Lents Grown – Our Stories: Deadline this week to nominate a local business

Every small business has a story, and now Rose Community Development and local architects Propel Studio are teaming up with the PDC to tell some of them.

Lents_Grown_-_Our_Stories-2This Friday is the deadline to nominate a local business to be featured in the Lents Grown - Our Stories project. The project involves a temporary art and public-gathering space on a PDC-owned vacant lot at Foster and 88th Ave.

Young people working through Portland Youth Builders will create the installation, which will feature photos and stories that focus on local small businesses. PDC kicked in $7500 to help make the project happen.

Rose staffer Luke Bonham says that locals are encouraged to nominate their favorite local small business or farmer's market vendors to be featured in the installation.

Nominations can be submitted here.

Summit Recap – Foster’s Built Environment: Streets, Sidewalks and Beyond

By way of follow-up to February 15th's Foster Summit event, we've asked a couple of the attendees to share a summary of topics and ideas from the breakout session they attended. We will publish these, along with the 'butcher paper' notes in the weeks to come.

Today we've asked Mike Caputo, who facilitated our discussion of transportation infrastructure, to contribute his thoughts on the discussion that took place. Mike is a founder of the innovative company What Would You Like to See?, which uses crowdsourcing to bring the public into the process of creating the next generation of our built environment.

Were you were there? What did Mike miss? Even if you couldn't attend the event, we hope you'll share your take on these important community issues.

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fostersummit_348The built environment is something that impacts us all in a myriad of ways. Buildings, streets, and sidewalks do not change often – careful consideration should go into their creation, because they will impact an area for decades or more.

In the Foster-Powell, Lents and Mt. Scott-Arleta areas, pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists all have a number of issues that the community is trying to address together. These are issues that have accumulated over a long period of time; and though they will take time and energy to address, the communities involved are prepared to roll up their proverbial sleeves and take action to improve their surroundings.

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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.

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PDC Awards for Foster Organizations

LentsURAThe PDC has a big stake in Foster, with the western stretch of Foster road and Lents Town Center being a part of the Lents Urban Renewal Area. One of the perks of URA status is the opportunity to use local money for local improvements (It’s kind of like Vegas for taxes: What happens in Foster, stays in Foster). Most of the time the PDC spends our money for us on things we identified as important through past plans, such as the Foster Streetscape Plan, Reconstruction of Ramona St, and the Lents Gateway Monuments. Sometimes they use the money to buy up land and tear down buildings in the hope that something better will get built.  But every once and a while they come back to the community and make an offer for worthy local applicants. They call this the Community Livability Grant (more…)

Lents Town Center Unveils Its New Look

ltc_dedication_4Residents and dignitaries gathered Sunday morning to dedicate the new streetscape improvements in the Lents Town Center, improvements that should make the area more hospitable to pedestrians and businesses.

“Great cities are great places to walk, and the City has an obligation to make the whole city a great place to walk.” – Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick

The group included Portland City Councilmember Steve Novick, State Representative Jeff Reardon, PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton, and many city bureau staffers as well as many local businesspeople and representatives of the Lents Neighborhood Association and the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Advisory Committee. (more…)

A Foster Weekend: Painting, Perogies, Movies and More

 

SATURDAY JULY 27th

triangle Shed

Arleta Triangle Project

8:00 am – Arleta Triangle (72nd & Woodstock)

Help repaint the cute little shed on the cute little Arleta Triangle.  They are starting earlier than usual to beat the heat. Coffee and goodies provided !

Facebook Page


lumber

Local Lumber

10:00 am –  noon pm at the Community Tool Library Courtyard (9211 SE Ramona Street)

Green builder, Justin Euteneier will be hosting an informational workshop on locally sourced lumber, as well as, be providing a great list of resources of local shops to buy your DIY home improvement materials from!

Facebook Page  - Free!


lents-park-slavic-festival

Slavic Festival

10:00 am – 4:00 pm Lents Park (92nd & Holgate)

Come celebrate and explore Russian and Ukrainian culture midday this Saturday. Booths, food, speakers and more!

Facebook Page  - Free!


limes

Growing Citrus in the Pacific NW

2:30-3:30 at Denis’ 7 Dees  (60th & Powell)

Armed with a little bit of knowledge, an appropriate container, sufficient sunlight (at least 6 hours), and some judicious winter protection, it is possible to grow citrus here in Portland! Your future holds fragrant blossoms & succulent fruits well-worth your efforts. Learn which varieties of citrus grow best, what conditions they prefer, pests to watch for, basic winter care, and growing season maintenance tips.

Event Page  - $5 for materials


SUNDAY JULY 28th

englishPosterv

 

Lents Farmers Market

11:00 am – 4:00 pm – 92nd & Foster

Foster’s own farmers market is rolling strong this year! Swing on by for some tasty food and friendly neighbors.


lents-entrywayDedicate the Lents Streetscape and Entryways

11:30 am – Noon – The West Gateway (90th & Foster)

The PDC helped bring the bling to Lents with new sidewalks, lighting, trees and some light-up entrances to the town center. Come celebrate the new digs with everyone.

PDC page


July28th Lents JackMovie in the Park: Jack the Giant Slayer

6:30 pm – Late – Lents Park (92nd & Holgate)

Lents kicks off the summer season of movies in the park with A family friendly 3D adventure.

