November 2014 minutes

SW Trails PDX
Monthly Meeting Minutes

November 20, 2014

The Watershed Building in Hillsdale
6388 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland OR 97239

Attendance: Don Baack, Lee Buhler, Glenn Bridger, Virginia Hendrickson, Patty Barker, Sharon Fekety, Hans Steuch, Chris Mays, Dianne Mays, Michael Kisor, Liz Marantz, Richard Marantz, Andrea Walls, Dave Manville, Jerry Widler, Nancy Seton, Martin Peters, Sarah Schooley, Barbara Stedman, Dale Sherborne.

The meeting was called to order at 7:01pm

Don talked about the street tax hearing at City Hall.

The agenda was approved.

Diane made a motion to approve the October 2014 minutes. Hans seconded the motion and the motion passed unanimously.

Hikes: Sharon said Dave Manville will lead the December hike. It will be on Saturday December 13 at 9:00 starting from Wilson High School. It will got to Woods Park and Gabriel Park. Last month Mark Tuner lead the hike. It was a tour of some of the little free libraries in southwest and everyone seemed to enjoy it.. Glenn announced that there will be a hike on Thanksgiving day starting at 9:00am at Wilson High. He said it was a community walk and everyone is invited.

Trail Policy Project

Sarah talked about the Draft Trails Policy Process. She handed out a draft of the policy. She said it was very draft and just a starting point. She said she has talked to people inside and outside of the City to come up with the draft process. She did not discuss the draft with SWTrails prior to its being published. She has not discussed it with other stakeholders in other parts of the city.

She talked about the purpose of trails. She said the most important purpose is to increase connectivity. She pointed out that southwest does not have good pedestrian connectivity in many cases. She said the power of SW Trails is that trails can be built at a much less expensive cost. She said it was also important to build trails to a standard. She said there has been a lack of a clear set of steps to build a trail.

Sara briefly went through the draft copy. She said adjacent property owner liability is important. She said a new state law removes that liability if there has been some sort of permitting with the City. She said it takes the liability of the adjacent property owner and the builder of the trail. She said this is news to many property owners.

She went over the Southwest Urban Trails Plan. She pointed out the maps. She said map 3.1, the proposed urban trail network is the most important map as it shows the top priorities. She went over some other maps in the plan. Don said the plan came out of the Southwest Community Plan. He said many people from different neighborhoods had proposed walking routes but they were not coordinated or connected. He said SW Trails worked to identify all the desired trails in each neighborhood and draft a map (Spagetti Map) of the trails. Following the generation of the Spagetti Map, there was another process to decide on the routes for the 7 urban trail routes. That process had very extensive public involvement and took about two years to complete the plan. Patty said the trails in Arnold Creek are on roads and many do not have pedestrian facilities. She said the trails from map 3.1 are the priority walking routes (the freeway of pedestrian routes for SW). She said neighborhood associations did not go door to door to get input on trails. Patty said there are no trails on the map in Arnold Creek. Dave said there is a route in the SW Walking map that is well used and yet not on map 3.1. Don said the SW Walking map was done by SW Trails, intensively reviewed by PBOT and originally sold for $5.00 each. Every route was walked by PBOT.

Sarah said it was important for their GIS and permitting that maps show current routes.

She said the most controversial part of the plan was the policy to get permission from adjacent property owners. She said she hoped to work that section out to get most people to think that section is fair. She said the City has the right to develop unimproved right-of-way. They would typically build it to road standards. She said they need to weigh adjacent property owners and broader community need. She said there has to be a process to show neighborhood support. She talked about the proposed formulas to gauge community support. There would be three criteria: 1) 75% of adjacent property owners, 2) 25% of adjacent property owners and 50% of neighbors within ½ mile and 3) 50% of adjacent property owners and an endorsement from the neighborhood association. However, routes on map 3.1 (the Urban Trail Routes) would be considered approved.

Sarah went over the design criteria. She said volunteer organizations do not have to meet the ADA requirements as the City does. She talked the process for obtaining the permits. She said it would require and encroachment permit. She said PBOT would waive fees. However, other city agencies such as BES might not. She said it would be important for SW Trails to advocate for fee waivers from other agencies. She said there would have to be a maintenance agreement.

Patty said that the website with the map should be put on the trail signs.

Sarah said there should be mutual respect between adjacent property owners and trail users.

Sarah said the website will have more information on the policy. They do not have the website yet. Comments should be emailed to trails@portlandoregon.gov.

Sarah said they would like to adopt the policy in late February 2015. It would be a pilot policy for a couple of years. She said the process could be approved by the PBOT commissioner or City Council. Richard asked if this was only for southwest. (It will cover the entire city) Don suggested putting in a “street or road”. He said historic connections are important as well. Sarah said historic connections are hard to determine. Don said anything on the SW Trails Walking map is a historic connections. Sarah suggested developing a criteria for historic connection. Don suggested a walk around to look at them. Sarah suggested being on a map and trail counts. Lee said Safe Routes to School was important. Sarah said a Safe Route to School trail could be built without adjacent neighbor support. Barbara suggested adding a community organization such as schools column. Don said the right-of-way is owned by the public and should not be vetoed by adjacent neighbors. Michael said a public right-of-way is a public right-of-way. Sarah said there are projects that are city driven that do not require adjacent property owner approval.

