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

Posted by on April 23rd, 2014 at 9:24 am

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.

It’s a broad swath of the city that includes Hillsdale in Southwest Portland, Eastmoreland, Woodstock and Foster-Powell in Southeast. It grazes 82nd Avenue and Rosa Parks Way, taking in the edges of Cully, Woodlawn and Arbor Lodge. Inside the circle, only 31 percent of residential land allows multifamily construction. (Citywide, the figure is 26 percent. Some residential construction, including apartments, is also allowed on “general employment” land, which isn’t part of the “residential” land ratio here.)

Even advocates for more housing don’t say apartments or condos should be allowed throughout this central area, or even most of it. But as neighborhood associations submit their requests this month for the city’s next comprehensive zoning plan — with some, like Eastmoreland, requesting less density — some are calling attention to the anomaly of so much land in the middle of Portland being reserved for single-family homes.

“In Northwest, the zoning allows high-density development, and the market has responded,” said Eric Engstrom, principal planner at the city’s planning bureau. “In Buckman, it is zoned single-family exclusively. … Probably without zoning, Buckman would be much denser.”

Some Portlanders like the current system, Engstrom said. Others don’t.

“I think zoning’s a valid policy tool that can achieve things, but it can be used for good and for ill,” said Ben Schonberger, senior planner at Winterbrook Planning and a board member for the housing-affordability nonprofit Housing Land Advocates.

Schonberger acknolwedged that new multifamily units are usually more expensive than older buildings, including the repurposed single-family homes they sometimes replace. But he said they prevent rents on the old units from spiraling upward even faster.

“Those people are coming to Portland regardless,” Schonberger said. “And either they’re going to fill a unit in an existing neighborhood and push the people out of there, or they’re going to occupy the shiny new unit. … It doesn’t feel like [the units in a nice new building] have any impact on affordability, but they do. It’s spread out across the whole metropolitan area by pushing everybody’s rents down by a couple dollars a month. And that’s really hard to see.”

Southeast Division at 70th Avenue.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

The political problem, Schonberger said, is that the people who would benefit from “upzoning” to higher densities are the ones “who haven’t even moved here yet.”

“It’s a student who wants to go to PSU and wants a reasonable rent,” Schonberger said. “But he right now is living in Ohio and thinking, ‘Well, gee, I want to move to Portland but can’t afford it.'”

But Jamaal Green, a Portland State University Ph.D candidate who moved to Portland from North Carolina, said that though upzoning may indeed help people like him, it’s less useful to people in poverty.

“We do have a supply problem which upzoning could maybe help to dent,” said Green, who writes frequently about housing and transportation under the name Surly Urbanist. “Just don’t blow smoke and tell me that it’s for low-income people, because it’s not.”

“If you’re trying to address housing affordability at the bottom of the market, your upzoning has to be combined with something, like a combination of upzoning and inclusionary zoning,” he said, adding that more support for the state’s popular low-income housing tax credit program would help too.

Schonberger said he too supports changing state law in order to allow inclusionary zoning, which could require new buildings to preserve some lower-rent units for lower-income residents. But both he and Green questioned whether IZ alone could have a big effect on affordability.

“Most people, even most poor people, are living in market-rate housing,” Schonberger said. “And if market-rate means you have to live way back in Rockwood, that’s what you’re going to do.”

Correction 4/24: Because the city allows limited residential development on “general employment” land, some of the gray areas in the map above allow multifamily construction. An earlier version of this post did not reflect this.

 — The Real Estate Beat is a weekly column sponsored by real estate broker Lyudmila Leissler of Portlandia Home/Windermere Real Estate. Let Mila help you find the best bike-friendly home.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Charley
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Charley

This, for once, reveals a pro-bike, pro-sustainable-growth policy that libertarians could support: allowing more multi-family housing would be a free-market solution to the problem.

Paul Souders
Guest

Affordable housing is a transportation/livability issue and an equity issue.

I feel like a broken record on this subject. My family were planning on moving from outer SW to inner NE/SE this year, and we’re finding that it’s prohibitively expensive. Even selling the car won’t save us enough to make up the difference. And we do pretty well, money-wise: if this family can’t do it, very few can.

Portland could be nothing but bikeways and streetcars but if we can’t afford the rent working families will still be buying houses in Troutdale and Tualatin.

