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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 1, 2006 12:19 PM. The previous post in this blog was Dagoba Chocolate recall: Update. The next post in this blog is Name that troll. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, June 1, 2006

Cashing in on "smart growth"

There's a fairly lightweight profile in the O today about Joe Weston, Portland real estate mogul. Weston's piled up so much dough he doesn't know how to deal with it, and he's set up a foundation to give most of it away. In addition to the gushy words about that, and all the usual irrelevant nonsense (the license plate number on his VW bug, his divorce, blah blah blah), the O reporter fills in the basic outlines of how Joe made his money:

When Weston began building apartments in the 1960s, Buckman and the other close-in neighborhoods were filled with Victorians, four-squares and bungalows. But the areas were zoned for apartments. The zoning, says urban historian Carl Abbott, reflected the deterioration of the housing stock and the notion at the time that people with means buy homes in the suburbs, relegating the city for higher density. Weston accepted the invitation that the zoning extended. He began knocking down adjacent old homes and built two-story, 10-unit, brick-on-aluminum-siding apartments with the parking lot out front. By the early '70s, he had gotten quite good at it. Homeowners watched and worried.

"He was viewed as a threat," recalls Jim Andrews, who along with his wife is an architect. They bought a house in Buckman in 1974 across from one of Weston's buildings. "I don't think anyone regarded him as having malice toward the neighborhood. He was a shrewd businessman. There were worse developers, but he was so successful that people were concerned that he would just keep going and going."

Weston's buildings became a rallying point for activism in the '70s. Portlanders fought the national trend toward paving super highways to the suburbs and ceding the core to the poor. Neighbors such as Andrews got Buckman and other close-in enclaves rezoned. They re-emphasized single-family homes and established middle-class commitment to the city.

Today, Andrews says most of Weston's buildings wouldn't win a beauty contest. The projects substantially changed the character of neighborhoods. But "he built a decent product and he owned them for the long term," Andrews says. "Most neighborhoods benefit from having some diversity of income and ethnicity.... What we ended up with in Buckman is a pretty diverse neighborhood."

That's for sure. What you ended up with in Buckman includes drugs, and plenty of it; a ghetto of high-impact social services deliberately sited there by the Stennies; and lots and lots of turnover of residents.

But Weston's biggest insult to the place is aesthetic. If you cruise around Buckman and Sunnyside, and if you look at pictures of what was there before the apartments went in, you'll see what Weston did to those neighborhoods. Blocks of beautiful old Portland homes are littered with awful low-rise apartment bunkers that look like bad motels. The buildings are hanging in there, but in addition to being ugly, they're showing their age.

This is where density gets you. Since then Weston has cashed in big time on the Pearl, and now he's licking his chops over the area over by the Rose Garden. He'll try to talk the school board out of its headquarters building at a lowball price, get out his wrecking ball for the umpteenth time, and bam! Up goes another condo tower. If he'll put in a dozen $900-a-month studio apartments, the City Council will probably give him a free ride on property taxes. He's way smarter than they are, and he'll have them eating out of his hand, as usual.

Buckman is not a better place because of what was done there 35 years ago in the name of "urban density." If Weston has so much money to give away, he ought to pay to build the long-promised, never-delivered Buckman community center at the old Washington High School. He's got enough wealth to do it single-handedly, I suspect. And one might conclude that he owes it to the people of Buckman. It's a rough neighborhood to raise a kid in. Maybe the original "smart growth" kingpin could make it easier on the people who have made him so rich.

Comments (55)

Thanks Jack.

Now I know who to blame when my friends say Buckman is one of the ugliest neighborhoods in town!

A Capitalist Tool for the ages!

But if you pile up nine figures and don't get caught in bed with a 14-year-old, you're automatically a hero.

Here's something I always wonder about, and I'll preface this by saying that I'm a pretty liberal, pro-diversity kind of guy. The statement that "most neighborhoods benefit from having some diversity of income and ethnicity"...is that actually true? Do studies bear that out? I mean, I like living in that kind of neighborhood, and I'm glad that not all of my neighbors fit into some cookie-cutter, but I do get annoyed at people who will accept virtually anything, no matter how disastrous is may be to the character/livability of a neighborhood, to achieve this "diversity of income and ethnicity."

