Minutes January 6, 2010

Hillsdale Neighborhood Association
Meeting Minutes
January 6, 2010

7:00 p.m. Business Meeting

Opening/Self introductions when speaking

The agenda was approved.

November and December 2009 meeting minutes were approved.

Action Items:

Don Baack proposed the following motion, which was passed by the general membership:

1 PBOT should set up a test using wands or other means of delimiting the traffic changes at Westwood and Terwilliger.  The test should last for a week.

2 During this test, PBOT will install a video camera to determine automobile, pedestrian, and bicycle movement along Terwilliger to determine traffic patterns during the day.  This data source should be reduced to normal statistics for automobile, pedestrian, and bicycle activity.  It should also show if there is confusion for cars, bikes, and pedestrians and if all pedestrians would use the crosswalk.  A copy of the results of the video feed should be made available to the neighborhood.

3 At the same time, new speed and count data should be collected on Westwood and Terwilliger at this corner for a period before the test, as well as additional data during the test to compare how traffic responds to the changes.

4 Data on buses using Terwilliger should be viewed as a separate issue to determine if buses are obeying posted speed limits.

Don Baack provided the following amendment suggesting seasonal impact is critical, and completing testing in spring made most sense:

“In light of the large number of questions and the lack of facts, it appears we need to have more information about the Westwood-Terwilliger intersection and a better idea of how current drivers, bikers, and pedestrians access Terwilliger at this point.  Bike and pedestrian traffic will greatly increase along this corridor when the weather improves and the days get longer.  In addition, making traffic changes or even doing tests during the limited daylight hours of winter may not be wise and could be dangerous.  Therefore, it might be best to delay implementing the testing until spring.”

Current Issues

Police Officer Brian Hughes: covers all of South and Southwest doing the job previously assigned to two officers.  He conducts longer term investigations which cannot be done during  a single day.  He recently investigated a suspected drug house near Wilson High, 562 feet from the school.  A nearby resident reported suspicious activity, including the renter bringing in building materials (2” x 4”plywood).  There was also a strong heavy odor of marijuana.   Officer Hughes made several trips to the property but could not detect an aroma from street.  A patrol officer stopped the renter and recovered marijuana and approximately $2,000 in cash.  Electricity records indicated double or triple normal usage.  An undercover officer knocked on door, purportedly searching for a lost dog, and was overpowered by the aroma of marijuana.  He wrote a search order and entered the home at 6400 Burlingame Place (near the landslide area) when police backup and a SWAT team was available.  No one was home during the search.  The garage had been entirely converted into a marijuana garden with special ventilation internally to minimize detectable odor; likewise marijuana was growing in the basement.  Sixty plants, equipment, and $1,000 in cash was seized.  Jeremy Ramos was indicted on five felony charges, including the manufacturing and distribution of marijuana; and the charge of doing so within 1,000 feet of WHS. Ramos was arrested, but released because jail space was lacking. The California owner of the home immediately evicted the tenant.   Two uniformed officers joined the meeting.

Wes Risher:  How many officers at any one time are patrolling Southwest Portland south of I-405?

Officer Hughes:  It varies according to the time of day.  Ideally, four officers are on duty but during investigations only 1-2 officers may be on patrol.  If there is an emergency, they will also be called in.

Update on homicides:  The murder of federal public defender Nancy Bergeson, who lived in Bridlemile, is still being investigated.  Also, the area beneath Capitol Highway bridge may be fenced.

Pamela Kambur of the Housing Authority of Portland did not attend to report on Hillsdale Terrace; she will be invited to do so in February.

Rick Seifert:  The proposal to close Capitol Highway for a one-day event did not attract a broad enough base.  It was decided instead to try to do one part of what had been planned:  help people visualize what it would be like if Capitol Highway had on-street parking.  Antique cars may be featured; Mayor Sam Adams has not yet responded. Will meet again on January 20 at The Watershed at 7 p.m.  The demonstration would last eight hours on a Sunday.

Don Snedecor:  There is a big difference between a partial and full closure?

