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Friday, April 22, 2011

Mission impossible

Can anybody find anything of value in this baby? To us it's just more Portland planner psychobabble. And it no doubt cost the taxpayers a fortune. If we need money for teachers, we should lay off some planners -- especially if this shinola is all they have to offer.

Comments (49)

Looks like Sim City. This is socialism at its best. All the jobs, housing, stores, transportation and entertainment will be determined by the City-State.

No Dman it's fascism at it's best. Socialism is where the government orders you around to primarily benefit the political bosses. Fascism is where the government orders you around primarily to benefit the developers.

I don't see much value in it other than giving adults an opportunity to play with crayons.

It's the same kind of planning that goes on in most cities and suburban areas across the nation.

Fat color marker and designation of land-uses...

This is all good and bad at the same time. These plans are overly programmatic in what goes where.

If you want a "free market" development/planning system, be prepared for a 20 story hotel next to your single-family home.

Government is what keeps this from happening, so the comparisons of socialism and fascism are off (these are forms of government control).

What I would give for ws' IP info.

Well, I learned a new word "Charrette". I feel so French.


Why do you want my info?

"Multi modal gateway" is my fave!

ws Houston does quite well. They have not had the problems economically other cities have and planning is minimal.

ws: If you want a "free market" development/planning system, be prepared for a 20 story hotel next to your single-family home.
JK: Why would someone spend good money putting a 20 story building in a single family neighborhood? It would be cheaper to buy up a few of homes & build low rise.

ws: Government is what keeps this from happening,
JK: That is the way is was in the past. That is what the planners still claim. The reality is that the planners put high density wherever THEY want it and all too often in response to the desires of the rich, like the local, on the government teat, developers of the Pearl, SoWhat. Now their favorite sport is destroying neighborhoods by forcing tacky little houses into every vacant side yard.

ws: so the comparisons of socialism and fascism are off (these are forms of government control).
JK: Not when planners cross the line from protecting neighborhoods to FORCING higher density on our neighborhoods and main streets.

City planners are vermin

The group, formerly known as Enablers Anonymous, has had a name change to Boomerang Support. Sounds like the Portland chapter has some new members.


Houston has a littany of planning codes. They have no formal zoning.

Here's their government mandated parking codes for building types:


Bar or Club "10.0 spaces for every 1,000 square feet of GFA and outdoor decks, patio and/or seating areas"

Hey, the drunks need to find a parking space too. Most of the drinking holes in Portland would be illegal under these regulations of 10 spots per gross sf. for comparison.

Parking, of all codes possible, will affect the form and appearance of buildings the most.


These issue do arise from time to time.

While the issue of a hotel wouldn't come around too often, we have all seen these atrocities in Portland.

Skinny, snout-style homes are a lack of proper codes and zoning. Personally, I think Portland should ban these renditions of skinny homes (fascism/socialism according to some posters), especially in blocks that are 5,000 sf.

Saying you do not believe in zoning or codes is saying you do not care if a skinny home goes in a neighborhood like Irvington or Laurelhurst.

I am not a defender of all that is Portland style planning. Far from it.

To say you do not believe in zoning, codes, or planning is to say you believe that a developer can build whatever they want regardless of the context. Yes, objects occur naturally in places for reasons as JK tries to point out, but that is not always the case (and his retort on cue will be that neighborhoods can form home owners' associations and there can be deed restrictions, etc.).

These are all tired arguments for the case against planning.

The bottom line there is good planning and bad planning, with a lot of gray area in the middle, too. Let's avoid the extremes of both ends of the spectrum and arrive in the middle somewhere.

You do realize the main work product of 80% of CoP staff is reports and telling taxpayers to go away?

It must be nice to have a job where you can make up something to study and take as much time as you want to make a report or PowerPoint.

Gotta admit though, the hand-art is a nice diversion from the bloviation in this thing.

The Soviet Union had massive planning bureaus. Both Stalin and Khrushchev implemented enormous top-down big plans throughout Soviet society and look at the damage those two alone did to that country and surrounding ones.

Oh, but today's life planners were probably either still toddlers or not around yet when all of that went down and was being written about by historians. With general education either in collapse or 'corrected' to pursue a social engineering purpose, how would they ever know?

