you?”  The answers varied in detail but addressed similar themes. Marlon Holmes answered succinctly, “Calling on a community to address ills or wrongs committed against that community, and with the perpetrators addressing how those ills and wrongs have affected the community.” 

A week later, on May 28th, the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) held its second meeting, also on Zoom. According to Megan Chanel, the Rose Quarter Project manager, the project design was approximately 15% completed and CAC would advise all further work. “Think of it as we’ve brought the sandbox, but we need your help in burying some sand helping us build the sandcastle,” Chanel said.

Christopher John O’Connor, one of 24 members on the committee, believed the metaphor to be overly optimistic and offered his own saying, “The house has been built, we know how many bathrooms there’s going to be, we know what the general layout is, we’re going to be discussing… what color to paint it.”

Another member of the committee, Liz Fouther-Branch, expressed frustration with the obtuse language used to describe components of the project. Fouther-Branch said, “We need to be able to go back to our communities and speak to them in plain English about what the benefits are, what the impacts are. Breaking down the transportation language into community language so that you can build that trust in community.”

The CAC will meet again on Tuesday, June 23, 5:30-7:30. The next ESC meeting has not yet been scheduled, but all meetings are open to the public and archived on ODOT’s Youtube page.