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Council reconsiders two-way streets

Mayor's letter says he wants to find 'consensus' among councilors

Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey plans to reopen the downtown two-way street grid debate at the Oct. 6 city council meeting.

In an open letter to the community from Willey’s office provided to the Hillsboro Tribune on Sept. 24, Willey addressed the conversion, the downtown plan and his intentions going forward.

“As Mayor, it is my responsibility to help the Council … to work together and identify common ground,” Willey wrote. “After much consideration, a 4-3 vote on the street conversion does not reflect the common ground we should strive for to enhance our Downtown and the City as a whole.”

The original City Council vote was split 3-3, with Willey’s vote breaking the tie in favor of the conversion.

Of the council members who voted, Olga Acuña, Steve Callaway and Aron Carleson voted “aye,” while Megan Braze, Darell Lumaco, and Fred Nachtigal voted “nay.”

Braze and Carleson have both left the council since the vote, and Kyle Allen has stepped in.

Presuming the councilors maintain their previous stances, Allen will be the wild card, which could be a major factor at Tuesday evening’s meeting.

“If the Council is divided without clear consensus in support of the conversion,” Willey wrote, “I will call for the project to be shelved and the May 2014 ordinance to be repealed.”

Willey chose not to explain his use of the term “consensus” or what he is specifically looking for from the council during the discussion.

No matter what, there’s no possibility of a tie vote this time because Braze’s empty seat hasn’t been filled.

The planned conversion of Hillsboro’s downtown streets from one-way to two-way has been a controversial and contentious endeavor for the city, but as part of the larger Downtown Framework Plan, city officials and some downtown business owners have consistently touted what they see as the economic and social value of the conversion.

Still, the plan has been met with continued resistance from some community members.

On Sept. 21, two of the most outspoken community members, Hillsboro residents and co-chief petitioners Carol Faber and Walt Hellman, were notified that their newly formed committee, Restore One-Way Downtown Streets (ROWDS), could begin seeking signatures for its petition to repeal the conversion vote.

As of Wednesday, the pair had received 25 signatures on their petition — and according to Faber, their campaign hasn’t even begun yet.

For the past year, the duo has fought to prevent the streets change from occurring, and say they have mostly heard positive responses to their efforts.

Faber heard about Willey’s letter from a friend she was traveling with while sitting in Los Angeles’ LAX airport.

“I was surprised,” Faber said Wednesday. “I’m pleased [the council] will look at it again, hopeful the council will repeal the ordinance, and anxious for the meeting.”

With plans to speak at the meeting, Faber is preparing two speeches: One for if councilors repeal the conversion, and the other for if they don’t.

“We’ve taken such a firm stance all along, we’re not taking anything for granted,” Faber said. “I wouldn’t miss the meeting for anything.”