The City Council will debate how much of Portland’s existing single-family neighborhoods to rezone for higher densities on Wednesday.
That is when the council is scheduled to consider the recommendations prepared by the staff on the Residential Infill Project for the final time this year. The most controversial one would rezone nearly two-thirds of single-family neighborhoods to allow the construction of so-called missing middle housing, ranging from duplexes and cottage clusters
Many city residents are split over how much rezoning is necessary to create more housing options and accommodate the 123,000 new households expected here by 2035.
This article combines and adapts three articles by the Portland for Everyone coalition’s Michael Andersen. See the originals on this blog, and learn more about the group here. Portland’s approach shares similarities with the Seattle Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda recommendation to allow small duplexes and triplexes in single-family zones without letting property owners erect buildings larger than currently zoned.
Every month, Portland’s most beloved neighborhoods are moving further beyond the reach of typical homebuyers. …
But the really odd thing is that on this lot, replacing one middle-class family with one rich one is just about the only thing a landowner is legally allowed to do.
When a city gets more desirable but isn’t allowed to add more places for people to sleep, this is what happens: the old homes don’t stay affordable. They just get priced up and up and up. …
There’s another possibility here: the city might decide to shrink the size of new homes but not make small multiplexes legal.
If that were to happen, it wouldn’t stop developers and landlords from finding ways to make a profit. It would mean that the only way they could make a profit is by replacing poor folks with middle-income folks and middle-income folks with rich folks.
A simple 800-square-foot cottage in Portland, Ore., has helped focus attention on the need for affordable housing that can be wedged into existing urban spaces.
The cottage, which won a top design award last year from the American Institute of Architects, is technically called an “accessory dwelling unit,” or A.D.U. Portland has been ahead of the curve in allowing these smaller housing units, which are illegal in many cities and towns under current zoning rules. …
The cottage, known as Garden House, is hidden behind Ms. Wilson’s 1924 gabled bungalow, which she now rents to the older of her two sons. The cottage’s silhouette looks crisply modern: an upward-pointing arrow in a garden setting. The arrow shaft has open-plan living spaces; horizontal windows are the only breaks on its south side; and wide floor-to-ceiling doors and windows open to outdoor living space on the east and west sides. …
Not surprisingly, the concentration of accessory dwelling units has been in central, higher-income areas close to amenities like transit and shops. “Part of this could be due to the fact that people with large amounts of equity can more easily secure financing,” Mr. Wood said. “The City of Portland and Portland State University will be working on a project to encourage and facilitate A.D.U. development in more diverse neighborhoods.”
It is in the “weird stuff that won’t go away” file-as part of the trinity of the twentieth century approach to things, suburban Delta is home to the huge Port Metro Vancouver proposed expansion onto Class 1 farmland, the building of a mega mall again on Class 1 farmland, and just to round out the trio-a new bridge replacing the handy Massey Tunnel, again taking away farmland for the approaches.
Price Tags has discussed the Massey Bridge at length. There has been some surprise that this bridge is being located again on the sensitive river floodplain, and in an area which has not been identified for increased density by Metro Vancouver. Three months ago Metro Vancouver mayors rejected the project, because of environmental concerns and fears about the lack of a rigorous assessment process. The Mayor of Delta was the holdout, favouring the 3.5 billion dollar ten lane bridge that would take seven years to build, and come directly into that community.
And the reason for the bridge instead of the twinning of the tunnel keeps changing. Originally we were told the tunnel needed to be replaced to allow for the draft of ocean-going ships to access docks upriver on the Fraser. Then people in the region were told that the Massey Tunnel might collapse in an earthquake. After a solid rebuttal from Doug Massey, son of George Massey for whom the tunnel is named, the reason for the new bridge changed again-now it is to stop bottlenecking traffic.
Thankfully the City of Richmond’s Transportation Department produced a report this week that lays out a number of concerns about the George Massey Tunnel replacement project. As reported in the Richmond News, City Engineer Victor Wei ‘s report states
“there are significant gaps in the assessment of the impacts of the project, omissions of technical analysis as well as unsubstantiated claims of predicted project benefits.”
Sure vehicles will get over the Fraser River quicker, but what happens then? As Mr. Wei noted that the Provincial government “justsee the Highway 99 corridor. They don’t seem to care about anything else”.