TonyT
Guest
TonyT

A related issue is the trouble a small-time landlord like myself has in finding loans for adding capacity. I own a 4-plex. My lot is zoned for 7. I know without a doubt that I could find renters and adding a triplex would pencil out. Despite this, funding is nearly impossible to find. The system favors large property developers with a level of cash flow I can’t compete with.

grumpcyclist
Guest
grumpcyclist

This whole article is pro-developer pap. Notice that they admit that the apartments they’re building are expensive, they want to dump zoning laws so that they can build really expensive apartments in the inner city and get rid of all of the affordable housing stock that already exists. Getting rid of our current zoning laws will just accelerate the move to push poverty out to the margins in our city.

Don’t fall for this BS.

James Sherbondy
Guest
James Sherbondy

I’m both curious and researching challenged. How much of the land zoned single family homes only is vacant?

RH
Guest
RH

There are quite a few of folks who want to live within inner PDX, but don’t want to give up their luxurious lifestyle. They’ll lease a new car every 3 years, eat out, go to Starbucks every day, buy junk on their credit card, take fancy vacations, spend $100 at the bar every weekend, etc.. But when it comes to saving up cash for a larger downpayment on a house (in order to get a smaller mortgage payment, etc..)…they will flinch and not want to make the effort and sacrifice. They need a financial ‘punch in the face’ to get their priorities right. Just sayin’.

MaxD
Guest
MaxD

One thing this article overlooks, IMO, is creating true “town centers” throughout Portland. Portland zoning and planning encourages the development of more intensly developed streets with mixed-use development that includes office, commercial and mult0family. In short, the 7-mile shouldn’t only be drawn around the center of downtown. Portland has great neighborhoods and great amenities spread throughout (including higher ed, great food, industry). I would really HATE for it to get developed with concentric rings of increasing density the closer one gets to downtown. Downtown is the center, and has the largest draw, but I approve of continuing to develop a multi-centered city with jobs, transportation, education and housing density dispersed throughout the City

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

Hypothetically, let’s say, take all the land zoned for single family dwelling within the 7 mile circle surrounding the central city area, and rezone it for mixed use. Many four or five story, and even taller buildings then are built to provide housing.

Look to bigger cities for possible examples of the situation created. NYC, with its block upon block of high rise housing, for example. To counter the cars for transportation problem, and parking for them, that very dense housing can produce, NYC has a far more extensive mass transit system than does Portland.

In terms of distance that a casual city rider will ride to work, and so forth, 7 miles may be quite a stretch. Looking at the map with the circle situated over it, even half that distance, three and a half miles, from the outer reaches of that circle, would be a stretch for many people. With some super fine cycle tracks, maybe.

Building good neighborhoods that include many high rise buildings may be a lot tougher to do than many people would like to think. Hopefully, they’re designed and built, not just to be relatively affordable, but also so that they’re places that people actually would want to live in, rather than in a single family dwelling located in a close in neighborhood, or out in the comparatively quiet, cleaner surroundings of the suburbs.

Cora Potter
Guest
Cora Potter

Michael – can I suggest a second map? Draw a 7 mile radius circle with it’s centroid NE 99th and Pacific.

TOM
Guest
TOM

>>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.

Seven miles as the crow flies or radius’s from a center are usually more via bike . We generally ride right angles not hypotenuses.

Alexis
Guest
Alexis

How to ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) fit into this picture? I recently bought a house in Irvington, and while I’d consider turning my detached double garage into a separate living unit, the permitting costs – especially for the historic district design review – are daunting.

Buzz Aldrin
Guest
Buzz Aldrin

look around in neighborhoods like Buckman at the crappy, out-of-place, poorly designed and constructed multi-unit apartments built in the 60s and 70s, often on lots where a former single family home had been razed, and you will understand why there is no great desire for higher density in these neighborhoods except on the bordering arterials.

Chris Smith
Guest

While this raises an interesting discussion, I’m not sure it ultimately asks the right question. The question here seems to be “how much of central Portland should be zoned for high density?” I would suggest the right question is “have we zoned sufficient high density development capacity in central Portland?” If you looked at the zoned FAR (floor area ratio – the basis measure of how dense a given property can be), I suspect you’ll find that we have an enormous amount of capacity. I don’t think bulldozing single-family neighborhoods is going to help with affordability. We need to look to other issues.

J_R
Guest
J_R

This argument seems to be based on the theory that the only destinations that are sought by people are in the central city. Even when I worked in downtown Portland, my work trips accounted for only two of my family’s ten to 14 trips per day. My children’s trips to school were always walking trips and they were in the neighborhood – not downtown. Grocery store trips were also never to downtown.

