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Brooklyn Station Areas Working Group Meeting #2 Summary

Brooklyn Station Areas Project
Working Group Meeting #2 Summary
Attendees: ~40
Date: January 30, 2014
Location: Meals on Wheels People at Sacred Heart Villa

View the original meeting packet, with the agenda, handouts and presentation.

1. Welcome and Introductions
Diane Hale with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability opened the meeting by welcoming attendees. Attendees then introduced themselves and responded to the question, “what commercial areas do you like inPortlandor other cities, and why”? The following responses were mentioned: 

Commercial Area

Reasons Cited

Westmoreland (mentioned five times)  - Services and homes
- Historical character
- Compact: shops for every-day living close by homes
- Affordable
Sellwood (mentioned six times)          - Walkable
Santa Cruz,CA - Water access
- Can get away from the noise
Clinton& 26th area  - Good example of the scale of buildings people want to see in Brooklyn
- Walkable, good mix of businesses
Mississippi Avenue (mentioned six times)  - Walkable
- There are light craft industrial spaces and offices mixed in with shops
- Real diversity of businesses, such as Rebuilding Center, hardware store, and a grocery store
- Courtyards, meeting places, shops
- Retail and design very pleasing
DowntownMilwaukie(mentioned twice)  - Historic character
- Industry and residential seem compatible here
- Walkable
Other areas mentioned:
Woodstock(mentioned twice)
Belmont & 30th area (mentioned twice)
Multnomah Village
N Interstate
Kenton

Other features mentioned that people would like to see in the neighborhood:

  • Affordability: There are neighborhood concerns about affordability, and wanting to make sure that current residents can afford to stay in the neighborhood after development occurs
  • Cultural activities and amenities
  • Family-oriented
  • Plazas, small courtyards, gathering places
  • A good walk score (lots of support for this)
  • Development that resembles older, quainter buildings with character, not huge boxy glass buildings
  • Provide parking
  • Employment opportunities
  • Think about the pedestrian environment on the street (mentioned several times)
  • Self-sufficient neighborhoods where many basic needs can be met by residents walking less than a mile.
  • Do not like 4-5 story buildings, including the one we are currently meeting in. It would create a “canyon”  alongMilwaukie. Examples not to replicate include Hawthorne and Division -these are both also not affordable and create parking nightmares for residents.
  • What tools are at our disposal for having some control over the facets of development that aren’t subject to the zoning code? Ideas include design overlay and historical district designation.
  • Keep the historical integrity of Milwaukie Avenue. Do we have enough historical buildings to consider going through the process to be recognized as a historical district? Would this be worth it even if it’s not formally achieved? Another attendee noted that the neighborhood association (BAC) has looked into creating a historic district and encourages interested parties to get involved.
  • Think about how to mix commercial uses with a positive pedestrian experience: How can commercial be unobtrusive, and what design, zoning, other tools are at our disposal to help with this?
  • How can we maintain accessibility while enjoying some growth?
  • Prefer industrial crafts and artisan shops as opposed to heavy manufacturing: This is the difference between what we want to see and don’t need any more of in this neighborhood (Inner NE is a great example) for South of Holgate

2. Milwaukie Avenue Zoning Options
Diane covered major questions and feedback from the first meeting: neighbors seem to prefer smaller-scale development (2-3 stories), want parking provided with new development and had questions about property taxes, gentrification and displacement and the realities of creating a successful neighborhood commercial district.

Grant Morehead with the Portland Bureau of Transportation shared information about an upcoming project looking at parking tools for neighborhoods, as a companion to the project that will look at all of the existing commercial zones. One thing that affects parking includes the types of uses in the area – retail often generates a lot of trips, but people don’t stay long. Other uses, like workplaces (TriMet) have workers who are there for 8-10 hour shifts, so parking impacts in the neighborhood can be worse. Certain types of zones will attract different types of trips and different types of traffic.

Audience discussion was dispersed throughout the presentation.

Discussion:

Can we mix taller buildings in with shorter?

  • Staff response: We can mix zones that have different heights, we don’t have to rezone the whole street. Tonight we want to hear what you want to see alongMilwaukie. There will be many options in the tool box, but knowing things like overall height concerns is helpful.

Could design overlays and historic districts limit what the zoning allows. It would be helpful to know more about these overlay options to limit the ability of developers to come in and maximize profit.

  • Staff response: Designating a Historic District is a State/Federal process, but a local land use review is often required for work on a home after the designation is in place – these reviews can be time consuming and expensive. There are a variety of reasons that something can be designated Historic, such as age/design of structure or cultural value. The process requires a lot of research. Buckman went through the process last year, and the neighborhood voted it down.
  • Other attendee note: Historic District research has been done, and the State historic staff came to our [BAC] last meeting. Some research needs to be redone because it is too old, but it is a conversation we have been having that’s been ongoing. If we are passionate about this, the time is right to get active. There may be benefits from going through the process, even if the designation doesn’t happen.

