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South Hillsboro Will Be "Development-Ready" Next Year, City Planners Say
After 15 years of planning, South Hillsboro could become a reality next year, the city has announced.  In Thursday's packed open house inside Brown Middle School, city planners said the city will begin looking for voluntary annexations soon...Last year, the city secured a $250,000  Transportation and Growth Management grant then began working on a study of Tualatin Valley Highway, as well as local transportation solutions for South Hillsboro.  The Oregonian, March 23, 2012

Beaverton Considers Extending Time Limits to Ease Parking on Broadway
A group of Broadway business owners signed a petition asking the city to stretch the [parking time] limit to two hours, saying it's crucial to their growth. More time would mean more customers who can leisurely eat, explore shops...A few business owners, however, say they depend on high parking turnover for customers and therefore need shorter time limits.  On Thursday, the city Traffic Commission will consider whether to approve the petition to extend parking times...Four years ago, the Beaverton City Council unanimously sided with the short-term parking advocates, overturning a two-hour proposal from transportation officials. Officials cited a 2007 downtown parking study that said the average driver parks and stays on Broadway for about one hour and 15 minutes. The commission recommended the extension so people wouldn't have to scour the area for parking and to standardize all downtown parking at two hours.  The Oregonian, February 24, 2012

Biking the Path to Urban Health
Portland has a long way to pedal to catch up to the likes of Copenhagen or Amsterdam when it comes to biking as a way of being. But we vie, along with Minneapolis, for being the best biking town in America -- and that's a promising position if we aim to have 25 percent of all trips in the city taken by bicycle by the year 2030.  The report last week that biking in Portland is up 6.4 percent over last year is thus encouraging, as is the finding that 80 percent of riders wear helmets, up 3 percent. That more than 18,000 daily weekday bicycle trips are now taken across downtown bridges over the Willamette River is not less than remarkable.  The Oregonian, February 21, 2012

LA County's New Standards for Health-Conscious Urban Design
The County Board of Supervisors today approved the Healthy Design Ordinance, which rewrites planning regulations in unincorporated parts of the county to "modify and establish uses, development standards, and permit requirements to encourage more walking, bicycling and exercise..." The HDO is the latest effort from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's Project RENEW...to reduce obesity, especially in disadvantaged children...Here are some things the HDO will do:... Require pedestrian and bicycle access to "cultural, recreational, and lifelong learning facilities..."  LA Curbed, January 24, 2012

America's Health Threat: Poor Urban Design
Researchers can have revelatory moments in remarkable places...Dr. Jackson, who is now a professor and chair of environmental health sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles's School of Public Health, has become one of the leading voices calling for better urban design for the sake of good health...Dr. Jackson has released another scholarly book, an edited collection on the topic, called Making Healthy Places: Designing and Building for Wealth, Well-Being, and Sustainability (Island Press), and he is also the host of a four-part miniseries called Designing Healthy Communities, which will air on public television.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 22, 2012

ODOT Conducting Traffic Speed Study on Hwy. 62
Oregon Department of Transportation traffic engineers pulled out their radar guns last week... over Highway 62 through Eagle Point.  They were conducting a speed-zone investigation to determine whether the speed limit within the city limits could be reduced from 55 to 45 mph.  The speed check came at the request of the City Council, whose members said they believed a lower speed limit was necessary because of the many new businesses built along the highway..."It can probably be dropped pretty easily," said ODOT Traffic Engineer Dan Dorrell, "unless the 85th percentile is way too high, but I don't expect it to be. I don't think people are doing 70 through here."...Councilwoman Kathy Sell asked for an explanation of the 85th percentile. Dorrell explained that it was the speed at or below which 85 percent of the vehicles are traveling...."It seems so odd," said Mayor Russell, "that if people are driving too fast we can't. That's why we want to lower the speed."  "Most people think you just put up a sign to lower the speed," Dorrell said, "but that's not how it works. If you have an open roadway, people are going to drive what they think is a comfortable speed. So if you arbitrarily lower the speed from say 65 to 45, it's been proven historically that accidents increase."  Dorrell said that even if the 85th percentile speed turned out to be too high, he thought it still might be possible to lower the speed limit.  Mail Tribune, January 18, 2012

Federal Highway Dollars Pay for Southern Oregon Bus Shelter That Cost As Much as a House
Should a simple bus shelter -- basically a few benches covered by a roof -- cost as much to build as a three-bedroom house?  That's a question that is provoking outrage and official embarrassment in the southern Oregon city of Grants Pass, which this week signed off on a project to build five bus shelters at an estimated cost of $106,000 apiece...Engineering and design work on the Grants Pass shelters, which already has cost more than $100,000, would have been much cheaper if the city had been allowed to do it in-house, said Scott Lindberg, who oversees city grant money. But that's not allowed under state and federal spending rules, which require a level of certification that Grants Pass doesn't have, Lindberg said.  The Oregonian, January 11, 2012

National Planning Excellence Award Winners Named by American Planning Association
Today, the American Planning Association names the winners of the 2012 National Planning Excellence Awards.  January 10, 2012

How to Boost Biking & Walking in Your Town: Lessons from Minneapolis
After being acclaimed as America's best city for biking...Biking rose 22 percent across the Twin Cities compared to 2010, according to data just released by Bike Walk Twin Cities. And it's up a whopping 53 percent since 2007, when the organization began counting bicyclists and pedestrians at 42 locations in the two cities and adjoining suburbs...Accurate bike and pedestrian counts are critical to the growth of biking and walking in America, Pasiuk explains. "Policymakers act on hard evidence -- they want to be able to know if their investment is paying off and that more people are relying on biking and walking as a regular transportation pattern. These counts show what's happening on the streets in a way everyone can understand."  Huffington Post, January 3, 2012