Rick:  There was not enough interest to create full day festival.

Susan Narizny: Where/how would traffic be diverted? 

Rick:  Local traffic could get to side streets, main traffic would be diverted along Terwilliger to  Barbur.

Larry Kramer:  Would the closure include emergency vehicles?

Peter J. DeCrescenzo: Street closure is NOT being proposed.

David Ratner:  Is the test designed to look at the feasibility of on-street parking at a particular period of time?

Rick: We’d pick up an additional 18 parking spots, but all lanes would be available during morning and afternoon rush hours.  The purpose, again, is to visualize what the possibilities are and to stimulate discussion.

Mark Lear, Portland Bureau Of Transportation:   PBOT’s segment will include two brief presentations followed by a question and answer period regarding the new “traffic calming” structure at Cheltenham and Pendleton:

1 Explain the safety goals which PBOT established relating to the project;

2 Glenn Bridger will explain how the public involvement process has been working; and

3 Speakers supporting and opposing the structure and/or PBOT’s decision-making process, plus Q&A. 

Mark: manages traffic safety for PBOT and lives on Westwood; this is third house in Hillsdale.  There have been many conversations in Portland about improving bicycle infrastructure.  Westwood was identified as one of the target streets.  Funding was located late in 2009 to make connections from downtown, on Westwood, Cheltenham, DeWitt, Sunset, thru Rieke Elementary School to Vermont to Community Center; up Illinois and out to Alpenrose Dairy.  The goal was to get bikers on divided roads.

Process:  A Geographic Information Systems mapping tool was used to identify those in the vicinity of improvements.  Then, two open houses were held at the Multnomah Arts Center; 20-30 people attended each meeting. What is a “bike boulevard” and why do we care about establishing them?   Lear showed diagrams diagrams showing engineering concerns.  The objective is to help the 67% of Portlanders who say they’d like to bike if they felt safer.  What are the issues on Cheltenham with cars coming off Pendleton at high speeds?  PBOT looked at ways to realign the crosswalk and edge markings.  An “island” structure was chosen.

Some membership comments:  Reflectors are needed on the island so people can see it  Add a white fog line to define the right of way.  People would not get a ticket if they turned left off Pendleton either before or after the island.  Not marking bike lane, as it is also for pedestrians; added crosswalk. Are there right-of-way improvements that could be made that would make pedestrians feel safer (now that the environment is more constrained)?  Could a planter be put on island?  Lear:  Perhaps, if the neighborhood funded it and if it is low enough to avoid sight impairment.  An extended shoulder would help.  Westwood stop signage and

Cheltenham Court should be made more visible.

Glenn Bridger:  Involved in the neighborhood for a long time and is working on a City committee to improve public involvement. Trying to address this type of issue: that those most affected by change really do get notice. City wants the right people involved, but it might take two years for this to happen.

Jason Marshon:  Lives on Westwood Drive.  Two issues: public involvement, engineering.  He went to both meetings; had not come to a Hillsdale neighborhood meeting; had been involved in neighborhoods in NE Portland.  At public meetings, input was respected.  There were several options for neighbors to consider. Question: How did you hear about the meetings?  Answer: a mailer.

Mark: Intent was good, but PBOT might have missed some houses and feeder streets.

Susan Narizny: Cheltenham Drive was completely missed.

Susan Narizny: lives at top of Cheltenham Drive, where no one was notified. Got one letter before the island was built, but the letter did not describe it. There was not enough information to trigger questions, concerns. Most people on Cheltenham Drive oppose this structure. Bikers will still zoom the way they have,  and the structure does not resolve safety issues. She questions having bikes on Westwood.  It is too narrow and it is difficult even for two cars to use.  Susan has written a more extensive description of concerns.

Don Baack: Would it be appropriate to make no right turn at first opportunity?

Susan: Would prefer getting rid of island and putting stop signs all around.  In Lake Oswego, similar intersections are controlled by stop signs.

