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Brooklyn Station Areas Working Group Meeting #3 Summary

Brooklyn Station Areas Project

Working Group Meeting #3 Summary

Attendees: ~30

Date: February 27, 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, then attendees introduced themselves. Staff gave a brief project overview, including the scope, timeline and process. The station areas project is part of the overall Comprehensive Plan Update (CPU), and will be part of the package subject to approval from the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) and City Council in the fall.

2. South of Holgate Zoning Options

This agenda item is a continuation of a discussion that began on February 27th. Diane provided a brief overview of the existing conditions in the area bounded by Holgate, McLoughlin and 17th Avenue, including zoning, land use and pictures of the area.

The options discussed at Meeting #2 included continuing the existing residential and commercial mix of the area, transitioning to more employment-focused uses or creating a hybrid. All options assumed the industrial zoning along 17th Ave would remain in place. Based on feedback heard at Meeting #2, staff recommended retaining commercial zoning for much of the area, which would allow commercial and residential uses. Staff also recommended retaining the existing employment and industrial zoning along17th Avein the area.

Audience discussion was dispersed throughout the presentation.

Discussion

  • General discussion about how people will be using the new light rail line as transit to work, and having more residential uses near the stations seems like a good idea.
  • The area seems increasingly vacant; businesses are leaving.
  • One resident was concerned about employment (EG) zoning, expressing that rezoning to EG would make it very difficult to sell the house to another resident. She asked staff to confirm that under EG zoning, she would have to sell it to someone who will convert it to a business, or if she wanted to make improvements, they may not be allowed.
    • Staff Response: You currently have EG zoning, and residential use is allowed through the conditional use process in an EG zone. That process allows the City to look closely at the specific circumstance when residential use is proposed to make sure it is not negatively impacting businesses in the EG zone. A proposal that is part of the CPU would prohibit residential uses in EG zones in the future. That means residential uses would be non-conforming. You could sell the house to another person, you could make upgrades and improvements, but you may not be able to expand the footprint of the residential use – that depends on the specific circumstance.
  • General questions about what is allowed in different zones now, and how will it change in the future.
    • Staff response: General overview of what is allowed in different commercial and employment zones. The Mixed Use Zoning Project is getting underway, and will completely rewrite the commercial zones. So zoning that better fits what the neighborhood wants to see could become an option in the future.
  •  As part of the original neighborhood plan, the zoning was requested to be residential south of Holgate, because there were many businesses that were causing air pollution, and they had been grandfathered in. When Brooklyn did the neighborhood plan, this area was not part of either the Sellwood or Brooklyn neighborhoods, and people thought it was a key area to be protected as the joiner between the two neighborhoods, so it was annexed to Brooklyn. Since that plan, there has been little to no development anywhere along that strip. The single family housing that is going up is very high quality/expensive single family homes, so I am seeing a lot of unused commercial potential. Why are we not talking about Neighborhood Commercial (CN) zoning?
  •  Does the CPU supersede neighborhood plans? Will neighborhood plans have to be changed to be in compliance with the Comp Plan?
    • Staff response: When we adopt the CPU, we will also be re-adopting many neighborhood plans into the CPU with the notation that anything in conflict, the citywide policies would prevail if there is a conflict between the Comp Plan and a neighborhood plan.
  • Before the meeting this evening, I attempted to arrive early and grab a drink in the area and there was nothing available up or down the street. This reflects the general lack of amenities serving the existing neighborhood, and the coffee and bar and grocery priorities that residents have identified for a long time now.
  • Truck routes clash with the neighborhood vision and pedestrian safety and access for businesses coming in. The street life would look very different with new businesses.
  • We need to be much more aware of the dangers that gentrification may pose for the Brooklyn neighborhood. What does it mean if houses are selling here for half a million dollars, and light rail hasn’t even been put in yet? Is there a consideration to try to keep the neighborhood somewhat affordable? Do we want to keep industrial uses that could act as a useful price drag and help keep costs down?
    • Staff Response: When staff studied areas at high risk of gentrification,Brooklyn was not identified as a high risk neighborhood. But, we all know that this neighborhood has a lot of amenities and is very close to the Central City, so it is desirable. The market isn’t controllable, but there are certain mechanisms like affordable housing that could help.
