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Monday, August 13, 2012

Guess who brought the delusional Slate reporter to town

We blogged last week about this drivel -- an article touting Portland's wonderful economy. It basically took one not very meaningful statistic and spun it into a fairy tale about economic progress in our city. To show how perceptive it was, it even glowed with the news that the city's creepy mayor is making progress on the high school dropout front.

A reader alerted us to the fact that the writer in question, Matthew Yglesias, made his brief visit to Portland at the behest of the Bus Project. Given his hearty endorsement of the status quo in Portland, it's almost as if the Bus folks, who do the bidding of mayoral wannabe Jeffer-Sten Smith, are signalling that Smith will stay the course set by the current "management," the Sam Rand Twins. Interesting.

We were also a little surprised to see that the group 1,000 Friends of Oregon was involved in bringing Yglesias to town. We've always mentally cubby-holed 1,000 Friends as a focused, old school watchdog of the state's land use laws -- laws that deserve and need fierce protectors. But a little prowling around on the organization's website shows that the group is currently mixing up and dispensing tankfuls of real estate developer Kool-Aid.

Those huge cr-apartment bunkers without parking that are wrecking Portland's inner east side neighborhoods? 1,000 Friends is applauding them:

Both Portland and Seattle have a variety of market and regulatory tools in place to incentivize good urban development. Tools such as reuse tax credits and demolition fees can promote redevelopment of existing buildings, but ultimately, many developers say removing parking minimums is the most effective way to move new infill or adaptive reuse projects forward. Zoning codes in both cities support reducing parking minimums along frequent service transit corridors, and it is an important tool to ensure that development occurs in target areas....

Along with a packed room, we discussed the economic benefits of removing parking minimums, and how urban growth boundaries have supported the type of development that is right for the Portland region. Yglesias was surprised by the disconnect of the central city and central eastside neighborhoods, and by the commitment to single family residential zoning throughout much of the city....

1000 Friends was honored to co-host Matt’s first trip to Portland, and we will consider his observations as we champion strategies that will promote a more livable, economically prosperous and walkable region.

Icky doodles.

Would Tom McCall support 100-unit apartment complexes with no parking? Would Tom McCall push to marginalize single-family houses? The Bus kids and their 1,000 Friends counterparts are twisting history, spouting gibberish, and creating a Portland that will never be anything but food carts, drum circles, and methadone clinics. The Matthew Yglesias worship should be a big-time alarm for the rest of us about where the hipsters are driving us. And it's too bad that the grownups have apparently all left 1,000 Friends.

Comments (16)

"good urban development"

As well-defined by a small group of people who all went to the same schools and think alike.

Welcome to the new Portland (or any-ville).

Homer's gonna love it here.

Yes, destroy livability in order to save it.

I suspect they classify McCall as a fossil, along with the likes of John McLaughlin Sam Barlow, the U.s. Constitution...

It is really ironic that the UGB system has ultimately twisted the smart growth crowd around to where they're actively championing the diminishment of quality of life in the city itself, and the self-interested, profit-driven developers have no greater friends.

Both Portland and Seattle have a variety of market and regulatory tools...

They shouldn't make a damning statement like that without naming names.

Funny that these yahoos cite the "market" and "what is right" for Portland, and yet their policies are directly the opposite of how the vast majority of this city wants to live. San Francisco/Seattle without the economy is not a good direction

I have been concerned about this group and others like it with the mantra about how great the UGB is. I believe it has morphed into this rigid belief of urbanism that their way is the way. Others like myself see that Portland as a result of this agenda has become a sacrifice zone, that we must sacrifice livability as we knew it to save the area outside the UGB.

This group and other environmental UGB believers have stood by to see nature taken within our city and our livablity sacrificed. I guess it was fine with them to sell our public park, Johnswood Park for more density housing, to see groves of huge trees destroyed throughout our city for development as long as little urban street trees replaced them, to not adhere to codes such as in SoWhat, where the height restrictions were not followed, greenway designations not questioned when taken, infill wherever possible, the more the better to now including apartments without parking.

This has in my opinion been morphed into a cult and I resent that they should be defining how we should all be living. I find it disturbing that the zoning for single family homes should be questioned. I went to a Metro meeting many years ago, a casual one at a pub discussion and brought up then other options to consider, but my ideas were immediately dismissed by a Metro head chairing the meeting by responding that we couldn’t have that kind of option as then people would want to live there. Now that I look back I wonder if the reason for that response may very well have been that certain ones may have already held properties ready in line for this "density" mantra and all the money to be made.

