Tag: Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty

SE 89th and Taylor LID’s Burden and Benefit

On October 12th, Portland City Council approved a declaration of intent to form the SE 89th Ave and Taylor St Local Improvement District (LID). This proposed infrastructure project would rebuild 450 feet of SE 89th Avenue adjacent to Berrydale Park, adding curbs and sidewalks to this partially paved roadway. The LID would also add sidewalks on the south side of SE Taylor Street from 92nd Avenue to 98th Avenue. Although unanimously approved, the Council members expressed deep concerns regarding the financial burden placed on the adjacent homeowners, some of whom testified against this LID’s formation.

Local Improvement Districts form when a majority of property owners in an area elect to pool private funds with the City of Portland, sharing the cost of infrastructure construction. Landowners commonly use LIDs to improve unpaved streets and reconstruct paved roads not built to current engineering standards. Although SE 89th Avenue has paved travel lanes, it’s bordered by curbless gravel shoulders, lacks stormwater management, and has no sidewalks. Andrew Aebi, Portland’s Local Improvement District Administrator, worked with Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to propose this LID formation ahead of Berrydale Park’s renovation in the Spring of 2024. Portland Parks & Recreation owns the majority of street frontages included in this LID and will shoulder the bulk of its costs.

Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) chose to pursue this expanded infrastructure improvement project based on lessons learned from the missed opportunities of past projects. In 2007, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) built Holly Farm Park in a neighborhood of SW Portland without sidewalks, consistent curbs, or stormwater management. Crews constructed the missing infrastructure around the Park’s frontage and reconstructed the road to the center of the street. However, the properties across from the Park still lack sidewalks and stormwater management. Aebi pointed to this project as a turning point in the City. The lost opportunity to improve conditions for adjacent residents was glaring. PP&R now collaborates with the other Portland bureaus to include infrastructure upgrades during Park construction and encourages LID formations so area residents can take advantage of discounted upgrades made cheaper by piggybacking on funded projects.

At last Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Aebi explained that regardless of a LID’s formation, the Berrydale Park project will include curb and sidewalk construction on PP&R property. However, as is now standard procedure, City staff proposed the SE 89th Ave and Taylor St Local Improvement District to offer cost savings to adjacent property owners. If this LID is approved by City Council on November 30th, residences involved in the LID could pay substantially less for the infrastructure improvements. “We have structured this LID so that Parks pays the lion’s share of LID Costs,” said Aebi. The savings stem from an 800,000 commitment to the LID from PP&R and other City contributions intended to defer the financial burden placed on homeowners. The City will cover all roadway reconstruction costs and only ask residents to pay for the curbs and sidewalks built in front of their property.

Even with all the expected cost savings for property owners, the City is seeking a significant sum. If City Council enacts the LID as presented, 14 property owners will each contribute close to $24,000. Payment is due after LID work is completed, with the option to pay over time. Financed over 20 years, people would pay $165 per month for the infrastructure added to their property. Although not an exorbitant amount, people on fixed incomes could face hardship due to the forced monthly payment. Commissioner Dan Ryan expressed reluctance to approve the LID, fearing that this financial imposition could jeopardize retired people’s ability to age in place.

Looking west on SE Taylor showing where the sidewalk ends at SE 89th

In addition to the homeowners opposed to the LID, City Council heard from three testifiers in favor of the project. However, those in support of the LID were not members of the planned improvement district. Instead, they all lived near Berrydale Park and planned to use the sidewalk infrastructure to navigate the neighborhood. One speaker, who uses a wheelchair, mentioned the challenges of moving around his street due to the lack of curb ramps and sidewalks. His testimony highlighted the shared responsibility for infrastructure in a community and how delaying these updates will negatively impact other people on the street.

City staff will keep working with affected property owners and try to find options that everyone can accept. Andrew Aebi anticipates returning to Council in November with two different proposals for a LID in this area. He intends to present an option that will fully modernize the public infrastructure around the Park’s property and another that creates fewer enhancements but still builds the pedestrian access needed for parkgoers and schoolchildren walking to this destination. City Council will hear this item next month and likely vote on the LID formation in December. 

