PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s quiet here now at the pumpkin patch on Sauvie Island, but in another month it will be packed with traffic backed up as far as you can see.
That’s why the Multnomah County commissioners voted to move forward with a new plan to reduce the impact of visitors on Sauvie Island.
“We are Coney Island. We are the place where everyone goes and because of that the complexity, what happens on the island, has just grown by leaps and bounds over the last 20 years,” said resident Stuart Sandler.
Sandler shared his concerns with the commissioners Thursday, most of whom backed the plan.
The last time guidelines for the island were put into place was 18 years ago, when traffic was just not as much of a factor.
“There were not farm to plate dinners. There weren’t concerts at farms,” said Sauvie Island farmer Mark Greenfield. “This is all new and these are all matters of concern to people on the island.”
The new plan’s goal is to preserve the island’s rural character, protect its unfettered access to wide open beaches and farm land and enhance its wildlife habitat and natural resources.
It does that in part by limiting the percentage of land that can be used for farm-standing buildings. It also defines new land use rules for seasonal events and their parking.
Shuttle service is being considered to ease these on-site limitations.
The plan also caps the number of floating homes in the Multnomah channel and seeks to improve transportation safety, partly by adding more traffic signals.
That is an issue that nearly everyone agrees needs attention.
“We have virtually no shoulders, narrow roads and the conflicts between cars and bikes are real,” Greenfield said. “When we have a lot of visitors to the island and a alot of bicyclists to the island, it’s a very dangerous situation.”
Commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the amended plan and could pass it next week during its second reading. Once approved, it would go into effect 30 days later — plenty of time for the pumpkin patch season.
“Hopefully some enforcement will follow and this will be a plan that really succeeds now, and also grows in the future,” Sandler said.