  • I have serious concerns about making the strip along Holgate (north side, west of Milwaukie) commercial. That backs directly onto single family development. We need more flexibility and options, and residential development needs to stay a priority.
    • Staff response: One thing we are hearing all over the city is that people would like to see better transitions between these commercial/mixed use areas and adjacent residential areas. The Mixed Use Zoning Project is attempting to address that concern.
  • Along Holgate, how will people be able to access the commercial amenities that come in without good pedestrian and bicycle facilities?
    • Staff response: We have heard and agree with the concern about Holgate. Options are somewhat constrained, with buildings built right up to the property lines, but traffic calming and other measures to improve the pedestrian environment are options. We will talk about that at the next meeting too.
  • I own a place along Holgate, if we keep the EG, what’s there now is probably what you will see 20 years from now, too. We did the Imagine Holgate project and other plans, and people want a grocery store and a coffee shop with residential above. But it hasn’t penciled out, because there isn’t enough residential to support that kind of street life. So what can we put in place that will help? Also, do we really want a public storage facility right across from a light rail stop? My fear is that we will squander $160 million on a station by being too hung up on needing to meet the employment shortfall. Is this really the best use of this particular land given the surroundings and the characteristics on the ground? Good industrial development requires real space, one floor. What we need is a critical mass of people to get something going in this area. At this intersection, you have to be literally almost as far as possible from a coffee shop in the tri-county area.
  • There is an elephant in the room right now - until Holgate is a friendlier street for pedestrians and bicycles it won’t change, and it all depends on Union Pacific truck traffic. The attendee stated that Holgate is ugly and unsafe right now for any mode, and all zoning conversations should take this into account. Any sort of real change for the area south of Holgate hinges on what happens on Holgate. There will be a real conflict of interest between people using the light rail and the trucks and the rail yard. How will people cross?
    • Staff response: Any bike or pedestrian upgrades would be a City responsibility. There is a lot of traffic in and out of the UP rail yard. We are going to do truck counts to get a better sense. The elementary school is located east on Holgate, and is another critical reason we need to improve bike and pedestrian safety. To improve safety, the first thing we would need to do would be to widen the sidewalk, and the way that happens is often taking out car lanes. That is tricky here especially because the street feeds into McLoughlin, and ODOT could veto the entire project even though Holgate is a City street. We would need to do a lot of homework and study before making a specific recommendation, so that would be done as part of a follow-up project. At the next meeting, there will be other City staff working on light rail that can speak to the street and other improvements coming in alongside the light rail project that may help improve the situation.
  • Regarding changing the truck routing for the rail yard, it would be very difficult. The truck movement is one-way through the yard, with entrance off of Holgate and exit off of Harold onto McLoughlin. Now there is a light rail line that is an additional barrier to access along 17th. You’ve never been able to make a left turn coming into the rail yard. You’d have to add a left turn going South on McLoughlin going into the yard to get trucks off of Holgate, and reconfigure 17th and the rail yard.
  • Concerns were expressed about continuing to have vacant properties around the light rail station. People do not feel safe walking home now.
  • I am greatly in support of the proposed zoning change to CG along the north side of Holgate. I own the lot next to the gas station, currently a parking lot. We would like to redevelop it with mixed use, but can’t until the zoning changes (currently residential).
  • You are not going to have nice quality housing along the light rail line near the industrial areas.
  • It depends how you develop the housing.
  • I’d like to see residential development at the intersection of Holgate and 17th, maybe five story condos or apartments south of Holgate, some density there generally. My daughter’s day care is in Westmoreland, and walking through the area really does feel like a dead zone. I’m also concerned about safety and vacancies.

 

3) 17th Avenue, Powell to Holgate (west side only)

Diane and TriMet employee, Jay Higgins, provided an overview of existing conditions along 17th Avenue and previewed other changes coming with the new light rail line. A community garden/fruit orchard is a possibility for the TriMet triangular parcel near Powell – a forum will be hosted by the neighborhood association. TriMet is currently putting together a committee to help shape the criteria to use for development proposals along 17th. The site betweenBoise and Mall is currently being proposed as a multi-story apartment building with commercial uses on the ground floor.

