At the Woodstock Neighborhood Association meeting of December 7, 2016, Kyle Chisek from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) gave a presentation on the city's new approach to funding street improvements.
Chisek explained that, until recently, developers of infill residential projects on unimproved or under-improved streets were required to fully improve streets adjacent to their developments, with sidewalks, curbs, and half-street paving.
However, rather than bringing about contiguous street improvements, this policy only led to disconnected fragments of streets being improved.
So, last April, the city adopted a new funding mechanism called the Local Transportation Infrastructure Charge, or LTIC. Now, developers of new single-family residential infill projects, on under-developed "service traffic streets" that lack curbs, are only required to pay a fee of approximately $600 per linear foot of frontage. Payment of the fee is due prior to the issuance of new building permits or, in the case of lot splits, prior to the approval of the final plat.
Applicants who elect to build frontage improvements themselves, to city standards, are exempt from this new fee. Chisek observed that, although the LTIC is a much simpler way for developers to cover their fair share of street improvements, PBOT is seeing more delays in developers picking up their building permits.
Although LTIC is seen as a partial funding solution, and won't pay for all fixes, it seems a good start for funding more cohesive street improvements in some of Portland's residential neighborhoods. The next step for the City Council is to determine a process for prioritizing spending from this new fund for projects citywide. Chisek mentioned public surveys as one tool in this process, and indicated that citizen involvement in identifying their own priorities might help in steering money to a specific neighborhood.
Neighbor Mark Ripkey reminded attendees of the Capstone study conducted by PSU students in 2010, involving LARKE Planning and the WNA, to explore uses and community-based strategies to address Woodstock's many unimproved roadways. An "Out of the Mud Idea Book," as well as the final report issued from the 2014 Woodstock Charrette visioning process, both offer multiple ideas for partial improvements on streets near the neighborhood's commercial center.
Ripkey, who owns a home on an unimproved section of S.E. Martins at 42nd Avenue, said that when he works out in his yard in the summer, he notices a constant stream of neighborhood kids going by. He thinks it's much safer and enjoyable for this kind of foot traffic to be off Woodstock, and envisions improvements to Martins that would make the street more of a pedestrian bikeway, safe for families, yet still accessible to auto traffic for businesses.
Ripkey has proposed creating a nonprofit to help fund neighborhood street improvements. He said he has talked to most of his neighbors on Martins between 40th to 45th, and they all favor a process whereby residents can come to consensus, block-by-block, on what they want for their street, and not have solutions forced upon them.
WNA Land Use Committee members present at the meeting discussed the initiation of local planning efforts in order to identify priorities and develop concept drawings for specific under-improved street blocks, especially those nearest to Woodstock Boulevard.
Kyle Chisek commented that having a clear direction coming from the WNA could certainly play to the neighborhood's advantage in terms of steering some of the LTIC funds their way.
He also confirmed that there are creative options available for improving the neighborhood's gravel streets that don't require full paving, with curbs and sidewalks.