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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 28, 2011 8:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was A light goes out. The next post in this blog is Blogger barred from executive session of higher ed board. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Monday, November 28, 2011

Portland population growth slows to a crawl

The population estimators at Portland State University (motto: "With Density and Condos for All") have released their latest figures for the population of the state and its cities and counties, and their Portland number is quite noteworthy. On a preliminary basis, PSU puts the population within the city limits as of July 1, 2011 at 585,845 -- a mere 0.35% increase over last year's 583,775, a count that had hard census data to back it up. The three-year compound growth rate is 0.57%, and the five-year compound growth rate is 0.81%.

The sustainable-equitable-yada-yada planning cabal keeps packing in the city's neighborhoods with junk infill on the theory that millions of people are moving to Portland any minute now, but that premise is simply false. The net in-migration to the city over the past year was a mere 2,070 people.

We've been using 1.4% as the annual growth rate on our Portland per-capita debt clock, but it's obviously too high. And so we've cut it back to 0.7%. At that rate, it will take an entire century for the city's population to double, and 20 years from now, the population will still be under 675,000. It's hard to deny that the high-rise schlock that the city is subsidizing and otherwise forcing on its residents is based on a bogus assumption.

Comments (20)

What is really interesting is that Washington County has grown faster that Multnomah County since 2000. WashCo added 10,000 more people than MultCo and its annual growth rate was 0.65 percentage points higher than MultCo.

Washington County will be bigger than Multnomah county in 10 years. It's already happening since they had to give Earl some districts just recently.

I doubt if the snotty planners who want everyone in condos will admit it, but some people are just behind the curve.

My medium-term goal is to move to a place with weekly garbage pickup.

Growth in the Pearl and inner West side is what's important. So who cares about the others?

San Francisco has added a lot of high rises in the last 70 years. Their population hasn't changed much in that time.

As my grandmother used to say, "If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you jump off after him?"

David: It is not at all uncommon for people in San Francisco to own or rent an apartment in SF and have a home outside of the city where they live on weekends.

Portland has had a net out migration. The change in population cited is due to natural growth (births minus deaths). The city is hurting for three basic reasons.

#1 There is little or no private sector job growth, and you need that to pay for public services and maintain households.

#2 It is really expensive to live here.

#3 The quality of the public services has deteriorated (schools, buses, and other things). When service quality declines, the productivity of the workforce is compromised and that leads to higher poverty, out migration, etc. The decline in quality is due in large part by poor cost control and a perverse focus on building rather than operating.

Sorry, I meant net out migration.

Well, so much for the idea that somehow the creative class will save Portland, too. I suspect a lot of this emigration comes from a lot of transplants who couldn't get Mommy and Daddy to pay their rent while they were working hard at being seen at Stumptown Coffee, er, I mean, working hard on their book or movie deals. Heck, the downturn might even get hipster populations down to manageable levels, where all anyone will need is regular spraying instead of nuking the entire site from orbit.

Portlandia can no longer pay for basic vector control.
Therefore regular spraying has been suspended until further notice.

I wonder how much of the change (or lack thereof) has to do with the loss of child households that have four or more occupants, and replaced with smaller, childless households of just one or two occupants - the result being a net increase in the number of housing units (more "homes") but a decrease in the space per person.

Portland may believe that having fewer children might be "sustainable" from a development standpoint, but societies that do not produce children typically don't last very long. Right now Japan is in a lot of hurt because of its increasing age and the social costs and healthcare costs of an aging population that is not being backfilled by younger occupants (many of whom can't find jobs). I guess Sam Adams' goal is to turn Portland into Japan - a country in which all the development is squeezed into small, defined areas, where everyone gets around on crowded and packed trains (at least in Japan they are narrow gauge except the Shinkansen which is the only standard gauge train in the country), and where suicides are a very common problem (that's what we have the Fremont Bridge for).

The recent Census data did not show what the planner-types wanted it to. It showed that despite all the "smart growth" dogma, suburbs continue to attract more growth than core cities, across the nation.

Metro-types are now betting that people who move to Hillsboro or Beaverton want to live in "dense" condos and never expand the UGB. I'm betting they are wrong. This tension will eventually cause the Metro planning system to break, but that will be very slow motion. Could take a couple more decades.

Stop resisting. You're gonna love it!

