Portland State University’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program matches students with clients every year to execute professional-level planning projects.
This spring, InSite Planning Group, a team of six MURP students, conducted a detailed corridor study for the city of Beaverton.
Read the original story on the OTREC site.
The study area, which extends for 1.6 miles along Beaverton's Allen Boulevard, is home to diverse, vulnerable populations and a number of small businesses. The four-lane corridor was identified by the city of Beaverton as a candidate for an in-depth planning strategy.
Team members JP McNeil, Anna Wendt, Art Graves, August Benzow, Samantha Petty and Taren Evans took on the challenge of creating a commercial corridor vision plan for Allen Boulevard, something that would serve as a guide for corridor improvements and future development.
They focused on three main areas: incorporating the community’s needs and values, furthering transportation and economic development goals and limiting the displacement of existing homes and businesses.
They started by interviewing 10 local professionals—in a range of professions from police offers to forestry experts—whose expertise they drew on for an understanding of the existing conditions on Allen. The interviews gave the students access to a technical knowledge base in areas like community policing and code enforcement, family and community resources, parks and recreation, and streetscaping.
To reach out to business owners and residents who would be affected by changes, team members conducted a community survey on paper and online, and in English and Spanish. They also surveyed local business owners and customers. Through publicity materials like posters and flyers, social media, and the project’s website, the team hoped to engage as many residents as possible in making decisions about the future of Allen Boulevard.
They arranged to have a table at the Beaverton Farmers Market on March 15, so that they could reach people who otherwise might not have heard of the project. They also held focus groups, an open house on March 20, and a public meeting on April 24 where community members were invited to hear ideas and offer feedback.
Based on the community feedback, Insite Planning Group came up with a comprehensive plan to improve the neighborhood’s safety, vitality, and sense of identity.
The corridor had been described by residents as uncomfortable to walk along. Narrow lanes, lack of a median, and a relative scarcity of crosswalks make it dangerous to cross, while graffiti and the occasional presence of garbage (couches, old appliances) along the street further detract from the pedestrian experience.
By orchestrating storefront improvements, tree-planting programs, neighborhood cleanup days, and community-supported art, Allen Blvd and its local businesses could communicate that it is a welcoming and vibrant commercial area.
Improvements to the pedestrian infrastructure are also recommended; the plan encourages a mix of land uses that support pedestrian safety and comfort, while also contributing to commercial district identity and economic development. With mixed commercial and medium-to-high-density residential districts, the work of InSite planners along Allen Boulevard will likely coincide with the goals that Metro has outlined for 2040.
Once Beaverton staff has reviewed the project for approval, the plan will feed into Beaverton’s Comprehensive Plan update (scheduled for adoption in Spring 2016) and its long-range planning for Allen Boulevard.