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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.