Let's not going insulting smart growth and new urbanism. Part of the whole point of those movements is that aesthetics matter. (Remember the whole snout-house debate?)

Joe Weston's apartment buildings are an aesthetic nightmare. Absolutely horrible. Of course, they're all recognizable when you drive 'round the city. I remember apartment-hunting a few years ago, and we learned to spot 'em -- and always knew that we didn't have to go inside. Just as bad in there.

At the time they were built, I am sure Weston's gems got the same reaction that the "smart," "skinny," Stennie new marvels are getting today. And a couple of decades from now, the cute little "smart" houses that are showing us all a "wonderful new way to live" will be as reviled as Weston's apartments are today.

I googled Buckman neighborhood and was surprised to see this website and a small blurb on Buckman.

http://www.livingcities.org/sites_cities_portland_neighborhoods.htm

At the time they were built...

Exactly. Tastes change. How about construction quality? Wasn't there an article a while back on how these new places are already havens for mold and rot? How will they physically hold up over 40 years?

"...Let's not going insulting smart growth and new urbanism..."

Why?

Smart Growth sure is causing a lot of problems, Kari. Why not insult an ideal that artificially inflates housing costs and skims millions off the top of potential tax revenues? Not to mention cramming apartment complexes and houses into quaint, established residential neighborhoods.

San Francisco has done the same thing as Portland (other than a UGB, I think). Tons of density, mass transit and ungodly traffic. And no one but millionaires and street people live there.

Smart growth my foot.

At the time they were built, I am sure Weston's gems got the same reaction that the "smart," "skinny," Stennie new marvels are getting today.

I wondered about that, but really I can't believe it's true. Tastes change, yes, but there is nothing aethetically pleasing about those places. The skinny houses don't bother me that much...at least so long as they aren't going up next to my place. :p

SF's problem is geography, not policy.

No, it's both.

Jack, nice false demonization of the Buckman neighborhood. The east side of the area--that part from 12th to 28th--is where the people live, and that area's crime is LOWER than the neighborhood average across the City.

Kari,

If geography is SF's problem, then why would Portland want to emulate the same problem by implementing an Urban Growth Boundary?

You don't have to answer, it's painfully obvious car/suburb haters on the CoP and Metro boards want us to be just like SF: crowded, dense and no middle class.

that area's crime is LOWER than the neighborhood average across the City.

Reported crime. Don't tell me, I lived there. There's more smack between Hawthorne and Stark, between 12th and 39th, than anywhere else in Portland. It's all in Joe Weston's apartments.

so sorry to rely on factual material, rather than the anecdotal musings of someone who USED to live there.

no middle class.

Which is what cracks me up the most about Sten and the Bus kids. They hate Bush's two Americas, but they are easily conned into the same trap in the name of some vague environmental notion. As long as it's "visionary" on its face and it sounds lefty, they're right on it. It's like we're living in some college student's term paper. Meanwhile, middle-class taxpayers with real jobs are getting a "dare to be different" haircut that they didn't want. And Joe, Homer and Dike laugh all the way to the bank.

Reported crime statistics don't mean much. Ask the people in the neighborhood association, or better yet, hang around Col. Summers Park. Bring your sharps box to pick up all the needles.

So funny -- here's "buckmanbacker's" IP address:

UNIVERSAL TELECOM USPOPS-BLK-1 (NET-216-239-160-0-1)
216.239.160.0 - 216.239.191.255
City of Portland CITYPDX-1 (NET-216-239-183-0-1)
216.239.183.0 - 216.239.183.255

It's Mr. Loaded Orygun, taking time off his city job to troll here again. Hiya, "Torrid Joe," "Dairy Queen," and all your other cowardly pseudonyms! How long before we get and publish your real name?

so funny--no substantive response, only ad hominem attack.

I'd only need one pseudonym to correct your information, if you wouldn't keep blocking them.

Apartments in the midst of single-family homes don't have to be ugly, though the 60s-era ones Weston built certainly are. He was obviously just trying to make a buck without regard to aesthetics or quality. Look at Northwest Portland, the "alphabet" district around 21st and 23rd, for a great example of beautiful single-family and multi-family housing mixed together. Most of these dwellings were built in the early 20th century, which shows that density is not a new idea dreamed up by the "smart growth" people villified here.