2050: Our cities are composed of compact “urban villages”, each a community in its own right with schools, churches, libraries, stores and other necessary services within a 15-minute walk. Roofs, roads and other paved surfaces are light in color to reduce the “urban heat island” effect. Parks and green spaces are sprinkled throughout the urban villages, further reducing the need for cooling and providing people with places to enjoy natural beauty. Public transit has become so safe, efficient and appealing that few urban residents own cars. America no longer imports any petroleum and uses virtually no oil. Coal mining stopped long ago, as coal-fired electricity grew more expensive than power from sunlight, wind and geothermal resources. Price spikes, supply disruptions, air pollution, mercury pollution, Middle Eastern wars, high trade imbalances, perverse foreign policies and “resource wars” are memories. No one asks why we’re not using fossil energy any more. Instead, we ask why we didn’t stop much sooner.
Motivated by astronomical insurance rates, communities have moved out of disaster-prone areas along rivers and coasts. Those areas now are public access beaches, nature preserves and recreational sites. Levees, dams and other “disaster control” structures have fallen into disfavor because they failed under the increasing pressures of severe weather attributed to global warming. Instead, regions have restored wetlands, replanted watersheds and put the meander back into rivers — in other words, big structures named after Congressmen have given way to natural systems to prevent disasters.

The only thing that will save Portland from the construction mafia is a bond collapse- hang on its coming.

On the other hand, when the coast sinks into the ocean with our overdue 9.0 quake, just think of the all those high-rise condos with an ocean view...

The "new urbanists" are starting to set their sights on "downtown" Tigard centered around the WES station (oh, yeah, there's also a transit center there).

What's amazing is looking at the cores of downtowns in which the cities simply worked with property owners and businesses, rather than force-fed massive improvements (usually around a streetcar or light rail line) at high costs.

Look at Astoria, or Seaside, or Forest Grove, or McMinnville, or Silverton, or Hood River, or even Eugene, Albany, or Corvallis. Look at towns like Leavenworth and Winthrop, Washington - that remade themselves simply by theming their towns (with cooperation from the businesses). All of those towns' downtown districts are thriving (McMinnville's ought to be a case study in how WalMart did NOT kill off a downtown - downtown actually grew after WalMart moved in, but a "starter" K-Mart did close) and didn't require streetcar gimmicks.

Tigard, unfortunately, has been bribed by the Metro mafia..."Do as we say" (want light rail and urban renewal) "or we take your money from you" (regional transportation funding). In fact the recent Highway 99W/Greenburg/Main/Hall project - despite involving two state highways - had to be paid for by a city gas tax. Meanwhile ODOT pours the money onto TriMet light rail projects, and TriMet even agreed not to ask for ODOT money for buses for five years.

Metro ought to be investigated as a criminal enterprise. And no city should be forced to accept Metro's desires in exchange for transportation funding. No city should be held hostage to Metro...frankly, if Metro were disbanded, the City of Portland's influence would all but disappear, and the suburbs would be free to do as they please - benefitting the entire region.

...No city should be held hostage to Metro...

But we were! Remember being at meetings if any objection or an attempt at an open discussion, the discussion could simply be dismissed quite easily by saying that we have to adhere to Metro...
end of discussion.

Why should we continue to have Metro prevail and dictate what is livable?

Why should we continue to have Metro prevail and dictate what is livable?
JK: Because:
1. Metro is saving farm land (for growing potted plants)

2. Metro is saving the earth from climate change (which always changes and always will.)

3. Metro is getting us ready for the end of oil (which is suddenly being found all over the place.)

A real hoot is to look at the very first documents Metro produced with its Metro's Future Vision Commission Reports at

And don’t miss Metro Measured which mentions Metro’s desire to replicate Los Angeles!

In short, metro is run by a bunch of deluded fools who have always ignored people’s wishes. And lied to people to get their way - a prime example being Rex Burkholder’s confusing the voters with a do nothing measure competing with a citizen’s initiative to limit density in our neighborhoods (see


#2 It is really expensive to live here.

I was just reading an article yesterday in which a woman, having obtained her license as a skin-care specialist, moved from Orange County to Portland because - despite having multiple room-mates, she couldn't afford the rent.

Apparently, you can be a skin-care specialist in Portland and still find a place to live.

Apparently "livability" is defined as "Well, the housing is cheaper than California"...and if you're a native Oregonian, screw you because there's five Californians that'll gladly buy your house.


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