Comment of the Week: Portland, the city that can reinvent itself

Posted by on September 25th, 2015 at 5:38 pm

Ride Along with the Stedman Family-27

Portland bike lover Helena Stedman in 2012.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

Well, we sort of hate to give this recognition to the same person twice — let alone twice in a row. But amid all the amazingly insightful comments beneath Jonathan’s piece Wednesday about coming to terms with Portland’s big changes, one stood out as both accepting of Portland’s serious problems and focused on its enduring strengths.

It came from reader GutterBunnyBikes, who wrote, Thursday evening, about our city’s consistent ability to be “an active agent in its own evolution.”

Honestly, I think much of the “petals have fallen off the rose” comments really might say more about where you are from than where you are.

For me, I moved here in 92 from Detroit. Part of what I loved about this town was the UGB and the fact the city had a plan to keep the urban decay and blight at bay because the city has to reinvent itself.

It seems the ones that bemoan the recent changes most are those that are born/raised here, or are from some pretty great cities to begin with. LA, NYC, Boston…. I love them all (honestly if I could afford it, I’d gladly head out to NYC), but prefer it here for various reasons.

Advertisement

But if you come from Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, KC, Atlanta – even Chicago you’ve seen what becomes of cities that sit by and let the builders build out, what happens to the Downtowns when left to basically rot. And despite the recent “hype” of some of these cities, they really haven’t changed much over the years. Yeah, Detroit is becoming a bike town, but it’s largely because there simply isn’t any cars on the streets…and the lack of cars there are not for all the right reasons, but because of the worse possible reasons for a city.

And that is what Portland has always been for me, a city that is an active agent in its own evolution. A city not afraid to pick up and reinvent entire neighborhoods and communities if needed. And it’s has always been largely spearheaded by the young talent that migrates here – the locals here have always been weary of strangers.

Sellwood, Pearl, NW, Alberta, Mississippi were all “gentrified”- before that even was Hawthorne. And most the people that live there now, wouldn’t have cringed at even the thought to drive (with the car doors locked) through them “back in the day”. I had friends (young liberal art school friends) that refused to visit my house because I lived on 7th and Sumner back in the early 90’s. That same time I had a friend that rented the apartment on the second floor of the old drug store on Mississippi and Shaver, and for entertainment we’d buy a half rack of Henry’s and watch “Cops” out her window (did the same thing in Detroit, but it was 40s of Stroh’s on the front porch of downtown brownstones).

But Portland is the city of change, and doesn’t let the rust settle in. Be it city planning, public transit or bicycles, Portland has been at the top of the heap, leading the rest of the country by the nose on how to do it. Some may eventually surpass us at “it”, but it was often Portland that showed them the way. And our example, has helped make great cities even greater, and even helped some crappy ones become less crappy.

To quote another of the numerous smart comments on that post, from reader Alex: “You have to keep your spirit of the city alive, because no one else is going to for you.” Here’s to that. See you next week.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

45 Comments
  • Avatar
    9watts September 25, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    He does turn many a good phrase.

    This, though, will likely be read by Portland’s African Americans in a different light:
    “A city not afraid to pick up and reinvent entire neighborhoods and communities if needed.”

    Rachel B has made this point here repeatedly: who gets to decide that a neighborhood needs reinventing? The whole idea is troubling.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      gutterbunnybikes September 25, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      As one who lived in NW in 92 then to Alberta in 94. I can honestly say that those that choose, are the poor students (art school drop out actually), the recent immigrants, and the minorities that come out once the scales have been balanced out to improve their lives in their neighborhoods.

      What makes and has made every single gentrified neighborhood attractive to developers and the city is a neighborhood that has picked itself up and starts improving itself on its own, with it own meager funds.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        rachel b September 26, 2015 at 1:47 am

        I admire your pluck, gutterbb, even if I can’t emulate it. 🙂 Congrats!
        I do think its important to remember the very purposeful disenfranchisement and squashing of Portland’s black community in your area, and the big part it played in its development history. My grasp of the history is weak, but I do know longtime residents of Mississippi, Alberta etc. had already suffered a long series of relentless, really low blows by the time you moved there (see link below). If an area in Portland was going to be sacrificed, it was always going to be where blacks lived. The City and lending institutions ensured oppression was systematic and effective. What community anywhere could withstand that kind of deliberate hobbling/laming? Its condition by the time you arrived there wasn’t a simple matter of neighbor/resident neglect but the direct result of a shameful history of City neglect and active, virulent racist policies and land-snatching. I don’t think anyone there felt they needed saving by helpful (white) outsiders moving in and ‘caring’. Neighbors there always cared plenty. They just were simply actively, routinely thwarted when they needed extension and enforcement of the same basic rights, services, investment and City support that white areas got, white citizens got. The City simply made it much, much easier for whites to invest in N/NE–hence, gentrification, and mass home-loss, displacement and fragmentation of the Portland black community. I can’t celebrate it.

        a thumbnail history of the area, redlining, etc.– http://www.ccrh.org/center/posters/nepassage/history.htm

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          gutterbunnybikes September 26, 2015 at 10:33 am

          There is nothing I can do to compensate for the treatment of the poor and minorities over this cities and countries history – except treat all the people in my life and in my community as best I can and with the respect they deserve.

