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Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar

Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon          

“It must always be remembered how cost-effectiveness works in the public sector: the cost IS the benefit.” - author unknown

Metro's Mindset

Why We Can’t Afford Roads

speed bumps

extended curbs

traffic circles

wavy streets

Creating Livable Streets is a 94 page document on how to reshape streets for pedestrians with no concern for the 95% of us that use automobiles. (It is no longer on the METRO site, get it here.)

Here are some excerpts:

Bus stops at extended curbs See cls.pdf, page 43 (pdf page not document page):

    • Extend sidewalks or curb at transit stops equal to width of  on-street parking lane to increase pedestrian accessibility to transit.

Busses should take over traffic signals. See cls.pdf, page  44 :

• Implement bus pre-emption systems on high-capacity, frequent through and express bus routes.

See cls.pdf, page  46 :

Provide opportunities for “stationary” pedestrian activities. Stationary activities are either standing or sitting, where people choose to stay in a place to observe or participate in public outdoor activities. Seating can be either primary (chairs and benches, such as that found at a cafe or a transit stop) or secondary seating (low walls, steps, fountain edges, where people spontaneously collect).

See cls.pdf, page  48 :

Provide appropriate building densities and land uses within walking distance of transit stops to facilitate public transit to become a viable alternative to the automobile.

Provide mixed-use development to encourage and support walking trips amongst uses and to transit.

Wow, they even care about daylight reaching their high density streets. See cls.pdf, page  49:

• Street trees can be used to reduce the perceived scale of the street width. With tall buildings located on a narrow right of way, building stepbacks with recess line can preserve daylight access to the street and provide street spatial definition.

See cls.pdf, page  78:

Community boulevard priorities

Higher priorities

• Pedestrian sidewalks with transit access

• Bicycle lanes

• On-street parking

• Median for landscaping

Lower priorities

• Number of travel lanes

• Width of travel lanes

most street descriptions include a bike lane - see any street page.

Plant tree in the parking lane. cls.pdf, page 83:

• Absolute minimum width – 58 feet. At 58 feet sidewalks are reduced to 6 feet, and street trees need to be planted within the on-street parking lane.

More anti driving. cls.pdf, page  85:

Community street priorities

Higher priorities

• Pedestrian sidewalks with transit access

• Bicycle lanes

• On-street parking

Lower priorities

• Median for landscaping

• Number of travel lanes

• Width of travel lanes

Main street district priorities:

Higher priorities (cls.pdf, page 85)

• Wide sidewalks including buffer areas with tree wells and tran-sit access

• Bicycle lanes

• On-street parking

• Median for landscaping

Lower priorities

• Number of travel lanes

• Width of travel lanes

Metro recommends narrow lanes (cls.pds, page 87):

For example, the existing standard for travel lane width in Clackamas County is 12 to 14 feet, a range not fully encompassed within the guidelines’ range of 11 to 12 feet. However, in many cases the upper range of the guidelines equals the lower range of existing standards.

More METRO curb extensions.(cls.pds, page 88)

The cost estimate is based on the following major design elements and assumptions:

• curb extensions at intersections to reduce crossing distance

• curb extensions at mid-block locations to delineate on street parking, provide for street trees within parking lanes, and increase buffer between vehicles and pedestrians

The comparison shows the cost of upgrading an existing arterial to Metro regional street guidelines can be nearly 10 times as high as the cost to improve the street to current standards. The difference in the level of improvement and reconstruction is significant in this example.

 County Stds. Street

Multnomah MetroRegional

1. Preparation/miscellaneous



2. Signalized intersections



3. Unsignalized intersections



4. Street improvements



5. Storm drainage system



6. Landscape/maintenance



7. Signals and signs



8. Miscellaneous utilities






“public policy have not made land scarce enough”

Metro Is Raising Rents, Land Value & Housing Costs  to Force High Density

From: metrourbancentersreport.pdf, (local copy)  (some bold added)

Page 6:

As a result, higher underlying land values can change the financial equation to favor higher density development forms. This higher-density development could only be supported if supportable rent levels rose

page 7


An impediment to substantive changes in rent levels in Urban Centers is competition from other areas,often neighboring Urban Centers.Many Regional Centers are participants in the same sub-regional market for certain goods and services.Another competition related problem for the Urban Centers is the loss of traditional office space demand to industrially zoned land.In terms of residential development,only highly desirable housing markets can support the values necessary to allow for high-density

page 8:


The primary reason for underbuilding in urban areas is the  lack of financial feasibility.There is little evidence to support the conclusion that the high densities required in Urban Centers,in the absence of public assistance,are profitable under current market conditions,and that developers and property owners are either unaware that they could make more money by building denser,or prohibited from doing so by physical or policy constraints.

• Land values are good indicators of when density becomes profitable.If land values stay low,density does not work financially. If the public sector wants the private sector to build more densely it must do something to affect demand and supply conditions so that land prices increase,1 or it must subsidize development cost so that there is profit to developing more density before the market would otherwise provide it.

• Zoning is still ahead of the market.Market conditions and public policy have not made land scarce enough, have not made central locations superior enough in terms of transportation or amenity,and have not seen demand great enough to cause land values to rise fast enough in Urban Centers that rents can be demanded that make high density profitable without public assistance (e.g.,land assembly,fee

waivers,tax abatement).

• The fact that zoning is ahead of the market is not a condemnation of public policy. Planning is looking ahead to encourage the metropolitan area to be a metropolis it is not quite ready to be. Getting lower than planned densities should be expected.