What we need are lots of destinations for services near the places where we live. Places to work near our residential areas would be nice, too, but are not as critical as services, which account for the majority of our trips.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“It’s a broad swath of the city that includes Hillsdale in Southwest Portland, Eastmoreland, Woodstock and Foster-Powell in Southeast.”

it really only grazes half of these neighborhoods. Over half of FoPo is outside that line, as it a good chunk of Woodstock.

Dave
Guest
Dave

These are the reasons that there should be both rent control and an absolute ceiling to the value and selling price of real property. A free market in property is an unacknowledged part of our transportation, energy use, and climate change problems.

grumpcyclist
This whole article is pro-developer pap. Notice that they admit that the apartments they’re building are expensive, they want to dump zoning laws so that they can build really expensive apartments in the inner city and get rid of all of the affordable housing stock that already exists. Getting rid of our current zoning laws will just accelerate the move to push poverty out to the margins in our city.
Don’t fall for this BS.
Recommended 14

Troy Haliwell
Guest
Troy Haliwell

This is exactly why I moved to Vancouver. The housing is much less expensive. You take my home and put it in Portland and it would cost twice as much as it did here in Vancouver.

Rents here are also less expensive than in Portland. A friend of mine rent’s his 2 br. apartment in a newer building near the Uptown area of Downtown Vancouver and it is $400 less than what he paid in Northeast Portland.

I realize that the UGB is the issue in Portland with artificially inflating the costs of construction, renting, and buying a home. It artificially creates a shortage of housing, which causes rent to increase and at the same time prevents landowners from building additional capacity of housing.

Not everyone though wants to live in a dense neighborhood. Some folks like having space around them that someone doesn’t occupy, they like the quiet that comes from a less dense neighborhood, and prefer a less crowded street to ride/drive down.

I am one of those folks–my home is in a typical suburban neighborhood. My house in PDX was in the Lloyd Center area. The living conditions couldn’t be any different. Here I have a back yard which would be holding a second house on in Portland. I can go outside and not have my neighbor interrupting the intended solitude moment. I can then get on my bike to my doctor, the post office, any of three different grocery stores, a couple big box ones, and a nature trail that goes on for 9 miles in the heart of the city.

In Lloyd, the traffic was horrible, riding a bike was fine on the lower trafficked streets north of NE Broadway, but man a trip to the grocery store meant dealing with the crush of traffic and taking my life in my hands with drivers not paying attention. My backyard was barely large enough for a small deck and a BBQ, and both my neighbors always knew if I was in it by looking out their bathroom and bedroom windows.

So for me, Vancouver made sense. I have the benefits of all my retail trips being under 4 miles and all my health services being 1 mile save for the hospital which is a 4.5 mile ride away. My job in is in the ‘Couve so I save on the punitive income tax. If I want tax free, it is a trip across the Glen Jackson’s protected bike route.

If you want that density, then sure you can live in Portland. Perhaps those folks who like the life that lower density brings could move to Vancouver and it’s urban area. 443,000+ people couldn’t all be wrong.

(Vancouver: 164,235. Urban area: 278,976 2014 estimate)

Ted Buehler
Guest

Interesting article.

However, availability of land zoned for apartments is not a problem in Portland.

See the 2012 “Buildable Lands Inventory” which concludes about residential land

“Zoned capacity in Portland is sufficient to meet projected housing need; that is, enough land in Portland is currently zoned to accommodate the projected number of new households.”

p. 17, http://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/408231
(I didn’t read all the methodology, but I figure they’re a reputable bunch.)

This inventory is all over the city. To see it, look at a zoning map
http://christinelholmes.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cityzone3.jpg
and check out the areas of dark red, dark blue and dark purple i neighborhoods that you frequent.

For me, many blocks of land along the NE MLK and N Interstate corridors that are zoned for 5 story mixed use buildings. These are now things like gas stations, vacant lots, tired-looking single family homes, etc. The developments that are occurring now have only scratched the surface, so to speak, of the vast tracts of lands developed for apartment buildings.

This inventory of buildable lands is something that will benefit Portland renters in the long run. Many other cities lack inventories of apartment-zoned vacant land, and the cities suffer for it in many ways. Portland is fortunate, thanks to aggressive upzoning by our leaders in years past.

Ted Buehler

jim
Guest
jim

There sure is a lot of yellow where I know there have been apartment buildings go up.

