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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Portland needs an anti-bunker ballot initiative

The furor over the building of large apartment complexes without parking is really starting to grow on the east side of Portland. Nearby homeowners hate it, but the know-it-all, holier-than-thou city planners love it, and so unless somebody does something Herculean, these bunkers are going in, everywhere, for the foreseeable future. As far as City Hall is concerned, the neighbors can go pound salt (preferably sustainable, organic sea salt).

It may be time for an initiative measure to put a stop to this. How about a rule that any new development of four or more contiguous dwelling units in Portland has to have one off-street automobile parking space per unit? It's time for the neighborhood associations to get together, lawyer up, and get the petitions circulating for something like that, before things go much further. Because $60-a-year parking permits to park in front of your own house are surely next.

We'd bet that such an initiative would pass.

Not only would a successful ballot measure prevent parking hassles for the neighbors, but it would probably also prevent the cheapest of these projects from being built altogether. Most of the particle board human storage bins that the weasels are building are what, in our day growing up in Newark, N.J., used to be called tenement houses. And after a while, they can easily become slums. Nowadays, the worst of them are packaged as "affordable housing" or "student housing." In so many ways, it's more Portland livability down the drain. And through tax abatements and other government subsidies, you and we are paying for it.

Comments (45)

The City Bureau of Planning, in it's infinite wisdom, created zones with no required parking to encourage "alternate" forms of transportation(bikes, peds)but failed to realize that all it did was create a subsidy for developers to shift the cost of parking out of the project budget and place it it on the public. To me, the shocking part of this is that the Bureau, in it's blind effort to force alternative forms of transit, simply didn't understand the windfall it gave to private developers.

The backward city of Seattle still requires parking spaces as part of any sizable residential development.

But then, they're so stupid, they don't even have a development commission, which is why Seattle is the unimportant backwater it is today.

"Because $60-a-year parking permits to park in front of your own house are surely next."

Too late - I think for close-in neighborhoods, its already $20-something a year for the sticker.

You should realize this is the master plan to drive out homeowners with the audacity to own cars and not subscribe to the sterile dream shared by all planners.

"To me, the shocking part of this is that the Bureau, in it's blind effort to force alternative forms of transit, simply didn't understand the windfall it gave to private developers."

Are you new here? Do you really think that the Bureau doesn't realize that this is an incredible developer giveaway?

The new hot social crusade is spreading Section 8 housing (and associated crime) throughout the metro area - this new bunker housing will be transformed into Section 8 housing with remarkable rapidity.

"You should realize this is the master plan to drive out homeowners with the audacity to own cars and not subscribe to the sterile dream shared by all planners".

Steve, you are so right. Difficult to combat however as Jack suggests. They have control of infinite amounts of money for producing propoganda disguised as informational publications. So pretty, yet so specifially targeted to the manipulated masses.

I've been ranting about how this initiative on the part of the city is degrading the livability of those neighborhoods where it occurs...more people crowded in with the same amenities which had been there prior to their construction.

I want a moratorium on all multifamily construction in the inner neighborhoods until such time as adequate recreational space can be created, within 1/4 mile of each and every project, that will at least reduce the shortfall of park space per resident in most of these neighborhoods. My neighborhood is historically a 'park deficient' neighborhood, yet they are pushing more people with these projects into places where there is entirely inadequate public recreational space...degrading it even further.

Off-street parking requirements and development requirements to create new park space nearby.

However, my 'neighborhood association' seems to be cowed by the claims that what the city is doing is "all legal", and there is "nothing we can do".

Density, density, density might be the collateral the city offers up to remain eligible for unending municipal bonds, bonds, bonds.

What a terrible idea on every level. That's how we got all those crap apartments from the 70's. Well, that and the suburban style setbacks. It'd be silly to mandate parking spaces in places like downtown Portland when most people there walk to work anyways.

The idea that apartment buildings can slide into slums is true enough yet totally specious. So can houses. The lack of Apartment buildings along Alberta/Albina didn't prevent the neighborhood from falling into decay.

Really the whole free storage of your car in public space is one of those generational things that I hope the old farts lose. Quickly. You've already spent our future. The least you could do is pay for parking in public spaces or get your car out of the way.

Jack, you forgot to add in "workforce housing" with "affordable housing or student housing". Now we have three ways to have taxpayers subsidize housing. All of this was done without public hearings.

So now if you have a barista job, you're eligible for subsidized workforce housing. We all just have to keep working to pay for the subsidies.

Oooh, a car hater! Is it the carriage you hate so much, or just its current power plant?