As for Buckman, my hope is that it will soon be financially feasible to start tearing down the ugly stuff Weston built and replace it with attractive buildings. (Yes, modern buildings can look good--though if you're dead set against anything new in Portland, you might not be able to bring yourself to admit it.)

And I agree with Buckmanbacker--even with the ugly apartment buildings from the 60s, that neighborhood has a lot of good things going for it. And despite those serious aesthetic flaws, it still looks a lot better than any place in, say, Beaverton.

I'd only need one pseudonym to correct your information, if you wouldn't keep blocking them.

Well, I'm going to keep blocking. You keep up all the good work you do in your City Hall cubicle. For variety, switch to your left hand on Fridays.

that neighborhood has a lot of good things going for it.

I never said it didn't. I like Buckman, and have done what I can on this blog to promote it. But having lived there, I know what it's problems are, and many of them dwell inside Weston's apartments.

Reported crime statistics don't mean much.

True enough. I've had three thefts of property from my house that I haven't reported, and I could tell the same story about most of my neighbors. Why call the cops about a ladder being stolen? They'll write it down, admit they'll never find it, and be on their way. I don't fault them--they don't have enough officers patroling the neighborhoods to stop this kind of thing. (I also know people who don't report thefts because they're selling their house and don't want crimes to show up when prospective buyers do a search.)

But, hey, at least Emilie Boyles got 150 grand to spend on a bogus campaign.

Not on the topic of the Weston apartments, but a couple of memories from my campaign office at SE 18th/Ash in Buckman:

One Sunday evening, I was the last person to leave the office. After closing the back door behind me to enter the dark parking lot with mine the only car left, I realized there were two men rummaging through the garbage cans. A strong smell of alcohol and stronger sense of potential danger washed over this psychiatric nurse. "Is that your car?" I heard. "Yes," I replied, trying to sound confident with heart pounding.

"Lemme help you carry all that stuff!" he said, and did. We had a nice little chat about one of my bumper stickers being similar to one he had on his bike laden with all his worldly belongings.

Second Buckman story concerns a woman who spent several nights sleeping in the doorway of a nearby office. I offered her pizza when there was any left after phone bank volunteer meals, but she never took any. As we were packing up the office after May 16, she came inside, face battered with bruises. "Just came to say thanks for all your kindness," she said. I asked if she was all right. "No, I'm not, my ex-husband beat me up again," she said. "But I'm going to live with my sister, so maybe he won't find me there. Anyway, thanks for caring."

Kinda put a little perspective on not winning an election. Nice home, ugly home, or no home, neighbors can help each other out.

Cheese whiz Jack I put my comment under the Chocolate blog. Must be bad gas today.
Michael

Goldschmidt killed the Mt. Hood freeway to make room for Joe's handy work.
Marvelous

Kari,
Is there any local status quo policy, bureaucracy or politician you don't or won't don't come running to defend?

Richard beat me to the punch.

You can't reason those horrible apartments are the result of high density planning. The difference is most certainly in the execution. I think we all can agree that inner SE needs apartments right? Well, Weston's sure look like the kind that belong in the burbs, not in a traditional city neighborhood. But imagine all the countless ways you could design an apartment building for those neighborhoods. Thankfully, there are some early-century, handsome brick 3-4 story examples around in SE and even SW. They fit the fabric of the neighborhood and generally have better tenants than the Weston 'motels'. Is the alternative to not have multi-family housing in SE? I see, economic segregation...

Many here miss the irony of their rants against the UGB. The old Portland neighborhoods, in all their glory, held up as the inferior alternative to the Arbor/Centex/D.R. Horton home, cul-de-sac sameness on what was once the most fertile soil in the country.

I've mentioned this a few times to a crowd of blank stares: If you stack up real estate values against other comparable-size cities on the coasts, Portland finds itself at the bottom. And this despite the fact we live in one one of the most beautiful places in this country AND we have at UGB in place to protect what makes it great. Some have said that our salaries aren't relative, but that's just not true. We have a high minimum wage, we're union-friendly, and our job market has a high percentage of professionals. The economic trends we bemoan are the results of our federal policies and now volatile economic future. Outsourcing, downsizing, corruption, and fraud. No market is safe.

The anti-Metro, anti-UGB meme has been swallowed hook, line and sinker... and the monied interests on the fringes are so thankful you didn't realize they're their talking points, dictated verbatim. Without the UGB, Portland and Oregon would look less like it once did.

