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, May 19, 2015

City may pass the hat ... for developers

Actually, it's better than that. It's possible the city will propose that you and I—as city-funding taxpayers—pay the developers to deconstruct the homes they intend to demolish. Apparently it is not enough that neighborhoods lose their stock of affordable housing full of quality materials and character, mature tree canopy, and access to solar, among other irreplaceable items; now we're supposed to pay the people exploiting our neighborhoods to allow the reuse of old-growth materials?

It's almost as if I hadn't heard it right, but yes that was the report from United Neighborhoods for Reform's rep to the deconstruction advisory group (DAG), Barbara Kerr. Long a champion of reuse, she agreed to attend meetings of the group that was formed to present a deconstruction program to Portland City Council early next month. There are some strong pro-environment leaders on that committee, but neighbors' voice in favor of a deconstruction mandate is being overwhelmed by the numbers and power of developers showing up at the table. (If you are free tomorrow (Wednesday, May 20) from 2:30 to 4:30, please grab a seat at the table in conference room A on the 17th floor of the building at 1900 S.W. Fourth Ave. and ask for mandated deconstruction—paid for by the property owner—if demolition must occur. Developers representing out-of-town business interests are increasingly taking seats at that table and shaping local policy against Portlanders' interests.)

By way of explaining how the idea came about to pay developers to deconstruct, Kerr reported after the last DAG meeting that the developers "stated that if society wants them to do something, society needs to pay them and that if deconstruction is made mandatory, there will be pushback."
Cousin, can you spare a dime? Vic and Wally Remmers can't afford to do the right thing
deconstructing houses instead of throwing them in our landfill, so they want
Portlanders to pay them to do it. Maybe relative Dennis Sackhoff, who's finishing up
his latest so-so Soviet project in Hollywood, can help out the family.
Why is it every time antidemolition activists successfully ask for change, the developer-determined proposal that comes back makes things worse for neighborhoods, and City Council nods along and calls it a compromise?

Every single neighborhood association voting in favor of United Neighborhoods for Reform's resolution supports a deconstruction mandate—as the city likes to remind us, Portland loves to recycle! One neighborhood backed the resolution for the deconstruction element alone. UNR knows that some homes will be demolished; the only way they should leave the landscape, for all sorts of public and environmental health and safety reasons, is by deconstruction. So what if it costs more and takes a few days longer? Call it the price of admission for access to Portland's real estate gold mine.


  1. I am curious what Barbara Kerr (and Sara Long) thought about the odd interplay between the DeConstruction representatives and the Development/Builder reps, concerning the purpose/s for the incentive program. She firmly stated that UNR would not support the incentive plan, as currently written. But the DeCon guys' assertions that the DeCon companies need the delay for mandatory deconstruction, so why not incentivize the Builders to participate...just seemed disingenuous...kinda like there was some collaboration.

    Then, the HBA guy said that the incentives could go to the DeCon companies, "as long" as it is reflected in reduced costs to the builders...?!?!

    It was confusing, but perhaps that is because it was malarkey...a ruse!

    1. Yes, I think HBA leaned in early on. It will be interesting to see what happens Wed at council.