Sunday, March 28, 2010


A former student of ours posted this ridiculous video on Facebook today. If you don't have time to watch it, it pitches a "sidewalk management plan," which proposes a 6' - 8' "pedestrian use zone" in which pedestrians "must move immediately to accommodate the multiple users of the sidewalk." Importantly, the zone measures out from the property line, ruling out leaning on (or sleeping on) buildings.

As this former student points out, this is a really pathetic, barely disguised attempt to rid Portland of homeless people.

But also: a sidewalk management plan in downtown Portland? Such a plan isn't needed on the sidewalks of midtown Manhattan; what, beyond the "homeless problem," would justify one in relatively serene downtown Portland? According to the resolution the problem is that "people and bicycle racks, signal controller boxes, drinking fountains, fire hydrants, parking meters, transit shelters, light poles, mail boxes, telephones, retail and commercial doorways, garbage cans, newspaper boxes, benches, permitted carts and caf├ęs, “A” board signs and public art among other items must share sidewalks that can range from five to fifteen feet wide."

The problem, that is, is that downtown Portland fulfills the function of a good city street: it is a dense urban space, where lots of different programs are forced to negotiate with each-other. Isn't Portland supposed to be progressive? The great William Whyte is rolling in his grave.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! "Such a plan isn't needed on the sidewalks of midtown Manhattan." Exactly right, because if transients did there what they do in Portland they would (1) be told to move on by police, (2) be walked all over by New Yorkers, and (3) be confronted by store owners with baseball bats. It's time to move the sitting transients, their dogs, and their cardboard signs off the sidewalks and away from the entrances of businesses in Portland. Nobody would put up with it in New York.