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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Portland planning: high density, no economy

The delusions of Fake New York continue. What made our area so attractive to so many people a few decades ago is being purposely destroyed.

If people want or are willing to live in cheap apartment bunkers, they're not going to come to Portland, Oregon to do it. They're going to go to a city in which they can actually make a living.

Food carts are not an economy, at least not in the developed world.

Comments (36)

The preceding was posted by a Metro employee.

Recall the entire damned lot of Metro... for starters...

Don't insult New York City.

Sam Adams has one goal in life.

Turn Portland into San Francisco North. And on multiple levels.

S.F. is an enclave for the rich, the childless, the alternative, the yuppie and the creative. Bikes and streetcars and cable cars abound; it has the most "iconic" bridge of anywhere in North America.

Of course, for those workers who man the fast food joints, the food carts, the tourist traps...they live over in Oakland. They have to pay a toll to drive across the essentially one and only bridge into the city. Or take BART, or ride a ferry. And pay for it.

San Francisco is where freeways suddenly end on city streets; where U.S. 101 meanders through the financial district between the Golden Gate Bridge freeway to the north and whatever freeway it is to the south. San Francisco is where heavy industry has already gone away; where the only railroad in town is a commuter rail railroad that was purchased by a private concern that had successfully operated it (and was headquartered in San Francisco) for decades upon decades; today it is operated by a public agency that is cutting left and right, while enjoying a bloated capital budget. (And that railroad - the Southern Pacific Railroad - moved its headquarters to Denver in the late 1980s, before it was acquired by Omaha based Union Pacific.)

At least New York has rent control.

Now isn't this interesting.
You neglected to report weeks ago when Tom Hughes first announced at the joint breakfast of the Westside Economic Alliance and Clackamas Business Alliance that the requirement would be 15 units per acre.

So now when the Metro council adopts the 15 unit requirement it will seem like a compromise? BTW- go look at SB 100 and the intentions of the UGB and report how Metro has and is distorting it. It was never intended to omit large lots or any single family home site from expansions.

But far worse, you also neglected to report that at that same breakfast an invited expert from Seattle (who was there to give a report on his study of Washington county) responded to Hughes announcement. He told the crowd that requirement was the exact oppostite of what they should do. That this density would not not be supported by either the market or lending institutions.

This is the problem with you pretending to be an objective journalist.

You omit everything damaging to Metro and TriMet.

Then there is this circulating:

What a racket.

If you're unemployed you can't afford to drive an evil motor vehicle and if all the jobs are chased away there's nowhere to go anyways except escape the man-made catastrophe, except now you can't leave except by streetcar...

The Beginning of the End of Suburbia.
You're going to convince the populace to move out of the suburbs, cram together in crappy condo bunkers, and ride bikes to work? Right. How about taking the kids to soccer on the bus? You people are dreaming. Luckily this is (unless of course the “weird crowd” gets their way with this nonsense) a free country where people can live the way they choose. Hopefully most people don't buy into this nonsense.

You leftist anti-car nut jobs, etc. do whatever you want. I didn't spend years working my tail off through college to get a good degree and job to live in a crappy little apartment, listen to my neighbor's music and get mugged at the Max Station. You don't like cars and suburbs? Great. I disagree. And I choose not to live that way.

Of course, that's the thing of it isn't it? What they really want is to force us to live the way they think is right. Like the old Dead Kennedys song “California Uber Alles”, you people are really fascists in liberal's clothing.

And you can bet the liberal elite like Al Gore and celebrities are not going to give up their estates, houses in Martha's Vineyard, limos and private jets. Like pre-revolutionary France: living on their estates and riding by in their carriages? Maybe they'll want us to bow and cast our eyes down when they do, while we live crammed together in their government approved slum?

Like I said, you live however you want.
I won't live that way.

Ben - You can always go through and find something that wasn't reported. That's fair.

This story isn't about Metro's aspirations for 15 UPA (, as is an update I started working on Tuesday), it was about MPAC's advice to the Metro Council. Remember, MPAC is akin to a citizens advisory committee (consisting mostly of mayors and county commissioners)… the Metro Council has to consult with MPAC, but it doesn't have to do what MPAC says.