Another thing the planners are doing without being aware (or maybe they are?), is re-establishing segregated, almost tribal neighborhoods based on lifestyle. Eventually, everything will deteriorate including common language and they'll begin making raids on each other in search of resources. Ha.

I got nothin' against cars. Just when people park 'em for free when that space could be used for better things, like moving people. Public goods should be for the public. If we want people to be able to park in the street in front of their houses, and have that spot stay available all day, empty, for them, then we oughta consider selling that chunk of street. I do think the tax abatements for low income housing & the like should be ditched fwiw. Something closer to a market economy for housing would better.

It's a disaster. Planners can't just apply common sense, they have to do surveys and studies.

"What might the effect be of dropping 100's of units on Division between 31st and 40th with no parking? Well, gosh, I just can't imagine. Better do a study."

And I love that the fact that something is in the zoning code is treated as some insurmountable obstacle. What ever will we do?! How about change the code?

"Public goods should be for the public."

People with cars are the public. Or about 90% of it anyway.

Grumpy: about neighborhoods dividing into lifestyles: is that really a terrible thing? Should everywhere look the same? I don't really have a problem with having some neighborhoods be kinda unfriendly to cars and super friendly to bikes or vice versa. Isn't that basically what we have now?

The vast majority of housing stock in the metro area is suburban style very car friendly. Most people want that kind of thing. But there's a large enough number, like myself, that want something different. I liked living in the Boise neighborhood and really liked how easy it was to bike around and walk around. Much more preferable, to me, than the Beaverton neighborhood I grew up in.

How about this, Andrew S, you build your lovely condo bunkers someplace other than established neighborhoods ?
And since you are so dead set against people parking on "public spaces" I'm sure you will also demand that said bunkers include sufficient off street parking for each unit.

I'm not dead set against people parking on public spaces. They should just pay whatever the going rate is for that piece of property.

Why would you want to build apartment buildings on the far outskirts of town? That's just silly. That area is better served by cars driving to detached single houses with lawns and white picket fences, &c, &c.

The established neighborhoods you're talking about are ones that are, and always have been, in a state of flux. While sometimes houses are being torn down for apartments in many other places it's the vacant grass lots that are being built upon. Fwiw most of the streetcar neighborhoods we're talking about typically had some sort of apartment buildings or businesses that were later torn down for, wait for it, cars. Even 15 years ago that stretch of Division was a pretty desolate place. The fact that people want to live there is a great sign for the health of the city.

"re-establishing segregated, almost tribal neighborhoods based on lifestyle"

I think you're missing it, apartments make for less stable neighborhoods than houses with kids and cars. Plus houses with kids and cars invest in their house to make it look like a place they want to live - Not necessarily an attitude shared by a more transitory tenant.

It's like the creative BS - Creative types will stay as long as there is a hipness to the neighborhood, which by definition can't last (hip is always new.) In addition, you can't throw together large groups of creative types, since also by definition, they are so dis-similar.

"Why would you want to build apartment buildings on the far outskirts of town?"

Because that's where jobs are?

Andrew, as long as we're paying up for public goods, let's license your bike for $50 a year. And how much would you like to pay when you chain your bike on the sidewalk somewhere? $2 sound about right?

The real problem with your proposal is double paying. We already pay for street maintenance and the Bureau of Transportation. You're saying we should pay an extra fee on top of that. Should we also pay for a Police department with our property taxes, but then cut the police officer an additional check every time we interact with them? Should we drop $5 in a box every time we enter a city park?

We already pay to uses parks in Oregon, and they're magnificent. I like having nice and clean state parks.

I have less of a problem with dividing up scarce resources via monetary cost vs simply giving it away. Bike licensing doesn't pay for the mere overhead, as several cities have found out. I'm 100% in favor of licensing people before they hop on a bike, though that's a debate for a different day.

To circle back to my point mandatory parking minimums, I suspect this is part of a generational conflict. We're gonna have a lower amount of wealth/stuff than our parents. We should do what we can to make people's quality of life as comfortable as possible in as many different lifestyle choices as people want. Part of that is making sure there's enough parking available by charging for a scarce public good, like on street parking, rather than giving it away. Much better to do it that way than by initiative fiat.

Snards:And I love that the fact that something is in the zoning code is treated as some insurmountable obstacle. What ever will we do?! How about change the code?

Katz and Hales had no problems changing codes years ago
and rezoning to their heart's content! On top of that all kinds of "adjustments"
were granted which really made the codes easy to dance around.