That is what others have been thinking too. There is little information on how traffic interchanges are being planned, nor what happens when all that free-flowing traffic gets to the four lane Oak Street Bridge. Lastly, Wei notes that the” Ministry has given varying forecasts of traffic for the new bridge. The report states the higher traffic volumes of 115,000 vehicles per day by 2045 are used to justify the need for a new bridge. Meanwhile the bridge can only expect to see about 84,000 vehicles per day by that time, if it is tolled (which it will be). “
The CBC notes that the City of Richmond is forwarding their report to the BC Environmental Assessment Office for review, at the same time as a series of open houses are being held regarding the proposed bridge. The Mayor of Richmond remarked that other cost-effective changes, such as public transit, banning semi-trailer trucks on the bridge at peak times, and (surprise!) building a second tunnel to ease congestion have not been thoughtfully considered.
If you want to have your say about this bridge proposal, there is one more open house scheduled for today. You can find information here from the Environmental Assessment Office of the Provincial Government on how to attend or how to write to get your views known. We need to approach this issue in a sustainable way as if agricultural land, public transportation mobility and the future of our region truly matters.
“Yes, people still want the dream,” says Alyssa Isenstein Krueger, a broker with Living Room Realty and a member of the preservation group Stop Demolishing Portland. “They want it more than ever now, because there’s this huge fear that if they don’t buy now they’ll never buy.”
But the more people who want it, the fewer who are able to get it. One of Isenstein Krueger’s client families moved from Los Angeles to Portland for its bicycle-friendly way of life, but after they received a 90-day notice from their landlord, they turned into quick buyers. They wanted the same Portland lifestyle they were renting, on a $300,000 budget. They found it, eventually, 113 blocks east of downtown.
“It’s a much longer bike commute than what they’ve had,” she says. “But that was their compromise—we need to at least live within transit and bike lanes. They are finding their own new Portlandia.”
One obvious solution is to build more affordable multifamily housing in neighborhoods where people want to live, says Mary Kyle McCurdy of 1,000 Friends of Oregon, a nonprofit that advocates for sustainable neighborhoods. But Portland’s current zoning laws are stuck two generations in the past.
Almost half of Portland—45 percent—is zoned exclusively for single-family dwellings, she says, while only 10 percent is zoned for multi-family dwellings. It’s a stale reflection of the post-World War II world in which Portland’s zoning rules were drawn up.
“In the 1950s, two-thirds of our households were families. Today, two-thirds of our households [consist of] one and two people,” McCurdy says. “We’re aging and getting younger at both ends; we come from different backgrounds and cultures. We need to catch up our zoning with our families today and for the future.”
McCurdy is working with an organization called Portland For Everyone that advocates for changing some of Portland’s zoning laws to allow for more multi-family dwellings in single-family neighborhoods. If builders are allowed to build duplexes, triplexes, quads, courtyard apartments and more mother-in-law units in Portland’s most in-demand neighborhoods, she says, then families like the one from L.A. might not have to move 100 blocks east—as long as they’re willing to trade in their dream of a mid-century bungalow.
But simply allowing for more density won’t necessarily lead to more affordable housing, Isenstein Krueger says. In fact, Portland For Everyone will only lead to a Portland For Even Fewer as developers buy the homes families want and then raze them. Even if multi-family housing goes up in these neighborhoods, it won’t be priced so most people can afford it.
In her experience, it’s already happening. One couple she worked with recently bid $375,000 on a home that was listed for $320,000 in Portland’s Eastmoreland neighborhood. A developer paid $420,000 for the house, she says, and now has a permit to demolish it.
“This whole idea that anybody is going to build affordable housing to replace the demolished housing is a load of crock,” she says. “Nobody is going to build affordable housing out of the goodness of their heart. They have never done it and they never will.”
Signs of the city to come
… Not all of that growth is going to be close to downtown, Isenstein Krueger says, but also in outer suburbs like Hillsboro and Beaverton. For Portland to truly be for everyone, she says, the city should prioritize making those outer corridors more livable, rather than change the face of neighborhoods that lack the infrastructure to take on any more people.
“Why do we have to destroy what we have, and what we’ve had for well over a century,” she says, “to make room for these mythical people that may or may not come?”
But signs of this future, denser Portland are already happening in some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods. Brendon Haggerty who is on the board of the Richmond Neighborhood Association,* which includes popular tourist corridors Southeast Division Street and Hawthorne Boulevard. Sitting in his quiet backyard near Hawthorne, you can’t hear the tourist traffic over the sound of spotted chickens toddling nearby.