Doug Klotz
Guest
Doug Klotz

Part of the problem with the Comp Plan’s Buildable Land inventory is they are counting all the R-1 apartment zoning along corridors as well as the CS. The difference is in CS you can build any number of apartments you want, as long as they fit in the envelope (and meet building code minimums). If over 30 units per project, you must provide parking. In the R-1 zone, you can only build one apartment per 1,000 sq Ft of site area. So, take a 100 x 100′ lot on Hawthorne. CS? You can build 30 units or more. R-1? You can build 10 units. Problem is that building less than 20 units does not pencil out in going to the trouble to get a loan, as well as other permit costs, etc. So, it seems that no market-rate apartments are getting built in R-1. Single-family houses are, some with ADUs. We’re not going to get that R-1 density, even if the site has a small, cheap house on it now. The other major source of “capacity” is all those swaths of neighborhoods that are zoned R2.5, or Comp Plan Designated R2.5. Unless they’re really luxury rowhouses, we’re seeing few of those built.

Eli Spevak
Guest

Great article! There are some easy and effective ways Portland can update it’s zoning code to simultaneously preserve the character of existing neighborhoods AND allow more and smaller homes within these predominantly single dwelling zones. Here’ a link to a summary of initial ideas: http://www.orangesplot.net/blog/

It’s also interesting to look at Portland’s zoning code before the 1959 code update, which switched lots of land area from multifamily to single family zones in close-in neighborhoods. Here’s a link for details:
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCsQFjAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.portlandoregon.gov%2Fbps%2Farticle%2F147441&ei=gw5ZU_GBGKWzsATBzYHYCA&usg=AFQjCNGOFMg1JUMiYMstN1C9MhYqydd9eg&sig2=BRCA8QkpNQ557z52ayxPEg&bvm=bv.65397613,d.cWc&cad=rja

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

The biggest factor in Portland’s housing shortage is the recession, which halted almost all development for five years. Similar to what happened in downtown office space. The surge of multi-family development going on now is just the start of catch-up. It may take a decade to fill that five year hole.

As pointed out, there is ample zoned land on which that multi-family housing can be built. Ride around the city and on many arterials you’ll see block after block of low-value and low-occupancy commercial property and lots which can be replaced with apartment buildings. I was thinking about this as I rode around NE Sandy and Hollywood yesterday. Talk about under-utilized land.

In a decade, I think there will be a much better supply of multi-family housing in Portland, without any change to zoning.

However, there will not be a better supply of multi-family housing that is cheaply priced AND attractive AND close to the city center. The cost of development means that new construction won’t supply those units. Existing housing will rise in price with new housing, either through renovation, scarcity, or being torn down and replaced with new.

Big picture: Portland is becoming a desirable city, and prices in desirable cities . . . rise. That has happened in every city I know of that has become desirable, in the US and indeed elsewhere.

The best way to preserve cheap, attractive, close-in housing in Portland would be to tear out all the bike infrastructure, shut down all the good restaurants, drive out all the growing employers, and generally degrade the desirability of the city. Not likely to be the choice.

One thing that could soften the desirability -> price rise effect could be new, smaller models of housing – micro-apartments, tiny houses, ADUs. That will require recalibration of renters’ expectations.

rex
Guest

As a 36 year resident of inner city Portland, I am thrilled by the new housing going in. I like the fact that young people can afford to live here and help support the bars, groceries, restaurants that I also enjoy.

As I report here (http://bit.ly/1fnISy0) the new households in Multnomah County over the coming 20 years will be dominated by one person households (50% of new, of which 75% will be people over 65). Maybe we need a new word: what really is a single family? One person, three generations, four friends? Since households vary so much, we need a varied housing stock–again, the future demand will be for one bedroom housing.

As for the proposition that existing “modest” housing in inner city is more affordable than apartments or condos–how can that be when the median house price in 97214 is $434,000? (Zillow 3/31/14) (I just saw a home on SE Salmon priced at an “affordable” $1.2Million!)

Building 4-6 story buildings along major streets can enliven those streets, calm traffic and is entirely compatible with strong neighborhoods. Think of how much better 82nd would be if it was lined by such buildings and redesigned like a Parisian Boulevard instead of the dirty, dangerous and ugly place it is today.

Joe
Guest
Joe

I live in the Alberta area and would WELCOME more density. Right now single-family affordable homes are being torn down left and right and $600,000 HUGE single family houses are being built in their place. I lived in Germany for a year and these houses could easily be 3 flats of 1000 square feet each but the zoning says SFR. So another 1200 sf house gets bulldozed and an expensive one goes up in its place. Soon my neighborhood will be just rows of 3000 sf houses serving a family of maybe 4.

paul g.
Guest
paul g.

