Unlisted? Not any more
The PortlandMaps name debate rages on, with residents weighing in both pro and con about the City of Portland's practice of listing property owners' names on the internet with their properties, so that web surfers need only enter an address to see who owns (and often, who lives at) a particular address. I've been getting all kinds of e-mail messages about this issue since I first wrote about it a couple of weeks ago.
When last we left this saga, both Washington and Clackamas Counties had asked Portland not to include this information on the public access version of PortlandMaps any more, and the city had granted thieir request as to property in those two counties. I'm not sure whether the very few Portland addresses that are actually situated in those two counties still have their owners listed, but I suspect not. Clearly, addresses that fall outside both Portland and Multnomah County have now had their owners' names and mailing addresses removed from PortlandMaps.
Which leaves Multnomah County. Also at last report, the county chair, Ted Wheeler, was looking into the matter, but so far, no decision has been issued publicly. The city's justification to several e-mail correspondents who have questioned the posting of the names has included the suggestion that state law requires it. But if that's true of Multnomah County, why not also of Washington and Clackamas? If the city will honor each county's wishes, then it's really up to the Multnomah commissioners at this point. Maybe they can explain why their attitude toward the privacy concerns are different from those of the officials in the other two counties. At least one Multnomah County judge, who at times has had his life and those of his family threatened, will be watching closely. Even he has e-mailed me about this!
No one in the mainstream media thinks there's a story here.
Meanwhile, some cowardly, anonymous clown has posted my home address on the internet, apparently in retaliation for my initial post on this topic, which included a link to the former home address of City Commissioner Erik Sten. I'm not sure what harm I did by posting the address of the home where Sten used to live, but I guess anyone who questions the deep genius behind our city government is an evil guy. Actually, what's interesting is that the lightweight media stories about Sten's move to the toney Bridlemile area in the southwest hills indicated that he had sold his former home here in the northeast part of town. But according to PortlandMaps, that's not the case -- he now owns two groovy pads. Now, there's a question for someone to pursue, but instead the Pabst-sodden slacker set is hassling me. Whatever.
Just to throw some more fuel on this fire, I thought I'd take the city up on its assertion that no one is going to be patient enough to plow through whole neighborhoods, house by house, to develop a name-and-address directory. That's insanely naive. I took just a little while tonight and assembled a little list of my own. I compiled a complete rundown of who owns the units in a Pearl District condo bunker, selected at random -- 1009 NW Hoyt -- according to PortlandMaps. It took me about 10 minutes to assemble a list of the names and addresses of all the owners of the 28 units listed for that building. And that was done manually; robots will be able to do it much faster. No doubt they already are doing so.
It's interesting. One couple owns two units side by side; another owns a unit downstairs and the one directly upstairs from it. Many of the owners list addresses other than the property itself, which means these condo units are likely being rented out. Fascinating stuff.
The decision to post owners' names on PortlandMaps should have been thoroughly aired in public before it was made. But hey, this is Portland, where they decide in a smoke-filled room first and take public input later... if they get caught.