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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Gloves off

Here's a ticked-off Portland neighbor who tells it like it is. Sure, it's over the top, but at the core it makes some great points.

Comments (32)

Wow. Just coming completely unglued. That will go far.

I have encountered this issue in personal,vocational and avocational contexts. And while I believe well-chosen words can prevent firestorms that often can and should be avoided in personal dealings, sometimes, in other contexts, the incendiary word can be the well-chosen one. The issues raised here and on this blog for the past several months have been avoided in this community for so long, that perhaps a bit of a firestorm is in order.

I also think there is a related problem: over the top "nice". Around 1990 I clipped a letter from the O from someone who described Portland as saccharine and reminiscent of the origninal" Stepford Wives". I will see if I can find it and post excerpts. While everyone likes polite discourse, imho insisting on it creates the danger of suppressing both dissent and dialog.

I honestly just don't see the rhetoric as "over the top." I find it honest and refreshing. I may disagree with the assessment of Belmont, but I can understand and better relate to the feelings due to the rhetoric. Now, whether it is effective or not...maybe a little fire is needed every once in a while.

from Jim in non-gentrified-Brooklyn-neighborhood


Enjoy while you can.

Funny, I don't find him 'over-the-top' at all. It's the truth about Portland even though many in Portland find it very painful to face the truth. Between PERS, the rapidly (and growing soon) costs of Tri-Met (which I recently heard described as Tri-Mess), all the government subsidies ... folks it's one of two ways, either we go even more socialist so we can pay for everything for everyone - or we get these pie-in-the-sky pinheads out of office.

There's always Clackamas and Washington County. A stone's throw away in distance, but a world away in thinking. Save yourself!

I don't know anything about the Boise-Mississippi development referenced, but I find the Belmont Lofts to be one of the few architectural bright spots in recent Portland multi-family dwellings, not an "ugly a** piece of crap structure".

This guy is great, he should be a committed writer. Anybody's work that can make me smile now that i'm in my 70th year, has to be good.

I understand the guy's sentiment, but I always want to ask people like this what they would prefer to see in these spots. Meaning, the Belmont space that he criticizes was formerly a lot filled with overgrown weeds and the occasional drunk vagrant sleeping off his troubles. The space didn't contribute much to the neighborhood at all. Would he prefer to see row houses, like the ones at 30th and Hawthorne, behind Claudia's? (The ones that went for upwards of 500K.) Would he prefer to see a huge monstrosity, a la the 1620 building on NE Broadway? I understand the frustrations that critics of gentrification have, but too often it is, like with this writer, just a sort of angry howl at a world passing the writer by--it rarely, if ever, puts forth its own view of how things should be.

There is also, of course, something funny about someone complaining on one hand about large buildings going up in the urban core, and then about losing "productive open lands" outside the urban core.

Living in St. Johns, we have faced our own version of gentrification with the lombard plan and now high density condos on the old safeway site that will suck up all the available parking. I heard a rumor that the old Jowers building was sold to the same developer that the writer of this piece was talking about. It is a sad comment that a business that sells WORK clothes is going out of business so a coffee shop/retail development goes in. With no one making a living wage in the area I wonder where the customers to support another coffee shop in an area that already has 5 or more are going to come from. Ahhh....gentrification.

The writer is consumed with righteous rage, and rightfully so, I say. Another poster writes of "nice" Portland. I think, the real problem for political discourse and problem-solving in Portland is the omnipresent "groupthink" that I perceive in such circles. And not even "such circles," but with persons not affiliated with any organization or cause. In other--are you sitting down?--more intensely diverse and cosmopolitan cities, the people are unified by the breadth of their opinions. When I visit friends in these cities, I gotta' bring my "A game" if I expect to hold any sway on matters political and social. Here, I'm preaching to the choir: where's the genuine dissonance? Anyway, that's my thing, and that's why I say "right on" to the writer.


folks it's one of two ways, either we go even more socialist so we can pay for everything for everyone - or we get these pie-in-the-sky pinheads out of office.

Given all the Sten lawnsigns I've been seeing lately, I've got a horrible sinking feeling in my gut about which of those two ways we're headed.

Please, folks, vote against the pie in the sky. Especially in the Sten race. Especially.