It is the dream of Portland at its most intense, but also one Haggerty realizes may soon evolve. In the new Comprehensive Plan, the lot two doors down from his house will be rezoned for townhomes. No one in the neighborhood, he says, should be afraid of change.
“They’re NIMBYs,” he says. “The dream of Portland is not compatible with an approach to land use that protects the privilege of incumbent property owners. … To me it’s unquestionably a social justice issue. Neighborhoods like this provide access to a lot of opportunity for healthful and prosperous lifestyles, that you can’t get in other neighborhoods, and we need to be making that available to as many people as possible.”
And here’s PDX’s version of our foreign purchasers:
The Californians are coming
… “Keep Portland Weird” is a tired aphorism by now, but the truth is Portland has always been something weird: a city that could interpose between West Coast giants without being touched by them. …
Say hello to “crossbikes” — Portland’s latest bikeway innovation for bikes.
If you see one, don’t fret. Treat them exactly like they sound: sort of like crosswalks, but for bikes. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is set to officially announce the new treatment tomorrow with an educational push (see new sign below) similar to the one they did around bike boxes in 2008.
Roger Geller, PBOT’s chief bicycle planner, said it’s just the latest effort the bureau has undertaken to make crossings safer on what are designed to be low-stress, family-friendly streets where people on bikes and foot are prioritized.
Geller said it’s an idea he’s be working on for several years (we posted a Q & A with him about crossbikes back in 2011) and it came from how he observed people using curb extensions — where curbs are bulbed out in order to narrow the crossing distance. …
“We we wanted to indicate that these intersections aren’t just pedestrian crossings, these are also bike crossings,” Geller added. “The green bike bars indicate this is an extension of the bikeway thru the intersection.”
Scotto di Carlo and her husband Michael are local economy experts and the founders of Supportland—a network of independent restaurants and retailers that employ a shared points system (sort of like a universal punch card) that provides an incentive for supporting local businesses.
“Retail is changing rapidly and the sort of discount shopper that [might have gone to the mall] is just going online,” says Scotto di Carlo. “The reason people engage with retailers now isn’t just because they want a product, it’s because they want to engage with a sense of place and their community.”
In its nascence, online shopping was an augmentation of brick-and-mortar retail—but now it’s the norm, placing malls like Lloyd Center in the unfortunate blind spot between independent boutiques and more upscale shopping centers.
In April, the Wall Street Journal reported that a variety of prominent chains are slowly withdrawing from weaker malls—and it isn’t hard to imagine Lloyd Center making that list.
“We’re kind of in this transitional period, but I think that the market footprint of big box stores and malls is going to be vacated at a higher and higher level as we approach this new equilibrium between online retail and [independent retail],” says Scotto di Carlo. “I don’t know if the old investors have given up completely, but I really don’t see how the target market is still going to be there for Lloyd Center.”
Scotto di Carlo also suggests that smaller businesses generally steer clear of spaces like the Lloyd Center, because they violate the values of independent retail by design.
“What malls did is they said, ‘Let’s zero out sense of place and let’s build a wall around our environment,’ and that was attractive initially to customers, but nowadays people are really yearning for a sense of place.”
Increasing numbers of residents are clearly upset at a wave of historic property demolitions, making way for ungainly ’50s-style white boxes and uber-trendy, in-your-face “space invaders”—or outsized, alien-looking new buildings. Human-scale places are being crowded out by new tall buildings, and luxury condos like the new Park West tower are casting unwelcome shadows over Pioneer Square and other civic spaces. …
Today the emphasis is still on mixed use and streetcars, but thanks to global architectural fashions, the anywhere-Modernism has come back—artsy (some would say cynical) designer packaging for a free-wheeling style of outscale real estate development. In the city’s new Central City 2035 plan, it’s easy to find generous deregulations for developers, but difficult to find any meaningful heritage protection. …
Nowhere is this cultural amnesia more apparent than in the city core, where planning officials seem determined to create a pale imitation of Vancouver, British Columbia. That Canadian city has done an admirable job of partially mitigating the wave of global capital that washed over its shores, fueling a tall-building boom. But Vancouver has also seen many problems and controversies, and confronted lessons that Portland would do well to study more carefully.
Moreover, Vancouver has several crucial (if too easily overlooked) differences from Portland. Its large blocks allow point towers (slender towers in the middle of the block) with minimized impact on the streets, whereas Portland’s small blocks result in massive volumes at the street and dark, dead spaces (like Burnside below US Bancorp Tower, one of the most notably dead Modernist places in the city).
