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, October 8, 2014

Grab a pen to keep your house out of the landfill

As activists make headway on a proposal for changes to stem the record-setting wave of demolitions washing over Portland, the Comprehensive Plan comment period kicks into high gear. We heard plenty about it at last night's United Neighborhoods for Reform summit, about how the term "neighborhood association" has disappeared from the plan and glossary this time around, along with other changes that make you wince and wonder.

The biggest problem, however, is the dearth of detail to back up the utopian visioning. One neighborhood association already has asked for an extension of the comment period to consider a more fleshed-out plan. Right now the plan is all flourish-y writing and feel-good attempts to relabel parts of Portland as various types of "mixed use" zoning. Fine. But what does it mean? There's nothing, nothing, about height limits, required setbacks, and so on, attached to the "mixed use" labels. That's what matters most to folks in the neighborhoods with boots on the ground.

Other interesting tidbits that came out of the event included more info about the two "neighborhood representatives" on the Developer Review Advisory Committee and their allegiances (to be fair, if I were outnumbered 14 to 2 my views might become more muted, too). More and more it's coming to light that DRAC, as it's called, has been repurposed for tasks outside its job description, such as the city's pressing demolition issue. Let's get a real task force already, with a fair makeup, and create solutions that work for everyone. At the bottom of all the wrangling is a belief that development should create an improvement. Otherwise, why do it?

We soldier on.

Take the pledge for a better Portland

Click on image for full-size version of the neighbor pledge.
Take copies up your street and around your block,
anywhere you see homes worth saving.
One of the elements of the antidemolition effort—and one so easy all it takes is a pen and two minutes—is the neighbor pledge. Thank you to Gary Davenport of Overlook Neighbors for Responsible Growth for the great idea and the drafting of this useful doc. As homeowners, we're not tearing down our houses. So why let others do it? Take the pledge to sell your home to the right buyers, ones who will live in the house and pass it along to future generations, as you have. Demolitions citywide have taken down modest bungalows to larger homes, but the properties had one thing in common: They all started with a sale.

The pledge is intended to start conversations among neighbors, help homeowners realize the power they have in shaping the future of their homes and neighborhoods, and protect neighbors and "first-growth" architecture. It also ensures the availability of unique affordable housing and keeps high-quality building materials out of the landfill.

Love your neighbors, love your neighborhood—take the pledge!

To celebrate the release of this important document, I am available to give a five-minute spiel on the pledge at a meeting of your neighborhood association. Just contact me at manaobooks at gmail dot com to set up a pledge presentation.

No help comes for Hollywood

I look forward to making the rounds again, after having visited four neighborhood meetings last winter to sound the alarm on Wally and Vic Remmers's business practices. The Hollywood meeting stood out. An entire street's worth of neighbors came to discuss what they could do now that so many new Hollywood residents were turning their residential lane (NE 37th Ave.) into a freeway on-ramp. The nattily turned out city transportation engineer recommended installation of a plastic orange traffic-safety measure that would slow traffic and block the way to the freeway, but guess what? The city couldn't afford it.

Last I looked that safety measure wasn't in place—so either the neighbors haven't yet raised the $1,200 necessary for the piece of orange plastic, or they've given up.

Wouldn't the city want to help longtime residents manage the population influx close to home? Isn't $1,200 a low price to pay for keeping an entire street of neighbors safer? Where do the System Development Charges go?

This Bud was for all of us

At last Saturday's Oregon Music Hall of Fame induction event at the Aladdin, former city leader Bud Clark presented a couple of awards to rousing applause. Performers onstage kept referring to him as the mayor; maybe they, too, want to forget about the mostly dismal leadership we've had since 1993, when Clark stepped down? From the hoots and hollers, I know I'm not the only one missing him, inclusive leadership, and common-sense plotting of progress.

1 comment:

  1. What I am seeing in the cully neighborhood is that we have many smaller houses with basements on large lots. They are being bought for about $300,000 and 3 or 4 larger looking houses without basements are replacing them each selling for $350,000 to $400,000.