Major Development Coming to NW Lents

NAYA-site-PlanA major new development is coming to Lents, and the neighborhood association wants you to learn more about it.

Tucked into a sleepy corner of NW Lents is the shuttered Foster Elementary School (EDIT: the school site is at SE 86th & Steele). The school has been sitting vacant for years (last used as a public school in 1982, and occupied periodically since then), but it’s about to get a big dose of energy in the form of new complex of housing, education, and services provided by the Native American Youth Family Center (NAYA).


Finally, the Plan is Here.


The Draft Foster Streetscape Plan is here, and while it’s not perfect, it is a strong, imaginative vision of a new street. Here's our unofficial list of what the plan means to you:

Safety for drivers will increase dramatically


The danger of Foster Road today cannot be understated. Every 4 days, there is a car crash on Foster Road. Almost every year, someone dies. The plan's 3-lane arterial street design will decrease crashes by at least 19%. Curb extensions at awkwardly angled intersections will improve the safety of turns onto and off of Foster.

Crossing the street will be safer and easier, everywhere


Every marked crossing of Foster will be enhanced either with a signal or a flashing crossing sign. Additional marked crossings will give a safe place to cross every 5 blocks.Even at the legal unmarked crosswalks on every corner, the 3-lane arterial design gives people a safer, simpler crossing at every point along the street.

Neighbors will flock to Foster by bike


Today, our neighbors take the meandering side streets when traveling through the neighborhood by bike. But no longer. Expect to see a dramatic increase in people riding bikes directly on Foster. The wide bike lanes will be super comfy on your way to dinner, drinks or shopping.

Foster will start to look and feel like a Main Street


Pedestrian lighting, street trees, and bike parking will bring comfort to those walking, eating, and enjoying the street life of Foster Road. Extra separation from moving cars will make having coffee outside that much more pleasant.

Foster's sidewalks east of 82nd will no longer be embarrassing


Seriously, have you tried walking on the barely-5-foot "sidewalks" that line Foster east of 82nd? There's no room for trees, no room for people in wheelchairs, and if you really want to appreciate life, walk on the north side when a large truck comes rumbling by just inches from your body.

The new plan corrects an oversight in the original 2003 version by building standard sidewalks on a stretch of the street that desperately needs them.

Ok, ok, sounds good, but what about the bad?

Much has been made about a major, unacceptable traffic congestion problem due to the changes, but according to the engineers, that’s not really going to happen. Here’s the predicted impacts to people driving:

For part of the day, people driving will go slower

Most of the time, travel along Foster will go just as fast as it is today. During the peak travel time in the morning and evening, it will take a little longer to travel Foster in a car. Up to 3 minutes longer per trip. 

For part of the day, Holgate Blvd in Foster-Powell will see extra traffic

In the peak hour, Holgate between Foster and 82nd is expected to see an extra 250 cars. These extra cars are estimated to be originating in the neighborhood. This means the drivers are people that live nearby, rather than cut-through traffic.

Where do we go from here?

The advisory committee will meet one more time to comment on the draft plan, and public comment is always welcome at the end of the committee meetings. Alternatively, email your thoughts to PBOT Planner Mauricio Leclerc.

Advisory Committee:  Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 from 6-8pm at SE Works (79th & Foster)

Assuming all goes smoothly at the committee, PBOT will bring the final plan to City Council for approval. This date is not set, but as soon as we know we'll spread the word.

The Foster District – Back on the Map

The City of Portland is updating their Comprehensive Plan to manage and direct growth over the next 20 years. This plan sits at the top of the zoning, transportation and housing related regulations that control the shape of the future - so when the City asked the city to chime in, the Foster neighborhoods were up to the challenge.

One of the immediate concerns we noticed? Foster was not identified as a "Neighborhood Center." This designation was important, as it supports increased residential density, and is the basis for future development related decisions. The good news, we're back on the map as the "Heart of Foster":


But what about the name?

The "Heart of Foster" is a term coined in the original 2003 Foster Streetscape Plan to refer to the stretch of Foster from Holgate to 69th. This part of Foster has the most remaining streetcar era structures, and is one of the more active parts of the street. But should it be called the "heart"?  

Jeff Lynot at reported on a brief discussion at a Foster Green Steering Committee meeting, where some people were put off by the name for potentially prioritizing one area of Foster over another. It wasn't a big deal back then, as it was just one decade old plan that made the reference, but to have the name etched into the Comprehensive Plan? That's a big deal. It may be time to have a discussion about what to call our now official Neighborhood Center.

