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Downtown Vitality archive


Downtown Vitality issues archive

 

Alliance supports building height requirements in city of Portland’s West Quadrant Plan

The Alliance submitted comments to the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission regarding the city’s draft West Quadrant Plan, which is part of the Central City 2035 Plan. The Alliance supports the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability staff’s height recommendations, which maintain heights in the West End and allow for height increases in targeted areas, as well as the need for a balanced multi-modal transportation system. The Alliance will continue to monitor and track the Central City 2035 planning process until its adoption in 2015. Read the letter.
(October 2014)

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The Alliance advocates for Skidmore/Old Town/Chinatown waiver for workforce housing

The Alliance testified before city council in support of a Systems Development Charge (SDC) waiver for workforce housing in Skidmore/Old Town/Chinatown, part of the recommendations of a task force convened by the Alliance focused on spurring revitalization and investment in the district. With a 3-2 vote, Council passed a five year SDC waiver for housing units up to 100 percent of median family income (MFI), capped at 500 units. The waiver is part of the Portland Development Commission’s Five-Year Action Plan for Old Town /Chinatown. The SDC waiver requires that units remain affordable for 100 percent or less of MFI for no less than 10 years, and thereafter for an additional five years to persons or households whose incomes are 120 percent or less of MFI.

The Alliance is also participating in the Portland Development Commission’s Urban Renewal Advisory Amendment Committee, charged with providing recommendations to implement city council direction related to a number of the city’s urban renewal districts. In this capacity, the Alliance will advocate for the Old Town/Chinatown/Skidmore Task Force’s recommendation to include significant catalytic sites in the River District. Portland Development Commission will present proposed amendments to city council in November 2014. Read the letter.
(August 2014)

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Alliance urges city council to allocate funding for Downtown Marketing Initiative

The Alliance has been advocating for the reinstatement of funding for the Downtown Marketing Initiative after it was removed from the city’s budget for this year. The Alliance and the city agreed to a restoration of a portion of the funding for holiday promotions. Portland City Council voted four to one to approve the use of $170,000 in contingency funds to support the program. The Alliance will continue to advocate for full restoration of DMI during the next city budget cycle in spring 2015. View the holiday marketing campaign overview.
(August 2014)

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Alliance advocates for Skidmore/Old Town/Chinatown Committee revitalization plan recommendations

The Alliance has been participating on the Skidmore/Old Town/Chinatown Committee, which consists of a group of historic preservation experts, property owners, architects and others, to develop recommendations to spur revitalization and investment in the Skidmore portion of the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District. The recommendations focus around promoting new development in the area, rehabilitating historic buildings, implementing a retail recruitment strategy, and addressing public safety issues and parking. Alliance staff will advocate for these recommendations to help inform the city’s Central City 2035: West Quadrant Plan and the city’s Old Town/Chinatown Five Year Action Plan. Read report of full recommendations.

Additionally, the Alliance and the Downtown Retail Advocate are working to promote business vitality in the historic Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood through the Old Town Chinatown Retail Strategy program. This program will use tactical tools including aggregated information on vacancies in the district; real estate marketing materials presenting the story of the developing neighborhood; active recruitment of businesses for the district from several categories including culturally relevant businesses, local restaurants, and “creative class” retail; retention programs for existing neighborhood businesses administered through the Portland State University Small Business Administration business outreach program; and short-term activation and temporary tenanting opportunities including storefront art and holiday pop up shops.
(June 2014)

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Alliance urges city to reinstate funding for the Downtown Marketing Initiative

The Alliance has been in discussions with Commissioner Steve Novick regarding the status of funding for the Downtown Marketing Initiative (DMI). The Alliance and the Downtown Retail Council agreed to support a 20-cent increase in downtown parking meter rates in exchange for funding for the Downtown Marketing Initiative over the next five years, however; neither the revenue nor the program was included in the mayor’s budget. The Alliance is working with Travel Portland and the Downtown Retail Council to get the funding re-instated. Read the letter.
(May 2014)

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Committee rejects proposal to tax or close surface parking lots in Skidmore/Old Town/Chinatown

The City of Portland’s West Quadrant Committee voted an overwhelming majority to reject the proposal to tax or mandate the closure of surface parking lots, which was consistent with the Alliance’s position on the issue. The Alliance was concerned with the proposal’s potential negative impact on the ability to draw new construction or redevelopment to the area. Reducing the availability or increasing the cost of parking would depress rents, making projects in the area less financially viable. The Alliance will continue to advocate for its recommended strategies to spur investment in the Skidmore/Old Town/Chinatown area, which are outlined in this letter.