Thanks to Chris Smith and Ted Buehler for providing actual facts to the discussion.

It’s really ironic to see the posts here railing at “social engineering” or the limits that zoning places on your ability to knock down your house and build anything you want in its place.

You can’t celebrate government planning one minute (UGB) then criticize it the next. Those same planners that promote density also try to manage density.

You really want unrestricted multi-family units / apartments willy nilly? Who will end up paying for the upgraded sewer connections, road improvements, transportation connections, etc?

Personally, I think Division has been very poorly managed by the City. The road doesn’t have the capacity to handle the increased volume, and bike riders can already the impact on Clinton. We need increased density, but we need to figure out the appropriate corridors, not just throw the gates open.

Few homeowners that I know are greedily trying to cash in. Many of us are “home rich” meaning we are pretty much stuck as well. We could sell and pocket a nice profit (though could not a few years ago, and I know quite a few still underwater), but then we couldn’t afford anything comparable in the City.

Cora Potter
Guest
Cora Potter

Developing 82nd is a fantastic idea. Here’s an area where the west side of the street at this intersection (which has an awesome grocery anchored site across the street and is on a neighborhood greenway) could be redeveloped into a pretty desirable place to live. And, it would be replacing a car lot and an unused warehouse rather than 2-3 centuries old homes.

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.501391,-122.578683,3a,75y,278.75h,69.1t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sEWmg826xW_YkicNiNS9i1w!2e0

Terry D
Guest
Terry D

As a neighborhood we fundamentally are concerned with the double problems of a lack of affordable housing and want to keep the “historic housing stock.”

In response, we wanted the city to make it “fundamentally easier to duplex, add additions and ADU’s.” I am personally zoned R2 but comprehensive plan R1, but I am directly next to a non-conforming commercial in an r1. In response to our letter, the city has decided to change the CG zoning on Burnside to something more commercial/residential mixed use and include the non-conforming commercial. The question on Glisan is different. We think that the area north of Glisan between Providence and Center commons at 60th could handle MUCH more density as the neighboring buildings have a 99 foot limit. The city is current reticent about zoning this much density since it is not initiated by landowners…..but how would an R1 zoning pencil out when it butts up to a freeway?

Initially I was thinking we should push for the higher density, but on second thought…after talking to a city planner, I am leaning more towards leaving it as is UNTIL we actually get inclusionairy zoning. That way we can REQUIRE true mixed income and sized units. We called for a mix of low income, work-force, family sized and retirement focused units. There is no way to do this without inclusionairy zoning…hence, since there is plenty of development room on Burnside for market rate mixed use (look at the south side between QFC at 60th) for the time being, as a Transportation and Land use chair I am willing to wait until the state law is changed so we get a better product that actually contains affordable housing that meets demand.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Michael — I think you’ve made an error in your calculations.

The Portland zone “EX” is termed “Employment” but what it really means is “Everything,” typically with a 65′ height limit (5 stories).

In your map, you omitted all non “residential lands” from your buildable inventory. The EX land, while not zoned residential, is available for residential construction.

There’s lots of EX land, suitable for building apartment buildings, that ie erroneously shown in “grey” on your map.

For instance, many of the new apartment buildings in the inner N/NE are built on EX land, such as
* The Albert, Williams and Beech, 64 units
* The Payne, 18 units, Williams and Beech
* 4200 N Williams 84 units, (under construction) Williams and Mason
* Wilmore, about 50 units, (under construction) Williams and Skidmore
* OAME site, about 184 units, soon to be under construction, Willams and Mason
* Kaiser Towers, 8 stories, soon to be under construction, Williams and Fremont
* Bakery Towers, 5 stories, 100+ units, soon to be under construction, Williams and Cook
* new microflats, about 35 units, Vancouver between Failing and Beech
* The Miss, ~40 units, Mississippi between Beech and Failing
* The Sippi, ~25 units, Mississippi and Failing
* The Prescott, ~? units, Skidmore and Interstate

You might want to update your buildable land inventory map, and calculations, to include the EX zoned land…

Here’s some screenshots showing where EX zoned land needs to be added to the “blue” section of your map — https://www.flickr.com/photos/11599639@N03/13995058791/

Ted Buehler

Chris Smith
Guest

There’s been a lot of great policy discussion here, but not much on the politics of density. I’ve been involved in this debate for a long time. I’d encourage folks to read the 1999 City Club report on increasing residential density (http://research.pdxcityclub.org/sites/default/files/reports/Density_1999.pdf) – I was a member of the study committee (at the time I was a board member in my neighborhood association).

