Rethink Streets will undergo a rigorous existing conditions review. This work is grounded in understanding current conditions on the street and in the Pearl District more broadly to get a sense of who uses the street now, and what opportunities and constraints are currently present. The existing conditions work will also incorporate qualitative observations, to better understand if, and where, the street poses problems to all users. This work will be integral to informing the team’s approach in engagement and future alternatives.
History and Existing Plans Review
Any future work on NW 13th and in the Pearl District must have an understanding of previous planning work. This includes understanding the historical context for the street and the neighborhood, and reviewing past plans that impact the study area, including the North Pearl District Plan, the Pearl District Development Plan, the Pearl District Access and Circulation Plan, and the Downtown West Quadrant Plan. Rethink Streets will produce a plan that is cognizant of existing research.
Land Use Review
Rethink Streets will examine existing and future land uses along NW 13th. Commercial and residential land uses attracts different users at different times of day, so the impacts on the street, and possible recommendations will vary by the area’s land use. As the Pearl District continues to redevelop, planned land use will also seek to inform what potential changes may be possible for future work. It is also important to confirm whether existing land uses match zoning designations.
A demographic analysis will seek to understand the income, age, gender, race, family structure, and other characteristics of those who live, work, and visit the Pearl District. Demographic research provides information on who the most likely users of the street will be and may provide insight into their varying needs. Qualitative observations (see below) will provide Rethink Streets with feedback on whether these demographics match existing users – and whether there are groups that are underrepresented in using the street.
Qualitative Observations of Users
Observations focusing on qualitative data will provide Rethink Streets a better understanding of how users experience the street in their everyday lives. To ensure that perspectives from more vulnerable groups are included, the team will work directly with members from these communities (e.g., visually-impaired or blind individuals, people with mobility devices, houseless people) to catalog their experiences on the street. This feedback hopes to capture information that cannot be easily quantified, such as perceptions of safety on a shared street, or difficulty in accessing certain establishments. Rethink Streets will then create a series of user profiles that highlight different types of people, their potential needs, and their uses along the street, based on this qualitative data.
To help avoid bias in observations, Rethink Streets will create a methodology for observing behavior along NW 13th. As much as possible, language will describe actions that are witnessed and avoid statements that cannot be verified.
Rethink Streets will look to describe the street’s characteristics through observations and the street’s role within the City’s transportation plans (e.g., Transportation Systems Plan, Vision Zero, Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030, Pearl District Access and Circulation Plan, among others). Observations will include efforts to understand what potential issues occur during peak hours and activity scans to help quantify how many people are in the space and how they are using the space during different times of day.
In order to determine how people might arrive to the space, Rethink Streets will analyze existing motor vehicle counts from the Portland Bureau of Transportation. In addition, transit, bicycle, and freight routes will be analyzed to better understand transportation on the street and the surrounding network in the Pearl District. Similarly, the transportation analysis will seek to understand from where are people coming to get the NW 13th. A parking analysis will look to determine the potential impacts that future recommendations may have of the existing parking supply in the area.
Photos of NW 13th, and within the Pearl District as needed, will continually be taken throughout the duration of the project. Photos will seek to document the street and neighborhood during a wide range of weather conditions, times of day, and days of the week, as well as along the entire stretch 17-block stretch of NW 13th.