Either way, the 15 UPA number is no secret and I've reported it for more than a year.

There are likely to be large lots in South Hillsboro if it's brought in. I don't think many people are arguing that. I think Metro planners view the St. Mary's property, on the north end near TV Highway, as the equivalent of a sandbox - flat, well connected to urban services, the perfect place to build a new community in a new urbanist style. And I think the developers have serious concerns about whether the market will support something so "smart."

But more on that later.

Apologies for the HTML SNAFU... that was supposed to say "as is a story I wrote a year ago" in the linked text. Guess I should have used that preview button.


Yes there is always much that does not get reported. That's not "fair" at all.

Were you there at the breakfast? I suspect you were. The expert completely contradicted Metro's plans for the 15 units per acre.

Not news?

The story is whatever you are paid to make it.

Just like your characterizing MPAC as "akin to a citizens advisory committee".

That's a whopper.
So is the notion MPAC or JPACT would ever be at odds with the Metro Council. That's a hoot.

"Metro Council has to consult with MPAC, but it doesn't have to do what MPAC says."

Are you trying to give a false impression of independence? You should not be doing that. Some see that as public deceit.

What you could report is that MPAC members are in continual contact, and collaborate with Metro councilors/staff as they craft policies which the Metro Council later approves.

I never said the 15 UPA number was a secret. And you're avoiding the expert's presentation.

The biggest point was the invited expert who was commissioned to study Washington County and how he contradicted Tom Hughes/Metro plans.

I'll wager you were at that breakfast and knew not to report that.

Perhaps you can provide a Metro study that contradicts this expert? Surely Metro isn't proposing policy contrary to the market and lending arena?

If they are that is a huge error and will waste millions on plans that do not work.

Do we get more Beaverton Rounds because
the likes of Sam Adams et al says so?

You would have seen me if I had been at the breakfast - the few times I've been to WEA breakfasts I'm the only guy sitting at a table pounding on a laptop. (So, no, I wasn't there… but I'll take the wager.)

Portland Mayor Sam Adams was the driving force behind requiring 20 units per acre for areas in the upcoming expansion of the region's urban growth boundary.

Yet Mr. Mayor has himself a yard and chickens last I heard, but for others they should be crammed into tiny units without even a patio to plant a tomato plant!!

...What they really want is to force us to live the way they think is right...

They don't even think it is right for them, but want to force it on others. These types own estates, cabins in nature, beach houses, etc. to escape from the city and then dictate the way they think "others" should live. Adams has made how many trips on our dime to get out of the city and enjoy time away from the "plans" he has implemented.

While I am at it, some neighborhoods have been wrecked by these density plans...those neighborhoods that haven't been bearing the brunt of the plan think the density plan is great. Take a tour of some of the ghetto housing in parts of the city, due to the rezoning thanks to Katz/Hales. and of course Adams was there with them the whole time, not surprised he pushes this.

I would not bet on any neighborhood or economic gro being able to hold onto their property rights, neighborhood character and lot size ( and house size?) if the planning class wants something different.

As we have been seeing and experiencing, our property rights are under continual assault by various government entities singing the same songs: "The People Are Coming, Hurrah, Hurrah", "Follow the Sustainability Road", and "Trains, Buses, Bikes and Feet". The dominant religion that is emerging is New Urbanism (references the older Utopianism), where facts and logic are either banned, ignored or marginalized as wacko or heretical.

In all circumstances, the public is not trusted to know what they want or what is best for the greater good and cannot be trusted. Protesting the juggernaut will be futile. If the planners have their sights on the Hamptons or the West Hills for any reason, no place is safe.

If you want to see how well that "high density" housing works; just check out the Burnside-181st Avenue-Stark triangle area in Gresham sometime. Too bad the planners of these ideas aren't forced to live in the housing choices they want others to live in.

So the St Mary's property is the "equivalent of a sandbox"?
I know what my cat does in a sandbox and it seems like METRO council is doing the same thing!
Weren't the so called "projects" all abysmal failures everywhere in the world?
Keep 'em honest, Ben!

