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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The new projects

Whenever the City of Portland hosts a "design competition," it seems like another piece of the city's character is about to be sacrificed. Well, they're at it again. But this time, maybe the end product will be a bit more benign.

This time, Opie and the boys want to know how you can make inner-city high-density "courtyard" housing attractive to people with kids. Oh, and it has to be "sustainable," affordable, and "respect neighborhood character." Sound do-able? Maybe for families who don't need space, privacy, or quiet. If you think you've got the magic bullet, maybe you can win the prize.

Comments (35)

What, the Graggster is not on the jury?

Countless millions down the drain every year with 500 hundred local planners at Metro, PDC and Portland planning department and only now they are thinking of families with children?

This is one of many totally neglected needs of growth.

Our model for the nation planning is all about ignoring the needs of growth while telling the nation what good planners we are.
If I were King of Oregon there would be 499 out of work planners tomorrow.

Maybe we can give each kid an unsold condo to play in.

only now they are thinking of families with children?

Oh no, they thought of them before, they were just dictating where they wanted them (us) to live. Only now, they are realizing that nobody with kids wants to live in the condo zoo.
But its not just condos...even most apartment complexes are not kid-friendly. My wife and I have not been fortunate enough yet to own our own home. The only yard my kids have ever known is the paved parking lot, or the bark-dust and gravel area in front of our apartment. And its the same for the hundreds of other kids on our block.
And the nearest park is on the other side of the neighborhood of homes next to us.

Jon,maybe a good plan would to get a house first before you have kids. Maybe you could be on the planning board.

Our model for the nation planning is all about ignoring the needs of growth

"growth" does not "have needs". growth is not an organism or a person--it's a result of human decisions, and those decisions can be made differently.

treating growth as some sort of metaphorical, helpless screaming infant that requires feeding and diaper changing is what's gotten us into this mess.

time to think different.

And these clowns at City Hall wonder why families are moving to Washington County and Vancouver.

Let me start my saying I would never want Portland to evolve into NYC or any other East Coast city for that matter, but there are millions of families in NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc who manage to raise good families in a high density urban environment. A single family detached home is not the be all and end all of raising a family.

Excuse me, I claim no particular expertise in planning principles, but isn't the process supposed to occur before you build? Good luck filling all those spendy codoms with families.

would never want Portland to evolve into NYC or any other East Coast city for that matter

Portland's set to double in population in the next two decades, and that's a conservative estimate. and, New York's already experiencing crisis as a result of density and population growth:

making a city more dense, you see, isn't like a faucet you can turn on and then off when the glass is full. you have to add more glasses or continually mop up the overflow.

metaphorically speaking.

Hey, perhaps this is an infill tactic - courtyards between condos?
Whoops, in planning, we forgot to acquire the significant properties to be occupied by "courtyards".---hm
I predict a rise in property values for properties surrounding those towers. Can you spell condomnation lawsuits.

"metaphorically speaking"

All right, enough with the metaphors, and I'll bite: what do you propose, eco, as the way to handle increasing population pressures in the Portland area? From your comments overall, I take it that you're not in favor of simply abandoning all land use laws, regulations and planning. But nor do you seem to support the increased density approach at work in the city of Portland.

What do you want? Surely you don't think we can return to, or become, a nation of Wendell-Berry-like farmers, each of us sustainably working our small plot of land using our horse-drawn plows?

OK, New York is experiencing a population problem. Comparing NYC and Portland is an apples and oranges argument and Portland is a long way from being New York. The only point I was trying to make is that a single family house is not a requirement for raising a good family.

maybe a good plan would to get a house first before you have kids.

Gee, thanks Todd. Where were you when I was younger?

"The only point I was trying to make is that a single family house is not a requirement for raising a good family."

I think that's an excellent point. Commenters on this blog often seem to regard apartments and condominiums as an absolute affront to the very idea of family. But families--especially small families, which are rather common these days--can live happily in them, and do so in many parts of this country and the world in general.

And the fact is, there's just not much room for more single-family-with-yard homes in the established neighborhoods of Portland. But if condos and apartments are built along major commercial roads in these neighborhoods (e.g., Hawthorne, Division, MLK, Burnside), that does free up some single-family housing for those who are convinced that they can raise their families only in such dwellings.

Think about it this way: maybe there's a young yuppie couple or a pair of empty nesters moving here from California. (You know, the exact type of people many Olde Portlanders love to hate.) These people want to live in SE Portland. If there are no nice condos in SE Portland, these hated Californians must buy a three-bedroom bungalow, thereby depriving some deserving Portland family--some real people--of a home.

what do you propose, eco, as the way to handle increasing population pressures in the Portland area?

that's a big question, Richard, without a sound bite answer. but i'll start: we need new standards, a fundamental shift in how we relate to the area we inhabit.

cities are inherently unsustainable, because they suck up resources from an ever-expanding region to survive--often globally. it'll take more than "renewable energy" or a "green" 30-story skyscraper to deal with it. its a civilization problem, not a Portland City Council problem.

how should we develop? it needs lots of brains and lots of vision, and lots of will. i'm trying to figure that out myself.

but Richard, you seem mostly to ask questions. what do you propose?

if condos and apartments are built along major commercial roads in these neighborhoods (e.g., Hawthorne, Division, MLK, Burnside), that does free up some single-family housing for those who are convinced that they can raise their families only in such dwellings.

i disagree, because of the scale of growth. condos are a drop in the housing pool bucket and don't even keep pace with population growth. the majority of home growth isn't in "Hawthorne/Division/MLK/Burnside"--it's in the suburbs. for every condo in the pearl or along SE Division, *ten* are going in in the suburbs.

