I recently came across an article in the Portland Tribune titled “Neighbors Fear Swales Plan” and was surprised to learn that there was a group of neighbors on 44th Avenue and Seymour Street in Portland, Oregon opposed to a proposed green street near their homes. With so many great examples throughout the City, I erroneously thought all citizens welcomed the enhanced environmentally friendly streetscapes. Well as I continued to read, not everyone is pleased with them. Their concerns ranged from feeling it was not cost effective, to increasing congestion, to creating hazardous waste sites in their front yards. Based on the article, the real crux of the issue seemed to be a lack of communication. I am sure there is more to the story and I hope to interview someone from Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) in the near future to learn more about their green street initiative. The situation as characterized by the article underscores how important it is to include public involvement in any project. Despite its many benefits, green infrastructure is no exception.
Continued monitoring and research is critical to the adoption and improvement of new technologies. As new stormwater techniques like green streets are employed, dispelling citizen’s fear with facts about their effectiveness and making the case they are a cost-effective techniques as compared to more conventional approaches, goes a long way for wider acceptance.