Tag: LID

Smaller LID Maintains Sidewalk Gaps

Yesterday, the Portland City Council amended the SE 89th Ave and Taylor St Local Improvement District (LID) proposal, removing all but one private residence and significantly reducing the scope of infrastructure upgrades. The original LID included the construction of new curbs and sidewalks on both sides of SE 89th Avenue adjacent to Berrydale Park. The LID would have also added sidewalks on the south side of SE Taylor Street from 92nd Avenue to 98th Avenue. The amendments refocussed the LID on pedestrian improvements around the Park’s boundary, including just one home that sits between Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) owned lots.

Portland’s Local Improvement District Administrator, Andrew Aebi, recommended this change based on feedback from the homeowners initially included in the LID. Aebi explained that most potential LID members he communicated with opposed the $24,000 LID contribution. 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 new infrastructure expense. In early versions of the SE 89th Ave and Taylor St LID, several City bureaus covered an outsized portion of construction cost compared to private property owners. However, even the subsidized infrastructure investment exceeded what some affected homeowners felt they could afford.

Amended SE 89th & Taylor LID area

When the project first appeared at Portland City Council on October 12th, neighbors had already mobilized a combined opposition to the LID. Those efforts continued over the next month, with residents contacting Aebi and media outlets. The ordinance returned to the Mayor and City Commissioners on December 7th with proposed amendments that all but unraveled the LID but gained the support of the original LID participants. City Council approved the amendments and will hold the final vote on December 14th after a second reading.

The original scope of the proposal will remain with the ordinance. The now-approved amendments remove participant obligations and reduce planned work. Aebi recommended this approach to save time and retain a record of the process. Scrapping the LID would force PP&R back to the public works permitting process, delaying Berrydale Park’s renovation planned for Spring 2024. City staff also felt it important that future home buyers know an attempt to provide sidewalk infrastructure occurred. The houses that would have participated in the LID will have a $0 obligation recorded against the property referencing this LID, but they will not receive any upgrades. The lone participating private residence at 9020 SE Taylor Street will gain a sidewalk, and the owners are obligated to contribute $23,959.55 to the project’s cost.

Original SE 89th & Taylor LID

As amended, the SE 89th Ave and Taylor St LID will repave a portion of SE 89th Avenue and provide a disconnected sidewalk along the Park’s edge. However, it fails to create any measurable improvement to this area’s poor pedestrian infrastructure. Residents using SE 89th Avenue in anything other than a car face significant challenges. Pedestrians using SE Taylor Street will continue crossing over to the north side of the street for sidewalk access. Without the improvements to the northwest corner of the Park’s block, people requiring a walkway will need to travel through Berrydale Park on the new paths created during the Park’s renovations.

Image courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

According to Andrew Aebi, opposition to the LID was based on costs alone. In his presentation to City Council, he explained that most remonstrances mentioned support for curbs and sidewalks, but not at the proposed price. That observation highlights the problem with infrastructure improvement models that require private funding. Lower-priced houses without sidewalks or paved streets sometimes attract buyers without extra income for upgrades. That creates streets of people who opt out of LIDs due to budgetary constraints. The City Council members and Aebi understood the financial burden this LID placed on these homeowners. The introduction and adoption of the amendments reflect that understanding. However, for non-participate supporters of the LID, this change denies them access to sidewalks, and they are left wondering how improvements will ever occur on their street.

There is no current solution to Portland’s sidewalk funding shortfall. New home builders must construct sidewalks with their projects or pay a Local Transportation Infrastructure Charge (LTIC). Property owners must pay to keep their sidewalks in good repair and accessible for people of all mobility needs. Eventually, homeowners on unimproved streets or places that lack sidewalks will have to pay for the creation of those street amenities. The timing of that is uncertain as City officials and citizens struggle with when to demand property owners pay for that infrastructure. For now, City leaders have passed that decision on to the next generation of homeowners.

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NE 97th Avenue LID Grid Restoration

Next summer, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will begin a multi-year project to reconnect portions of the City’s street grid east of Interstate 205. This work will slice up several long blocks, opening the way for new housing developments emphasizing walking, Biking, and public transportation. The project will span from NE 94th Avenue to NE 100th Avenue, with work occurring in two phases.

PBOT intends to begin Phase 1 work in mid-2023, completing sidewalk infill on NE 97th Avenue. Previous developments and public works projects added modern road infrastructure to NE 97th from NE Glisan Street to NE Davis Street. Crews will continue that work south to E Burnside Street. That area currently lacks curbs and sidewalks. This phase will also improve conditions on E Burnside Street from 94th Avenue to 97th Avenue. Portions of the sidewalk and road surface have deteriorated, particularly near the TriMet Max tracks that cross the westbound lane.