Mark: could test this with engineers. You need a lot of cross traffic to make it effective, otherwise folks tend to roll thru, rather than stopping; you create read-end collisions rear end (rather than t-bone cross collisions) .

Robert Hamilton: Under what circumstances would the city remove the island?

Mark: IF it were making things less safe.  PBOT engineers believe this is a major safety improvement. We will improve public involvement in the future.

Susan: Would like answer to all of her questions/concerns.

Chris (lives off Westwood): What safety data is explored?

Mark:  PBOT  uses federal standards.

Steve Pendleton:  Engineers make their living building things, rather than deciding not to build things.

Mark: We have 60 ways of saying “NO”, so generally we don’t take action. We look at general goals; look and predict conflicts and crashes.

Jason:  But, your specific goal was to develop a bike boulevard, not eliminate collisions. 

Blair Kramer: (Has lived at 740 Westwood since 1949.) Believes this is island is ill-conceived.  The pedestrian/bike corridor is on the wrong side for visibility.  There is a blind corner on a very narrow street which has a big cedar tree with branches hanging over the street.

Mike Reunert: People often walk on that side and then cross over for greater safety.  Filling the ditch will make it safer, so people don’t have to make the crossing.

Don: We all agree we should push (long term) for sidewalks, but at least filling the ditch will help.

Aaron Bouscha: 1020 SW Cheltenham Court.  He understands that PBOT’s lack of notification regarding the public meetings was a mishap, so this is his first chance to provide input.  There was an opportunity to meet at McMenamins’ Restaurant, but that was after the safety island was installed.  Agrees that some kind of traffic circle with a four-way yield would have been better, but adequate space doesn’t exist for that.  On the eastside of Portland, there seem to be traffic circles with less space.  That would be the best option.

Mark: Roundabout and traffic circles were both considered.  PBOT isn’t proposing to use them anymore because the tend to lead to a pinch-point for bikes/pedestrians (traffic circle). Would like roundabout (like one near Lewis & Clark but it requires much more space and visibility.

Aaron: it’s also about money; acquiring a right-of-way would have been expensive.

Mark: Traffic circles are not good for bikes and pedestrians.

Wes: was concrete put on top of the asphalt or cut in?

Mark: Not sure, but neighbors think it’s doweled in.  Can only have planter on top?

Question: What was final cost?

Mark:  Perhaps $15-20,000.

Question:  Is the project going forward regardless of the objections and discussions?

Mark:  PBOT has made an investment and we need to evaluate how it works.  We will probably not turn back, but folks should call with concerns.  If something happens and unintended consequences result, it’s possible we might turn back but it is unlikely.

Aaron: One more concern.  My daughter pushes a baby carriage and there is no place to walk to avoid traffic.  She feels that the intersection is less safe now. 

Mark:  The other proposed safety changes are at Westwood and Terwilliger:  PBOT will be video-taping that intersection to learn more about its traffic flow characteristics.  I offer come back next month to discuss this intersection at greater length.  There is still more opportunity for change based upon community input.  This intersection is unlike the Cheltenham project, which is nearly completed.  A shared path is available for slower bike traffic (i.e. families with children).  Wanted to bring cross walk to more visible location. Traffic travels far above the speed limit. Traffic calming difficult since this is an emergency route.  Drivers entering Terwilliger north-bound from Westwood, drive in the wrong lane because they are uncomfortable making the left turn because of their inability to see on-coming traffic.

Question: Can you still make hard right from Westwood onto Terwilliger?

Mark:  Yes.

Mark:  PBOT could possibly install speed cushions in travel lanes only so that fire trucks can straddle them.  We can also raise people’s awareness. Anywhere streets intersect, a pedestrian crossing is legal.  A request has been made for two crosswalks. PDOT doesn’t think this would be safe, based on visibility, speeding.

Chris Ambry: Concerned that the safety issues at Westwood and Terwilliger are even greater at night.  Speed bumps are too late; they should be placed earlier to slow traffic before cars north-bound on Terwilliger arrive at Westwood. Sometimes it is other drivers unsafe driving that causes local residents to make unsafe maneuvers.

