Can the areas along the MAX Light Rail line turn into “active station communities” as the City hopes? See how their planning project is going …
Participants at the Station Community Plan meeting listen as Alan Snook, transportation planning consultant with DKS Associates, explains why active station communities are important to urban development in outer East Portland.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Citizens interested in how the areas around the outer East Portland MAX Light Rail line have been working with the Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability to create active station communities.
“This means creating the possibility for a wide range of housing, retail, services and job opportunities, immediately available within a pedestrian-friendly, 20-minute walk of MAX stations,” explained the program leader, Tom Armstrong.
The community input they’ve received over the past year, Armstrong told us, has resulted in a set of proposed long-range planning actions for each of the station communities being studied – from Gateway east to the Portland City line at 162nd Avenue Station. These “planning actions” include those dealing with land use, urban form/building design, and transportation.
Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability project leader, Tom Armstrong, responds to questions about the new plans posed by neighbors.
Connecting neighborhoods with MAX
“From what I’ve heard today,” Armstrong told us after the meeting, “one of the primary concerns is about local street connections. We need to figure out ways to help property owners pave local streets and put in sidewalks, off the main arterials.”
As the economy tightens, Armstrong said neighbors at the March 14 event told him that fewer homeowners can afford to make these improvements on their own. “We need to figure out how the city can leverage money to help improve those connections.”
Concerns about crime
An issue that has surfaced at all of these meetings is the fear of criminal activity aboard the MAX trains and the in the areas surrounding the stations.
“We’ve been trying to use what planning tools we have available,” Armstrong said, “in terms of the built environment, trying to provide a community where there are more eyes on the street – such as an increased number of shops and cafés. The question we’re asking is, ‘How can we create these kinds of community places in these locations?'”
Pointing out where he lives, near the 162nd MAX Station, to Portland Bureau of Planning East Portland liaison, Barry Manning, neighbor Don Good, tells about his concern about crime – as do Jeanne Good and Bob Sale.
Don Good, who said he’s a long-time resident near the 162nd MAX Station, said, “I’m really concerned about the crime element MAX brings into our area. It’s become one of the worst crime areas in the city of Portland.”
Asked of increased police patrols have helped, Good replied, “Every night, I hear police sirens. This goes on from midnight to four o’clock in the morning. It’s his crazy here. We actually have two bullet holes in our windows, one in the upstairs bathroom window, and one in the bedroom window. I don’t know what they can do, but they definitely need to clean this up.”
Comments are still welcome
Armstrong said the project is still in a public outreach phase. “We will take what we’ve learned today, and over the next few weeks, we refine our plan. We’ll be back in May with another round of public meetings.”