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Thursday, August 19, 2004

In the ghetto

The River District, the Pearl District, all this high-density residential infill. It's wonderful! Katz-ivating! Randy-Gragg-a-licious!

In a decade or so, it will be like Detroit. The real one, in Michigan.

Even before the latest "luxury condo" towers are finished, the middle-class apartment buildings are already going to pot.

Hey, let's do it again at North Macadam! Portland -- we put the Gold in Goldschmidt.

Comments (10)

I've never visited the Yards, so I probably shouldn't comment. (But I'm going to anyway).

One person's bad experience is hardly an indictment on all high density housing. I live in North Portland where there are rows and rows of old houses, the perfect Bojack-esque neighborhood, and guess what, we have people who spit on our doors, we have frat boys who throw parties down the block, oh and we also have drive-by shootings.

So maybe it's not the housing, maybe its the people in the housing.

Anyway, Jack you often complain about high density residential buildings, but you never offer a solution. How do we accommodate the thousands of people that are moving to the Portland Metro area without a) building high density housing or b) eliminating the urban growth boundary? Do we just ship them all out to Vancouver, and let that city sprawl into Idaho?

(Thank God you're back, I've missed my favorite housing antagonist).

Glad you're back! I couldn't agree with you more, Jack. I lived in Portland for 10 years and moved away to Montana a year and a half ago for that reason. It stunk trying to cross 21st St by Hancock and almost getting run down, on a Sunday yet! Even side streets were turning into racing speedways. Don't let it morph into LA or Seattle, please!

Definitely, you should indict all high-density housing on the basis of a blog entry.

You're using a blog entry as more ammunition? I'll admit that it would be great if we could all live in suburbia or in beautiful little houses on treed streets, but how much more acreage in and near Portland would that require for all the people who keep moving here? Expanding into Clark County is a grand, if NIMBY-ish idea, but that doesn't help too much. What's your plan for what to do with all the people?

Hmmmmm, people, people everywhere and nowhere to put us all. Cramming everyone in sounds unpleasant but take a note from Miami. The land of pink flamingo lawn ornaments has literally built itself into the Everglades. Instead of accommodating the influx of New Yorkers and the well-aged with ANY high density housing, the South Florida megaplex offered everyone a home, with a lawn, and a fence (dogs cost extra). So now several thousand folks live across the street (no joke, check out the Sawgrass Expressway) from the greatest wetland in North America. Now that they have run out of room (and begun complaining about alligators in the yard, go figure) I sincerly hope SoFla builds UP next time instead of OUT. There is a reason why Paul Ehrlich claims overpopulation is the greatest threat to humanity. Too many rats in the box.

"One person's bad experience is hardly an indictment on all high density housing."

Absolutely. I'm still a big believer in high-density, walkable neighborhoods. We'll be moving to another one no doubt. My experience at The Yards has to do with poor management. I've lived in similar places for most of my life, and this is by far the worst experience I've had. And I've lived in much, much cheaper places.

For the money, it sucks, but it has nothing to do with all high-density, any more than you can judge all neighborhoods by looking at one.

I hate when I'm wrong. I've defended the Pearl and N. Macadam developments many times on this blog. But now I'm not so sure because I've started to examine the construction of my favorite luxury condo developments. Look close! Rubberized window seals on two year old buildings are cracking just like Vancouver BC. Metal window trim is never flush, so water leaks in. And that's just what my untrained eye can see from the outside.

So, while I like infill, I think the city is getting ripped off. There is popular support for urban density, which finds expression in subsidized development (like tax abatements). But there’s no incentive to build long lasting buildings. Then there's no incentive for occupants to maintian common areas like roofs. This could become scandalous if the abatements expire, the buildings all leak like in Vancouver BC, which undermines the property values which were supposed to increase to offset the grant of the abatements in the first place. Doh!

I kind of buy Jack's argument that the City Council is in the hand's of Developers. And that Homer Winslow owns Vera Katz. And if Homer is accepting tax subsidies to build shoddy developments, then someone should call him on it and fast.

I just think that devloping high density residential buildings around major transit cores is a good way to accommodate a large influx of people without creating sprawl.

High density housing isn't a problem. The problem is that the Yards@Union Station and the building I live in (The St. Francis) are owned by the Housing Authority of Portland. All this hoopla was made over these nice new buildings to provide low-income housing downtown, but when the champagne bubbles are flat and the party's over, there isn't any money for decent management to keep these places nice. Plus, they look nice on the outside, but use the absolute cheapest EVERYTHING on the inside and all seem to degenerate into really unpleasant places to live after a few years.

Paul Ehrlich? Does anybody listen to him after 35 years of being wrong? Fact is you could plunk everyone on the planet into Texas and it would still be less dense than Brooklyn.

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