Planning and zoning in and of themselves aren't bad things. They're the trade-off we make when we choose to live in close proximity to thousands of other people and need some more-or-less objective way to mediate between all of the competing interests and desires. If we don't like it, we can always move to more rural, less-regulated areas.

The problem with Portland planning is its gone beyond a minor, bureaucratic function of local government to become an end in and of itself, in particular as a vehicle for promoting social policy. It doesn't help that we have a well-regarded school of planning at PSU; there's now a reputation to maintain and starry-eyed young planning students we need to keep busy.

I personally think we DO need to drive less, consume less, reduce our carbon footprints, plant more trees, etc. But that's for me and others to fight for through the marketplace, the political process, and the land-use regulations. It's not for unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats (many of whom are not from here) to smugly browbeat us with.

If you want a "free market" development/planning system, be prepared for a 20 story hotel next to your single-family home.

Like the multi-story beast going in on the corner of SE 43rd and Division? Sure, they will all be transit riders and no cars will flood out into the neighborhood.

ws I said Houston's planning was minimal. Compared to other cities, especially Portland, it works quite well.

I can only guess that you work for the government since you seem to have read something into my comment that I did not write.

Evergreen Libertarian

Why are you being so toxic?

No, I do not work for the government.

Back on sort-of topic - traffic in this area - a gridlock mess.

Traffic after the streetcar is operational - even more a gridlocked mess.

I made a comment about Houston having minimal planning and you comment by saying they have a litany of codes and then add the parking info.

I'm not the one making a mountain out of a molehill, nor am I being toxic.

BTW last I heard Houston's costs for comparative housing was about 30% less or more than Portland.

Same quality; lower costs means more money stays on the family table and in the local community.

ws derides the "snout houses" on their puny 5,000 sf lots. He sounds exactly like the bigot planning gods of the city "that works". It must be amazing to be so certain of your correct and unassailable views that you can with self-assuredness direct others as to what they can and cannot do with their own property. There's a thin line between deriding the "snout houses" and the "snouts" who live there.

To clarify; my last comment should have said Houston's housing was 30% to 40% less than Portland's.

Given the recent collapse in housing prices I have no idea what the difference is today.

Zoning is about intensity of land use and compatibility of land uses.

Once a zoning regime is in place (in large tract development zoning is normally not necessary because the objectives of zoning can be achieved by attaching covenants to land for the benefit of adjoining properties) you don't need to cover the floor of a warehouse with the zoning map and rejigger every element -- rarely, very rarely the zoning map gets updated by moving a district a few parcels one way or the other, by upgrading or downgrading future uses of plots by a level or two, or rezoning archaic or obsolete uses.

These charettes aren't about land use, they are about trying to stuff a lifestyle down people's throat and have the government decide who the winners and losers are and arrange for insiders to be paid off. The charrettes are a charade -- a parlor game that empowers the pasted smile technocrats to exercise the police power of the state.

After living in and having to get around in Portland for nearly 40 years I have observed the following...

Traffic just gets worse and worse at the same time the city claims there are fewer and fewer drivers due to its award winning alternative transportation programs, so it's hard to believe one single word out of City Hall.

And what I've noticed over the past 15 since Vera Katz declared her "War on Driving", is engineered congestion.

So, yes we need to drive less and less. The city says we are and congratulates itself. At the same time, it appears they are deliberately engineering the gridlock, which wastes petrol fuel and leads to unnecessary emissions.


Codes are a part of a planners' tools. My comments were pertinent to your post. I fail to see why your response is so negative. Does Houston have less planning than Portland? Sure. Is it some Libertarian's utopia? Nope and probably far from it.

Cost of living is an issue in Portland, especially in regards to housing costs.

I disagree that Houston has the same level of "quality" of housing. In regards to historic neighborhoods, architecture, etc., Portland has much higher quality than Houston.

I never said it was a "Libertarian's utopia" and it isn't. As to the quality in Portland being much higher. Are you kidding me? I have seen both and there is no way in hell that the quality in Portland is any better.

ws says No, I do not work for the government.

I completely accept that, as most government employees aren't familiar with the concept of "work".

The "snout-house" line gives him away.

I'm going to guess that he's a retired government employee - or a released "planner" who hopes to latch on more firmly.