Codes were once changed, they can be changed again, my point is back to the time when we had good planning codes and when Portland was noted for good planning.
The result of what is allowed now which by the way is destroying adjacent neighbors property value, what they bought as their investment into a neighborhood of their choice AND their quality of life. Apparently, those factors don't count, only what assists the developers and then those they can round up who like the scene until. . .
what? The neighborhood character is incrementally wrecked and then will the followers of these plans leave? Move to another neighborhood, to another city, taking in the good characteristics until negatively changed? There is a reason that the character of neighborhoods and stability are important, and not to be abused with favors to developers and willy nilly ideas!

Neighbors are absolutely right to be wary of these no-parking-space bunkers. At least some people who live in them will have cars, and they won't those cars everyday for commuting, but for the occasional errand and for weekend trips. Those cars have to be stored somewhere and that will be in front of the neighbors' houses. I have commented elsewhere on this blog how it is possible for someone to store a vehicle for up to 2 years on the public right-of-way and receive neither a ticket nor a tow because the city does not enforce it's parking regulations. A $60 a year fee will not change this; in fact, it is likely to give the permittee even more of a sense of storage-entitlement. From personal experience, I know how frustrating it is having people store vehicles in front of my house for long periods. I really feel sorry for the neighbors near these bunkers. It's going to be parking hell.

Andrew - We don't have less than stuff than our parents. We are not an abstract separate entity from the Earth. We are the Earth and nothing is lost, it just changes.

The idea that we have less or should have less is a myth created by the Elites who want us to have less so they can have more.

Stop buying that BS. Remember the Big Boys bankroll the Environmental organizations to push that agenda.

And all of you, don't forget: Andrew S. expects to be young, healthy and mobile FOREVER.

Tim:Remember the Big Boys bankroll the Environmental organizations to push that agenda.

Sure seems to be the case here.

In some cases, bylaws set up so where they "cannot" be political??

I wonder how many people think that by buying a membership into these organizations makes them a part of being for the environment?
People need to stop depending on organizations to do the right action here, or any significant action as far as I have seen!

Good that Bob Sallinger from the Audubon Society of Portland stood up and departed from as I recall he mentioned the sham on the Hayden Island case meetings. Where are the rest of these environmental organizations and individual members for that matter on the coal, the water, and the list is long?

Healthy and mobile for as long as possible! The youth thing is going about as fast as my hair, I'm afraid. My first job was washing dishes in nursing home and I resolved to spend as few hours of my life stuck in a car as possible, thanks.

Which does raise the question, what do we do with you old farts when you shouldn't be on the road?

Ah Andrew S....so you are balding early? What a shame you do not have more understanding or empathy for all of us wo are now "old farts", taking up space in your hipster fantasy land. You too will one day be old, unless you get run over by a train or mugged and killed while waiting for some form public transit.
How many hours are you "stuck" on the 'Toonerville Trolley' in the Pearl?
Jack, from which government agency is Andrew S posting?
I am sure we "old farts" would like to know who our tax dollars are supporting.

Nah I'm 27 and the hair is going at about the usual rate. I have great empathy for those olders. I just don't like it when you've put me in hock for the rest of my life and want to force your lifestyle on me. I don't live in a hispter fantasy land, I just don't like some what your generation did. Nor do I want to live in the kind of neighborhoods that mandatory parking minimums would help create.

(Currently I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer, so a little of your tax dollars is supporting me while I waste time waiting for the gas to come back on so I can cook dinner.)

*are. Yeesh. I'd like to blame the lousy grammar on hunger and this odd cyrillic keyboard. But it wouldn't be true.

I just don't like it when you've put me in hock for the rest of my life...

So who is responsible for this? I suggest it is not the elders here, take a look at the me me generations who have accumulated far more than the older generation. Take a ride out to Happy Valley and see those huge homes, I don't think affordable by most of the older generation you refer to. Take a look at career politicians, wall streeters. banksters and see who is putting you in hock! And by the way, also putting many generations in hock, not just yours.

You seem way too angry to be a PCV. I have known many PCVs of all ages over the years, and we visited a close relative who was in Africa 20+ years ago. Believe me I am well aware of the many hardships and difficulties endured by PCVs. Many of us "old farts" support the Peace Corps.
Calling people derogatory names accomplishes nothing and makes people unwilling to listen to you. I suggest you adopt a softer tone. It works better most of the time.
I too was once an angry young person...yes really! Many of us old farts opposed the Viet Nam War, racism, sexism, and inequality. Mine was the generation that said not to trust anyone over 30!
Some things we did through violence and peaceful means changed the USA to a better place. But looking back, the anger seems less necessary now than it did when I was 27.
It is not just you who are in hock...we ALL are, and I am not any happier about it than you. I would much prefer that the taxes I pay and will pay now and after I am dead, would go to healthcare for everyone, education, decent housing, taking care of people with mental health issues, better roads, transportation, and a whole bunch of positive things rather than to the international Banksters, to whom we owe money.
All the best in the Peace Corps, come back to Portland and overthrow the development weasels and Banksters who currently run things here!