On a related note, the new 2012 draft of the Foster Streetscape Plan continues to use the Heart of Foster name. If you hope to see a different term, you'll need to act fast.

We're loud, and they're paying attention

heat map

As this heat map shows, The Foster area received a large number of comments, presumably from the great engaged community we have out here. Thank you to everyone who took the time to make your voice heard.

What do you think about the "Heart of Foster" name? Are you glad we're now a part of the plan as a formal Neighborhood Center? Add your comments and discussion below.

Upgrading Powell Boulevard


Hot on the heels of the Foster Road streetscape planning is a proposed transit improvement project on another neighborhood main street. Called the Powell/Division Transit and Development Project, the plan aims to identify "robust" transit improvements between Portland and Gresham along a Powell Boulevard/Division Street alignment.

All signs are pointing to this being a relatively small transit upgrade. While theoretically, light rail, dedicated bus lanes and other major changes are on the table for discussion, the project is seeking upgrades "that can be built in five to seven years."  This short time frame indicates that major upgrades involving lane reconfiguration, curb adjustment, or installing rail are extremely unlikely.

Even so, if your vision of a future Powell Blvd involves light rail, parking, protected bike lanes or dedicated bus lanes then this is the time to let them know it.

TONIGHT: Steering committee and community gathering

Feb. 27, 6 to 7:30 p.m., PCC Southeast Center

Get to know the steering committee members and each other by joining us at the first gathering for the Powell-Division project.

There are three main questions to answer:


Initial concepts indicate a route would travel along Powell Boulevard to 82nd, go north to Division and resume eastbound travel from there. But this isn't set in stone. 82nd is a congested, constrained street - would it be easier to travel to Division in the vicinity of I-205? Is it better to shift to Division farther west, around 50th?

Station Areas and Redevelopment

Where should new development go to support these transit upgrades? Are those parking lots along Powell (leftover parcels from the original Mt. Hood Freeway proposal) potential sites for new commercial or mixed use development?

Transit Type

While major transit projects in Portland tend to be Light Rail. The insiders are pointing to Bus Rapid Transit (basically, an upgraded bus line) being the preferred option for the Powell/Division project.

If BRT is selected the degree to which the line gets priority treatments like a dedicated bus lane are to be determined.

 Download the Project Fact Sheet to learn more.

Book Reading Tonight: From Animal House to Our House



Seeing as we are neighborhoods full of old houses and renovations, tonight's book reading is sure to resonate with our neighbors.  

February 24th 6:30 pm at Holgate Library  

Award-winning writer and DIY expert Ron Tanner will offer a comic monologue about his funny, heart-warming book From Animal House to Our House: A Love Story. Combining romance with history and humor, Tanner tells the true story of how he and his wife bought condemned property -- a wrecked former frat house -- and restored it to its original Victorian splendor. They knew nothing about fixing up houses when they started. Tanner's talk includes an impressive slide show.

See the event listing at the Holgate Library website

Foster United is always looking to expand our efforts to cover the events and goings on in the Foster neighborhoods. We'd love to reinstitute our events calendar, but we need help. If you're the kind of person that likes to stay in the know and would like to join our team please contact us at

The Best of Lents

LPDCIn case you missed it, the most recent Willamette Week featured a scathing review of the PDC’s performance in Lents when it comes to the success of urban renewal efforts. In “Razed and Confused,” they explored a list of failure after failure of misplaced priorities, what they call the “Cockroach Plaza”, and half-baked, half-executed ideas. The article is eye opening to the challenges of the last 15 years.

But in their effort to slam the PDC, I worry that they’ve inadvertently included Lents itself in the line of fire. In truth, there is a lot of good happening in Lents, and almost all of it was left out of the WWEEK narrative. The following list is meant to highlight some of the great things that have happened in Lents.


The Future of Portland at Your Fingertips

CoverThe City of Portland is updating it’s citywide master plan, with major implications to the Foster Rd neighborhoods.

The plan is called the Comprehensive Plan (Comp Plan) and it covers zoning, building codes, affordable housing policy, parking requirements, transit plans, transportation, open space and more.

Until the end of December, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is accepting comments on the plan via the interactive Comp Plan Map App. In the post below, I’ll present what the plan tells us, and show you how to submit comments.

Access the map here: (more…)