The anti-Metro, anti-UGB meme has been swallowed hook, line and sinker...

By maybe 20 percent of the population. Have you checked the latest election results? Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Two comments,
1. little "smart" houses that are showing us all a "wonderful new way to live" will be as reviled as Weston's apartments are today
I doubt it. It's far more likely that acres of McMansion exurban development will be reviled as the mistake of our decade. The skinny houses are easy to mock, because they look different, but this smacks of "I think smart growth is bad, so everything associate with it must be laughable." They're efficient, and seem to be popular, so is there really an issue, other than a visible straw man for the anti-UGB argument?
2. This is where density gets you
That's a pretty thin (some would say non-existent) link between Buckman's issues and smart growth. Portland's neighborhoods have kept their character (like nearby Laurelhurst), or bouced back faster (like nearby Hawthorne)than they do in other cities. It's hard to argue that this had nothing to do with planning. Would it somehow be better if Weston's apartments had been built in an ever expanding scummy edge around a sprawling city? One point I definitely agree with: if it weren't for smart growth, the apartments wouldn't be close to any parks.

I've lived in Buckman for about 9 years this time around, and I've been on the BCA board for 3 years. Let me tell you, the things Jack has to say about Buckman are just a smidgion of the problems here.

Don"t get ne wrong. I love Buckman and wouldn't want to live anywhere esle. If I won the lottery- I'd immediately buy one of our suddenly over-priced houses. And stay till I shuffle off this mortal coil.

It's like 2 worlds colliding here in Buckman. Buckman has been a deliberate "social services ghetto" for decades now. Did you know that Buckman has a 24% poverty rate?? Or that the rental rate here is 87%? Betcha didn"t know that, "cept maybe Jack. Because NO ONE will talk about what's really been going on here in Buckman since the 70's.

And, trust me, you can't get anyone in the media to "out" what's been done to this meighorhood in the name of low-income housing, progress etc. Jack, thanks for blogging about this. As a former Buckmanite you know just what's been going on..

It's interesting- now that property values have gone so high that a little fixer goes for $350,000 plus, yet 87% of Buckmanites are renters..well, I smell a class war brewing'.

OK the Joe Weston apartments are ugly , and I don't EVEN want to hear the b.s about how he's a champion of the renter in Buckman. Maybe there's some truth to that but he and his family have made a LOT of $$$$$$ off of those renters. Why sell the goose that lays the golden egg?

For years, I've walked the streets of Buckman thinking...if I just had a TON of money, I'd buy those apartment buildings and tear them down and put up old houses again. I'd probably have to go to small towns all over the US and buy up places slated for demolition. Then I'd bring 'em all back to Buckman......

But, big picture-wise, those Joe Weston apartments are strictly small potatoes. How about the fact that Reach Community Development owns a BIG chunk of Deep Buckman, and that keeps a lot of real estate locked-up. They pay little to NO property taxes. (This info is available on PortlandMaps.com). Reach bought up quite alot of Buckman housing in the 80's when this stuff was going for a song and the City deliberately chose to USE Buckman as a low-income ghetto... Reach's original mission was to provide sliding scale housing for the working poor. But now they've linked up with HAP (Housing Authority of Portland) and they'd much rather rent to the people on the HAP because they get FULL MARKET VALUE on those rentals, in the form of HAP subsidies. And, believe me, not everybody on the HAp list are nice people temporarily down on their luck.

And then there's St. Francis. Thank you, Valerie Chapman "pastoral advisor" for your part in keeping Buckman down. FACT: Any of you can buy just about any drug you want within a 2 block radius of St. Francis. The police arrest these people, and they are back out on the street usually within hours. I've watched drug-dealing going on for YEARS now (front row seat from my studio in the Troy Laundry Building.) We've got 2 methadone clinics, a parole office, the soup kitchen, the Reach housing.........get the picture?

hang around Col. Summers Park. Bring your sharps box to pick up all the needles.

My kid --my 14 year old stepson-- plays hoops here nearly every day. This is depressing news...

I like, though, Jack's proposal that Weston put up --and pay for-- the Community Center as payback to the neighborhood. And, yes, I remember, years ago in City Hall, folks defending those butt-ugly apartments as providing a community benefit.

