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PORTLAND -- The city of Portland is asking for suggestions to help create useful and attractive spaces on its estimated 60 miles of unimproved roadways, the mayor's office announced Tuesday.

The city does not maintain the roads, and many residents can't afford expensive paving projects, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said.

When we have dozens of miles of public space taken up by streets that predate the city s development rules, that the city can t maintain, we should allow neighborhoods the flexibility to create appropriate uses for these public spaces, Hales added.

Some residents have already taken the initiative to place garden plots, rest areas and other community uses in these public spaces. But those installations currently require permits.

Photos: Alternative options for unimproved roadways

The city transportation bureau will be working with Portland State University students to gather input and assess how residents feel about using unimproved roads as shared community spaces.

The mayor's really excited to hear from residents on this, said Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman Dylan Rivera. We hope they feel like it's an exciting opportunity to have the transportation bureau help them realize their visions for their neighborhoods.

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The city will also hold two public meetings on the matter:

  • Monday, Nov. 4, 6:30 to 8 p.m., East Portland Community Center, Poolside Room #1, 740 SE 106th Ave.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 13, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Hollywood Library, Community Meeting Room, 4040 NE Tillamook St.

The mayor's office said no final decisions were expected until at least summer 2014.

Related: Portland using 'fog seal' to cut paving costs

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