Discussion

  • Several concerns were raised about lack of choice with EG zoning as compared to CG or something else along 17th. that would allow residential uses.
  •  How long will the Trimet parking lots remain at 17th?
    • Staff response: The parking lots are permanent.
  • Is the best use along a light rail line so close to the city really to have any parking at all?
    • Staff response: We have been hearing from neighborhoods for years that TriMet employees are parking in the neighborhood, and are trying to address that issue.  We are also starting a program that will help encourage employees to use transit, when possible.
  • Another attendee pointed out that many Trimet employees also drive and park and then take the bus downtown.
    • Staff response: This happens, but employees are dissuaded from doing so.

 

4) Next Steps

Staff provided a brief overview of next steps. Recommendations will travel through the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) and City Council process with the Comprehensive Plan Update. Staff encouraged attendees that are not satisfied with the draft recommendations from this process to testify at the PSC and City Council.

 

5) Feedback and Wrap-up

Two types of comment cards were distributed; one asking meeting participants to rate their meeting experience, and one asking whether attendees would support the proposed zoning change, and asking for additional comments.

 


6) Meeting Feedback Form

How appropriate was the pace of the meeting? (4 responses total)

Much too slow             Slow                Just right        Fast                 Much too fast

0                                   1                        3                  0                             0

How would you rate the quality of the presentations?

Very Poor                    Poor                 Average          Good                Excellent

   0                              0                           0                   3                         1

How useful was the content of the discussion?

Very Poor                    Poor                 Average          Good                Excellent

   0                              1*                          1                   2                         0

 

*”It’s difficult to see proposed changes on maps”

 

7) Written Comments                                                                     

 

  • What aspect(s) of the meeting were most useful?
    • Information on zoning and what’s allowed helped the discussion a lot.
    • Discussion with neighborhood.
    • Seems like BPS has to do more reaching out to neighbors BEFORE any decision
    • Zoning information.
    • Changing north side of Holgate to CG from R-1: We strongly support this proposal.

 

  • What aspect(s) of the meeting were least useful?
    • I wasn’t clear on what the current/proposed zones were. It would help to have a map that highlights changes.
    • All good, informative

 

  • Any additional feedback or comments?
    • I think the neighborhood has broad consensus on what we want, but the lack of flexibility in city zoning prevents us from achieving that. We need to have actual say over how our neighborhood progresses.
    • Keep  Brooklyn a neighborhood!
    • Continue to make decisions based on overall impact to the area, don’t get distracted by vocal individuals.

 

8) Tell Us What You Think

Written feedback forms were distributed to meeting attendees. 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

None marked

Support CG or CN zoning along 17th. Not EG. We need more flexibility. MXD might be a good option, but I am not clear whether we have to risk having less flexibility for the possibility of more flexibility or mixed use. I support more dense use, especially in light of the investments in light rail and the lack of critical mass (density) to support amenities that we want in our neighborhood.

Oppose Change

Prefer CN zoning South of Holgate; On Holgate; down 17th; Stop encouraging EG!!

Unsure/Need More Info

I support thinking through all options BEFORE change. BPS needs to take neighborhood desires and concerns seriously. Removing CU process for residential development in EG is limiting to any present and future opportunities for the area.

Support Change

None

None Marked

Support R1 change to mixed commercial zone. Support area south of Holgate as mixed commercial zone, no R1 facing McLaughlin south of Holgate. High density, tall buildings.

None Marked

Support CG for the “triangle” – Milwaukie/Holgate/17th; support CG for Along 17th (North of Holgate), But issues with size of lots for business use, and streetscape- it’s all business/industry.

Support Change

None

None Marked

If Trimet wants to support the neighborhood and reduce parking on streets, there needs to be a 1-2-3 punch: 1. Permit the neighborhood  2. Trimet – free passes and 3. Charge Trimet employees to park in lots. This works well at other businesses in PDX.