The irony screams loud as a chain saw. The record-setting number of demolitions this year—Portland broke the record last year, too—comes with innumerable tree deaths. Those mondo houses only fit one way on a lot, and tree protection costs money, involves work, and takes creativity during construction. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of developers plying Portland are too lazy and profit-minded to care. Prolific developers Wally and Vic Remmers practically are running a logging operation up in Concordia while trashing houses there. By now they probably could load a barge for export.
|Where DRAC members get to sit.|
Meanwhile, the city-anointed, developer-centric Developer Review Advisory Committee stumbles along at the full committee and subcommittee levels, tasked with weighty issues outside its job description. I almost feel sorry for it. As word gets out about the meetings, more activists come. At the last DRAC subcommittee meeting, we the disenfranchised ran out of chairs pushed up against the wall of the room and had to sit on the floor. Hopefully, some neighbors made it to the Thursday meeting of the full committee; after all, someone needs to guffaw loudly when city staff throw out unsupported "facts" such as: "9 out of 10 people want these houses demolished anyway."
|Where those affected by DRAC decisions get to sit.|
Ever notice how all the DRAC meetings run from 8 to 9:30 a.m. or 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. when full-time parents and weekday workers are least able to attend? Who else is available? Is it any wonder that the less affluent neighborhoods can't afford to send a representative downtown to sit for two hours and make sure neighbor voices are heard—that is, if they catch the moderator's eye, and if time allows after the developers have their say.
Speaking of developers, one at the meeting last week (and head of DRAC) confessed he didn't build starter homes anymore because he couldn't reap enough profit. Then he had the temerity to go on about how additional fees in permitting, etc., would price the resulting home out of reach of the droves of wannabe home buyers. About half of us on the wall pointed out that had he left the starter home intact, it would have been accessible to those buyers. Why o why can't developers build where the city needs more development, and/or where there are vacant lots, instead of tearing down perfectly good housing stock to erect palaces made of little better than particle board?
United Neighborhoods for Reform is fine-tuning a resolution to take to the neighborhoods and City Council to protect the unique, affordable housing that remains. We will need voices and votes at the grass-roots level, and the support shown for the effort all along, to keep this big ball rolling. As Will Rogers said, "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." DRAC and its developer recommendations are right behind us.