PBOT Extends On-Street Seating and Public Plazas

At a press conference Monday, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced plans to extend two pandemic relief programs and work to make them permanent. PBOT Director Chris Warner joined Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to highlight the successes of the Healthy Businesses permits and Portland Public Street Plazas program. The free Healthy Businesses permits will extend through August 31st and then require businesses to pay a fee for parking space seating.

At this week’s event, Neil Mattson spoke about Montavilla’s successful Street Plaza and how both programs supported the neighborhood during difficult times. As president of the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association, Mattson led the development of the community plaza on SE 79th Avenue. PBOT staff recognized this public gathering space as one of the program’s success stories and welcomed its return this season. Mattson confirmed the plaza’s restorative influence on the area. “It really showed that when we take back the street and we use it as a place for coming together, that it does build community.”

Neil Mattson, president of the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association

Mattson further explained the essential service provided to the community through PBOT’s free permits for parking lane dining areas. “In Montavilla, we have 24 businesses currently offering outdoor seating. If we hadn’t had the ability to have the Healthy Businesses permits, those businesses, I’m pretty confident [they] would all be gone today.” The success of these fresh-air extensions of restaurants and bars is evident through how they transformed over time. What began as roped-off parking spaces soon grew into three-sided sheds dotting curbs throughout the neighborhood.

When PBOT first rolled out the program, they envisioned umbrellas and tents, not wood structures with corrugated roofs. The sturdy construction that indicates success could conflict with the Healthy Businesses program’s transition into a permanent City amenity. Starting September 1st, all permit holders will need to renew their permits for the program. The renewal process will include a compliance review that will likely require modifications to what businesses have constructed over the last two years.

Dylan Rivera, PBOT’s Public Information Officer, explained how businesses might need to adjust as the Healthy Businesses program matures. “There are people out there, businesses who put tables in the street without even coming to us for a permit, even though the Permit was free,” said Rivera. For those establishments, compliance will start with a permit application and reworking their space within the guidelines.

Other business owners have permits but obstructed the public right-of-way or constructed outdoor seating beyond what is allowed. PBOT has concerns that pedestrians and wheelchairs can not navigate the sidewalk through some seating configurations. Corrections will mostly center on maintaining the required six feet of sidewalk clearance. The more challenging conflicts will arise from overbuilt outdoor seating. “There are people out of compliance right now, and we need to have a conversation with them,” said Rivera.

PBOT will have conversations with permit holders throughout the spring and continue into the summer. The goal is to contain outdoor seating in temporary movable structures. “This summer, we’re hoping to start talking about what are some sensible guidelines to help with vision clearance, especially close to crosswalks and intersections, and what does temporary look like?” Said Rivera. “There’ll be lots of conversations and then warnings.”  

PBOT’s primary concern is for the preservation of safety and to maintain access to public spaces. Much of Portland’s infrastructure runs above the sidewalk or below the street, and utility workers need access along the road within a few days’ notice. Healthy Businesses seating areas must be able to move out of the way within that timeframe. PBOT is taking a soft approach to this transition. As the year moves closer to September, PBOT staff will speak to Healthy Businesses permit holders and provide guidance for the new rules. Dylan Rivera assures business owners that they are not pursuing imidate changes.

Although PBOT intends to make both programs permanent, the continuation of Healthy Businesses permits and the Street Plazas Program are contingent on funding from the Portland City Council. The long-term success of these community-strengthening initiatives is dependent on their inclusion in the City’s 2022-23 budget. Commissioner Hardesty encouraged Portlanders to voice their support for these PBOT programs to her fellow City Council members. Over the next six months, look for the return of Street Plazas and subtle changes to outdoor seating as businesses prepare for compliance requirements.


Disclosure – The author of this article serves on the Montavilla/East Tabor Business Association Board.

PBOT Daylighting Corners on NE Glisan

Early this morning, crews from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) installed new no parking signs near the northeast and southwest corners of NE Glisan Street. The changes are part of a citywide vision clearance program designed to improve safety at uncontrolled intersections on Portland’s crash-prone streets. Bureau staff concentrated on blocks 6800 through 7300, with more work expected further east at a later date.