I certainly don't mean to come off as angry, I meant old farts in a most affectionate way. My apologies if it came off as meanspirited. I do think there is a bit of generational change at work here that sometimes creates a barrier around stuff like parking minimums. Lord knows I've hashed it over many times with my own father. I think its always important to be critical and that's one of the best things about this blog and its commenters. The sort of civic engagement and passion that shows up here something I'd like to somehow pass on during my service.

Cheers and keep up the good fight! I hope to come back to a Portland that's better than I left it.

Clinamen and others: In regards to "changing the codes", it is a requirement of state and city statutes to review, update, and change Title 33(zoning), 34 and other codes. In fact there is a review going on right now that was extended in April of this year.

It is a matter of who rattles the swords the loudest for which items are considered. Then it takes additional noise to get them changed or have additions. Neighborhood association sometimes try, a few enduring individuals sometimes prevail, but its a long process if you can't get the support of the bureaucrats and Council.

Call CoP'sDoug Hardy, senior planner or Mike Liefeld, head of nuisance bureau to stand in line, then get some direction.

Calling people derogatory names accomplishes nothing and makes people unwilling to listen to you. I suggest you adopt a softer tone.

You know, this would apply to a lot of the rhetoric used by commenters here. Andrew doesn't seem particularly agitated.

Why should the taxpayers subsidize free private vehicle storage in the public right of way for homeowners but not apartment dwellers? Why not expect homeowners to store their cars on-site, or pay to make use of the public resources if there's not enough to meet demand?

Why is there an assumption that home owners don't store their vehicles on-site? I use my driveway.

Similarly, developers need to deal with the negative impacts of their buildings. They're building it, they're taking the profit. they or their investors will be sticking those rent checks into their account.

They sure as hell aren't sharing the profits with us, so why should we fall over ourselves to give them free benefits? If it doesn't "pencil out" with parking, what concern is that of ours? Private risk, private reward.

For people getting all high and mighty about paying for Portland's public goods you sure are in a hurry to give them away to private, for-profit developers from Beaverton.

Why is there an assumption that home owners don't store their vehicles on-site? I use my driveway.

Not every detached home has a driveway.

Why should the taxpayers subsidize for profit apartments which could negatively impact the current neighborhoods? Those negative impacts could not only effect parking, but schools, parks, fire and police protection, water, sewer and garbage, general health and safety, and a whole lot of other so called livability issues.
Over crowding is not conducive to a pleasant living environment. Just ask all the people of the world who leave the slums and tenements as soon as they were able!

Just go back to requiring a vote of the people. Also, shame the bejeezus out of everybody whose fingerprints are on whatever actions were involved in "relieving" the voters of this requirement. It is just like the repeal of Glass-Steagell. It never had a purpose other than unlocking the hen house door for the convenience of the foxes.

That chunk of the street in front is already owned by the homeowner. Its use is claimed by the city for collective use as right-of-way, but, if that right-of-way use is vacated (that's the technical term) it returns by right to the homeowner. Making the public pay multiple times for property the public has already paid for is very much a new-generation phenomenon -- just like ignoring the gift of property to the public commons "in perpetuity" and giving it away at sub-market rates to private real estate profiteers. Who needs any commons? Not these young'uns. They're so smart they can't wait to give it away!

Or are they so smart they can't even see what is a give away?
As long as the right buzz words are used,
they fall in line?

....you forgot to add in "workforce housing" with "affordable housing or student housing"....

I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot more of that term, a whole lot more!

You are right clinamen...
Workforce bunker/dormitory housing....probably.
No houses for you! workforce!

"Not every detached home has a driveway"

Those homes were built prior to the 50's. Zoning laws have required on-site parking of a minimum of 9x18ft for many decades for residential zoning, and still do. And until more recently apartments, condos, rowhouses were also required to have off-street parking.

The small minority like Andrew S has changed the Planning agenda, ignoring the 93% that still use vehicles extensively. Where's the common sense?

I have a feeling that mentioning that businesses near the bunkers (small local businesses who haven't got parking lots) will be impacted by loss of curbside parking for deliveries and customer use might cut more ice with the city than playing the "irritating the residential neighbors" card (although depriving them of a place to park is certainly annoying).

"We're gonna have a lower amount of wealth/stuff than our parents."

Andrew, Andrew, Andrew.......did not anyone ever tell you that wealth/stuff is not important? One thing that is, however, is critical thinking skills.

Seems we have a negative Tri-fecta in your case and you need to remedy that now. At least start to understand, really.

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