On the subject of density. Well, there is more and more infill happening on SW Vermont. I noticed more tape along the road yesterday making it look like a site was about to get developed. Another sub-divide development started on Vermont in August. Well, since they keep cutting Tri-Met buses around here, I guess there will be even more cars on the road clogging up my commute. What a cluster.

People can watch the racketeeers at that breakfast here.

Metro's Tom Hughes
Lehan & Lininger from Calckamas County
Bill Wyatt on Hayden Island
Mazziotti on Beaverton and Metro's density mandate

In the beginning the MC sings kumbaya for the crowd to pump up their arrogance. And do they ever.

Hughes called for members to direct resources to defeating the Clackamas County "voters for voting" UR measure.
He compared the need and use of Urban Renewal to creating Intel.
Lehan piled on with utter nonsense and Lininger followed with insults.

Don Mazziotti pumped up Beaverton's plan to commercialize the city and add residential UGB expansion that he said Metro dictates must be 15 units per acre.

Bill Wyatt called for moving beyond the usual political correctness and develop west Hayden Island.

Then an expert from Seattle said the Metro plans for 15 units per acre did not have any market support or financing.

During some Q&A the crowd erupted in arrogant laughter at the suggestion voters were math challenged when Clackamas County defeated the recent fee scam.

20 units per acre is roughly a 2200 sq ft lot size. So much for a family-size home with a yard.


No, it is more like 1500 sq. ft. per lot. (dont' forget about roads and sidewalks)

ANYTHING!!! that "the Don" is for I am against!

Isn't that about the size of some homes?
So no yards, no garden, no nature, no trees to shade the home, so more energy use of air conditioning needed for these "living spaces?"

Not only the planners, but those who pull the strings on all of this should be made to live in these density developments.

Years ago in a neighborhood that was putting flag lots in (homes built in back yards of other homes) got a disgusting response from the city. Code allowed only ONE home to built in that back yard, the property owner wanted two and guess what, the property owner who lived in California got two and the neighborhood association and neighbors who asked the hearings officer to abide by the code weren't listened to and got screwed.

In that case, I guess getting extra tax revenue was more important to the city than abiding by the codes or leaving neighborhood character and livability in tact.

Katz/Hales did a lot of damage to the good codes and certain neighborhoods. Changing codes, rezoning, and apparently wanting the hearings officers, and planners to dance around codes and give adjustments. No interest whatsoever in having an adequate tree protection plan as the huge trees stood in the way of development. Green and sustainable?

And at 20 units per acre those are not lots.
They are at best two story apartments or condos.

Ben, you are right to point out the state law, because it is supposed to require that cities do analysis fo the type of housing their residents actually want, and then make sure there is a 20-year supply of land to accommodate it. Metro seems to just ignore that part of the law.

As I've pointed out here before, Metro is the mechanism by which the City of Portland keeps the suburbs on-board, either willingly or kicking and screaming. It is a control device. This MPAC meeting was just more overt about it than normal.

The other questions to ask is what is being planned to support all the extra "density" in these areas? More funding for schools, libraries, mass transit, etc?

Because when you move that many more people into a neighborhood, those people need services and stuff. And developers tend to build houses and apartments and subdivisions for their own profits, not schools, etc. for the benefit of neighborhoods. It takes more than housing and retail to 'make' a community.

There is a street with that density very near me. Built about 5 years ago, before the crash. The units are three story, with the garage taking up the whole ground floor. There is room for one car to park in each driveway, and no legal parking at all on the street. And so the sidewalks over there are always taken over by cars, and, since there are no yards at all, the kids play in the street. Also, there are no trees; there's no room for them. Basically, it's a new-built slum. And from the sounds of it, we can expect a lot more of the same. Way to go, Metro.

"new urbanist style"...
Repackaged Stalinist style housing projekts for the werker..

Well isn't this the grumpy ol cuss corner. I hate to break it to you guys but the 19 th century is over. The era of quaint small towns with sheep in the back 40 is over. The world is getting massively dense and we need to Man Up and do our share to share. We can make smart density or stupid density , but you can not go back to a time that no longer exists.

billb - your post reminds me of the oldie "If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem". I hate to break it to you, this is America, and allegedly we the people have the power to control our own lives not let planners shove their ideas about living down our throats. Manning up would be kicking the rogues out of office and abolishing the PDC. Just sayin'

Have you ever taken a road trip?
No need for us to be jammed in "control centers."

