Vagabond Shark

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North Bethany Open House 3

Posted by Peter W on August 10, 2007

Last night was the third (and final, I believe) open house for the North Bethany Conceptual Planning process. What they presented was essentially the same stuff they’ve been saying before:

  • They want a bike, pedestrian, and car friendly environment (how a car friendly environment can be bike/ped friendly as well – don’t ask me!)
  • They want to do green(ish) streets and developments that reduce the amount of rain water there is “wushing down 185th” (hopefully when they look at how to pay for this they don’t axe these ideas)
  • They’re still thinking about where Road A (along the north end) should go. It might grow from 3 to 5 lanes so they’re considering pushing it further from the neighborhood centers. Also, since they’re buying the width to do a 5 lane from the start, but filling in the center 2-lanes with greenery, it will be a beautiful road (until they remove all the green stuff for more lanes like 10 years later).
  • The site will have a kind of urban center with something like 12-20 units per acre (yeah, not exactly high density compared to Portland’s 500/acre Pearl). There will be a 6 acre commercial site (1/3 the size of Bethany Village, and just large enough to possibly support a New Seasons Market).
  • Now they just need to review the public comments (which people can still send in for a couple of weeks), write this all up, and start the financial planning.

After the presentation I talked to Joe Dills about some questions I had. Mostly I was pleased with the answers (although it isn’t clear if these are just what Joe would like to see or if they will definitely be included in the plan):

  • Yes, bike boulevards (wikipedia, YouTube video) are a possibility.
  • Walking or biking on the larger roads shouldn’t be necessary, since the entire site will be highly connected
  • Schools will be connected to the grid of neighborhood streets, and the schools will have very small parking lots since people can park on the neighborhood roads along the school site. I’m not sure how the county will guarantee that though, since the Beaverton School District seems to have an affinity for gigantic parking lots.
  • Yes, new codes will be written up that have smaller minimum and maximum parking requirements (again, I’m not sure who has final say on that though)

My biggest disappointments were that:

  1. The 800 acre site will only have about 10,000 people, and Washington County is expecting 400,000 more people in the next 10 years (almost doubling the population). At densities like this (10 units/acre), we’ll have to build 39 more North Bethanys (31,200 acres) on what is now farms and forests. The county may look at studying where to put people and what densities should be, but not before allowing North Bethany to be built.
  2. They are looking at having only one bus run through the site (despite the fact that people will want to be going to destinations in Portland, Beaverton, and Hillsboro), and only the central part of the site will be within 1/4 mile of frequent service buses.
  3. The County thinks that “accommodating” automobiles includes building freeways out of surface streets (e.g. expanding 185th to 9 lanes, and Bethany Blvd to 5 lanes), regardless of how impractical, expensive, and unsustainable that is. The obvious and cheaper solution is to figure out a way to give people most of their destinations on-site and provide good transit service to off-site destinations.
  4. The County is looking at paying for all the road capacity increase projects with property taxes alone. I’d bet if people had to pay for road expansions with gas tax or vehicle registrations, they wouldn’t need to widen roads because people would drive so much less. The other problem with property taxes for road projects is that then I have to help pay for these people to drive their BMWs and Hummers, even though I don’t even own a car.
  5. There is still no mention of splitting the price of houses and garages and making garages optional. I think if people were conscious of how much their garage costs they might not want to waste so much space with one (or three, or five – remember Washington County has no maximum off street parking limit for residential development). A lot of people I know don’t even use their garage for parking anyway. Also anyone who doesn’t drive (or is willing to hunt for on street parking space) shouldn’t have to pay for a garage. Imagine a low income family that uses public transit – given the choice of a useless garage or an extra bedroom, which would they choose?

Thats it for now, here are a couple photos.

Joe Dills during the public presentation:

People checking out the plans and writing comments:

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