Glenn said pointed out that “resident support” should be changed to a public involvement process. He said the public should know what is going on. He said he did not think the City should give the adjacent property owners a right to veto public improvements. He said the same thing could apply to things like water lines. Dale said there was nothing specifically saying public involvement. Glenn said it is a bad precedent to give a private owner control of public property. He said where this has been tried it has been quickly reversed. Sarah said this process is different as it gives SW Trails as the precipitating agency. She said there are other instances of City policy that allow property owners veto such as the area parking permit program. She said they are trying to develop a balance.

Patty suggested posting hours on trails as they can be dangerous at night and they go behind private property. She pointed out that Parks have closing hours. Sarah said that might work but it might be hard to enforce. Richard said the downside of having a difficult permitting process is that there will be fewer well built trails. He said it is a goat trail policy and there there will be more goat trails. He said it may result in bad trails (and associated environmental damage and possible physical injuries) because the route cannot get through the process. (or the process is so daunting no will try) Michael asked about City liability. Sarah said it is not the city liability until it is permitted. Michael pointed out that the liability shifts to the city and therefore and advantage to adjacent property owners. Jerry asked what “household” means. (Residents or Owners) Sarah said they would like to make that more clear. She said they hoped for one signature per house. Jerry asked abut the ½ mile radius. Sarah said the City has the ability to produce those maps and list of addresses.

Dale said there could be a risk if the trail is not maintained. Sarah said there is always a risk and their job is to minimize the risk and decide if it is worth taking the risk. She said improved connectivity will improve the risk to the City. Glenn said it is important that adjacent property owners be measured and defined. He said it is important to define household. Hans said an attorney said he was not aware of anyone who brought suit for a trail problem. Sarah said it is very rare. Patty said the criteria for step 2 should reflect the different characteristics of neighborhoods. Sarah said it should be for transportation. Don said that limitation should not be included. Patty said a good example would be a shopping center. She said in some neighborhoods one criteria should be enough.

Don talked about a situation where a neighbor blocked a route. He said it is important that the process does not allow that type of situation. Sarah this would be an opportunity for SW Trails to advocate for better trails. She said change can be scary and it is important to inform people. Patty pointed out that crime goes down on urban trails as there are more eyes on the situation.

Don said there should be something in the plan that says encroachments are not permitted for several reasons such as safety and environmental issues.

Don said there should be an maintenance agreement on the trails that are already in place as well as an agreement on liability.. He said once that is approved it will make more friends.

Michael asked if adverse possession would apply to people putting things on the right-of-way. Glenn said there cannot be an adverse possession action against a sovereign.

Sarah asked people to try to be constructive on their comments.

Other Items:

Don said he will send out links for the map app for the comprehensive plan. He asked people to look to make sure that all the important transportation projects are included. He said there is a proposal to move all trails to Parks and that is a bad idea. He said SWNI has taken a position against that as well.
Don said there would be more information on the Transportation Service Plan soon. Dave said it can be confusing as projects may have different numbers

Don said Multnomah and Vermont sidewalk projects are done. Barbara said the traffic signal at 26th and Multnomah are turned on.

Hans said he and Doug met with Alan Schmitt of Portland Parks to talk about the Red Electric Trail. He said the trail will cost $18 million. He said there is currently $500,000 available for the trail from SDC charges. Hans said Alan was very enthusiastic about the plan.

Don said a call from someone who asked how the trails are financed. She then called back and said they would donate a significant sum, no money has been received to date.

Don said Oregon Walks awarded him the Weston award.

Don talked about the Boones Ferry culvert/bridge. He said he got an email from Jennifer Devlin saying she got a call from Metro asking her to apply for the incremental funding to move it from a culvert to a bridge.

Don said Senator Burdick and Representative Williamson wrote letters asking for funding for the Safe Route to School along on 25th . from Bertha to BH Hwy The City put that money to pay SWTrails in the budget. They also agreed at the Sept 2 meeting to get the permits and to budget for the bridge next year. Don talked to Commissioner Novick office to make sure it goes through.

Dave said there would be a work party at Smith School on Saturday. He said the ground is much softer. He said the surface will be street grindings. It will be 9am to 1pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Don said the next Southwest Corridor meeting will be on the December 8th in Tigard.

Glenn said he went to a meeting on how OHSU would be served by high capacity transit on Barbur or Naito. They have been exploring connecting escalators, elevators or moving walkways. They would like to make it look good. Glenn said he felt the best solution was a tunnel under the hill. Glenn said it was important to get the service were people need to go.

Dave said that while he was out of the county Don called PBOT to get the replacement signs going. They are apparently moving ahead.

Dianne asked people to send photos on SW Trail activities to be used in our newletters.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:57 pm

Respectfully submitted

Lee Buhler

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