What changed on Division that the development happened so fast? We want to avoid this.

  • Staff response: Storefront Commercial (CS) zoning has been in place on Division for 20 years. Development doesn’t typically happen that fast. Anecdotally, we have heard that there were lower land values along Division than surrounding areas, and once the area started to gain momentum, financing became available and developers wanted to join the trend.

There is Storefront Commercial (CS) zoning all along Alberta, with a Historic overlay. How did they get that?

  • Staff response: The h overlay is not for historic, it is for height restrictions associated with the airport.

It’s important to remember that what we want to see can’t automatically be addressed with zoning. E.g., you can build a four-story multi residential building in R1 now.
Help me understand the zoning between Powell and Center, and why changing zoning helps ensure existing businesses can succeed.

  • Staff response: The zoning from Powell to Center is Storefront Commercial (CS), south of Center it is mostly medium-density residential (R1). R1 doesn’t allow commercial uses, which is why we are discussing changing it to some sort of commercial zoning. The businesses south of center are non-conforming - they may have been “grandfathered in” when the zoning changed from commercial to residential in the 1980s. For non-conforming uses, it can be tricky to make improvements/alterations. If the zoning were changed to commercial, it could make it easier to make upgrades etc. to a building. A man mentioned earlier that he can’t redevelop half his building for his own business because of the residential zoning. In terms of overall business success, this area for potential changes is pretty small, so it wouldn’t “water down” commercial demand too much.  

I don’t understand why the City is pushing this rezoning, can you explain?

  • Staff response: We’ve heard from neighborhood residents for a long time that people want more businesses in the area. Let’s see with this group – raise your hand if you support more businesses alongMilwaukie (many hands raised).

Can you zone for residential size, number of bedrooms, etc?

  • Staff response: We could incorporate new tools that allow more height (above a base level) if a developer provides certain defined amenities such as a courtyard, meeting specific design standards or providing specific-sized units. We haven’t done this in the neighborhoods yet, but it’s an option.

Do most homes here have driveways?

  • Staff response: Yes, most homes here do have driveways, but not all.  

In one area they put in row houses without enough spots to cover the influx of parking.

  • Staff response: There are also parking permit programs that are separate from the zoning that could be considered.

It would be good to see photos that demonstrate the transition from commercial zones to the residential areas behind the zones.  

  • Staff response: Good point, we will try to find some.

On the question of transitions - maybe tall fronts on the main street are OK, but they have to step down in back near residences. That could ease the shadow effect on homes.
Let’s have density, and let’s have parks. I’m fine with that, it’s like development in Europe.
What does a canyon of buildings along Milwaukie do to the sound? This is a major street.

  • Staff and other attendees: It could create a sound barrier that could actually help absorb the sounds from the road.

Personally I don’t get too hung up on height. Psychologically cars tend to slow down with taller buildings around then rather than open space.
What do you mean by “Slight increases possible” in traffic (referring to PowerPoint presentation).

  • Staff response: That refers to the general trend of growing traffic across the city due to population increases.

How far off of Milwaukie would the commercial zoning extend?

  • Staff response: It’s hard to say exactly without looking at it parcel by parcel, but it would generally be the parcels just alongMilwaukie. We will provide a more detailed zoning map for review later if a change is proposed.

Can we have commercial businesses with residential uses on top?

  • Staff response: All of the commercial zones allow residential development.

3. South of Holgate Zoning Options
Diane provided a brief overview of the existing conditions in the area bounded by Holgate, McLoughlin and 17th street, including zoning, land use and pictures of the area. She then noted that this discussion will need to be continued at the next meeting on February 27th due to time constraints.

Discussion:

How do we make the transition better between residential and industrial uses?
A zoning change [to employment] would really impact the residents that are there now.
What will the parking requirements be, given the proximity to the station and the Milwaukie Avenue bus line?

  • Staff response: We will look into that question for this area.

Isn’t it a better benefit to the community to have a mix of uses in the area, with housing on top and businesses and retail on the bottom? Will building a business district create jobs?
You have a series of four Max stations built in an area, and you have Brooklyn which is barren of services for its own support, and two major corridors -17th and Milwaukie. South of Holgate you have this fall off from the ridge line – what if we put services down below and residences up top? It would serve residents, as the area is pretty landlocked. Access to the neighborhood for services and amenities will mean crossing very busy arterials. I say go tall and make it nice and put services down below.
Is there zoning for offices below and residential above? And a way to transition to the industrial?
We might think about East and West Milwaukie differently, too. And we should look at the close-in Central Eastside as a place with similar forces happening before we make any decisions.
The last meeting I went to in August, planners were talking about large-scale redevelopment and a grocery store. Is that no longer on the table?

  • Staff response: A charrette happened in August to generate big ideas about what people wanted to see regardless of on the ground constraints. Now, more analysis has been done, and we need to think about what would it be like to put more people along major freight routes and adjacent to industrial uses. Large-scale residential may not be the direction that we would recommend given these conditions. A grocery store is allowed under any of these zoning options, but there may be size limitations.