"We have the power to slow this down." (Erik in 1998 regarding private, unsubsidizezd development of SoWhat) That man has cost this city over a half billion dollars since he's come into office. Please send him home. You know I'm a Listerine, and I hope that all of you who are on the fence fall towards Dave. Right, Jack?

So, are we "turning socialist" or are we letting the evil capitalist developers run roughshod? I'm having a hard time keeping track.

Look, what I have a problem with in this screed is the unchecked hate. Okay, you disagree with a fellow's architectural aesthetic and don't want him to build on a street near the house you purchased. It's necessary to call him a "trustafarian greedhead"? Anyone who might share his aesthetic sense deserves vicious, ad hominem condemnation? That's not "righteous anger," it's demagoguery.

While I can see the poster's underlying point—i.e., this proposed development is not ideal for several reasons to do with neighborhood context, existing building guidelines, etc.—much of its fuel seems to be simple dislike for people who hold different opinions, priorities and lifestyles. Is it better to be "too nice" or spew venom? Tough choice.

What the writer hates, I think, is the hyposcrisy of those who just accept this development as hip and progressive without considering nuances or encouraging rigorous debate. Progressives who don't progress. The mind-deadening, crazy-making groupthink that Lex points out. Last I checked, we are supposed to hate what is evil and cling to what is good; hypocrisy is an evil it is OK to hate.

We're also supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves, if I recall.

I don't think it's over the top at all. Randy Rappaport IS a phony little hipster. There was an article awhile back talking about what a visionary he is (sounds like it was written by Randy Gragg) and mentioned that he travels by skateboard. He was one of the original owners of 3 Friends Coffee House, and I never saw him on a skateboard, he was always in his "hip" little black Miata. While his condo lofts might look very "cool" in the Pearl, the project (architectural rape) at 26th & Division is utterly inappropriate for the neighbourhood.

Do we need to resort to name calling? Randy does navigate his own neighborhood by board, but when traveling to his development or across the river in general... who can blame him for not boarding? Doesn't make him a phony hipster... it makes him someone that would like to get there safely and in a moderate amount of time. And since when is owning a miata hip? YIKES!

Architectural rape? It must've been what the street was "wearing"... maybe it was "asking for it"?

C'mon... isn't this all a little harsh?

The early 90's called, they want their car back.

A little tough love for Randy. I thought it was a little harsh the other day, when I was driving on Boones Ferry Rd. in SW and a Beamer with California plates was on my bumper flashing its high beams when I was going the speed limit. Honesty and fair dealing called; they want the moral high ground back.

While his condo lofts might look very "cool" in the Pearl, the project (architectural rape) at 26th & Division is utterly inappropriate for the neighbourhood.

Yeah, I hope it doesn't detract from the quaintness of the cute little Plaid Pantry across Division, or the picturesque auto body shop across 26th. (Eye roll.)

I see—anyone who makes a choice you wouldn't make, from riding a skateboard to driving a Miata, is worthy of scorn and contempt. Seriously, is it any skin off your back if the guy rides a skateboard? How are you to judge his relative "phoniness"? Oh, and this "I hate this guy because I saw another, totally different, completely unrelated guy who had California plates who was MEAN to me on the road"...could it possibly get any more illogical?

Excellent point, Dave J. To hear the Division Street Defenders of World Class Architecture and Culture complain, you'd think someone had torn down the Taj Mahal and put up a McDonald's in its place.

And did someone actually blame Randy Rappaport because a car with California plates flashed its high beams at her?

I think some people are loving their Portland a little too well, and not wisely.


Randy and the beamer driver represent a mindset and a trend, a trend toward favoring "hip" development no matter what the impacts, that, if left unchecked, could leave many Portlanders by the wayside and the city unrecognizable. That is is being criticized and well ought to be critiqued before it is too late, if it is not too late already.

"Randy and the beamer driver represent a mindset and a trend, a trend toward favoring "hip" development no matter what the impacts . . . "

Yes, I see it clearly now. I think you should be able to have Randy arrested for what that California beamer driver represented to you.

The "hip" factor in this debate seems an odd thing for people to latch onto. If you're going to criticize the method of placing a multi-family dwelling on a parcel, then why are you opposed to it? Is it the removal of the prior structure on that spot, or the overall impact on the neighborhood? Whatever it is, great, let's hear it.

