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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

You say you want a resolution

Well, you know it's coming. Through a series of summits that started earlier this year that consistently drew Portland residents from all over, United Neighborhoods for Reform has developed a one-page resolution to address concerns about demolition, and present solutions for keeping the unique, affordable housing that remains.

Once in final form, the doc will go out to neighborhood association meetings citywide. After gathering grassroots support, United Neighborhoods for Reform will head to City Council at the same time as the Developer Review Advisory Committee (DRAC) takes its suggestions to the top.

Is it a "demolition"? DRAC can't decide.
Last week saw another grinding meeting of the subcommittee of DRAC burdened with yet more important issues outside its purview. This time over an hour was spent deciding a definition of "demolition" was necessary, only to never arrive at that definition, even while numerous municipalities as small as Decatur, Illinois, and big as Berkeley, California, have managed to swing it. Maybe they don't have a DRAC.

I'm not surprised. It's like asking the raccoons how better they can guard the henhouse. There's a lot of "Who me?" "Why worry?" and "What's the problem again?" on that committee—made up mostly of developers, the professionals who represent them, and city staff who call 'em "business partners." As taxpayers, we original investors (homebuyers in the neighborhoods now being mined for quick greenbacks) are business partners, too. That's another reason we care when the bulldozers arrive.

Notice the fellow with hose (far left) whose anticontamination efforts from that distance and with garden equipment appear ... laughable. 

Speaking of demolition, I watched this 1921 house at Northeast 45th and Siskiyou bite the dust yesterday, victim to another Greg & Laura Perrin venture (it's possible their company is in cahoots with the Remmerses, which makes a natural combo) to turn a unique, well-designed home into character-free cheap construction. If the Perrins buy for $300 to $400k, demolish, then build at breakneck speed to sell at $700k to $800k, what could they possible afford for materials and still reap their necessary profit margin?

The title sequence to Portlandia gives more screen time to our city's classic bungalow architecture than show stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein themselves. With the record-setting number of demolitions, we rapidly lose an important part of what makes Portland Portland. The only charitable thing that can be said of this lower-quality construction taking the place of well-crafted "first-growth" homes is that hopefully it is as easy to bring down as it goes up. Still—what a waste.

I wasn't the only one watching this home demolition. One family watched from a corner opposite, riveted by the sight and sounds of this neighborhood elder buckling. It would have been hard to look the other way. The house didn't go down without a fight. The metal claw pushed hard to tear at and crunch down the roof. The beams—probably of rare old-growth quality and now unavailable or unaffordable (for the rich-quick folks anyway)—creaked and groaned as they gave way. The wood snapped like massive tinder under pressure. Seven years short of its 100th birthday, and in the space of a sunny October afternoon, this house died.

Did it have a good life? Let's hope so, at 93 years. It must have contained decades of stories and lives. Could it have had a better future? Yes. Will it? Ask the folks at the dump.

1 comment:

  1. That was an amazing house. The new one will be cheaply built but very expensive....