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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 24, 2009 3:10 PM. The previous post in this blog was Uneasy aftermath. The next post in this blog is Portland State's new real estate broker. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Portland Creed

Portland's hipness quotient with outsiders of a certain age and outlook remains high. Here's one of the adoring throng -- another visitor who doesn't have to worry about paying for the wonders that he enjoys on his stays here. Linchpin tram, streetcar "branding," etc. His bottom line: "Sometimes you just have to build stuff and see what happens." I think that says it all.

Comments (12)

I just threw up into my mouth a little bit.

"a large industrial area now being revitalized (the Pearl District)"

It would be nice if there was actually some industry in our revitalized industrial area instead of condos for Californians and $7 coffees.

I like his observation that "the streetcar is so slow that sometimes you can beat it just by walking." But it sure is cool to look at while you're walking past it.

His "bottom line" makes me think of a new motto for Portland: "Just Build It."

Shoot first, ask questions later. Right?

No one in Portland publishes comments from visiting urban planners who think we're nuts.

Hear hear, David. Maybe Portland needs to change its slogan from "The City That Works" to "Having Fun Playing With Other People's Money".

"In the end, they built it anyway–and it is now the key to keeping the city’s largest employer in Portland and an anchor for a series of condo and office towers in the South Waterfront area (also proof that they’re not afraid to build stuff)."

A better description of the tram is one of the several irons around the ankle of OHSU that prevents it from escaping the red.

Citiwire is smart growth porn--nothing more. It's where urban planning fantasies take wing.

Although it’s only a half-million people, Portland has a huge downtown core

Our downtown core? It's one of the smallest in the United States. It's tiny.

No other city in the United States except New York has ever even tried to build such a tram

A two-minute search of Google would've shown you otherwise. And that "Tram" you're praising? It's a joke amongst the majority of Portlanders. It connects a single business with a nest of half-occupied condo towers. Tourists ride it, at $4 a pop. Nobody uses it as public transit--but that's a nice fantasy. No, the handful of OHSU park-and-riders don't count.

the Portland project was plagued by secretiveness, political controversy, 1,000% cost overruns, and neighborhood opposition. In the end, they built it anyway–and it is now the key to keeping the city’s largest employer in Portland and an anchor for a series of condo and office towers in the South Waterfront area (also proof that they’re not afraid to build stuff). Sometimes you just have to build stuff and see what happens.

Wow.

3. They never stop thinking about the actual walking experience

Another "I visited downtown Portland for a day and I assume that's the entire city" monologue.

4. They keep reinforcing the connection between development and transportation

That must be a typo. I think he meant to say "forcing the connection". And let's be real--*every* city reinforces that connection, because in our world, transportation dictates development. It's never the other way around.

If the streetcar didn’t exist, a bunch of useful but inefficient little buses would have to run around Portland connecting things–similar to L.A.’s DASH buses.

The entire streetcar service area *is* already served by by buses. And, the streetcar covers less than .1% of the city. A bus line could serve the same line, for one-tenth the cost, more quickly. What aspect of that is "inefficient"?

Here’s just one example: You have never seen anything like Portland’s food carts. They line up by the dozen in parking lots, facing the sidewalk, creating an instant streetside food court of amazing and inexpensive culinary choices.

Apparently, this quirky little fellow has never been to any other city except Portland--because food carts are a common sight in just about every major city in the US.

There is no better advertisement for creating more walkable cities than…well, than creating just one walkable neighborhood in your town.

Portland use of public transit is mediocre--we're near the middle of the top 50 cities at around 12%. And, over 90% of Portlanders report "frequently" driving 3 miles or more daily, one-way. That number's been going up.

But the best part, really, is who commented on the blog. A veritable "who's who" of those that utterly depend on world views like his to pay their mortgage.

"Portland use of public transit is mediocre--we're near the middle of the top 50 cities at around 12%. And, over 90% of Portlanders report "frequently" driving 3 miles or more daily, one-way. That number's been going up."

Source citation please. After reading this I googled for evidence and found two articles both supposedly using U of Texas source material. One report had Portland in the top 10 of the top 50 cities in the US. Another had Portland at 19th of the "large" cities but rated Portlands transit use as excellent. Many of the "large" cities in this study were in surburban Los Angeles

Of course "There are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned lies, and statistics." Benjamin Disraeli or Mark Twain depending on who you believe.

Source citation please. After reading this I googled for evidence and found two articles both supposedly using U of Texas source material.

For the first part, read here:
http://www.answers.com/topic/list-of-u-s-cities-with-high-transit-ridership

For the second part, it's a combination of factors. I'll have to go find the "citation".


And I'm curious--why aren't you asking for "citations, please" for any of the information contained in this fellow's blog? It's riddles with superlatives, but few actual realities.

Wow, Eco, I agree with EVERYTHING you just wrote. Now you can come around and trust me about Wal-Mart. :)

It was nice to see Karloc's remarks in that blog. I agree, the man's blog is basically smartgrowth porn, where the choir preaches to the choir.

Portland, and Oregon in general has made some very, very poor 'planning' choices. However, they seem incapable of admitting them. It's too bad, Portland and Oregon used to be a nice place to live.

Greg,

Public transit accounts for 12.6% of work trips in the city of Portland alone.

Looking regionwide (the Portland-Beaverton-Vancouver MSA), the number falls to 6.4%.

Source: US Census Bureau, 2008 American Community Survey.

Judging from the commments on Fulton's post, Citistates group is basically a mutual admiration society for the smart growth set. Like ecohuman mentioned, it's basically a who's who of the anti-suburban true believers. Fulton, Neil Pierce, Sam Seskin and, adding color, local PSU apologist Ethan Seltzer. Fulton is just a step down from Randy Gragg in terms of pomposity.

They even go so far as to try to rationalize the indefensible aerial tram [rim shot]. Good thing Fulton doesn't actually have to live in Portland and, you know, find a job. He conveniently left that part out of his paean.


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