PBOT graphic showing parking spaces removed

The process of removing obstructions at an intersection is often referred to as “Daylighting.” Vehicles parked on Portland streets can block sightlines, making crossings hazardous. By setting on-street vehicle parking away from corners, cars executing right turns have improved visibility of pedestrians entering the crosswalk. In most cases, PBOT only needs to remove one parking space per block to achieve the required 20-foot setback and attain enhanced sightlines at an intersection.

PBOT staff installing No Parking sign

Although PBOT typically implements vision clearance on streets during paving and capital projects, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty secured funding to accelerate these changes on High Crash Network streets. Many Montavilla streets bear that designation, including 82nd Avenue, E Burnside, SE Division Street, NE Glisan Street, NE Halsey Street, and SE Stark Street. Expect to see similar vision clearance work applied to parking on those streets by the end of June 2022.

The loss of parking may create a hardship for those visiting these areas. However, PBOT is attempting to maximize safety while reserving minimum curbside space. The improved visibility at these corners will save lives and cut down on collisions caused by an obstructed view while making right turns. Expect more No Parking sign installation work over the next few months.

PBOT staff operating vehicle with auger attachment

Officials Tour 82nd Ave Ahead of Improvements

Today, three elected officials toured SE 82nd Ave to highlight proposed safety investments coming to the roadway. Thanks to United States Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the recently passed US House infrastructure package contains $5 million for 82nd Ave safety improvements. These federal dollars will join $185 million in State and City funds previously committed to 82nd Ave improvements as part of the jurisdictional transfer of the State-owned highway to the City of Portland.

State Representative Khanh Pham and Portland City Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty joined Rep. Blumenauer on the July 9th walk from SE Hawthorne Blvd to the APANO offices on SE Division Street. Positioned on the sidewalks of 82nd Ave, members of the procession observed the failing infrastructure and talked about future repairs.

Along the journey, Comm. Hardesty and others address the concern that gentrification often follows transit improvement projects. The group agreed that 82nd Ave projects need to consider their impact on existing residents and businesses to minimize displacement. Preventing community upheaval was a concern echoed later by Rep. Blumenauer at the press conference that followed today’s tour. “There is a significant amount of wealth to be generated by doing it right, but we have to do it… so it doesn’t displace and drive people away.” He called for projects to “reinforce the elements of community” and kickstart developments that serve all income levels.

At the press conference, the speakers celebrated the infrastructure improvements coming to the roadway. Better lighting and enhanced crosswalks will provide residents near this street the same safety other Portlanders have within their neighborhoods. These upgrades join public transportation developments designed to make living along 82nd Ave feasible.

These infrastructure improvements make the area suitable for more density housing projects that use the untaped real estate above commercial spaces. Rep. Pham expressed dismay at the number of “Mega Storage Units” being created along the roadway. Rep. Blumenauer agreed that those facilities negatively affect community-building efforts. He explained that Self Storage businesses allow companies to hold onto land and generate some profit while they wait for the value of the property to rise, creating “black holes in the community.”

Rep. Blumenauer is a longtime believer in East Portland’s potential. Years ago, he aggressively pressed for PCC’s to expand into the Southeast, with the desire to create social destinations. Much of 82nd Ave’s transportation move people through the area instead of bringing people in. “82nd Ave is the highest volume of transit in the city [and] it has been a lost opportunity for as long as I remember,” Rep. Blumenauer recalled. Fortunately, investments coming to the highway will create the safe spaces people need to live, walk, and build their community. 

Early next year, 82nd Ave will become part of Portland’s network of roads and begin receiving upgrades to make the street safe and modern. Last month, the Oregon legislature approved $80 million in funds that will partially pay for 82nd Ave’s transfer to the Portland Bureau of Transportation. It was one of the last obstacles to overcome ahead of next year’s jurisdictional transfer.

Rep. Blumenauer praised the work of Rep. Pham and Comm. Hardesty on their efforts to move the decades-long transfer process near completion. It required countless hours of negotiations before State and City staff agreed to the terms of transfer. However, the agreement would have stalled if not for an influx of federal recovery funding. Years of work needed to coincide with the right timing for infrastructure investments. Today’s events represented an acknowledgment that supporters won the fight for change on 82nd Ave. Now, efforts will shift to enacting projects that build up the community without pushing people out.