Can they be any more vague about the prizes? I guess that means they haven't finished PLANNING this little contest, although they've started implementing it.

How about this for forethought and urban planning qualifications?

...and he stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plumb and said "what a good boy am I"...

eco's right!

All the "planning" as it's manifested itself around these parts amounts to nothing more than fiddling while Rome burns.

...and I think it's "...stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plumb bob...", or something to that effect....

...ask Gragg

I sense a typical Portland solution in the offing. Then city will decide what people need, and some of it will be built and people will stay away in droves.

The fact is, the American dream entails a yard and a single family home.

What it really takes to make the inner part of Portland livable is a six figure income, and at least ten years in the market to build enough equity to leverage yourself and your spouse into a decent home.

Thats what we did, and it tastes great and is less filling.

Except that if you are this side of roughly 48th or so on the East side, you better make sure you are at or over $200k a year (depending on how many rugrats you wanna have).

There are other things this city does that makes raising a family here harder than it otherwise should be.

But on the other hand, there are a lot of pluses, and my wife and I feel it is worth it, with all the hassle, headaches, dangers and expenses that come from living in inner SE with four (count 'em) kids.

Well, the problem in Portland has always been density. And by that I mean we have some of the densist politicians, "planners", and electorate in the USA.

Face it, folks: you elect idiots like Harry Potter and his band of wizards. You elect David Bragdon and his merry band of wizards. And you do it over and over again. What? You expect a different result? That's a good working definition of "insanity".

You don't want condo wastelands, aerial trams, and fixed rail? There are easy answers:

Stop electing these dense induhviduals!

We have, between Metro, PDC and CoPo, some 500 "planners". How about electing folks who'll send about 499 of them off to find real jobs?

I don't see a lot of political will; just a lot of carping about the results. Me, I plan to peddle the house in the next 3 to 5 years, and simply escape the friendly confines of the Metro "planning" area. I figure that if I can't vote them out, I can vote with my feet (and my money).

Let the retirees and the "creative class" live in the shoeboxes; let a developer put three houses on my lot, and never build any increased road capacity. Fine by me. I'll take the cash and move to a people-friendly area, then just kick back and watch Portland implode.

The housing market is like the Catholic Church: an abstract creature with it's own needs, mindless of its human components.

"Me, I plan to peddle the house in the next 3 to 5 years, and simply escape the friendly confines of the Metro "planning" area. I figure that if I can't vote them out, I can vote with my feet (and my money)."

Please, please don't leave us, Max! Whatever will our poor little old ciy do without you? What if there's no one (or money) to replace you?

Oh well, bye bye Max the right-wing commenter. Long live Max light rail.

Kids need a place to play outdoors, at least when the temps are above 50 degrees.

Dog poop parks and concrete homages to local flora with a reflecting pool don't satisfy a child's innate desire to run, jump, climb, and play.

If density is the answer to family housing, then you have to include more jungle gyms/swing sets in the mix.

Gee, Richard, thanx for the prime example of the sort of density I was talking about.. I'll still be around - just not where I can be taxed to death for stupid stuff. And with folks like you around, I imagine there'll be plenty to discuss. More aerial trams and fixed rail, for sure.

Mister Tee is far too rational; look for him to move outside Metro's grasp as well. Dog-poop parks and kids just don't mix well.

Of course, the gigantic elephant in the room, planet-wide, that no one talks about anymore, is over-population, period.

Zero Population Growth was once a major plank in the environmentalist platform...not anymore...the people who are most concerned about the "environment" are rarely the ones contributing to the problem.

Breeding permits, people. I don't like the idea one bit, but it will eventually come to that, mark my words. You need a license to drive, and a thorough background check to own a firearm, but anyone, just anyone, can poop out 6 children without a second thought.

Thanks for mentioning population. We are growing at a rate of 1 billion new people every 14 years. You probably think there's 6 billion people but it's now 6.5. This problem is not something that we have to confront. It's going to confront us.

You probably think there's 6 billion people but it's now 6.5

6.6, actually.

for those over 40 or so, the world population has doubled in your lifetime.

Oh come on ecohuman,
You growth increases demands?

"growth" does not "have needs" ?????

Because of growth and our planning agencies failing to manage it or genuinely plan for it we have shortages("needs") of every conceavable kind.

And it's only getting worse as Sam et al pretend their agenda has or will accomodate growth.

"The city will decide what people need,..."

Fortunately, this crew wasn't an obstacle for Mr. Lloyd.

Europe, Japan & China are struggling with population decline due to lower birth rates and the US, if not for the illegal alien problem, would be in the same boat. The graying of the population is a huge drain on resources.

"""""The graying of the population is a huge drain on resources."""""

Thank you I am trying to do my best.

Let's see now where was that brochure about Hawaii.

Greg C

Hmmm. Come to think of it ....It IS my fault I had only one kid.

Greg C

Except that if you are this side of roughly 48th or so on the East side, you better make sure you are at or over $200k a year (depending on how many rugrats you wanna have).

This is not true. A person with an under 100,000 income can find affordable single family housing with 3 bedrooms in neighborhoods near Holgate, Steele, Woodstock, bordered on the east by 52nd (or farther) and west by 39th.


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