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Cities get jump start on regional effort to cut pollution


Metro survey seeks input on ways to reduce driving

Many communities in the region have already undertaken projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as required by the state of Oregon in the future. They range from building transit systems in Portland to encouraging alternative transportation options in Lake Oswego and studying increased density in Forest Grove and Hillsboro.

These and other projects were discussed last week in a series of stories published in many Pamplin Media Group newspapers, including the Lake Oswego Review. The articles explained the Climate Smart Communities project being undertaken by Metro, the elected regional government, at the direction of the Oregon Legislature.

Metro is now conducting an online Opt In survey to gauge public opinions about possible new policies aiming to reduce driving even more. The policies under discussion include encouraging more mixed-use developments and increasing the costs of driving and parking.

To register and take the survey, visit www.climatesmartsurvey.com.

Your personal information will not be sold or shared with other governments or private businesses without your permission. To learn more about the Metro surveys, visiting optinpanel.org.

The elected Metro Council will consider the results of the survey when finalizing its proposal for the 2015 Legislature. In the meantime, following are some of the projects from around the region discussed in last week’s stories:

n Lake Oswego: The city has a number of initiatives to encourage alternative forms of transportation. They include the second 100-mile Challenge that kicked off on March 25. It aims to reduce local car use, especially for trips within two miles of home. Participants who leave their cars behind and instead walk, cycle or ride the bus can log their miles and, if they count more than 100 miles’ worth of car-free trips, qualify for prizes. All car-free trips to, from and within the city count.

During last year’s event, which ran from July to December, 214 people logged more than 60,000 miles without cars, resulting in an estimated reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of just under 40,000 pounds and in 2,000 gallons of gasoline.

n West Linn: The city is already pursuing a number of avenues to implement Metro’s Climate Smart Communities objectives. Early in 2012, the city council initiated a study for redevelopment along Highway 43 and Willamette Falls Drive. The study showed strong support for compact commercial and mixed-use centers that would be conveniently accessible by bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

This year, the city is moving forward with the redevelopment plans for the arch bridge area. According to West Linn Associate Planner Zach Pelz, creating more job opportunities in West Linn would reduce commute trips and cut down on greenhouse gas emission from vehicles.

West Linn’s trail system master plan proposes major expansion of off-street bike and pedestrian trails.

n Clackamas County: Created in 1980, the 819-acre Clackamas Town Center redevelopment called for improving transportation connections along Southeast 82nd Avenue. Connections to Interstate 205 and Sunnyside Road made it one of the region’s fastest growing areas in the past three decades. Proposed projects included the construction of TriMet’s MAX Green Line to the Clackamas Town Center mall. The plan has been modified over the years to reflect growth in Milwaukie and Happy Valley, the two cities surrounding the area, but it has maintained efforts to add local housing and improve traffic flow.

n Beaverton: A manifestation of the city’s comprehensive 2011 Civic Plan, the Beaverton Creekside District is a multifaceted redevelopment project encompassing 49 acres along busy Canyon Road. With funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city and others, planners are working on a master plan to concentrate on redeveloping vacant lots in the area, improving safety and providing transportation, pedestrian and bicycling amenities.

Initial plans to route midtown bicycle traffic from Canyon Road to new “bikeways” on Broadway Street and Millikan Way — as well as improvements to Canyon Road to improve its safety, walkability and attractiveness to new development — will begin to take shape in the upcoming fiscal year.

n Forest Grove: The city is developing a new transit system with help from Ride Connection that will encourage public transportation within the city. Planning commissioners and city councilors will also soon consider updates to the city’s comprehensive plan that would encourage more walking than driving while helping to attract new businesses. One idea would increase the density of the downtown core, perhaps more than quadrupling it from 20 residential units per acre to 90.

Planners are thinking about adding two more commercial centers to the city. To encourage more mixed-use development there, the allowable square footage of buildings would increase, perhaps up to 30,000 square feet. That’s about the size of the New Seasons store at Orenco Station in Hillsboro.

n Hillsboro: Sustainability and transportation alternatives are key features of the Hillsboro Intermodul Transit Facility, a joint project of the city, Tuality Healthcare and Pacific University at 775 SE Baseline. A sustainably designed building along the westside MAX line, it houses 794 parking spaces on five floors, 13 state-of-the-art electric vehicle charging stations and the region’s first bicycle commuter station, Bike Park Hillsboro. The building also includes ground-floor retail space and is home to Portland Community College’s Hillsboro Education Center. It has won a number of awards for design and sustainability.

The Hillsboro City Council has also prioritized encouraging alternative transportation options. The proposed GoPoint Mobility Hub system will allow residents and workers to more easily connect with short-term car and bike rental, carpools, vanpools and shuttle buses. The north-central part of town was selected for the first phase because it includes concentrated residential areas such as the rapidly growing Orenco neighborhood, big employers including Intel and the upcoming new Kaiser Permanente hospital, retail centers such as The Streets and the Tanasbourne Mall, and Portland Community College’s Willow Creek campus. The area is also served by TriMet’s westside MAX line.

n Portland: The biggest city in the region is known for its alternative transportation policies and projects. They include the Portland Streetcar loop that is nearing completion around the urban core. Work is under way to connect it to TriMet’s new Portland-to-Milwaukie MAX line near OMSI on the east side of the Willamette River and in the South Waterfront neighborhood on the west side.

The Portland City Council also approved the Portland Plan last year that calls for the creation of neighborhood centers throughout town where residents can walk to work and shopping areas within 20 minutes. The plan also calls for them to be connected with streets that are designed to encourage walking and biking.

Additional background on the Climate Smart Communities project is available at Metro’s website at oregonmetro.gov/climatescenarios.