Summary of changes to Trail policy plan

To:      Transportation Expert Group
Courtney Duke, Sara Schooley and Art Pearce (PBOT)
From: Michelle Kunec-North (BPS)

RE:     Trail Policy language in the Comprehensive Plan

I very much appreciated the Transportation Expert Group’s and members of SW Trails’ review of the draft Trail policy section. It was very helpful to hear their comments and perspectives. I’ve considered their comments and have made a number of related changes.
This memo contains a summary of the changes made and rationale. I’ve also included a new draft of the policy language. This language will be included in the version of the Plan considered by the PSC for recommendation to City Council.
Summary of changes

  1. Trail description: I have suggested the following description for ‘trails’ for Chapter 3 (in the City Greenways narrative) and the glossary.

    Trails are designated routes on land or water that provide public access for recreation or transportation purposes, like walking and bicycling. Trails are often located along rivers, through natural areas, or along rail or highway rights-of-way, with connections to and through neighborhoods.

    I also updated the narrative for the Trails policy section to recognize that trails can take many different forms, can be located on public or private property or in the ROW, and can make local or regional connections.

  2. New Trail Diversity policy: I added a new policy supporting a variety of trail types. This policy is intended to speak to the group’s interest in a classification structure for trails, without setting one up directly. I agree that it may be helpful to explore, and possibly refine, how trails are incorporated into TSP and Parks classification structure. But I think any classification structure is better suited for the TSP (where classifications for streets live). The inclusion of “requirements” in the policy language reflects the TEG’s cautions that some trails may need to be built a certain way because of funding or other requirements.

    Policy 8.5x     Trail diversity. Allow a variety of trail types to reflect a trail’s transportation and recreation functions, requirements, and physical context.

  3. Tourist destinations: I’ve added “regional destinations” to Policy 8.48. This term is consistent with transportation policies generally.
  4. Trails & City Greenways: I’ve modified Policy 8.51 to clarify that trails are part of the City Greenway system, as described in Chapter 3.
  5. Public access requirements: Proposed Policy 8.50 is currently implemented (and will be in the future) through the City’s Zoning Code and Map, most directly through Chapter 33.272 Public Recreational Trails. This code chapter clearly establishes when easements or construction of trails are required. The Dolan vs. City of Tigard Supreme Court decision on proportionality also affects when an easement can be required. According to 33.272, public access easements are required for applications for a land use review or for building permits on lands designated with a recreational trail symbol on the zoning map.

    After careful consideration – and conversations with our policy and code editors – I’ve decided not to propose adding “as a condition of development” or similar language to this policy. Any Comprehensive Plan policy can be implemented through the Zoning Code, and the decisions to which it applies. In other words, we could chose to add “as a condition of development” to virtually any policy in the plan, if the City does or intends to implement it through the Zoning Code or Map. Qualifying just this one policy in such a manner seems unnecessary and possibly confusing.

  6. Other Comments: A number of the group’s comments are more programmatic in nature (such as those related to maintenance, trail removal, liability, etc). I acknowledge that these are legitimate comments, and reflect issues that may impact the use and functionality of the trail system. The Comp Plan policies set general policy frameworks for these concerns (for examples, see list of related policies below). However, Comp Plan policies are not the right place to set programmatic objectives.

    Comp Plan general and right-of-way Public Facility policies (included Proposed Draft Policies 8.1 through 8.43) would also apply to trails. Here are a few of these more general policies that provide guidance related to the group’s concerns:

  • 8.16 Regulatory Compliance (including ADA)
  • 8.18 Equitable Service
  • 8.19 Asset Management (i.e. maintenance)
  • 8.26 Partnerships
  • 8.31 Context Sensitive Infrastructure
  • 8.33 Interconnected network
  • 8.38 Flexible design

Updated draft Trail policy section
The policy language below represents a staff draft as of 5/11/15, and reflects input from the Transportation Equity Group and SW Trails. BPS staff will submit these policies, as part of the full Comprehensive Plan draft, to the PSC in early June to support their deliberations.
Trails
The City of Portland’s trail system is a key part of both the City’s multi-modal transportation system and its recreation system. Trails within this system take many different forms and are located both within the right-of-way and on public and private property. Trails provide Portlanders with local and regional pedestrian and bicycle connections and access to many key destinations within the city. They also provide a place to recreate and allow Portlanders to experience the city’s parks and natural areas. The policies in this section support continued improvement, management, and coordination of the trail system.

Policy 8.47     Public Trails. Establish, improve, and maintain a citywide system of public trails that provide transportation and/or recreation options and are a component of larger network of facilities for bicyclists, pedestrians, and recreational users.

Policy 8.48      Trail system connectivity. Plan, improve, and maintain the citywide trail system so that it connects and improves access to Portland’s neighborhoods, commercial areas, employment centers, schools, parks, natural areas, recreational facilities, regional destinations, the regional trail system, and other key places that Portlanders access in their daily lives.

Policy 8.49      Trail coordination. Coordinate planning, design, improvement and maintenance of the trail system among City agencies, other public agencies, non-governmental partners, and adjacent landowners.

Policy 8.50      Trail diversity. Allow a variety of trail types to reflect a trail’s transportation and recreation roles, requirements, and physical context.

Policy 8.51      Public access requirements. Require public access and/or improvement of public trails along the future public trail alignments shown in Figure 8-1. Future public trail alignments.

Policy 8.52     Trail and City Greenway coordination. Coordinate the planning and improvement of trails as part of the City Greenways system. See Chapter 3 for additional policies related to City Greenways.

Policy 8.53      Trail and Habitat Corridor coordination. Coordinate the planning and improvement of trails with the establishment, enhancement, preservation, and access to Habitat Corridors. See Chapter 3 for additional policies related to Habitat Corridors.

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