In academics, colleges hold their students to high standards of intellectual honesty.
So for fudging the facts to get their own way over neighbors, we're naming administrators at Lewis & Clark College this week's Rogue.
The college has sought permission from the city to expand its Southwest Portland campus by building 160,000 square feet of housing for law-school students, with 250 beds, west of Southwest Boones Ferry Road.
Neighbors from Collins View, Arnold Creek, South Burlingame and Marshall Park opposed the plan on the grounds it would dump more traffic onto the already clogged streets around the college—including the notoriously treacherous intersection of Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard and Southwest Boones Ferry Road in front of Riverdale High School.
To make its case, Lewis & Clark submitted a traffic expert's report to the city showing the new building would actually reduce traffic by 100 trips per day. But neighbors found fatal flaws in the plan by Portland-based Kittelson & Associates when they combed through the analysis.
Most glaringly, the report relied on traffic counts from a day when classes for Lewis & Clark's 3,600 undergrad and grad students—and the 230 students of Riverdale High—were not in session. It also reported traffic on another day when Riverdale and college undergrads were in session but graduate students were not.
Strikes us that's sort of like checking Trail Blazers attendance at the Rose Garden when the team is playing a road game.
In a blistering Dec. 3 denial of Lewis & Clark's application to build the new dorm, city hearings officer Gregory Frank questions the credibility of the traffic report at least six times, citing multiple cases of bad arithmetic, faulty assumptions and glaring discrepancies used to bolster the school's case.
"Such discrepancy leads the hearings officer to find that the trip elimination estimate by the college's traffic engineer suffers from credibility problems," Frank wrote.
Lewis & Clark spokeswoman Jodi Heintz says the college will not appeal Frank's decision. But she defends the school.
"We're all scratching our heads that the neighbors feel there was an underhanded way in which this was done," Heintz says. "We used the consultant the city advised us to use."
We're siding with Danni McLaughlin of the Collins View Neighborhood Association when she says, "It was a really rotten thing to do. And a rotten way to do it."
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