And then there's St. Francis. Thank you, Valerie Chapman "pastoral advisor" for your part in keeping Buckman down.

I used to date a woman who would drag me off to St. Francis, hoping to rekindle my Catholic faith. Then she wouldn't take communion...unwilling to share the chalice of wine with some of the more down-and-out parishioners. First and last times I did communion in a l-o-n-g time...

It's a challenge dealing with these issues. I don't know what the answer is, but from a neighborhood livability perspective, I'm not sure I'd want to live next door to St. Francis.

The thing that jumps out at me is the claim that these neighborhoods were zoned multi-family because of "the deterioration of the housing stock." That is simply untrue.

As E. Kimbark MacColl relates in "The Growth of a City," Portland's 1919 zoning code zoned most of these areas for single-family housing. But the ordinance was overturned by an initiative petition led by realtors. In 1924, the realtors passed their own code which put 41 percent of the city in multi-family or commercial zones, which MacColl says resulted in "the gradual blighting of older single-family homes."

I grew up in a neighborhood zoned multifamily, and now my parents' home has several apartments within a block or two. After college I lived in some of Joe Weston's apartments, which everyone agrees were ugly but servicable. Weston also had a real-estate school in which he taught people to take advantage of zoning codes to trash single-family neighborhoods with more apartment buildings.

The result is that, when Metro decided to increase Portland's population density, Weston had already saturated the market with high-density housing. That is why so many of Metro's New Urban developments have such high vacancy rates.

I hardly think the old, traditional neighborhoods in Portland are suffereing from blight. In other cities, older neighborhoods are usually the ones you want to avoid... given up for good, ghettoized and without investment. Rarely do you see the level of regard, reinvestment, and restoration you do in Portland for classic neighborhoods. On any given day, I can walk around the neighborhood and spot a dozen renovation projects. SE and NE haven't looked this good in 50 years.

The consensus seems to be those Weston apts are a blight unto themselves. So, the solution is to design apts that will stand the test of time and fit with the fabric of the neighborhood. Is there an argument here that inner Portland shouldn't have any multifamily housing??

Jack, your earlier post about how "Weston's gems" probably got the same kind of favorable reaction as skinny houses get now is very true.

Our architectural/planning school dogmas change as decades pass. What Weston built adhered to the planning regs/dogmas and building codes of the time.

The thinking decades ago was that housing should be set back from the street with parking in front. This provided the housing with backyard decks/terraces with pleasant, quiet, safe outdoor spaces with trees, lawns, landscaped side yards and backyards. The premise then was that parking in front provided more security for autos and people coming and going.

Now the schools and subsequently the planning agencies advocate/regulate that the housing be placed abruptly next to the street with the driveways in the sideyard areas and the parking in the rear. Now you get sites mostly with hard surfaces, the permeable area greatly decreased, trees, landscaping greatly reduced, and less security for occupants coming and going to vehicles. In most cases the permeable area has been greatly decreased by today's regs. Now you get condos/rowhouses/apts. built right next to the noisy streets/sidewalks with the units facing the parking in back that was once a deck/terrace, and facing a quiet backyard. Now regs only require 48 sq/ft. of outdoor space (deck) and many times that is "adjusted" away.

Welcome to our "environmentally friendly world" with no trees/lawns on your site because it is all hard surfaces contributing to the stormwater problems.

Yes, I know, the "street scape" is supposedly enhanced by the buildings crowding the sidewalk/street. But as many bloggers have noted, it is a case of one's aesthetics as well as the functionality to which is better; and you have to consider each individual site/case.

I've been working in this business for 40 years and planning theory swings many ways, and styles change.

Take for example the "snout house" regs. Most cases of "snout house regs that I've been involved with have actually been contrary to the intent of the regs. I've had a case where a courtyard was designed in the front of the residence to preserve a significant tree and landscaping plus to capitalize on the only sunny space on the site, but the city wouldn't allow the courtyard because of the strict interpretation of the "snout house" regs. Yes, adjustment was requested, denied. Why is it required that one's front door can be no more than 6 ft. back from the face of the garage plane?

Today's "snout houses", "smart" apts. condos, rowhouses will be thought of in the future just as Weston's apts. are reviewed by some today.