E Burnside Street at 94th Avenue Looking east

Planned for the Summer of 2024, Phase 2 of the project has a greater impact on the local streetscape. This work will create new streets and require significant private land dedication to complete. PBOT crews will build new segments of NE Couch Street from NE 97th to 99th avenues and NE Davis Street from NE 97th to 100th avenues. The project’s scope includes new streets, sidewalks, and stormwater improvements.

NE 97th Avenue and NE Couch / Davis LIDs from Portland Maps

As a Local Improvement District (LID), property owners will supply funding for this $15 million project with tax increment financing (TIF) from the Gateway Urban Renewal Area and a transportation system development charge (TSDC). PBOT will cover overhead costs incurred by managing this project.

Developer Joe Westerman and his companies own the majority of the affected properties in the LID. That concentrated ownership likely helped drive the City’s efforts to reconnect streets and will allow a significant change in road use. Although near the I205 Multi-use Path, this section of Portland is challenging to navigate outside of a car. Long blocks force pedestrians onto busy roadways and extend walking distances as people double back to reach a destination. Walkable and bike-able streets near public transit reduce the number of parking spaces needed, allowing for larger developments that maximize land usage and housing density.

NE 97th Avenue at NE Davis Street looking towards E Burnside

In 2019, this area received a surge in development interest, with one project at the corner of E Burnside Street and NE 97th Avenue receiving design approval. Other projects stalled in the Early Assistance phase of development, including a six-story building with 77 units. These planned improvements could help reignite developer interest in this area and spur a new wave of housing construction. Look for road crews to begin work next summer and prepare for new streets in 2024.

East Montavilla Sanborn Map 1928

SE 80th Avenue and Mill Street LID

Wednesday, PBOT staff presented to Portland City Council the final SE 80th Ave and Mill Street Local Improvement District (LID) report. All council members hailed the project as an intergovernmental success story that created significant improvements for people using these roads and sidewalks. Below the streets, the project replaced water pipes, enlarged sewer lines, and added stormwater management to the area that lacked modern infrastructure. Council will vote next week to accept LID assessments owed by property owners and authorize deferred payments for some properties.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty introduced the report as the head of The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), thanking Commissioner Mingus Mapps for his support from the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services (BES). The project’s inception predates both Commissioner’s time on the Council. However, staff at their bureaus invested years and considerable effort to transform this part of the neighborhood.

City staff first identified the need for road improvements in this area during the mayoral administration of Fred Peterson in the 1950s. Securing funding for these updates took decades to source, partially due to the project’s scope. Construction required cooperation from three city bureaus and funding support from Portland Public Schools. Commissioner Hardesty recognized the substantial contribution of the late Commissioner Nick Fish, who was instrumental in selling the idea of performing all upgrades simultaneously, saving ratepayers the costs incurred by performing each project independently.

The Local Improvement District Administrator with PBOT, Andrew Aebi, explained why the community benefited from this combined infrastructure project. “This really was a triple win not just for PBOT and BES but also for the water Bureau as well. We didn’t have stormwater facilities in this area. We had an undersized sanitary sewer pipe with sewage occasionally backing up into people’s basements, and we also had an undersized galvanized water main in the area that was not big enough or of the proper pipe type.”

The PBOT presentation included a short video outlining the previous conditions of SE 80th and Mill Streets. As the primary path to school, this street failed to provide the access that Portlander’s expect. Families walking to Bridger Elementary often arrived with wet shoes due to vast pools of muddy water flooding the street. The curb-less roads allowed parked cars to occupy the entirety of the street’s edge, forcing pedestrians to mix with traffic. Conditions for residents and students required a solution more significant than anyone property owner could take on alone.

When property owners agree to share infrastructure improvements costs, they can form a Local Improvement District (LID). They are most commonly used to improve unpaved streets but can include a variety of infrastructure enhancements above or below ground. The City manages the design and construction of the project and finances the work for up to 20 years, with the first payment due after the project is complete.

The SE 80th Avene and Mill Street LDI cost Portland $3,811,886. A large portion is paid for by the City, including money from PBOT’s System Development Charge and General Transportation Revenue, with other funding from the Bureau of Environmental Services. Property owners in the LID will pay the remaining $1,385,378.35. PBOT will offer owners of single-family residences a five-year loan, allowing them to pay down their portion of the LID obligation over time.

The SE 80th Ave and Mill Street LID improvements are transformative for the area. A dark and muddy street is now a clean and walkable space where children can commute to school without soaked footwear. Thanks to the improved road surface, bikes will soon use the new 70s Greenway on this section of SE 80th Avenue. Contributions from property owners, three City bureaus, and years of work from City staff has created infrastructure that all of Portland can now enjoy.