Veterinary Clinic on Stark

Today, a presentation at Portland City Council revealed a potential new tenant at 8037 SE Stark Street. The presenter explained that a group of veterinarians intended to create an urgent-care veterinary clinic in the corner shopfront. However, required site improvements could diminish or cancel their plans. This project served as one example in the presentation to support a temporary suspension of nonconforming upgrade requirements.

In the City Council AM Session on Wednesday, June 23rd, Matt Wickstrom with the Bureau of Development Services (BDS) shared a slide deck endorsing the temporary regulatory changes. The proposal seeks to remove the nonconforming upgrade burden on tenants during a post-COVID-19 recovery timeframe. Currently, on projects costing over $306,000, the applicant must spend up to ten percent of the project’s valuation on improving the property to current zoning requirements. Nonconforming upgrades trigger on existing developments where a tenant proposes an alteration or renovations, but site features no longer comply with city standards. These fees can sometimes stifle businesses attempting to fill empty commercial properties as the project costs can increase beyond what their budget will allow. Older buildings are most susceptible to this type of hidden development cost due to the number of regulatory changes made over time.

The proposal would exempt projects from being evaluated for nonconforming improvements until March 21st, 2023. After that date, city staff expects Portland’s economy will have recovered. However, the proposal doesn’t consider project size or the applicant’s ability to pay for the upgrades. As a result, larger projects could slip through without meeting site standards, denying overlooked communities the neighborhood enhancements these rules were designed to provide. Example improvements include tree planting, landscaping, and bicycle parking around the site. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty expressed reservations over passing this moratorium, fearing that large developers would take the opportunity to shirk their social responsibility to provide projects that meet the cities livability standards.


Nonconforming Upgrades include:

  • Landscaping – particularly parking lot landscaping
  • Screening – separation between differently zoned sites
  • On-site pedestrian circulation
  • Bicycle parking
  • Trees

An amendment to this proposal delayed the final vote until next week. However, it is likely to pass when it next comes to City Council. The passing of this proposal will clear the way for the urgent-care veterinary clinic to proceed unencumbered by the costs of providing parking lot landscaping. Look for updates to this project in the coming months after next week’s vote.

City Council 2021-06-23 AM Session 3:58:08

82nd Ave Changing Hands in 2022

Yesterday, The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) reached an agreement to transfer jurisdictional responsibility of 82nd Ave by January 2022. This State Highway running through the geographic center of Portland is in poor condition and requires significant investments. The roadway’s deferred maintenance costs were the primary blocker to Portlands adoption of 82nd Ave into PBOT’s portfolio of streets. This new agreement establishes a price for those repairs and an outline for funding that work.

After years of negotiation, both parties assessed 82nd Avenue’s transfer cost at $185 million. Included in that sum are enhanced signals, lighting, ADA-compliant curb ramps, pavement repairs, and stormwater management. The total also contains money for urgent sidewalk and pedestrian crossing upgrades already approved last month. Three budgetary sources will provide the funds needed. A commitment from the legislature dedicated to fixing the most pressing safety and maintenance needs will supply $80 million. Another $70 million comes from an investment from ODOT and a $35 million commitment from PBOT.

This agreement is a significant achievement for a process that has taken over ten years to negotiate. It follows a deadly year for pedestrians crossing 82nd Ave. Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has focused her recent effort on fixing this roadway and placing its responsibility into her department. “The pedestrian deaths that have occurred recently are unacceptable but preventable with proper investment in safety infrastructure improvements. Portland is ready to take ownership of 82nd but will need adequate State funding to get it into a state of good repair. I’m appreciative of ODOT and the Portland Metro area legislators that have agreed these deaths are unacceptable, and am hopeful we can get the State funding needed to bring change to one of the most important streets in our City.” 

Legislative approval needs to be in place before this agreement can move forward. Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and Oregon Representative Khanh Pham championed the deal between City and State. With their endorsement and growing support within the legislature, this plan seems likely to succeed.

Despite the substantial investment coming to 82nd Ave, work will only tackle projects ignored over years of neglect. To fully modernize the roadway, additional funds are required. That investment is far more likely to occur under PBOT’s ownership, making this jurisdictional transfer an essential first step to revitalizing the area served by 82nd Ave. Within a year, 82nd Ave could transform from a forgotten State Highway to a future community corridor of Portland.