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Alliance submits recommendations for Skidmore/Old Town Historic District redevelopment

In coordination with a group of property owners, historic preservation experts, architects and others, the Alliance submitted proposed strategies to spur investment in the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District. The recommended strategies strive to increase economic activity in the district, while enhancing and complementing the historic qualities of the area. In addition, the Alliance urges no imposition of taxes on surface parking lots as a strategy to incentivize redevelopment in the area. For a full list of the Alliance’s strategies and recommendations, read the letter sent to Mayor Hales’ office.
(April 2014)

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Alliance advocates for Skidmore/Old Town Historic District development improvements

In coordination with a group of property owners, historic preservation experts, architects and others, the Alliance has developed a range of recommended strategies to spur investment and development in the Skidmore portion of the Skidmore/Old Town Historic District. The recommended strategies strive to increase economic activity in the district, while enhancing and complementing the historic qualities of the area. The board also adopted a position opposing a tax on surface parking lots or moves to ban such lots.  Read the memo outlining the Alliance’s recommendations.
(February 2014)

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City of Portland drops sidewalk ordinance from 2014 legislative agenda

The city of Portland has withdrawn its request for legislation clarifying the city’s authority to regulate sidewalk behaviors during the February 2014 legislative session. The Alliance has expressed its concern and disappointment to the city and has asked Mayor Charlie Hales to implement immediate strategies that would help reduce sidewalk conflicts that adversely affect neighborhoods and businesses. The Alliance believes a comprehensive approach, one that addresses social service needs while protecting the rights of downtown visitors and residents, is the best solution to the livability problems in Portland’s Central City and other neighborhoods. The strategies suggested by the Alliance include extending walking patrols of downtown by Portland Police, more consistent enforcement of existing laws and a reexamination of the city’s decision to curtail investments in shelter capacity. Read the letter to Mayor Hales outlining the Alliance’s recommendations regarding sidewalk regulation.
(January 2014)

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Alliance weighs in on Right to Dream Too relocation

The city has scrapped plans to move the Right to Dream Too encampment to a building on Northwest 3rd and Hoyt because that option proved too expensive. As a result, the future of this longtime, illegal encampment on Northwest 4th and West Burnside remains unclear. The Alliance has advocated for the city to remove the camp from its current site because it is in violation city code. The Alliance has long urged City Council to consider a strategy that would deploy additional temporary emergency shelter beds so that individuals in need of shelter have a safe, indoor option. The organization has also asked Council to consider locations other than the Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood, which has a disproportionately large share of social services agencies.  Read the Alliance’s letter to Mayor Charlie Hales about our priorities on the issue.
(January 2014)

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Alliance, Mayor Hales advocate for new sidewalk management ordinance

Mayor Charlie Hales and his staff at the city of Portland are taking the lead in an effort to move legislation in 2014 that would clarify the city’s ability to pass sidewalk legislation. The Alliance, with our partners at Clean & Safe, are working closely with the mayor’s office on this effort. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Floyd Prozanski has indicated his willingness to address the issue in his committee, and the Portland City Council included the issue in its legislative agenda for the 2014 session. The Alliance is supportive of the mayor’s efforts to address livability issues in downtown Portland and other parts of the city, including looking at both regulatory issues, such as a sidewalk issue, and service offerings, including the availability of emergency shelter options.
(December 2013)

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Alliance supports retailers by advocating for Disabled Parking Permit changes

The Alliance Central City Committee voted to support the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) proposed changes to the disabled parking program in downtown Portland, leading the way for Alliance testimony in favor of the proposal at a City Council hearing this week. For the past six years, the Alliance has participated in the Disabled Parking Task Force, which was charged with developing parking policies for non-wheelchair Disabled Parking Permits. The proposed ordinance responds to longstanding complaints from downtown retailers and office managers regarding permit misuse and the resulting reduced parking turnover. Based on recommendations from the task force, PBOT is proposing the following changes: Disabled Parking Permit holders (non-wheelchair placards) will be required to pay for parking per the proposed rules in the metered district, and special permits will be issued to accommodate employees and residents with Disabled Parking Permits who work and/or live within the metered district. Existing rules will apply to wheelchair users with Disabled Parking Permits and the city will facilitate access for these individuals by reserving 30 on-street parking spaces. The proposed changes strive to increase accessibility for the disability community by providing priority use of parking near desired destinations within the metered district. PBOT will complete the development of the program and implement new regulations effective July 1, 2014.
(December 2013)

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Alliance weighs in on city’s proposed sidewalk regulations

The Alliance addressed two issues that Portland City Council is considering regarding sidewalk regulations in a letter to Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor Charlie Hales. City leaders are contemplating extending downtown park boundaries from sidewalk to sidewalk as well as leading an effort at the state Legislature to clarify, in state law, the city’s ability to regulate sidewalk behavior as a precursor to adopting more effective sidewalk rules in high-traffic areas. The Alliance believes that these two issues are integrally linked and urges council not to proceed with the first item until the second has been achieved. The Alliance advocates for effective rules that apply everywhere and supports the city in leading an effort to clarify state law regarding the regulation of sidewalk behavior. Read the letter.
(October 2013)

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Oregon Legislative Wrap-up

The Oregon Legislature adjourned its 2013 session on Monday, July 8. Throughout the six-month session, the Alliance played an active role in Salem, including delivering testimony, generating grassroots communications and drafting legislation. The Alliance, with our partners, was involved in lobbying and/or tracking the following legislation.

