Names: Jack Barron, Sam Jallaq, Haley Jaynes, Gabrielle Smith & John Smith
The University District presented an overall succinct plan with many goals, some of which were well detailed and others were to broad. The most prominent issues were: concentrating development around OSU, incorporating more public art, redeveloping green spaces, adding housing and increase parking regulation. In regard to land use, we were impressed that 87% of the district is used for housing and academics, 48% of which is dedicated to housing, which is a necessity for the areas dense population. One of the focuses of the plan was to increase mixed use buildings. Through the addition of Target and Amazon, the planners have addressed the area’s growing population and their mixed building goal. Although new mixed use housing addresses the population density, it fails to address the needs of its demographic. The median income in the University District is $17,927 and 41% of its population makes less than $15,000, both of which are below the poverty line. Pivoting to one success of the district plan is the improvement of pedestrian access. Students are able to live and work in the area without needing access to cars. However, circumstances for transit riders/commuters and bicyclists haven’t improved at the rate promised. Also, the increase of permit parking has reduced the number of spots able to be used by visitors, putting even more strain on all the alternative transit options, further highlighting the need to reach the rate of improvement promised. Finally, no attempt has been made to make the area more environmentally friendly or beautify green spaces, which is disheartening. The University District touched on many of its goals and focuses, however, it needs to invest further in certain areas.
As aspiring planners, we formulated a few ideas of how to improve the district. One of the simpler ideas is to increase the number of recycling bins. Addressing the parking and congestion issue, we would like to see the creation of bus only lanes (alike to those in Europe) and bike lanes. Additionally as highlighted above, the district plan is pushing out lower-income students by not viewing affordable housing as a necessity, which in turn lessens the possibility of academic success. Also, this development is taking away the charm of uniqueness of the area. Local businesses need to be saved. They give students a sense of place, and they have more power to address the needs of the local population. Many of the shortfalls illuminated earlier in the blog were found to have nice solutions from our group’s teamwork.