There are miles and miles of Portland roads that lack basic safety infrastructure of curb and sidewalk. This is most notable in East Portland where a huge percentage of residential streets do not have curb and sidewalk. SW Portland also has a large amount of missing curb and sidewalk, though the population density is much less than in East Portland.
Contributing to this already significant safety issue is that a disproportionate amount of vulnerable and marginalized populations who rely on that basic safety infrastructure to keep them safe such as elderly, disabled, and mentally ill, now live in East Portland. In addition, approximately 75% of the City’s adult residential care facilities are located in East Portland. It should also be noted that East Portland has a super majority of the City’s most dangerous intersections/high crash corridors.
The City has a policy of not installing sidewalks with a few exceptions — mostly for major streets — and relies on new construction for curb and sidewalk to be installed in areas without them. There are many things wrong with this approach, most notably that it barely scratches the surface of ensuring basic safety infrastructure for all Portlanders. Furthermore, the vast majority of residential properties without curb and sidewalk will not see any new construction for decades if ever and the cost is prohibitive for most of these property owners.
If elected, I will help facilitate the creation of a nonprofit organization that focuses on the installation of curb and sidewalk utilizing an approach similar to Friends of Trees — a heavy emphasis on reduced cost in exchange for participation with installation, when possible; community volunteer participation; and volunteer, financial, and/or in-kind donation support. The effort could easily be expanded to include sidewalk repairs and street paving of dirt and gravel roads.
The City could support this effort by waiving permit and/or other fees; contributing annual funding for an engineer for the organization; funding through general transportation grants and/or transportation grants specifically targeted to further reduce the cost in historically marginalized areas; areas with a disproportionate amount of low income residents; and areas with a disproportionate amount of vulnerable groups, such as adult residential care facilities, children, elderly, and Portlanders with mobility challenges.
IMPORTANT — If the installation of sidewalks causes a reset of property taxes to current levels, I will add to our legislative agenda that any sidewalk installation (or major repair) by a homeowner, thru the nonprofit organization or any for-profit company, is exempt from this automatic reset. Portlanders should not be punished financially for making our streets safer for everyone.
This document created by Mark White and made possible by the Mark for Portland 2020 campaign.