This was an action-packed week.
Monday night, Council approved action in two directions on the railroad quiet zone. For the seven western crossings through Whiteaker, Council directed staff to return with a funding proposal using new revenue from the State’s increase in the gas tax under the new Transportation package. This is a new ongoing revenue stream for the City that may only be used for road improvements, including the railroad gate crossings on streets. The fund cannot be used for fencing along the tracks, and Council agreed with the staff’s proposal to pay this additional cost with some general fund dollars, with the qualification that the impact to general funds dollars be minimized.
In a second vote, Council voted to expand the Riverfront Urban Renewal District to incorporate two crossings, on High and Pearl, and to use renewal district funds to create all three safe crossings within the riverfront development area.
Council also held a work session on missing middle housing, directing staff to return with a list of ideas for ways to remove barriers and incentivize the creation of more of this form of housing.
Council also received a report on the Willamette Street re-striping pilot project. The project has increased safety, particularly with the new light at the shopping area on Willamette and 29th and has not caused significant delays in travel time.
Finally on Monday, Council also received an update on the winter strategies for sheltering people who are homeless, and directed staff to spend an additional $10,000 to increase the number of beds at the Dusk to Dawn site. The site can currently can sleep 80, and the additional funds will add up to 20 more beds.
On Wednesday we enjoyed a spirited discussion about rats, turkeys, deer and nutria that have become serious challenges in a number of neighborhoods. Council directed staff to return with a proposed ordinance to ban feeding wildlife – including feral cats and excluding birds.
Next week we begin the budget process with our initial budget committee meeting on Monday.