Portland was so affordable, as the slogan went, that young people went there to retire.
Then the city got “discovered,” people started flocking here, the tech companies came, and Portland became more expensive. Oregon has been the top destination for people to move to for three years in a row, according to United Van Lines. …
Now, housing prices are skyrocketing in this city of 600,000, as more people move in and new high-rises and apartment complexes go up. Apartment rents are rising at an annualized rate of 14 percent, one of the largest increases in the country. More than half of the city’s tenants spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. News stories abound of whole buildings raising their rent by 20 percent or by $500, or more. Evictions have skyrocketed as landlords make room for new residents with bigger salaries. …
“I think that there’s a general sense that Portland is progressive enough to be assumed to be doing the right thing, and that’s not the case,” Cameron Herrington, the anti-displacement coordinator at Living Cully, a coalition of neighborhood groups in Northeast Portland, told me.
Until March, the state banned inclusionary zoning, which mandates that new buildings include a certain number of affordable units. There’s no rent control in Oregon, and efforts to pass just-cause eviction laws have, thus far, been futile. The city has embarked on big urban-renewal projects in the past few decades without putting measures in place to ensure that tenants in those neighborhoods won’t be displaced. In September, the Community Alliance of Tenants, a nonprofit advocacy group, declared a renter state of emergency, asking for a year-long moratorium on no-cause lease terminations, and demanding that tenants receive a year’s notice for rent hikes over 5 percent.
The city has tried to respond. In October, the Portland City Council declared a housing emergency, focused more on helping the city’s growing homeless population by waiving some city laws to allow the creation of temporary homeless shelters. Later that month, the city council unanimously approved a law that requires landlords to give 90 days notice for no-cause evictions and for rent increases of more than 5 percent. Mayor Charlie Hayes has set aside $20 million for affordable housing in North and Northeast Portland. People who have lived in Northeast Portland, which was for decades majority African American, or who have family roots in the area, will get first preference. …
“There are limits to white urban liberalism,” Justin Buri, the executive director of the Community Alliance of Tenants, tells me. “When it comes to housing and schools, all of that goes out the window.” …
Between 2000 and 2010, Portland became even whiter, not just because more white people moved to the center city, but also because black people and Latinos moved to the city’s outer edges and suburbs.
… an amazing slideshow of survey results presented to the Vancouver City Council on Wednesday are a rock-solid reminder that good bike infrastructure can have a spectacular payoff, even in a city that already has quite a bit of biking. …
Vancouver’s 2014 bike-commuting estimate was 9 percent, up from 4 percent in 2011. According to the U.S. Census, Portland’s bike-commuting rate in 2014 was 7 percent. …
So what has Vancouver been doing differently on transportation over the last few years, enabling it to add tens of thousands of new commutes but hardly any additional auto trips?
Among other things, it’s been taking heat.
Details follow. It’s a good overview of what has happened here in the last few years.
Metro is the only elected regional government in the United States. It’s also got one of the most interesting government communications teams in the country. …
For its latest project, a four-part “regional snapshot” about transportation, the agency pulled out all the stops: original tilt-shift photography, narrative video, text drawn from at least a dozen interviews and a whole quiver of custom-made infographics. If you want a single overview on the basics of the region’s transportation situation, I’ve never seen a better one.
On a per-person basis, the Portland region has been driving less since 1996, even as people take about the same number of trips each day. According to Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Urban Mobility Report, the region’s residents drove just 5,000 miles per person in 2014 – that’s nearly 25 percent less than other US metro regions of similar size.
And here’s good news – though a growing population invariably means more commuters, just under half of the workers added since 2000 drive to work alone. The majority are choosing other modes, or working from home.
Transit ridership is climbing fast, too. In 2014, people in the Portland region took more than 103 million rides on transit. Although ridership has fluctuated over the last 10 years, overall transit ridership has grown faster than the region’s population, faster than the number of miles driven each day and faster than transit service has grown.
The majority of the region’s freight is still moved by truck. However, as Oregon’s economy has shifted from bulk products like farm exports and timber to lighter products like semiconductors, electronics and specialized machinery, the the region is moving fewer tons of goods around. But these lightweight products are higher-valued – as a result, the overall value of freight exports increased by 55 percent between 2007 and 2012.