After reviewing the Charette documents what became most noticeable was that all the drawings totally disregard the I-5 freeway. They eliminate it!!!

In the Transportation Concepts 1 and 2, where one would think there would be some recognition of I-5, you find nothing, except things like "The Strand". So European. Good bye west coast commerce, or even serving our own city and suburbs. Living only by bike, transit and walking isn't the future that most believe should be our future. But in Portland it may be our future because of Planning that disregards commonsense commerce.

I have never been a planner or a government employee. I am not retired -- in fact I would not even be retirement age if you doubled my current age and added 15 years.

I offered a moderate post, did not defend Portland-style planning and only offered the notion that planning -- as a procedural tool -- is not a bad thing inherently.

All I get in return are false accusations and negativity.

Gee whiz, sorry for commenting.


Apologies if I misinterpreted your comments. Are you a student at PSU?

I got to thinking about Portland's future of "no commerce". It reminds me of visits to Rothenburg, Germany in the Bavarian region. Beautiful town, but it has been preserved as a historical Medieval city. No vehicles are allowed within the city proper, it's all historical. Vehicles are only allowed after midnight to service the tourist shops, restaurants, Christmas ornament shops, and the occasional delivery of new historical torture shackles for the Medieval Dungeon Museum.

I guess that is what Sam's Charettes will help Portland to become-a post uber Medieval city. Commerce, places to stay will be out in the suburbs like around Rothenburg.

First, Portland's historic neighborhoods and architecture are on the chopping block as they get demolished and replaced with shiny silver Lego condo boxes. The latest insult to my close-in SE neighborhood has a big sign in front of it that says "Your new neighborhood".

Second, it has long been a goal of the city to find a way to get rid of the East Bank freeway and develop what they consider wasted waterfront real estate underneath I-5.

Third, Portland isn't a historical Medieval city worth protecting in that sense. And in fact it there is less and less to preserve every year, per my first paragraph.

Everything progressive about Portland is bogus, that is, unless you consider real estate development progressive.

Houston vs Portland

Houston gets better results "naturally in open markets" and their housing is much more affordable.

This is not a critic's report below. Bottom line is we are funding an unnecessary layer of government that we cannot afford.

Considering how Metro helps TriMet pilfer countless millions from essential services for their boondoggles the cost is really in the billions.

"Accelerated infill and the concomitant decline in overall fragmentation do occur naturally in open markets that are not subject to regulatory restrictions.

"We therefore urge caution in concluding that rigorous containment is
a necessary policy tool for accelerating infill and reducing fragmentation."

Look at the side by side figures on page 34 of this central planning report and see we do not need Metro or the UGB. Or the enormous cost.


Portland’s urban growth boundary resulted in its city footprint ratio declining from 1973 - 2005 at an average rate of 1.2 percent per annum.
Houston’s city footprints declined from 1990-2000 at an annual rate of 1.9 percent,

"This is a surprising finding, considering that Houston, which does not have a zoning law let alone a containment policy, has a very open housing
market and housing there is considerably more affordable than in Portland."

In the third quarter of 2009, for example, it required 4.2 median household incomes to purchase a median-priced house in Portland and only
2.9 in Houston (Demographia 2010).


I have understood your comments about planning, good and bad. Some planning is one thing, one would not want a pig farm next to your single family yard or school, a factory noise throughout the evening next to residential.

The problem I see in Portland, is that they have gone too far in every possible way, to redo all in their vision, and be damned with the people's input. Be damned with their livability. Too bad if people lost sunlight for their garden, too bad if a neighborhood lost their view of Mt. Hood, too bad if it is a greenway and there are height restrictions. Too bad if we say an apartment complex can be put in a neighborhood "sans parking" for cars. Too bad if we cut down a grove of huge trees for infill, etc. All for the UGB. Portland is a sacrifice zone? The lock step mantra and push on the agenda is in evidence in every way they can, whether using skewed surveys, horribly controlled meetings, etc.,we all fairly well know the drill here.

I am thinking that some of the planners, especially the ones who were in this city when we actually had good planners, those if there are any left, wouldn't feel too good about the changes in the planning dept. But by now, I imagine they hire certain types who are devotees of "the plan". This has turned into the planning department for whose benefit here?

