I t was in spring 2014 when I became chair of the Land Use and Transportation Committee (LUTC) for Concordia Neighborhood Association (CNA).
Since then, the LUTC has worked with neighbors and the board of directors on a variety of issues, some of which resulted in something that could be called victories. Many others resulted in no changes to the status quo, or problems not solved, or what could be called the opposite of successes.
In this, my final CNews column as the LUTC chair and as a CNA board member, I’d like to focus on the high points.
Over the winter of 2014-2015, CNA worked to identify neighbor priorities for the city’s comprehensive plan, to review these priorities and to submit clear comments. One priority we advocated for was middle housing, which we supported with our requests to legalize duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes within singlefamily-zoned areas.
This comprehensive plan change was followed by the Portland Residential Infill Project (RIP), and I became a member of a citywide stakeholder advisory committee. I represented the LUTCs of both CNA and Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN).
The Oregon Legislature then passed HB 2001, and the city was required to implement the RIP in at least the manner recommended by the stakeholder committee. The question remains whether RIP will help build the newly-legalized buildings types as profit-seeking activities.
In January 2016, the CNA LUTC began making repeated requests until Portland Bureau of Transportation lowered speed limits on Ainsworth, Killingsworth, Alberta and Prescott streets. More effort is needed to:
Further reduce speed limits to 20 mph on Killingsworth at 33rd and 30th avenues.
Install physical speed-reducing technology, such as raised crosswalks where pedestrians are most likely to try to cross.
Beginning in 2013, CNA worked to spread awareness of and provide support for neighbor-led alley improvement efforts. Partners included Alley Allies, NECN and neighborhoods elsewhere in the city. Interns assigned from the Portland Institute for Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University worked with us two summers. That resulted in multiple alley improvement projects throughout the neighborhood.
Concordia is a very walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, diverse neighborhood – one that is more livable than most other neighborhoods anywhere on the West Coast.
Yet, it is built on a backbone of historical injustices and continuing to the present day. The work to build a better world goes through building a better neighborhood.
We still have much work to do. Let’s get to it!
Garlynn Woodsong lives on 29th Avenue, serves on the CNA board and is an avid bicyclist. He also is a dad who is passionate about the city his son will inherit. He is the planning + development partner with Cascadia Partners LLC, a local urban planning firm. Contact him at LandUse@ConcordiaPDX.org.