… we spend less time commuting to work than people in most other regions.In 2014 the average commute was 26 minutes – about a minute longer than in 2010. The Portland region is tied for fifth-best metro area in the nation for the share of people with a 30-minute commute or better – nearly two-thirds of commuters in the region have a commute under a half-hour. In part that’s because people here don’t have to travel as far to get to work. The average commute distance in the region is just 7.1 miles.
Having options is important because different ways of getting around have very different costs.
OMG traffic cones are all the rage. The revolution has begun and it has bounced off Twitter onto our streets.
First, I recommend following AwarenessCone on Twitter. A silly Philadelphia-based account, it mocks the traffic cone’s responsibility to protect us from danger with overqualified cones placed in menial, dead end positions. Their bio sums it up well:
AwarenessCone: a cone placed at the site of damaged infrastructure; a cone marking construction; a cone forgotten. Be aware.
Awareness cone in Vancouver says: watch out for the fire hydrant! Photo by Jo Shin.
Two examples are better than one.
Secondly, The Man systemic car culture wants everyone outside who’s not in a car to be dressed in clothing with high visibility (hi-viz). We all know black is the most slimming colour. Drivers are jealous of our active lifestyles. They want us to look chubbier than those in vehicles. They also want to take no responsibility for hitting and killing us with their cars. Activist people on foot and on bike and on board refuse to wear reflectors or bright clothing day or night in protest. Active transportation moderates get mocked as sell outs for having reflective trim on any clothing.
Moschino, always known for its tongue-in-cheek, society mocking designs, has a new line out for Spring/Summer 2016 called Dangerous Couture featuring ridiculous, high fashion, hi-viz clothing and their version of street signs (including little Do Not Enter signs as earrings).
Which all leads me to the third trend for cones. People are using them to control their streets. Call them safety heroes or vigilantes, drivers don’t know if they are City-issued or not and are slowing down. These movements are cropping up in various cities. PDXTransformations in Portland, OR was separating cars from bike lanes with traffic cones recently. Now its members have put up (illegal) 20mph speed limit signs and are getting local media coverage for their antics. (The Portland Bureau of Transportation has said publicly removing the signs is not a high priority with limited resources.)
“Horrifying how many cars I watched drive in bike lane here in time it took me to set 2 cones back up”, says Bruce @LetTheCookieWin
We are not a “bike advocacy group.” We are a Transformation Action Group. We want our streets to serve everybody.
Our dream is that the people of Portland stand up to unsafe drivers and say ENOUGH. You can’t do that here anymore.
They are inspiring others.
“I can’t afford the big cones like @PBOTrans, so let’s see if this helps. #pdx #coning” Bruce @LetTheCookieWin
If these rogue antics were organized in your town, would you be tempted to make a request? Is there a dangerous spot near you? Have you reported it to the City?
Clearly cones are trending and improved safety for all on our streets can’t be far behind.
Scot discovers how hipsters keep their whites so sparkling in Portland:
Leave it to Portland to figure out how to remove the boredom and inconvenience of going to the Laundromat. Behold the hipster laundry lounge: Retro video games, a chill-out loft area with couches, ATM, and a bar for soaking up some suds between spin cycles.
In addition to minimizing the stress of doing your washing, Spin Laundry Lounge minimizes their impact on the environment using eco soaps and a range of sustainability principles in true Portland style.
Working class priced out, kicked out in new Portland housing boom
Despite 22,000 new apartments coming on line in the metropolitan area since 2012, more than half in Portland proper, vacancies remain practically non-existent. That has freed apartment owners to charge eye-popping rents — think $1,200 for a 400-square-foot studio, as much as double that for a one-bedroom.
The average rent in Portland has jumped 41 percent since 2010 to $1,242, according to Axiometrics, a Dallas real estate analysis firm.
The boom raises troubling issues of economic inequality, as rent hikes have spiraled far beyond workers’ wage increases. The posh new apartment houses are prevalent on Portland’s east side, historically the gritty home to the city’s working class. Even developers share foreboding that the central city is becoming a playground for the affluent while the young and the old and the people in the service economy no longer can afford to live there.
Critics have coined a nifty phrase for the trend — “economic apartheid.”
Affordable housing has become a hot political issue up and down the West Coast as prices continue to escalate. But addressing the downside of popularity and growth is no easy task. Said one local planner: “This is capitalism. How do you fight it?”
While bureaucrats mull policy, people are struggling to stay in their homes.
“We’re getting a hundred calls a week from local people in some sort of housing crisis,” said Bobby Weinstock, of Northwest Pilot Project. …
The target market for the developers are the thousands of highly paid tech workers now working in the central city, particularly transplants from the Bay Area and Seattle who view Portland housing as a bargain.
