Footpaths and Walkways (Draft 11/9/2016)

A process is underway to identify informal and potential footpaths in Southwest Portland so they can be treated in a standard way and improved over time.

The purpose of this project is to close the gaps in pedestrian connectivity:

These footpaths typically use unbuilt rights-of-way, UROWs, (platted, but undeveloped streets), not private property. These footpaths will open a whole new dimension to the 'hood. It will take many years to develop an interconnected system of walkways.

The project isn't just to declare that a Path is Here. The project is to assess the suitability and usefulness of a given path, what must be done to make it safe, etc.


The city is preparing codes and guidelines in parallel with the data gathering phase. (Creating a new program.)

Foot Path rules

It seems reasonable that some rules could be established for use of footpaths.

Hopefully SWIM will develop such guidelines.

Legal Stuff

The benefit to adjacent property owners is that provisions regarding reducing liability provided in Oregon state Law will apply.


  1. Vacation of such UROWs, mean that the ROW could be purchased and annexed to neighboring properties. Neighbors on each side can purchase one half of the property. Because these are public ROWs, there is a whole Vacation process that must be undergone.
  2. Adjacent property owners can be 'given' the option to use the land as long as there is no permanent structures put on the ROW.

Other legal nuances?

The Map

Foot Path candidates, etc

List of Paths by Name (Trail Table)

And short description of each (in progress)

nominated - nominated foot path or trail segment.
contended - contention over whether path should be open or not.
vacated - RoW possibly vacated.
terrain - impassable topography
obstructed - impassable due to vegetation or structures of one sort or another.

path category path description (all in progress 11/2016)
LOBELIA nominated Connects between SW 5th and Boones Ferry Road. This path has Beth Israel Cemetery on the north and two residences on the south. The homeowners are supportive. John Miller, et al, maintain the path.
ALICE West nominated Connects View Point and Brier place.. Anyone living on the north half of Palatine Hill (Alice, 1st-4th) and has to go around a long block to get to/from the College or RVNA. The unimproved ROW has been landscaped by the adjacent landowner. Nominator: Lynn O'Brien Wolfe.
5TH AVE nominated Connects an isolated segment of 5th AV with Primrose. Useful to People on 'lower' 5th to get to village businesses, and other points via Primrose. This path is not developed. Nominator: John Miller.
COLLINS nominated
SW COLLINS ST is platted between 4th AV west and Palatine! Consider these segments:
  • obstructed: The western end (shown in yellow) arise probably not accessible for one block.
  • nominated: Collins from 4th to 2nd is a walkable dirt road with perennial mud puddles due to poor drainage. It is a road, not a footpath.
  • contended and obstructed: The segment from SW 2nd east a ways is blocked at 2nd by a structure built on the right of way, and my overgrown veggies.
  • nominated: Collins from ~0100 to Corbett is a walkable one lane road, and quite pleasant to walk. A fence was put up at one point (between Viewpoint and Corbett), but neighbors objected and a gate (opening) now allows passage.
  • obstructed: The segment between Corbett and Kelly can probably physically be opened. (Unknown support or contention for that.)
  • obstructed: Unknown whether the segment from Kelly to Palatine Hill Road could be opened. A house was just demolished at 0420 SW Palatine Hill Road!
ST MARK nominated Connects 4th Ave & Collins to Trimet #38/39 bus stop id 5813 on Terwilliger. Path crosses Church Parking lot. Path on asphalt Could be defined or delineated.
PLUM nominated Connects SW 3rd and SW 4th. Path is currently open to traffic. Upper half is open to vehicles accessing driveway to property on north. A split-rail fence separates the roadway from the foot path on the lower half. Fran said Plum has been vacated. (?)
ALICE East contended Connects SW 3rd and SW 4th. Blocked by a wall of bamboo and boat trailer at the top. This is more of a community garden with a path through it, than a open footpath. Landscaped by ZA on 4th. Contended by MH and MD on 3rd.
6th & Lucille nominated This is a little path of the end of SW 6th Ave Cul-de-Sac, over to and along Lucille. Likely an easement to an undeveloped flagged lot, but serves as an escape out of the Cul-de-Sac. Need contact. CDS and Jane explored in late May 2017.

Reasons given for contention: Campers, stolen yard tools, stolen bike, litter, trash, beer cans, liquor bottles, constant stream of drunk college students, sex in bushes, damaged mailboxes. (Editorial opinions - most of these seem to be college student problems. Also, there are no mailboxes on any foot paths.)

Other FootPaths

Do you know of or use a another footpath in the neighborhood? Anyone may nominate path on a U-ROW.

Larger trails, greenways or Urban Trails can be added to the nominations in southwest. No path is too small or large at this stage of the project. You can send comments on this page or project to scoop @ newcollinsview dot blog

There are numerous paths going in and out of RVNA, RV Cemetery, Tryon, and the College, but they aren't on undeveloped RoWs. How about a crossing for Highway 43 from RVNA to Powers Marine Park?

Other Issues

(Needs editing)

Homeless camps or nefarious activity. Are there going to be mountain bikes on the footpaths? This needs to be defined.

Footpaths have been used to connect college student party houses in the hood. This is a legitimate concern. However, it's college-related problem. By taking community ownership of public places, and communicating with the college and those houses, we can make our neighborhood a better, and safer place all around.

Someone usually maintains the paths to keep down the weeds. Taking ownership of these spaces would send a message that they are not abandoned — See the Broken Windows Theory.

By designating and maintaining (posting) these public rights-of-ways, one might eliminate the threat of vandalism to adjacent properties, and sheltering of other nefarious activities.

Background and History

This was pitched to Collins View Neighborhood Association at the October 2016 meeting by Don Baack from SW Trails. All neighborhoods in Southwest Portland are doing this exercise.

The project produce a map of nominated paths to submit to the larger process was approved by the CVNA Board. You may request the October 2016 minutes from the CVNA board.)

John Miller offered to co-ordinate the Collins View map. If this project really appeals to you, speak up if you'd like to own it! We need a volunteer to be a liaison with SW-Trails SWIM project, and perhaps a hold a meeting or two to prioritize walk way development.

History: South West In Motion (SWIM) was started in 1995 to facilitate connectivity in South West neighborhoods. The effort to identify the important trail linkages in our neighborhoods was started as part of the SW Community Plan effort in 1995 but was curtailed by the City in 1998. This is a continuation of that original effort. In addition to addressing trails, SWIM will gather all the potential street/ped/bike projects onto a list then work out the priorities for addressing them in order of priority as funds are available. The east side equivalent resulted in millions of dollars being secured to build infrastructure. — Don Baack 10/25/16

Example Foot Path: The Lobelia Path project is an example of issues with these paths - water runoff, need for steps, buy-in from adjacent owners, and so on. [LINK HERE some day]


Community Initiated Neighborhood Trails on City website: [LINK]

Active Transportation & Complete Streets Projects, on Metro website: [ Southwest in Motion (SWIM) PDF]