Sidewalk Management
HB 2702 would have removed state pre-emption as an issue for the city of Portland in enacting sidewalk management ordinances.  The Alliance and Clean & Safe-supported sidewalk bill, HB 2963, which would have given cities greater flexibility to manage sidewalk behavior, did not make it out of  the Senate Judiciary Committee in time to be brought to the floor this legislative session. The committee is chaired by Senator Floyd Prozanski of Eugene. The bill easily passed the House, however, with only two opposing votes earlier in the session. The Alliance is working with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales on ways the city can better manage sidewalk behavior and what the going-forward plan should be.
(July 2013)

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Alliance and Clean & Safe urge Mayor Hales to focus on sidewalk management

The Alliance and Clean & Safe-supported sidewalk bill, HB 2963, which would have given cities greater flexibility to manage sidewalk behavior, did not make it out of  the Senate Judiciary Committee in time to be brought to the floor this legislative session. The committee is chaired by Senator Floyd Prozanski of Eugene. The bill easily passed the House, however, with only two opposing votes earlier this session. The Alliance has met with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales to discuss how the city can better manage sidewalk behavior and what the going-forward plan should be.
(June 2013)

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Sidewalk bill scheduled for work session

The Alliance and Clean & Safe District-supported sidewalk bill, HB 2963, is currently up for vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee and a work session has been scheduled for May 30. HB 2963 would clarify a city’s authority to manage sidewalk behavior, which is a top priority for the Alliance and the Clean & Safe District this session. The Alliance is working with its legal counsel, Stoel Rives, and other partners to generate support for the bill among the committee members leading up to the work session.
(May 2013)

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Alliance supports retailers by advocating for short-term parking in Pioneer District

The Alliance expressed its support for increased short-term parking for retail customers in the Pioneer District. For years, the Alliance has heard from downtown retailers that their customers are in need of more accessible short-term parking options. In response, the Alliance asked the city to comply with its conditional use permit and eliminate monthly parking in the city-owned SmartPark garages at SW 10th & Yamhill and SW Third & Alder that prohibits the sale of monthly parking permits. The city eliminated monthly parking in the SW Third & Alder SmartPark garage, however; did not make this change for the SW 10th & Alder garage. The Alliance requests the elimination of monthly parkers at the SW 10th & Alder garage by July 1 to better accommodate downtown retailers and customers as the new City Target will be opening this summer. Read the letter.
(April 2013)

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Downtown Retail Council supports slight parking rate increase

The Downtown Retail Council recently supported a slight parking rate increase for the SmartPark garages, as the revenues in turn help fund the Downtown Marketing Initiative for the next five years. Read the letter.
(June 2012)

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Opportunity to get involved in the Central City Plan

The Alliance has kicked off its Central City Plan technical interviews where Alliance members discuss policy and process issues that are not working in the central city for development and economic development purposes. Issues like height restrictions and lengthy design review processes continue to be consistent themes. The Alliance will use this information to inform its advocacy efforts in the Central City Plan update process.
(June 2012)

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Alliance gets involved in the City of Portland's Central City 2035 Plan Update

The Alliance held the first meeting of its ad hoc committee in April to provide input to the Central City 2035 plan, the central city portion of the city's 20-year comprehensive plan update. The committee reviewed current land use regulations and discussed suggested changes to regulation and process that would help spur economic activity in the central city.
(May 2012)

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Clean & Safe District successfully pushes for more short-term parking in SmartPark garages

Over the past few years, monthly parking in the city-owned SmartPark garages has increased, which ultimately reduced the availability of short-term parking for downtown customers. In order to maintain downtown's vitality, the Clean & Safe District and the Alliance advocated for the need for more short-term parking to meet the demand for low-cost, safe and convenient access to parking for downtown's customers. In April, Portland City Council passed an ordinance that removes monthly parkers at the Southwest Third and Alder garage and increases rates at Southwest 10th and Yamhill and Southwest Fourth and Yamhill garages in order to incent monthly parkers to find a lower-cost garage. The ordinance, which was sponsored by Mayor Sam Adams, passed 4-0 (Commissioner Fish was absent).

During the ordinance hearing, the Clean & Safe District's Downtown Retail Manager, Lisa Frisch, testified about the need for more short-term parking.

Read the testimony.

There are a number of alternatives for people in need of monthly parking downtown.

The Clean & Safe District will continue to monitor the issue of short-term parking availability.
(May 2012)

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