“The city is really attracting a lot of young, educated people and those people are attracting companies with jobs,” said Sam Rodriguez of Mill Creek Residential, a Texas-based developer.
It wasn’t too long ago that condominiums were developer’s product of choice. But today, it’s all about rentals. Between Millennials who can’t borrow or don’t want to be tied down and baby boomers who want to retire in the central city, the urban apartment market is hot.
“You have this confluence of the two largest demographics in the country,” said Homer Williams, a Portland developer. “You’ve got the baby boomers downsizing and the Millennials who can’t upsize.” …
Because of the strong in-migration, vacancies hover at just 3 percent, which gives landlords enormous leverage to raise rents. Portlanders suffered a 15 percent year-over-year average rent increase in the 12 months ended in August, the steepest increase in the country, according to Axiometrics.
As a result, Williams said, the portion of income Portlanders can expect to devote to housing has increased from 25 to 35 percent. Renters moving from major West Coast cities are used to paying 40 to 50 percent of their income for housing.
The escalating rents in Portland have attracted the biggest institutional investors in the world, who are buying apartment houses at hefty premiums.
Like home-flippers from the last housing boom, the developers are now reselling buildings only recently completed to big institutional investors. …
Tenants are often forced out by building renovations or rent increases they can’t afford.
Advocacy groups struggle to bring attention to the impact. The Community Alliance of Tenants claims hundreds of Portlanders have been forced out by landlords seeking higher rents — known in the rental business as a no-cause termination. Last week, the group declared a renters’ state of emergency and called for a year-long moratorium on no-cause terminations and stricter notice of rent hikes.
The next day, Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman said he would introduce new tenant protections requiring that landlords give a minimum of 90 days notice of a pending termination – up from the current 30 days.
After speaking with people at various Portland drinking establishments it appears their version of wealthy Chinese money flowing into real estate comes in the form of Californians cashing out and heading North for the Portlandia dream driving housing out of reach for locals.
Fitting then to come across this art installation across the river on East Burnside.
Here’s something to keep you commenting while I’m away, based on a response that Guest, PT’s best balloon-pricker, placed on this post from the Daily Scot: Gentle Density in Portland:
If you zoom out on the Portland map, the continuous line of larger buildings (retail commercial, presumably) on those east–west “smaller” arterials is quite striking.
By comparison, Vancouver has much smaller pockets of retail strips, even along the arterials, and generally not parallel to each other for great length. i.e. Main Street, Cambie Village, and South Granville may be on the same latitude, but Oak is devoid of a commercial strip, and only Main Street’s commercial zone extends any great length.
Dare I say that these east-west Portland streets can afford to remain small because of the existence of the I-84 freeway, so long-distance travellers from the east will not need to traverse the neighbourhood on surface streets. i.e. these roads do not “need” to be stroads because of the existence of the freeway, so they can remain smaller and more neighbourly.
Click to enlarge.
Scot and others decry the heavy traffic on our old streetcar arterials like Main, or the lack of pedestrianized streets like Robson, or the concern about the Viaducts coming down without lessening the impact on Prior. And the counter argument is that none of that is possible because those streets have to perform the contradictory functions of local street and through arterial, both for car traffic and transit.
In other words, they have to be stroads.
So is Guest’s implication right: would Vancouver have more options if we had built a freeway like I-84 to handle the through traffic so that now we could create more local mixed-use streets like Division?
This is not just an academic exercise. The Citizens Assembly in Grandview has called for a tunnel under their neighbourhood to handle the volumes currently on East 1st. If, in a reorganization of TransLink, the Major Road Network was turned over to the Province, then the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure could, for instance, come up with a plan like this:
Absorb the median to the east of Nanaimo to widen East 1st
Build underpasses under the cross arterials
Dig a tunnel from Victoria to Clark
Redesign a route across the False Creek Flats to serve downtown and the new hospital.
Voila, a de-facto freeway to handle the cross-city traffic that would connect to and from Highway 1.
Arterials like Hastings and Prior could then become neighbourhood service streets, narrowed and densified to create more livable, bikeable, mixed-use environments.
Click to enlarge.
And once they’ve got the boring machine going, how about other connectors to the south and north? Then Main, Cambie, Fraser and others could be our new Division Streets.
So maybe we should build that freeway that never was. After all, we’re not funding new transit.