PDC Disbands Lents Citizen Advisory Committee

A few weeks ago, the PDC quietly disbanded the Urban Renewal Advisory Committees –the citizen committees that advise the agency in its urban renewal areas. That includes the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Advisory Committee, which has guided our 9-neighborhood, $245 million urban renewal area since 1998.

According to the PDC, the URACs are intended “to involve citizens, urban renewal area (URA) stakeholders and/or project partners more directly in planning, program development and decision making.” Agency policy is that the PDC “believes that meaningful, timely, effective public participation is essential to successfully implement PDC policies and projects.”

pdc_2PDC staffer Justin Douglas talked to me about what led up to the change in policy.

“PDC has been undergoing significant downsizing as an agency. We’re just as committed to public participation as we were before –but due to financial constraints, the URAC system just isn’t a sustainable model for us.” He said that due to budget cuts, the five full-time public participation staffers the agency had a few years ago are now down to one.

I also spoke with John Notis, the now-former Chair of the LTCURAC. He told me that the URAC has become ineffectual and that it “just doesn’t do what it used to do, for many reasons.”

Former Foster-Powell Chair Tracy Gratto has represented Fo-po on the URAC for the last three years. She agreed that the PDC has rendered URAC participation a largely meaningless exercise. “They haven’t asked us to make a decision in months,” she says.

I asked Tracy how she was notified of the change in policy, and she said that due to a recent illness she was unable to attend the June URAC meeting. Although she had an inkling that a change in PDC’s policy on public participation was being discussed, she had no idea such a drastic change was imminent. (more…)

TOMORROW – Your Last, Best Chance to Shape Your Neighborhood

The City of Portland is hosting a SUPER OPEN HOUSE tomorrow night to share and gather information about two major plans going on along Foster Road. We know these are kind of boring, and we know you have other things you’d rather do, but if one day you look out your window and see stuff you didn’t like, don’t tell us we didn’t warn you.

Here’s a sneak peak of what you’ll talk about: (more…)

Bus Riders Unite! calls 82nd & Foster one of the Worst Bus Stops in Portland

Last week, OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon and Bus Riders Unite! led the final meeting of their East Portland Bus Stop Prioritization project. The result was a list of the three worst bus stops in the City –a short list that includes one busy and chronically bad stop at 82nd and Foster.

portlands_worst_bus_atop_1The two-year long project involved an extensive public process, described as “Survivor-style” by the seriously great portlandafoot.org blog. The end result was that a broad group of transit users identified the East Portland bus stops in most need of upgrades.

On that short list: the sliver of sidewalk on the north side of Foster where hundreds of riders get on or off every weekday.

BRU! activist Eavan Moore told me that the stop’s heavy usage easily justifies a shelter, but there isn’t space to accomodate one given the narrow sidewalk there.

“Widening that sidewalk, by extending it into the street and/or by extending it into the adjacent parking lot, is a critical first step to making other improvements,” she says. Eavan would also like to see a garbage can, a posted schedule and better lighting too, but everything hinges on finding a way to create more space in the substandard sidewalk.

Purchasing part of the Wells Fargo parking lot to expand the sidewalk and bus stop is possible, but acquiring privately-owned right-of-way can be expensive, and hasn’t been something that’s been discussed so far by PBOT’s Foster Streetscape committee.

That’s not surprising, given the meager resources the City has allocated to that 2+ mile project.

Similarly, there’s a lot of competition for space within the existing roadway — making expansion there problematic too. The current configuration includes four auto through-lanes plus a center turn lane. The City’s 2010 Bike Plan anticipates bike lanes being added to the mix, and the 2009 Streetcar Plan includes a future Streetcar line here as well. So far, the Lents Neighborhood Association has opposed any reduction in auto lanes in the area.

It’s possible that the ongoing Foster Streetscape project could take these improvements on, but time is running short. None of the eight different possible street profiles considered by PBOT and the Streetscape committee for this area have included plans for expansion of these sidewalks beyond the current 5-foot width. (See http://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/425424 at pp.9-11)

Other options could include requesting funds for improvements from Tri-Met or the PDC, but either of those paths could take years to see results on the ground.

But the activists working on the East Portland Bus Stop Prioritization Project expect to be involved for the long haul.

portlands_worst_bus_stop_2

OPAL Executive Director Jonathan Oster told me that the project is intended as a first step, enabling “the people who actually ride the buses in East Portland to identify, assess and prioritize the most important bus stops that warrant improvements in terms of amenities and infrastructure.” He says that the project screened more than 150 bus stops to identify 20 for further assessment. Of those, riders from the community chose the top 3 in need of immediate help.

The other two stops on the “3 Worst” list are both on SE Powell Boulevard: One is at 122nd and the other is at 127th. Both of those locations have similar issues to Foster and 82nd: inadequate space, poor lighting and amenities and terrible access for people with disabilities.

People looking to get involved in the movement for better bus stops or other aspects of advocacy for transit riders should get in touch with Bus Riders Unite! here.

WWYLTS?

IconWhat Would You Like To See?

Have you ever looked at the empty lots around the neighborhood and had a brilliant idea for what it could be used for? Finally someone who can do something about it wants to hear your ideas.

The PDC has control of many empty lots on their hands, such as 72nd & Foster, and a handful of sites in the Lents Town Center, near 92nd & Foster. While the PDC has got big plans and bold visions for most parcels, some sites are just awaiting a creative spark to figure out how to best use them today. (more…)