By Tres Shannon of Portland, Oregon. Tres is the owner of Voodoo Doughnut.
I love Burnside. I love it just the way it is. One way or another, I have made my living owning businesses on Burnside for more than 15 years. And I’ve had a good time on Burnside for as long as I can remember. It’s not perfect – it’s real, it’s Portland. It’s not chain stores and big boxes, faux plants, and fake Victorian light posts -- it’s Portland the way it was before big developers and Starbucks took us over. It’s our last frontier, and I’m going to fight for it.
This Wednesday, the City Council is debating whether to take a step toward making it McBurnside. Sam Adams has proposed creating what they call in government-speak, a couplet – turning West Burnside and NW Couch Street into one way streets, running in opposite directions. For Couch, that means five times as many cars and trucks traveling the street.
Gas up bud, because you won’t much like this unless you’re driving on these two streets. You won’t be walking or riding a bike, that’s for sure – not if you like breathing fresh air instead of exhaust fumes, and don’t want to play human dodge ball with cars. Burnside won’t be about the people anymore, it will be about the traffic.
Burnside is already a great street to drive on – go west and you can go to the beach, go east and you can get to Mt. Hood. But now it’s also a great street to walk, ride your bike, roller skate, or skateboard - let’s keep it that way.
We could use some improvements sure – we could use some of those cast iron poles with chains so that when drunks come flying out of bars, they don’t end up in traffic. Bring those back. Widen the medians so that the little old ladies can rest when they cross the street and give us some of those countdown crossing signals. Done. Our street is still ours and it’s safer.
Burnside is our City’s spine, it’s also our heart. Do we want to see it torn up by construction for the next eight to ten years because some people think that’s how we’ll “improve” it? What about all of the small, locally owned businesses there? What happens to them? Do they get driven out to make room for Wal-Mart? How is this any different than any of the other urban renewal projects that promised improvement, but ultimately put profit over people?
Everyone involved in these projects says that they love Portland, but if they love Portland so much, why are they so busy changing it?
Tell them no this time. Go to the meeting on Wednesday, at 3:00 PM, send an e-mail, or call the Mayor and the Commissioners.
Fight City Hall.
Tell them not to fuck with Burnside.