This is the first of a series of “Streetscape Diaries” that we hope will bring more people into the process of implementing the Foster Road Transportation and Streetscape Plan.
The streetscape plan is a comprehensive strategy for Foster Road from 50th to 90th Avenues. Street safety, lighting, biking, walking, and beautification are all covered. Although the plan was completed and approved by the City Council in 2003, it has taken the hard work of many neighborhood activists to move the plan toward implementation.
Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.
– Louis Brandeis
One of the things that led us to create Foster United was a desire to spread useful information to interested Fosterites. As Nick Falbo’s recent post demonstrates, understanding the processes that impact our area is not always easy, but we think that by sharing what we know, and encouraging our readers to do the same, we’ll all be better equipped to make positive change.
Foster United wants to crack open the secrecy that can sometimes surround public processes in Portland. As Justice Brandeis recognized almost a hundred years ago, for democracy to work, the public needs to know what the government is doing. Often, here on Foster Road, that knowledge has been sorely lacking.
A case in point: Over the last couple of weeks, rumors have been circulating about a new committee that the City’s Bureau of Transportation is assembling. As the group that will recommend a new Streetscape plan to the City Council, this committee will exert a powerful influence over what becomes of our street.
Sadly, no direct appeal for members has been issued to the community.
I recently discussed this issue with Tracy Gratto, former Chair of the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association and member of the original committee that drafted the now-discarded 2003 plan. No one in this area has been more active in advocating for the plan’s implementation over the last 10 years than Tracy.
She told me that not only had she not been approached about the committee, but that she and the rest of the Fo-po board had explicitly requested to be involved in the new plan. She also said that she signed up for the project mailing list at the PDC Open House in June but has heard nothing since.
After having a similar experience myself, I inquired directly to the City’s Project Manager Mauricio Leclerc and was told that I would not be considered for membership because of the “fairly large number of people already signed up.” Leclerc didn’t give any details about when and where these applicants signed up for the committee or why some citizens were given the opportunity and others not.
The City’s approach to membership on this committee is baffling to say the least.