I seriously doubt Weston's apartments were lauded as well-designed 'gems' back in the day... they're a perfect example of 'doing-just-enough-to-get-by' execution. Hell, many single-family homes from that era suffer from the same lack of timelessness. For these reasons, I find it odd that Lee is perplexed by the garage-forward limitations in these neighborhoods.

The solution is to design to the age of the neighborhood. Don't build a suburban apt complex in inner SE. Make it out of brick and mortar and don't stray too far from the classic 3-4 story examples in SE, NE and SW. They're over 70 years old! And yet they're still coveted by renters and attract better tenants than the Weston 'motels'. Tell me how this is the result of density planning? Or strict codes?

Oy.

There's an interesting thing going up at SE 20th and Morrison, across from the defiled Chinese graveyard. Bulky thing with faux brick. It's too big, but otherwise it might fit in.

Exactly. I know which ones you're speaking of... They're not perfect, but you know they'll be around and look decent for a long time.

I'm pretty sure that it's all these new residents that are degrading the quality of life in Portland , not "smart growth", the UGB, or Sten. Higher population maeans either higher density development or destruction of high quality ag lands / natural resources. Pick your poison.

Or to put it another way:

"If you don't like it here, go away, and don't come back".

As a Oregon urban renewal history buff this is a good background story about Portland's landscape I've never heard before. Were'd you come by it? I'm curious if there is a history site or Portland history book I've missed.

It sure is a shame though that the debate raging in this thread assumes that to be against needless corporate-welfare or a call for more transparancy at the PDC somehow tranlates into a war against urban planning or the UGB.

This debate needs to be elevated to another level. Thanks for causing the conversation.

TK: I was not making a judgement on the "skin" of Weston's buildings, but on the urban planning concepts employed by the regs/planners of the time they were built.

You would have to admit there are numerous examples of recent projects where exteriors are notorious, and many are structurally failing-the EIFS systems, faux stone failings, etc. Like the RiverPlace condos that where under visqueen for a year while siding/decks and now roofs replaced.

Weston's buildings have 30-40 year old skins with a different decade style. I was writing about the design theory differences through the decades.

Skin issues on Portland apartments? Dated exteriors? Indeed. My point is that somehow these failures in execution are wrongfully translated into failures of 'smart growth'.

No, the failures of "smart growth" are the removal of beautiful, historic homes for multi-family cr*p, and the scarring of perfectly good neighborhoods with oversized, out-of-place junk, for the benefit of a favored few developers.

That's the story of Joe Weston and Buckman, and it's exactly what's going on throughout Portland right now.

Scott: I'm pretty sure that it's all these new residents that are degrading the quality of life in Portland , not "smart growth", the UGB, or Sten. Higher population maeans either higher density development or destruction of high quality ag lands / natural resources. Pick your poison.
JK: Nicely put. But keep in mind that smart growth is the tool to cram more people into the same area while looking pretty, but without regard to real quality of life like schools, quality police & fire protection, quality jobs, housing affordibility or cost of living. Other than that smart growth is beautiful.
There is another alternative: Quite actively recruiting people to come to Portland. Most of those articles about what a nice place Portland is are the result of someone in Portland either helping with the story or actually hustling the author. Another thing is to quit bringing delegations to Portland to indoctrinate them about how well smart growth works. (Or at least quit lying to them.)

Reiterating, there are three options and ONLY THREE:
1. Increase density and thus congestion, pollution and the cost of living.
2. Increase the land area available for living space.
3. Quit increasing population. First step: quit advertising Portland. 2nd: quit giveaways.

Scott: "If you don't like it here, go away, and don't come back".
JK: If you are suggesting that people born and raised in Portland should leave town if they don't like what the new comers (Katz & Klowns) did then you know where you can go. Otherwise please disregard this paragraph.

Thanks
JK

Those big bulky "things" at Se 20th & Morrison are condos- brought to you by Meadows Group- who own the lot and are financing the condos- cheapest unit $465,000. Too bad the architects didn't bother to put in windows on the south side....

Jack Bog: No, the failures of "smart growth" are the removal of beautiful, historic homes for multi-family cr*p, and the scarring of perfectly good neighborhoods with oversized, out-of-place junk, for the benefit of a favored few developers.

