What's happening now

Formerly the home of Beaumont-Wilshire Neighbors for Responsible Growth, the Portland Land Matters blog explores citywide land-use concerns, such as home demolitions, with the belief that development should create an improvement.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Captain Hales can act to right the ship

The picture shows seven vehicles backed up during morning rush hour; if Wally Remmers's building leases up as designed, add 36 more.

While we wait for the decision from the state Land Use Board of Appeals, let's revisit an article from the Portland Tribune showing what Mayor Charlie Hales thinks of the recent rash of development across the east side. After an East Portland Chamber of Commerce gathering a couple of months ago, the mayor acknowledged the mistake of no-parking buildings, such as the one going up on Northeast Fremont between 44th and 45th avenues. "Zero parking spaces is not the right number," he said. "All you're doing is exporting parking problems to the surrounding neighborhood streets." 

Prioritizing the profit-driven desires of an out-of-town developer over neighborhood residents, many of whom have worked hard to improve their neighborhood only to see those investments destroyed by their own city, has taken a toll on east-side neighbors' confidence in their city. We who just started paying our annual property taxes wonder how much of that money is going to defend against us in matters before the state Land Use Board of Appeals—and it shakes our confidence in the system. After all, even though the developer pays one-time System Development Charges to build where he has, exploiting neighborhood gains for his own and contributing nothing to the neighborhood but unmitigated traffic and other impacts, about 30 neighboring households are paying just as much into city coffers every year.

At that meeting, Mayor Hales went on: "I also want to look at that infill issue. And I also want to look at design requirements. I don't think our requirements for design review are good enough or tough enough outside of the central city."
Summing up the effects of poor planning and permitting, Hales said, "I want to reconsider the question of what we are allowing for infill in single-family neighborhoods. What is happening now, in some cases, is costing us a lot of public goodwill. It's a bad bargain."
Read the whole story here.
Is this the best planning we can do? Raise the bar, Mayor Hales!
All these comments aptly describe our situation in Beaumont-Wilshire, where not only are we defending against Wally Remmers's non-code compliant building but rampant teardowns of modest-size homes in favor of maximum-size cookie-cutter homes that dilute neighborhood character, reduce adjacent home values, and deplete affordable housing.
Using Mayor Hales's own term, Remmers's much-delayed and -contested 4-story, 50-unit building on Fremont is the ultimate "bad bargain" for the immediate neighborhood as well as any other residents of the east side who use and depend on Northeast Fremont, a city-designated major emergency response route. 
What Mayor Hales seems to forget, however, is that he's in a superior position to help fix it.

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