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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 16, 2008 4:58 PM. The previous post in this blog was American Ugly Contest, cont'd. The next post in this blog is Another traffic safety comment, another assault. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Liars, damn liars, and Portland "planners"

I see that the City of Portland's legion of "planners" (they plan the developers' retirement funds) are hard at work again. The sales pitch for wrecking the Interstate neighborhoods with 11-story apartment towers is that by being so tall, the towers can be "thin," thus allowing for more open space beneath them.

Hmmmm... that sounds familiar. That's the same line they gave us a few years back about the SoWhat district. Take a ride down I-5 south from downtown and look at those awful beasts on your left. Those are "thin" condo towers? Uh huh.

The only thing "thin" about the city's gross "plans" for Interstate is the correlation between the story that's being told and the truth.

Comments (10)

I wonder if most city planners live in highrise condos or single family residences with yards? The latter are not so bad environmentally. Yards can be made to be very helpful to small birds and even some big birds. Also, don't forget the love a traditional home owner can give trees. The concrete highrises also give off a lot more heat than well spaced homes.

Mr. Bogdanski, can you confirm for us through your sources that one of those "thin towers" in the SoWhat is actually out of plumb?

Never mind that they'll be dropping 100ft towers in the middle of a vibrant residential, single-family dwelling neighborhood with families, kids, pets and such. The downtown crowd seems to think this strip of homes between Interstate Ave and I-5 is just a dusty wasteland, in need of salvation by developers. The only other thing I can think is maybe there's an assumption that we're so politically unsophisticated that they can just roll over us.

I personally would have supported the Chavez name change had we been asked about it and there had been a legitimate process. Instead, a backroom deal and then it was rammed down our thoats and we were called racists if we disagreed. This Interstate corridor thing has that same stench about it. Sadly, I suspect that after resisting the first tower or two (already underway with the "Montanas" project), resistance will fade before the inevitabile onslaught of creeping condo towers.

I've lived up here in North Portland for many years and love my neighborhood. I'll just have to be grateful that I had those years. ...oh yeah, and the value of my property when I finally give in and decide to sell to the developer that's razing the neighborhood.

Time for the 'raging grannies' to set Sam the Tram's hair on fire!
And the sooner the better!

What too few people understand is that this is precisely the point of our planning regime around here. The unavoidable result of the urban growth boundary is to drive up density in the city, especially around transit. We don't extend the boundary, but by state law we have to plan for growth. That is done by "up-zoning" our existing neighborhoods.

And the point of transportation planning is to make it miserable to drive and park. These are actual objectives of city staff, barely concealed, and we pay them to do this to us.

NoPo Residents: be forewarned that CoP planners have a system whereby they might be able to succeed in "selling" eleven story condos next to your homes, not to you but the Planning Commission, then City Council. They will claim that they will have all kinds of design review guidelines, maybe a few standards that will make these towers "compatible".

That's false. Here's why. Guidelines are not required to be exactly met by law. Standards are technically required but many times are not followed until a neighborhood at great expense and time spends their efforts to challenge at City Council (where they will lose), then onto Land Use Board of Appeals, where they will probably lose again, then Court of Appeals where they might win on one minor point and remanded back to City Council. Then lose again because Findings will be rewritten to meet Court of Appeals requirements but the neighborhoods concerns are not answered. Then after three years, much money, the neighborhood might then decide to appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court-probably lose.

Another point of how a neighborhood might lose the battle on Guidelines and Standards is the actual case exhibited in SoWhat. There were Guidelines and Standards for the 250 ft and 325 ft towers. There were four Standards CoP planners sold to City Council that they thought addressed the numerous concerns of
citizens. In the first building, the John Ross, that maxed out at 325 ft, all four Standards were thrown out. It is 25% larger than 10,000 sq. ft. allowed for the floor plate size for example. So much for the pinpoint towers that Vera said is what we'll get. So much for the "sieve affect", the "openness", the "anti-wall affect", the views to St. Helens and Mt. Hood, the River. Its gone, and only six buildings have been built, and 51 more to go in SoWhat.

NoPo, I hope you reach out to other citizens outside the neighborhood and make your appeals. There are many thinking like you on the selling out of our existing neighborhoods.

So gald I'm retiring in 17 months and leaving all of this nonsense behind for good. I won't miss any of it at all!

I've been thinking about this more. Isn't it bizarre that city staff and the council seem more interested in serving the hypothetical residents of these neighborhoods 20 years from now then the actual living people of Portland today?

So many planning decisions don't serve current Portlanders at all. In fact, they make livability worse for current residents. So who do they serve? Believe me, appearances aside, planners have no love for developers. That's not who they're doing it for. So who?

So strange that the system has evolved to serve imagined future residents rather than the people living here now....

"And the point of transportation planning is to make it miserable to drive and park. These are actual objectives of city staff, barely concealed, and we pay them to do this to us."

Deeds, well put. The Grand Master Urban Plan will go through no matter what. It's futile to resist. As long as Urban Growth Boundary is in place this is how life in Portland will be.

Your later post about planner serving people 20 years in future is spot on.

"by being so tall, the towers can be "thin", thus allowing more open space beneath them."

Ironic, isn't it.

This type of design was the hallmark of the work of the French architect Le Corbusier. 50 or so years ago, urban planners in the U.S. decided to adopt this design for many of what became the worst public housing projects. Pruitt-Igoe, Cabrini Green, the Taylor homes, Bedford-Stuyvesant, all of them were to copy the "tower in the park".

Corbusier called houses "machines for living". How fitting for the current context.

The second wave is coming.


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