The City has essentially three strategies for accommodating residential growth:

1) Whole new neighborhoods (Pearl, South Waterfront)
2) Add multifamily development on transit corridors
3) Infill single family neighborhoods

Those are listed in the order of least political opposition.

There is little or no opposition to new neighorhoods, because nobody lives there yet! And the City has taken advantage of that, but there really aren’t any more opportunities on the scale of the Pearl.

Intensifying transit corridors has a strong policy nexus (we already have the transportation infrastructure) – but still encounters considerable local resistance on the grounds of building mass, height, design and on-street parking supply. Arguably we could do better on some of these issues, but we will upset people, as can be seen on Division and Williams.

Neighborhood infill is the toughest, because it can happen next door to anyone. Witness the skinny houses debate. The City’s policies here are relatively mild yet still engender considerable pushback (when adopting the ADU liberalization, people testified that it would change the character of entire neighborhoods – instead we see a maximum of a few hundred built each year).

“Density everywhere” is actually very bad for transportation (Metro modeled this while developing the 2040 concept). It generates lots of auto trips because you put housing relatively distant from services. The centers and corridors strategy does a much better job of reducing trips by putting residents near commercial and other other services.

While there is a LOT of opportunity for refinement and improvement, I think the basic centers and corridors strategy for density being pursued by the City is on-track for both policy and political reasons.

o/o
Guest
o/o

I live in Milwaukie about 8.5 miles to Portland city hall. Wish I could live a bit closer like Sellwood. But I am generally happy with my current house.

gumby
Guest
gumby

In San Diego, they are changing some of the rules for apartment buildings so that they can be built for low income people without needing subsidies for the owners or the tenants. This means that they are being built like some of the older apartments with shared bathrooms and common areas and very small apartments.

David
Guest

Timely question.
Not a very useful answer.

I was a longtime Portland resident.

I am a bicycle mechanic. I can find work in Portland. I cannot find housing I can afford anywhere near work.

I remember a Portland where the people working in stores lived near enough to ride or easily take TriMet.

The sadness of this: many of the people who worked so hard and so long to build Portland great: bus riders, park users, library patrons; can no longer afford the lovely city they built.

sean
Guest
sean

http://www.portlandmaps.com/detail.cfm?&site_name=SE%2010TH%20AVE%20and%20SE%20DIVISION%20ST&resultcount=2&nofooter=no&action=explorer

Take a few minutes and scan the inner neighborhoods. Some of the busiest streets (Hawthorne for example). Are still zoned R1 in places. A good rule of thumb: adjacent to mass transit (within 50m), consider higher density zoning.

kww
Guest
kww

I live in Sellwood, right at the edge of the transit corridor (Sellwood Bridge), and there is a lot of development going on close by, a 4 story commercial/residential, narrow lot homes, and single family replacements (one McMansion, and one ‘right sized’).

So the neighborhood is getting denser, but guess what, the zoning hasn’t and doesn’t need to be changed to accommodate this development.

IMO, for Sellwood, there is about 20 more years of ‘infill’ that can happen before zoning laws will have to change to accommodate more density.

Lynnd
Guest
Lynnd

Zoning issues are a culprit in affordable housing shortages but another is demand. During the Great Recession many foreclosed-upon homeowners upon were pushed into the rental market, which has driven demand to the point where the cost of renting in some areas of the country are in line with the cost of a mortgage elsewhere. (To afford the average one-bedroom Los Angeles area apartment, for example, a renter must make a minimum of $67K per year according to an NPR article I read.) Given how severe the affordable housing shortage is in some of the nation’s major cities/job markets, I’m curious to know if others have observed a similar phenomena to what I have observed in Southern California: the construction of brand-new condos and single-family homes that remain partially empty for years on end? I appreciate that this phenomena was prevalent during the Recession, when news outlets reported on “ghost towns”, but what I can’t wrap my mind around is the fact that I’m still seeing the launch of new housing developments that are bound to sit half empty once they are completed (if completed developments that are still half vacant or unsold in the LA area are any indication!). Are there tax or development incentives that encourage developers to proceed in the face of these risks, outright kickback schemes with local officials and/or lenders — or some other explanation for how new construction and “what the market can bear” continue to work in seemingly opposite directions?

Mark Smith
Guest
Mark Smith

Drop the apartment ban and see where the market takes Portland. Worried about too much development? Require 8 foot sidewalks, sprinklers and true sustainable construction without formaldehyde.

What is worth building will truly be built.