Smart growth, smart meters, cannot take all this "smartness" as a tool to push plans on the rest of us.

Ben thank you for that link to the Lincoln Institute report.


Your link appears to report what I was saying. Lack of zoning will create higher densities/infill naturally.

Many people are afraid of the D word. High density in downtown would be a good use of density. High density in Hillsdale? Probably not the best idea.

If you're looking to preserve the qualities of your neighborhood, Houston's probably not the best example unless your're in a neighborhood with home owner's associations (but to my knowledge that mostly only applies to suburban homes and not so much for inner-city dwellings).


Regarding planners of today vs ones of yesterday: Are we really hearkening back to the planners of yesterday...the same ones who would level your home for a new freeway to connect suburban growth and give homeowners a pittance of compensation for their loss?

Talk about top-down planning.

I'm personally not a fan of either styles.

If we didn't have zoning, we would have 10 story buildings on lots of streets.
It's simple economics.

I am not referring to the freeway planners. I am referring to the planners that crafted the step down plan in heights to the waterfront.
Planners that saw that each neighborhood had schools and parks. I saw documents where years ago, planners were concerned there would not be enough open space for future population growth, more concerned than they are today as the extreme density has been added without concern for the amenities. Even earlier, we had planners who created Ladd Circle area, a lovely neighborhood. Our neighborhoods in general seemed fine until this new bunch came in, don't think the former good planners would have allowed apartment buildings to be plunked down in a neighborhood without parking for the cars.
We used to have required set backs, not now, anything goes and the whole thing has reversed to where they need an exemption if one wants to build with a set back. And surprise? we used to have adequate solar access standards, but they stood in the way of infill, so some of those were changed. Earlier planners had a downtown that was vital. I stand by my opinion that current planning has changed our city in a very negative direction away from what we once had by good planners.

There is one major typo that appears 48 times. Charade is mis-spelled charrette.

pdxmick There is one major typo that appears 48 times. Charade is mis-spelled charrette.
JK: Best post of the week!!



No one said Houston or any other place had perfect zoning or planning.

The POINT IS our sucks.

Despite the constant battery of proclomations my the central planninng class around here that we do it right the actual outcomes of the implementation do not resemble at all the visioning depicted in the mountain of colorful reports by the 100s of planning bureaucrats we support.

The many exmaples of failed outcomes are thoroughly ignored by the anti-boogeyman (sprawl) zealots and rail transit/TOD fanatics.

And zealots and fanatics are too kind.


Those planners are before my time, so I don't know what you're referencing. They sound concerned with neighborhood livability. That's a good thing.


Glad we are in semi-agreement, believe it or not. I'll leave you this image of Houston just so you know what Portland is not missing, at least:


Yeah, that's a highway billboard in the front lawn of a homeowner.

Dear jimkarlock,
I may disagree with you some of the time, but your comments about city planners are exactly right IMO.
But please, don't insult the vermin...they are relatively harmless by comparison.

Um "ws" that "homeowner" is a business. What kind of business? Why they make signs!
SIGN A RAMA is Houston's full service sign center. http://www.houstonsignarama.com/index.html
Those are all commercial businesses on that road. Great research and planning.

I think you are full of it.

ws, I think you're one of those people that makes one think you are agreeing with them, but not really. It's an old (which you aren't) planner's/architect's trick from our Architectural Schools: "Yes, that makes sense, I see what you are trying to achieve.....BUT......ya di dah da..."

So the many vinyl signs like the one facing the Starbuck's courtyard on the adjacent building that is 50ft x 30ft at the corner of SW Terwilliger and Taylors Ferry is okay? Portland has more sign ordinances than Houston but there's all kinds of exceptions, looking the other way, and non-enforcement. What's the difference?

The difference between Portland with its many ordinances and other places that have none are the waivers and exceptions... but here they only apply to those with the proper connections.

Gordon, "If we didn't have zoning, we would have 10 story buildings on lots of streets. It's simple economics."

Are you referring to The Pearl or SoWhat?

In Portland its, "We have zoning, we WILL have 32 story buildings",

like in SoWhat, even though a few years back the FAR/height zoning only allowed two story buildings.

Who was the Commissioner in charge that allowed the FAR/height zoning of two story buildings to turn into 32 story buildings???
Who was the Mayor?

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