In early August the Kurisu's submitted thier proposal to the BDS and I received it at my home. It took me awhile to find the words to respond to the proposal, but heres what i said: |
"I am writing in opposition to this proposal. The approval criteria include:
Chapter 33.405.050 which states: The purpose of this section is to encourage the provision of well designed housing that is attractive and compatible with an areas established character.
* The established character of the Mississippi Conservation district includes 20-35ft streetcar era commercial building and turn-of-the-century single family homes. This ultra modern proposal is well out of the established character of the neighborhood.
Chapter 33.266.130.G.3 summarizes that parking lots with more than 10 spaces must have at least 45 square feet of landscaped space for each parking space.
* The Kurisu's made it a priority to separate their garden lot and their building lot when talking with neighbors and to the neighborhood. Now, when presenting this to the city, it is one big unit; I can only imagine that this is an attempt to subvert the requirements and obtain modifications that would be against the best interests of the community. A parking lot is still a parking lot, and since they are attempting to take public right of way for their parking lot, I would request that they adhere to this standard of landscaping.
Chapter 33.266.310.C summarizes that this building is required to have a loading space and are seeking a modification to remove that requirement.
* Alleyways are used as public loading spaces for the folks that are bound to them. This development is seeking to remove that right of way and clear access through the alley. They will also require loading spaces for their commercial properties, to lessen the burden on the surrounding neighbors I feel that this standard should be upheld. Loading on Mississippi near the intersection with Shaver is a traffic nightmare, this modification should not be granted.
I am also basing my opposition on the Community Design Guidelines listed:
* Community Design Guideline P2, which states "Enhance the identity of historic and conservation districts by incorporating site and building design that reinforce that areas historical significance."
- The ultra modern proposal does not incorporate any features that reinforce any historical significance.
* Community Design Guideline D4, which states "Locate parking in a manner that minimizes negative impacts on the community and its pedestrians."
- Mississippi Avenue is becoming a busier street, some peopl choose to use the alleyways for biking or walking to avoid the changes on Mississippi. By displacing an artery and removing the ability to freely traverse through the alley 24 hours a day this creates a large negative impact on the community, and especially the surrounding neighbors.
* Community Design Guideline D6, which states "Make additions compatible in scale, color, details, material proportion, and character with the existing building."
- Since the Kurisu's are including an Historic Streetcar Era building in their BDS proposal, I assume that this new building can be looked at as an addition to the old building and completely out of line with Guideline D6.
* Community Design Guideline D7 which states "Reduce the impact of development on established neighborhoods by incorporating elements of nearby, quality buildings, such as building details, massing, proportions, and materials."
- This neighborhood is well established and the elements of this proposed development look like they arent even from this planet, let alone any nearby quality buildings.
With this development missing the mark of so many Community Design Guidelines, I strongly recommend the Bureau of Development Services to deny this proposal."
When I came home from work today I had received the decision from the BDS: DENIED. They had received written correspondence from 21 folks, 18 were in support of the proposal (at least seven of which are developers/business owners) and three were in opposition. The Community Design Guidelines (.pdf) are a powerful tool. They are basically law, and developers in this conservation district must conform to them. With Community Design Guideline D7 the Mississippi Avenue Lofts was nearly halted. Heres how the BDS Staff interpreted the Kurisu Development:
Guidelines P1 - Plan Area Character, P2 - Historic Conservation Districts, D7 - Blending into the Neighborhood, E5 - Light, Wind and Rain: These Guidelines are not met.
Guidelines D8 - Interest, Quality and Composition, E1- Pedestrian Networks, E2 - Stopping PLaces, E3 - The Sidewalk level of Buildings, D1 - Outdoor Areas, D2 - Main Entrances, D3 - Landscape Features, D4 - Parking Areas and Garages, D5 - Crime Prevention: These Guidelines are met.
The Kurisu's also requested three modifications to Title 33: Portland Zoning Code:
The BDS Staff concluded: "While the proposal does meet some of the criteria necessary for Historic Design Review approval, there are significant compatability and design issues that prevent the applicat from meeting P1 Plan Area Character, P2 Historic and COnservation Districts and D7 Blending into the Neighborhood. As there is adequate site area available for the applicant to meet the development standards in 33.266 Parking and Loading and the applicant has not demonstrated how the proposal meets the approval criteria for modification of interior landscaping and loading, the requested modifications cannot be granted. Administrative Decision: Denial."
- The applicants proposed parking does not include interior landscaping as a significant amount of perimeter landscaping with trees is intended to meet the purpose of this standard. 33.266.130.G.3.a: In all zones, interior landscaping must be provided for sites where there are more than 10 parking spaces on the entire site. At least 45 square feet of interior landscpaed area must be provided for each parking space. This modification was denied.
- The applicants proposed loading space is 24 feet in length and a modification to this standard is requested. 33.266.310.D: Size of loading spaces. Required loading spaces must be at least 35 feet long. 10 feet wide, and have a clearance of 13 feet. A minimum number of loading spaces are required to ensure adequate areas for loading for larger uses and developments. This modification was denied.
- The applicant proposes a back in/forward out loading area from N. Shaver St. 33.266.310.F: Forward Motion. Loading facilities must be designed so that vehicles enter and exit in a forward motion. This modification was denied.
So, this is a huge victory for the neighbors around here. The Kurisu family has decided to appeal the decision of the BDS Staff, which will send this propoal to the Historical Landmarks Commission. The hearing will be on Monday October 9th, 1:30 pm. The location is 1900 SW 4th Avenue, on the second floor in room 2500a. I encourage folks to come to this hearing and testify.