If there are that many more people, then how about some new real sustainable smaller cities/towns being built instead of ruining existing ones with excessive infill and congestion.

There are also many many small towns with already built in infrastructure dying on the vine, surely we can be "smart" about putting life and work back into those places with current technology for connections needed.

How many vacant apartments, condos and homes exist in Portland now? How about inventory before we do more infill if not needed!

...we need to Man Up and do our share to share...

Who would that be that you propose do this? Those that live in the McMansions outside the UGB? Those that have two to three extra homes and/or those that have bathrooms the size of most people's living room?


At first I thought you were showing us a picture of this, until I looked closer.

No one talks like billb but the worst koolaide drinkers, those on the take, overpaid planning bureaucrats and the racketeers lining their pockets.

And people of all political stripes are sick of it.

Not only is billb full of crap but he
can't even address anything specifficly.

And it isn't the planning opponents who are living in the 19th century, idiot.

It's the lying buffoons insisting we accept more costly Beaverton Rounds, WES, MAX and apartment complexes and condos lining every corridor.

As for land and grwoth Oregon has abundant land everywhere. We coudl pick up Tigard and drop in in 100 different locations and no one would notice.

Germany is the size of Oregon and has 60 million people.

Theay are not all stacked up in a Metro design.

Metro has to be terminated entirely. They have proven over and over again to be dishonest, self interested and perpetrating plane that just plain suck.

And now we get to have their "journalist" drop by to give Metro's carefully crafted "interpretation" of all things.

What are the steps that would have to be taken legally to eliminate Metro?
...or is this like an egg that has been scrambled and can't be put back together the plans have already gone too far in dominating and changing our cityscape?
I don't see how much longer we can continue on. Are the plans to redo all, including eventually razing down acres of older single family homes to redo in their vision?

The traffic congestion isn't helped by all this density and poor planning. I think officials know it will only get much worse, which is why they are so big on promoting bicycling. I got a call regarding a meeting about why the children are not biking/walking to school. A brochure through PSU was sent to ask for volunteers to put an adult and child on a GPS to monitor family activity.

Are the youth and children being propagandized to accept living in density and tiny units for the good of the planet? Divorcing children from real nature, seems to be the result of much of this. I guess the "smart" way now is to get with nature through programs such as Metro's nature walks.

Those of us who grew up without all this activity programmed for us and who grew up without all this "control" over how we should live find this overwhelming planning interferes too much in OUR lives.

...What made our area so attractive to so many people a few decades ago is being purposely destroyed...

This is a subject of which I feel strongly, and I have given it much thought.
My sense of it is that the agenda is to promote our area as "the best urban planning, wonderful this and that sustainable" while behind the scenes, as Jack wrote, our area is being purposely destroyed.
Thank you Jack for writing this.
In my opinion, it will be further destroyed if Hales gets in, he will continue on this path. He was head of Planning that changed zoning, codes, etc. it was his vision and be damned with the rest of us.
He will further push light rail and density. We can't afford his agenda. The changes he promoted degraded livability in our city and especially did so in some neighborhoods. Don't think he lives in one of the dense mixed-use developments.


Per the history of Metro:

the legislature referred its creation to the voters. I am assuming if it was voter created, then it could be voter dissolved. The sticky wickets would be undoing things such as:

"Multnomah County asks Metro to take over responsibility for its parks"

"Metro given management responsibility for Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Civic Stadium and Memorial Coliseum through the Metropolitan Exposition-Recreation Commission" (And this one puzzles me because how could the SamRand evil twins make deals on Civic Stadium if it is under Metro's purview?)

Metropolitan Service District (Metro for short) begins operating the Washington Park Zoo

In order to dissolve it, there would have to be a plan in place to move its operational components here and there. And in some cases, it looks like governments shuffled things to Metro to get more bucks for other pet projects and let Metro get money for things that governmental entity used to fund.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

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Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
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Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
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Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
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Keith Richards - Life
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Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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