We haven’t talked about N of Holgate. This is a high traffic area, and is difficult walking for residents. We can create a buffer for Holgate and residents. Maybe we should try and open up commercial and retail uses with residential above along Holgate as a buffer.
We are a small neighborhood with very discrete boundaries. We really need to think about what kinds of businesses are going to thrive here, and what kinds of tools there are to encourage this.

  • Staff response: It sounds like more market information would be useful here.

Sometimes you can use height to your advantage and get above the noise. How can we be creative with the zoning?
The neighborhood has a lack of amenities in general. We need a decent sized grocery store west of 17th. S of Holgate and W of 17th is about the only place you could put it. Just S of Pardee, is a big lot, but the lot isn’t big enough if we can’t have the back of the block where the industrial zoning is. Using that area might provide more flexibility. The west side of that block isn’t a good area for heavy manufacturing anyway. Fred Meyer looked at that site 30 years ago - I am a property owner and am pretty familiar with the history. All of the industrial uses S of Holgate are pretty much all gone at this point - the storage guys are the only ones left. So maybe this is a good time to reevaluate whether the industrial zone really needs to stay.
[General disagreement/ lively conversation among attendees about the continued need for industrial land generally, and whether the City’s decision to keep all industrial lands is valid.]
Next time, can we get a block by block analysis of what’s going on along 17th?

  • Staff: Yes, we can do that. TriMet will be here too, and can add to the conversation.

Isn’t 17th an area to be concerned about transitions too (referring to PowerPoint reference of transitions south of Holgate)?

  • Staff response: Yes, good point. The whole neighborhood edge is a transition zone to other uses.

Meeting Evaluation Form Responses (5 forms returned)
How Appropriate was the pace of the meeting?  (Too slow; Slow; Just Right; Fast; Too fast)
Slow: 2, Slow/Just Right: 1 Just Right: 1, Fast: 1

How would you rate the quality of the presentations? (Very Poor; Poor; Average; Good; Excellent)
Average: 2, Good: 3

How useful was the content of the discussion? (Very Poor; Poor; Average; Good; Excellent)
Average: 2, Good: 3

  • What aspect(s) of the meeting were most useful?
  • Responsiveness to community opinion. Preparation of comprehensive information and discussion following. Realistic meeting goals.
  • Got some ideas.
  • Sharing of perspectives.
  • Was all good.

What aspect(s) of the meeting were least useful?

  • Pacing is rushed near the end.
  • Too many focuses, no answers or consensus.
  • Rambling people.

Any additional feedback or comments?

  • Thanks to the organizers for presenting this information and soliciting public opinion – and being open to that opinion in planning for future development.
  • Need more and specific ideas/ meetings to get some decisions.

Feedback Form - Tell us what you think
Written feedback forms were distributed to meeting attendees with the following questions:

  • What do you think about the idea of changing the R1 zone in this area to the Storefront Commercial (CS) zone?
  • Are there specific uses that you would not like to see alongMilwaukie, south ofCenter Street?
  • What level of density or building height do you think is appropriate for this section ofMilwaukie?
  • Do you need more information, and if so, what kind of information?

Respondents were asked to indicate a level of support (support change, oppose change, unsure/need more info) and write in detailed comments. Written responses received at the meeting and indicated level of support are listed in the table below.

Level of Support

Written Response

Support Change Higher density, maximum flexibility for uses. I would support up to 100 ft buildings. There should be street trees, outdoor community benches, courtyards. Remember that in order to preserve green spaces, farmland, wild areas in close proximity to the city, we need to increase our in-city density. More focus on development for bikes and pedestrians. No large lot parking- parking should be inside multi-use buildings. Uses: retail, offices, manufacturing, industrial services. No drive-thru’s. More bike parking. Setbacks in high buildings away from residential houses behind might make it more acceptable to those homeowners. Holgate - McLoughlin to 17th should be CS or EG.
Support Change It will make my building at 4033SE Milwaukiedevelopable, right now it is residentially zoned. Original building was a commercial building that lost its grandfathered zoning when the building was vacant for two years in the 1980’s. Right now half of the 9,000 square foot building is a two bedroom apartment with home business of recording studio. The other half of the building is storage and is not a good candidate for another apartment unless I put bedrooms right onMilwaukie. It’s too noisy and lots of vibration. Property is too valuable to be torn down. Developers will not pay that much for two lots. The undeveloped side would be good for art gallery, small business, etc, restaurant.
Unsure/ Need More Info Why are we just looking at changing it to CS? What about CN? What about CO? What about CS with a design or historical overlay (eg CS(d); CS(h)? I am opposed to a zoning change to just CS without any height or parking restrictions.
Oppose/Need More Info Want mixed-use, no heavy manufacturing. Need design overlay. No zone change without overlay. 2-3 story limits, parking and setbacks. Consider CN or “new” zone.