Change affects everyone in different ways. And inner Southeast Division Street has seen a lot of change lately. As Metro, TriMet, Portland and partners explore improved bus service along Division Street, we walked inner Division to chat with residents, employees and business owners about their concerns and hopes for the future. Here's a few stories we heard.
Emily Krause, a stylist at Rudy’s Barbershop on Southeast 30th and Division, commutes to work by car, bus, bike or a bus-bike combination. Recently, the density in the neighborhood has made parking harder to find and the buses often full.
“I’m not sure what the solution is,” she said. “The streets are narrow and there is not a lot of space where you could add parking. Maybe we need to get people to ride their bikes more.” Despite the neighborhood’s congestion, Krause loves working on Division and feels the problems are not as “insane” as in Seattle, where she lived for awhile.
“When you wait for a bus with your bike, sometimes you have to wait for the next bus because the rack is full. I’d like it if the buses could accommodate more bikes.” – Emily Krause
Alex Gorodisher intentionally moved from the west side of Portland to the Hosford-Abernathy neighborhood five years ago, and he loves it. An avid bike rider who lives south of Division between 21st and 30th avenues, he uses the Clinton Street greenway regularly – where he says recently-installed traffic diverters have made a big difference.
“In the last five years, the neighborhood has gotten fancier with a lot more restaurants, and the real estate growth has become insane,” he said. “There’s also a lot more traffic.”
“I like it that the neighborhood offers lots of mass transit options, including Car2Go, which I use often. I really appreciate being able to use the buses when I need them, such as when I go to a Timbers soccer match.” – Alex Gorodisher
Will Murphy has been a frequent visitor to Division Street since 2012— liking it so much he moved into the Richmond neighborhood six months ago, near Southeast Clinton Street and 35th Avenue. He says inner Southeast Portland has changed a lot since he’s been going there.
“Population density has increased. Even my favorite food cart on 50th and Division has gone the way of a new apartment building,” Murphy said. He appreciates all the people who use eco-friendly transportation such as bikes and buses. But as a Realtor, Murphy needs his car for work and finds Division Street to be quite congested during rush hour.
“I’ve noticed I sometimes must wait two or more cycles of red lights before I get to go through an intersection," Murphy said. "If I get behind a bus, I have to stop every time it does because I can’t get around it.”
“It would be good if we could somehow separate bus traffic from other traffic or have fewer bus stops. Without a second lane, I don’t see how a rapid bus would help on Division Street if there are still regular buses stopping every other block.” – Will Murphy
For nearly 30 years, Division Hardware has been the go-to place for nearby residents seeking everything from paint to plants. In that time, co-owner Kathy Lambert has witnessed enormous growth and change — some bad and some good.
“There’s more traffic, shoplifting, litter, graffiti and homeless people,” Lambert said.
The new development also brought new opportunities for the Lamberts. Division Hardware changed its look and inventory so nearby residents would look to the store on the street rather than big box retailers farther away. But parking has been an ongoing challenge.
“Two years ago, I purchased the lot next door so customers wouldn’t have to circle to park. Not everyone can carry a bag of cement or five-gallon can of paint on the bus," Lambert said.
“I worked with the city and TriMet to get the bus stop out front relocated. That improvement allows our delivery trucks to park in front of the store, making unloading easier.” – Kathy Lambert
Linda Duvall has lived on Southeast Clinton Street near 37th Avenue for 28 years. In that time, she’s watched families move in and fix up their homes, single-family lots get divided to make way for more housing and hundreds of apartment units crop up — including large multifamily buildings with little or no garage parking.
“The neighborhood has good restaurants, lots of people are out and about and it’s great for walking,” Duvall said. “But homeowners who don’t have a driveway now find it challenging to park near their homes.”
Duvall has been a regular on the Division Street bus for 18 years and that too has evolved. While she would prefer that bus rapid transit run on Powell, she sees the need for better service on Division. “We used to have a limited bus that was great for commuters because it got downtown in less than 25 minutes," she said
“One thing that would speed up traffic is to educate bike riders about the options for them on Clinton and Lincoln streets. Buses can’t easily get around cyclists riding on Division.” – Linda Duvall
For nearly five years, Mary Welch has lived not far from Southeast 50th and Division, where she has watched as old homes come down and large apartment buildings go up. She says these changes haven’t much affected her personally, yet. But she worries about the concentration of large multifamily complexes.
“I think these big buildings should be spread out rather than placed together near one intersection,” she said. “Why is that happening?”
“It’s definitely taking me a lot longer to get to work on the bus than it used to. It would be good to have buses that don’t stop at all the stops so it doesn’t take so long.” – Mary Welch
In the three years Patrick Way has worked at APEX Beer Bar, he has witnessed considerable change near Southeast 12th and Division. He’s experienced a lot of road construction. He’s also seen new houses go up in adjacent neighborhoods, and some of those same areas have gone to permit-only parking, which he thinks is a plus for residents.
“The building across the street feels like it’s been under construction for years,” Way said. “But I don’t think all this is for the worse. It all seems positive to me. I live in Vancouver, which is blowing up with construction.”
“I’ve noticed that buses are sometimes packed with riders. But I don’t have trouble getting around them in my car." – Patrick Way
Share your thoughts
What do you think about improving bus service on Division Street? More than 4,000 people took our survey before Sept. 9 and several dozen attended an Aug. 15 open house in Southeast Portland.
Missed your chance to participate? Send comments anytime to [email protected].