JK: Here is something most people don't realize about the cause of this cr*p:
Building taller is quite expensive, around twice as expensive (per square foot) at four stories as a single story. It gets even more expansive when you go much higher because you have to use concrete & steel. So why do people build taller? Because it is cheaper when you consider the cost of land. With cheap land it is cheapest to build single story. Ultra expensive land (New York) and it is cheaper to build very tall because the land portion of the cost is so expensive. In Portland land has become expensive enough to justify this cr*p we are now getting. Land is also expensive enough to justify tearing down a single story house and replacing it with several skinny houses.

There are other factors too. Tax abatements for building along transit routes and light rail stations (TOD) help make up for the higher cost of oversized junk and are only given for the kind of junk that is expensive to build.

What is the single biggest factor in our land costs: I put it to you that it is simple supply and demand. The planners tell us Portland is nice that people want to come here. That is the demand side. But they never talk about the supply side of the equation: the shortage of land. Well, we all know it is really an artificial shortage caused by keeping the UGB tight. It is Metro's decision to "build up, not out" that causes the high cost of land and our shortage of affordable housing. Before the UGB became effective, most of the whole area was affordable. I have heard of buildable land in Tualatain selling for around $70,000 for a 5000 sq foot lot (typical Portland close in neighborhood size). You don't build affordable houses on land that expensive.

Thanks
JK

"3. Quit increasing population. First step: quit advertising Portland."

Wait, the answer to Portland's growth headache is 'Ssshhhh'? Who knew!!

I just got done reading an article in the O about 200 acres in Washington county that was brought into the UGB and needs 'planning' for development. In all their glorious wisdom, Metro requires a minimum of ten housing units per acre.... ten. Postage stamp-sized lots with minimal permeable areas just exacerbate runoff problems, environmental degradation and reduced quality of life.

All the smart growth nuts who rail against suburban blight can thank Metro for the sea of houses packed into Oregon's landscape.

Yeah, Metro really knows what they're doing.

Scott: "If you don't like it here, go away, and don't come back".

JK: If you are suggesting that people born and raised in Portland should leave town if they don't like what the new comers (Katz & Klowns) did then you know where you can go. Otherwise please disregard this paragraph.

Scott: Actually, I was suggesting that all the newcomers take a hike. And I was trying (lamely) to be facetious.
By the way, I was born and raised in Portland and I'm not going anywhere!

Those big bulky "things" at Se 20th & Morrison are condos- brought to you by Meadows Group- who own the lot and are financing the condos- cheapest unit $465,000. Too bad the architects didn't bother to put in windows on the south side....

Plus, great views of somebody's old sneakers swinging from the power lines across Morrison Street. And I hope the new owners stock up on Grafitti-X!

Those sneakers have been there FOREVER!!

Actually the show thing can be an attraction.

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/set/shoetrees2.html

"shoe" thing


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As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

If You See Kay, Red 2011
Turnbull, Old Bull Red 2010
Cherry Tart, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet, Oakville 2012
Benton Lane, Pinot Gris 2012
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
Edmunds St. John, Bone/Jolly, Gamay Noir Rose 2013
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 26
Ayna, Tempranillo 2011
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Haley's Block 2010
Apaltagua, Reserva Camenere 2012
Lugana, San Benedetto 2012
Argyle Brut 2007
Wildewood Pinot Gris 2012
Anciano, Tempranillo Reserva 2007
Santa Rita, Reserva Cabernet 2009
Casone, Toscana 2008
Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011
Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
Silver Palm, North Coast Cabernet 2011
Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
Elk Cove, Pinot Noir Rose 2012
Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
Belle Glos, Pinot Noir, Clark & Telephone 2010
WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Northstar, Merlot 2008
Feather, Cabernet 2007
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
Trader Joe's, Chardonnay, Grower's Reserve 2012
Silver Palm, Cabernet, North Coast 2010
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio 2011
Alamos, Cabernet 2011
Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend
Familia Bianchi, Malbec 2009
Terrapin Cellars, Pinot Gris 2011
Columbia Crest, Walter Clore Private Reserve 2009
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Termpranillo 2010
Ravenswood, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Quinta das Amoras, Vinho Tinto 2010
Waterbrook, Reserve Merlot 2009
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills, Pinot Grigio 2011
Tarantas, Rose
Chateau Lajarre, Bordeaux 2009
La Vielle Ferme, Rose 2011
Benvolio, Pinot Grigio 2011
Nobilo Icon, Pinot Noir 2009

The Occasional Book

Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 225
At this date last year: 71
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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