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2,000 missing homes: Prices soar in bikeable areas as Portland’s rental shortage deepens

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014
vacancy rate chart
Source: Census. Chart by BikePortland.

As Portlanders puzzle over why local bike, bus and rail transportation has stopped rising, last week’s Census figures show another trend continuing to reshape the city’s population.

New construction in the central city hasn’t come close to relieving one of the country’s harshest rental housing shortages.

For structures built before 1940 — the bungalows and walk-ups built before the age of automotive planning that cover most of the land between the Willamette River, 82nd Avenue, Powell and Lombard, including many of the most bike-friendly neighborhoods in North America — median rents rose 19 percent in the two years from 2011 to 2013, Census estimates show.

Since 2005, when the City of Portland’s population growth began to dramatically outpace its supply of new units, rent in these central-city buildings has risen 47 percent.

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City’s Comp Plan makes it clear: Portland is mostly finished adding auto capacity

Friday, July 25th, 2014
Bike traffic on NW Broadway-20
Traffic on the Broadway Bridge, 2013.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

In case you weren’t sure whether Portland is truly unusual as mid-sized U.S. cities go, the 20-year comprehensive plan map released this week ought to make it clear.

The plan might be the city’s clearest statement ever that it’s betting everything — not just the future of biking or riding mass transit, but everything — on being able to make car-lite transportation dramatically more attractive than it is now.

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Maybe this is why you can’t afford to rent in the central city

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
Yellow areas are zoned for single-family homes, blue for mixed-use and multifamily, gray primarily for industry and office (with some residential allowed), green for park and open space.

Real Estate Beat is sponsored by Portlandia Home

Seven miles is an important distance in the world of bike transportation.

It’s about the distance a casual city rider can pedal in an hour, which studies show is the upper limit of the time most humans prefer to commute. It’s the distance where, even in the Netherlands, public transit trips become more popular than bike trips (and car trips are eight times more common than either).

So as Portland’s apartment rents have jumped an average 11 percent in the last year, with the tightest markets in North and inner Northeast Portland, the city’s biking population has felt it — in either their wallets or their thighs.

Here’s one factor at play in one of the country’s most persistent urban rental shortages: in two-thirds of Portland’s central seven miles, it’s illegal to build a multi-family building.

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