The density mandates come from Metro and LCDC, and they're only going to get worse. In other words, what you don't like is the direct result of the state land use laws that you want to keep.

The tradeoff for ruining your neighborhood is that you can sleep well knowing that no one can build a house out in the middle of that "prime farmland" in Harney County (as if anyone was going to do that anyway). Sleep well comrade.

(as if anyone was going to do that anyway).

You might be surprised at where developers will build if given the chance. (Spoiler alert: the answer is "everywhere.") I grew up in San Diego, and many of the places that I thought, 30 years ago, "sheesh, who would ever want to build anything HERE?" now are filled with development.

The last census disagrees with you. You been to Harney County lately? A lot of growth (and any jobs which would accompany it) would do them well. But it ain't gonna happen, and it ain't San Diego.

"Both Portland and Seattle have a variety of market and regulatory tools..."

The tools are:
1) Ask Homer if it makes sense, then
2) Ask Gerding-Edlen, then
3) Run it past David Evans to see if they can suck some project mgmt dollars out of it, then
4) See if MWH can get Carollo to write a report saying how much we need reservoir caps to encourage development.

I'd consider their use of the term "market" in the loosest sense.

the self-interested, profit-driven developers have no greater friends.

Pretty much true for everything that's supposedly "progressive" in government around here, isn't it? Why else all the disproportionate resources being spent on P/R?

If people really wanted these things, they wouldn't need all the "perception management".

One wonders if the 1000 Friends of Oregon - with their aloof supremacist agenda of how everybody should else live - march in goose step.

Mr. Grumpy,
I like your recent term "perception management." I have a feeling that huge staff in Sam's office spends a great deal of time on that with "close" watch on the right "perception management" as to what is sent to the media. Some more money and time on the propaganda material sent to households. Unfortunately, any other viewpoint by the citizens is barely covered, lucky to get one sentence in the press on a critical issue and even then have to wonder how it will be presented. Often just another opportunity for those "in charge" to have the last word.

Columbia County Kid,
Some of us don't consider this an acceptable tradeoff having our neighborhoods ruined. The behavioral directives of this and that so many fall in line remind me of a cult.

In the past 30 years plus, many neighborhood associations and other groups have relied on 1000 Friends for help on planning/environmental issues. Many cases they were helpful. But things have changed with 1000 Friends where the density mantra has exceeded the common sense approach to land use planning, and in many cases opposing the environment.

When SoWhat was first proposed 1000 Friends and the umbrella organization of environmental groups were contacted for input on the excessive density and obliteration of the Statewide Greenway Regulations on setbacks and step-down height requirements to the Willamette. These groups totally ignored these concerns all for maximum Density, both heights and FAR.

Now we have the obliteration of our long established neighborhoods where lots can be divided from 50 ft widths to 25 ft., and heights can reach 40 ft. on sloping sites (which is much of Portland) and even higher if you want to build retaining walls to increase new grades to any desired height with the 40 ft. of building on top. Parking standards have been reduced. Sideyards/backyards/front yards have been reduced. Lot building coverage has been increased. Solar codes have been eliminated. In R5 zones, corner lots on a block allows for two residences on a 50 ft wide lot doubling the density for a typical 8 lot block to 16. Granny or rental units can be built behind homes on already small lots. Trees are obliterated but the environmentalist accept the new 3 street trees as remediation. How is this Density saving our city and being environmentally conscious.

It almost seems all these so-called benefits are for the developers and not our citizens. Density is out of balance.

I don't think McCall and Hector Macpherson envisioned this interpretation of our state-wide planning Goals.

Thanks to Lee for bringing in details.
I was dismayed when I found solar codes didn't really matter, I imagine because those codes too as the huge trees stood in the way of developments. The hypocrisy that pervades in our city is disgusting. How dare we portray ourselves as green and sustainable when all around us our green and sustainable is being eliminated/taken!!!

Our lots have been sliced into pieces. There are flag lots, in some areas of the city that allow houses to be built in the backyards of another. I know of a case where two houses were built in such a back yard, that the code would not have allowed, not even close. But huge adjustments were granted, the neighborhood objected and lost, the property owner from California won.

How many more ugly stories can this city tolerate?

The ugliness gets worse, now possibly losing our good drinking water, and having the coal trains run through our community. There is not much hope with our elected officials essentially giving us the run around.
Betrayal? What are we to think?

Amongst other things, Mr. Yglesias tweeted that he even saw white people on the bus in Portland. Now that's insightful analysis worth paying good money for.

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