Question:  Does this prove that Westwood is inappropriate as a bike boulevard?

Mark:  Not all of these improvements need to be made, but the crossing does need to be safe. PBOT engineers feel that paint alone is not enough, but it is possible that the solution to the safety problem is not an island.  Bikes are already taking Westwood and treating it like a boulevard.

Kathleen Ferrell:  Has lived on Westwood Drive since 1995.  She has as never felt unsafe crossing any street as long as she uses common sense and patience.  Alterations now make her feel less safe.  She feels bikers are more dangerous:  they never stop and they exceed speed limits. Are they expected to follow rules of road the same as cars?

Mark: Yes.  Much more needs to be done to educate cyclists. Question:  Should cyclists be licensed?

Mark:  That would be awesome–but larger issues are being raised regarding the bike master plan.

Todd:  Is an experienced cyclist and questions whether any bikers are going over 25 mph. Would prefer painting to islands. Would like speed monitors to help enforce speed limits.

Mark: Yes, They’ve been working better than anticipated. Bike boulevards tend to bring out commuters, not bike racers, etc. These are meant to benefit neighborhoods.


Mark: Wants everyone in the neighborhood to be excited about the bike blvd projects. IF the public process was not appropriate or fair, PBOT needs to slow down. Mark agreed to attend the February HNA meeting to answer additional questions.   

Mary Ellen Custer:  She is interested in statistics about accidents. There were three crashes at the Westwood-Terwilliger intersection over the past six years.

Susan:  It is already an unsafe intersection, and we are adding another element by encouraging bike/pedestrian traffic.  Next meeting February 3.

Please work incrementally, by paint, readily reversible. On snowy night, more forgiving.

24 Ayes, NO Nayes, 5 abstentions.

Robert: Will defer discussing his two agenda items.  The new Web site should be ready for everyone to test in February.

Michael Reunert: Schools: Ballot measure on Jan 26.  He encouraged everyone to vote “Yes” on ballot measures 66 and 67 by way of supporting schools.

Don Baack:  Transportation: The bicycle master plan became available today. In 1896 Portland had more bicycle lanes than any city in the nation.  We then yielded to buggies. Should we be doing smaller incremental changes, or focus on larger projects, like Barbur Boulevard?

Two years ago the Lotz family backyard slid into a gulley.  The City asked them to do significant work on the slide area and they complied.  An additional work party is scheduled for Friday, February 5, from 1 to 4 p.m. Telephone 503-244-4597 to volunteer

Glenn Bridger: The SWNI Land Use Committee last month merged with the Transportation Committee. Much discussion on big picture, long-range projects for SW Portland (10-30 years from now).  Presentation on new PDC Main Street program, invited organizational leaders to come to the quarterly Hillsdale Alliance on Jan 13 at Remax at 7 p.m.

Duane Hunting: Notices: Resident at 3200 SW Hamilton applied to subdivide a piece of property (19,000 feet). Redondo and Hamilton. Seems to meet code requirements. City’s I-5 / Iowa right of way landscaping that corridor. Board member, Mikal offered to work with him.

Rick Seifert:  Hillsdale Foundation: Board meets monthly; new chair will be incoming, designing a Web site.

Carolyn Raz:  SWNI: Volunteer on solar panel installations; Energy Trust can help provide rebates up to $6,000.

Fanno Creek Watershed: looking for funding to get .5 FTE to keep watershed office open.

Supporting letting exemption expire that allows nurseries to grow English ivy for indoor plantings.

Robert: Idea of shorter meetings twice each quarter, longer once per quarter. Want meetings to be more efficient by having more information on the Web site.  But, we are discussing now 3-4 big issues per meeting, so this may not be possible

Glenn, Michael: Motion to adjourn at 9:01 p.m.  Unanimously passed.

WES: ODOT should have to remove invasive plants during construction activity. Administrative decision was mailed on 12/31, we only have till 1/14. Following our meeting of January 6, we learned of details, next official meeting is not until February 3.  Wes will follow up with a memorandum by email.

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