But what is "hip" to you? What is "hip" to me? Could be completely different things. For instance, I *heart* the Belmont Lofts for its wood-cladded, Aalto-esque aesthetic. You might think it's "an ugly-a** piece of crap structure" like the author this thread is based on opines. So what? It's just a difference in taste. I'm a lifelong Portlander, and to see my city change is often difficult. But I'm glad there are architects here willing to do innovative things, regardless of supposed money-grubbing motives.

Stephen, if you keep talking like that, someone is going to get high-beamed on the Interstate.

Stephen, I think you are making my point exactly. We should be looking at STANDARDS-architectural, legal and planning standards- instead being directed by some vague idea of who and what is hip. When we first understand the "solution space" in which a problem is tobe solved, then we come to a proper understanding of reasonable innovation..

I cited the beamer driver to try to make the point that that person didn't think much of either the basic rule or a driver with Oregon plates. Believe me, I understand the mindset and those who presume to be "smarter than the hicks" without gather ing data to support the presumpton; I came here from California by way of New York 26 years ago.

I hope it doesn't detract from the quaintness of the cute little Plaid Pantry across Division, or the picturesque auto body shop across 26th. (Eye roll.)

What was on that site was historic and beautiful, including a hundred year old maple. It was specifically spot zoned to keep the Thomas House there, not to throw up condos. Randy opportunistically bought the property, destroyed the site while this was under appeal, and requested variances to make the building even bigger, and not provide loading spaces for his retail as required by code. There's much talk about "green" but Randy bought his way out of having to provide bicycle parking, so there won't be any for the retail spaces or guests of the 27 condo owners.

There's many, many places in SE, on Division, in our neighborhood where we would have supported --and have supported in the past-- higher density. This site was a neighborhood treasure, a bit of green in our park-deficient neighborhood, and an important part of our history. Now it's lost. But the Plaid Pantry's still there...

The "livable" city -- the "sustainable" city. What b.s. The condo developer city is what it's become. Thanks, Erik.

Randy opportunistically bought the property, destroyed the site while this was under appeal, and requested variances to make the building even bigger, and not provide loading spaces for his retail as required by code.

I wasn't aware of all those shenanigans, Frank--thanks for the info. I don't mind new condo buildings, but it would be nice to expect our city leaders to hold the developers to the same rules the rest of us follow. Naiive, I know...

Cynthia, I think you're right on. Especially in light of Mr. Dufay's post, it seems the "architectural, legal and planning standards" that have been instituted for good reasons are being easily cast aside for the "vague idea of who and what is hip". The potential for innovation quickly turns to outright greed.

from Jim in non-gentrified-Brooklyn-neighborhood

Fred Meyer's Corporate Headquarters off Powell has asked to ditch their industrial sanctuary zoning, supposedly so they can lease out surplus office space. Our Hosford-Abernethy Neighborhood Association (HAND) voted to oppose this upzoning --aren't we suppossed to have a shortage of good industrial sites?-- but the City as represented by Bureau of Development Services (that's in Commissioner Leonard's portfolio, Jack) thinks this major upzoning for our neighbors in Brooklyn is just long as we put a "cap" (wink, nod) on the forest of office buildings --and, hey, who knows, condo towers?-- this zone and comp plan change could bring to the Brooklyn/HAND neighborhood.

At the "Hearing" a few Brooklyn neighbors, a few HAND reps --volunteers all-- up against Ball Janik, Kittelson, McKenzie...AND the Bureau of Development Services. And, of course, the "neutral" Hearings Officer on the City's payroll.

It's not a very level playing field these days. And the zoning and comp plan maps, neighborhood plans, and the protections afforded by the city code don't seem to count for much when the City's in rubber stamp mode.

We don't want to seem anti-business, I guess, but then we've no problem squeezing the small folks like "It's a Beautiful Pizza" for "System Development Charges" used to subsidize development in the Pearl and SoWa.


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Yeah! Assault of "Sustainable Opportunities For Development." And its' cost, the death of "Sustainable Neighborhoods." "ticked-off Portland neighbor who tells it like it is." [ Jack Bog's Blog: Gloves off ] Go read the link found in the link above. Steady [Read More]


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