[Posted October 22, 2021]
The city of Portland is set to decide in the next few weeks what to do with a $62 million budget surplus. Don Baack, Hillsdale resident, pedestrian advocate, and founder of SW Trails PDX, suggests that now is an opportune time for residents of SW Portland to weigh in with our thoughts about how to allocate this one-time pot of money.
City policy requires that half of the money be held in reserve, but the rest can be allocated to to the General Fund. Some of the money, argues Baack, would be well spent on adding and improving pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in SW Portland.
Baack's idea is not to suggest specific projects at this time, but to gain traction for the request and determine what projects would be funded through a later community process.
Kicking off this effort is a letter from Baack to Mayor Wheeler and the rest of our city commissioners:
On behalf of SWTrails PDX and in the interest of the safety of all pedestrians and bicyclists of SW Portland, I request $4 million of the $62 million budget surplus be allocated to installing and retrofitting SW crosswalks and related SW improvements. We also request an opportunity to evaluate the proposed crosswalks with our criteria to establish a rough priority of projects. We have done such evaluations in the past using GIS tools.
SW PDX has 280 mi of streets, but 210 miles have no sidewalks. While the lack of sidewalks is a very serious problem, crossing our busy arterials without marked and or signaled crosswalks is even more dangerous.
SW residents have not had an opportunity to vet the staff-selected crosswalks appearing in the SWIM and PedPDX plans. Several important crosswalks have not been installed for lack of funding. SWTrails representatives were personally assured there would be an opportunity for SWTrails and others to review the crosswalks in PedPDX. No such opportunity has been offered.
After the crosswalks have been completed, any remaining funds would go toward the long list of uncompleted SWIM projects.
We appreciate your serious consideration of this request.
Don Baack, Founder, SWTrails
A recent email from the city's Office of Community and Civic Life says, "The City Budget Office wants your feedback!" The email explains that the surplus results from higher than anticipated revenue from business taxes collected in 2020 and that the allocation process is part of the usual budget monitoring process. The email continues, "This is your time to share with Council your thoughts on how the City should direct these surplus funds."
Provide input, read budget documents and related testimony at the City of Portland's Map App.
What improvements could make walking and biking in Hillsdale safer? Let us know.