This afternoon I took part in the Trees and Landscaping Focus Group for the Downtown Streetscape Project.
About 20 of us, citizens and consultants, had a spirited 90-minute discussion in the Library's Anderson Room about downtown trees and other vegetation, though the discussion also included broader Streetscape topics.
(1) Eliminate a lane of traffic on some downtown streets with three or four lanes so there's more room for trees and people on the sidewalks.
(2) Define the personality of both downtown and the entire city, then make Streetscape reflect that personality.
(3) Come up with a unified, repetitive, simple Streetscape design.
(4) Trees need room to grow. Give them that space.
(5) Don't forget habitat for songbirds and butterflies. Pigeons aren't enough wildlife for downtown.
(6) Beauty lies in vegetative diversity, not a monoculture of similar trees.
(7) Add evergreens to downtown, both conifers and broadleaf trees, for greenness after deciduous leaves drop.
(8) Create a City culture where trees are honored, and aren't cut down for no good reason like the U.S. Bank trees on State Stree were.
(9) Allow trees to grow large and gorgeous so they create a Wow! when viewed, not just a ho-hum OK.
(10) The downtown area needs more water walkways. Let's use our creeks and river to better advantage.
(11) Have a living Christmas tree on the Chemeketa Parkade to draw people into downtown rather than having a Christmas tree at Riverfront Park.
(12) Convert the top level of the Chemeketa Parkade into a a green space that can host the Saturday Market. Great views!
(13) Use some parking spaces for mini-parklets where people can sit and congregate.
(14) Focus on native plants. Bring local agriculture into downtown: filberts, grape vines, for example.
(15) Put business signs at street/eye level, not high up on buildings where they can be obscured by tree branches.
(16) Focus on people, not cars. No car has ever shopped at a downtown business, just people.
(17) Have some city-owned chairs that people can move around the downtown area for flexible seating.
(18) Have good pedestrian lighting everywhere. And have lights in trees for much of the year, not just around Christmas.
(19) A lot more awnings would be awesome. Make them wide and colorful. Think Paris! They'd shelter downtown visitors from both rain and sun.
(20) With GPS and smart phones, business signs aren't needed as much for way-finding. So make them less obtrusive and more attractive. Also, ditch the "sandwich signs" on the sidewalk, since they don't look good and take up valuable space.
(21) Include maintenance of trees, hanging baskets, and such in every step of the Streetscape design. Have drip systems for watering.
(22) State and Court streets should connect nicely to Riverfront Park, on one end, and to Willamette University and the Capitol, on the other end.
(23) Involve downtown business owners in the Streetscape project.
(24) Have built-in underground reservoirs for watering.
(25) Have street level color in vegetation.
(26) Downtown should have water features to drown out traffic noise and relax people.
(27) Have groves of trees and seating at the corners of blocks where they will be most visible.
(28) Use vegetation and planters to create a barrier between sidewalk seating and traffic. People will be looking at greenery, not vehicles speeding by.
(29) Give up some parking for great design, and people will flock to downtown -- like they do to 21st and 23rd streets in northwest Portland.
(30) Have green walls, climbing vegetation.