          “I don’t think anyone there felt they needed saving by helpful (white) outsiders moving in and ‘caring’. Neighbors there always cared plenty. They just were simply actively, routinely thwarted when they needed extension and enforcement of the same basic rights, services, investment and City support that white areas got, white citizens got”

          I’m not even going to argue this point, minority communities everywhere in the US are neglected. But I would argue that redevelopment makes up for some of this. Not all the locals are pushed out, many benefit from the improvements and are often rewarded with a neighborhood they never dreamed they’d be apart of. There are still many black families in ALberta/Mississippi neighborhoods, the Pearl district has more low income housing than most (perhaps any) other district in the city) In many ways, trying to preserve these neighborhoods is just a continuation of segregation, and because of these inherent problems within our system, do little but support the existing conditions and prejudices of our society.

          But what are we to do? Keep up the neglect and allow these communities fall further into despair through continued neglect until they are uninhabitable like Gary or parts of Detroit? Or do we rebuild it? Even if you try to preserve the community there you will push some people out even with very modest improvements, because even a few coats of paint and a few flowers in the yard increases value, and invites further development.

          And I can only speak of my experiences on some of this, but I didn’t move to the neighborhood to “save” anyone, and I never implied that the people that lived in these neighborhoods didn’t or don’t care. I moved there because it was where I could afford (this was just before any of the reinventing of Alberta started) and NE (as a recent transplant) at the time was very much like home (Detroit).

          The neighbors cared, but what was my elderly, widowed, black neighbor supposed to do when the gangs (which are also a direct result of this societal neglect) and dealers would take over the block? She hid, as she should have. Or her son who had two kids and lived a few houses down? He hid too. His race didn’t make taking any action a viable option, he had kids to worry about. I didn’t hide, and it was my white privilege that gave me the power to do something about it – and I was aware of it at the time too. But I didn’t do it to save my neighbors, I did it for selfish reasons, because I didn’t want that MY street or the associated, often random violence that comes with it.

          But after a few months of my direct and indirect confrontations with the dealers, my block was open, the kids started playing in the street and the elderly neighbor who use to spy on us though the window, came out and sat on her chair on the front porch all day – everyday.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            rachel b September 26, 2015 at 11:14 am

            I’m sure you’re the best kind of neighbor, gutterbb–never doubted it! I just think it’s important to remember what led to the blight, the gangs, the fear. And that it’s important for cities to make existing residents key players in the redevelopment of their neighborhoods–esp. in light of systemic racism and suppression. I don’t think you’d find anyone against redevelopment and improvement of their neighborhood…as long as THEY too–first and foremost–are given the loans, the incentives, the help, the infrastructure, the decisions. As long as they have a say, and get the same leg up the more privileged among us get.

            This video lets several thoughtful folks speak to how they feel about what happened in Portland, to their neighborhood and community. Gentrification took away a critical space for a whole community and scattered it. It didn’t have to go that way. You can improve and redevelop and involve the key players–the existing residents.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulLLuaDHEls

            Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            rachel b September 26, 2015 at 3:10 pm

            Hi gutterbb–just wanted to let you know I read your response and did reply to you this morning but my comment is awaiting moderation. best, r

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Avatar
              rachel b September 26, 2015 at 11:28 pm

              …aaaaand still awaiting moderation. ??? I’m not sure why…

              Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            JonM September 26, 2015 at 11:43 pm

            gutterbunnybikes
            I’m not even going to argue this point, minority communities everywhere in the US are neglected.

            Really? Neglected by whom? For how many decades have US taxpayers poured trillions into “minority communities”, whether these were in LA, NYC, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Baltimore, Newark, etc., etc., etc. via education dollars, HUD dollars, HHS dollars, enterprise zones, renaissance zones? Ironically, most of the “minority communities” are dominated by minorities and Democrats and, still, decades later, we see the same tired calls for even more spending, er, investment.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

            • Avatar
              gutterbunnybikes September 29, 2015 at 6:28 am

              Yawn….

              and all of which (combined) were/are only a fraction of most industrial and corporate subsidies. Let’s not even get into how of them where the programs were promised and passed then either forgotten or ignored or never fully funded, if funded at all.

              Recommended Thumb up 0

              • Avatar
                BeavertonRider September 29, 2015 at 8:59 am

                Yawn? Really?

                So, I see now… You’re upset because the government provides subsidies to businesses and believe that this demonstrates that minority communities are neglected. You assert here, without facts, that subsidies to businesses far outweigh the social spending and economoc development in minority communities… Where’s your evidence? How do you know?

                In any case, tens of billions and more in education, health, housing, and economic development cannot be characterized as “neglect”.

                Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            BeavertonRider September 29, 2015 at 8:54 am

            Minority communities everywhere are neglected? How so, precisely.

            Maybe you mean that they were neglected, though thats far understating the issue, in the 50s,60s,70s, and 80s?

            Over the past 40-50 years, US taxpayers have poured tens of billions and more into these communities vua educatuin funding, housing, economic development, anti-poverty programs, and many other social programs. That can’t be called neglectful.

            Further, the major metro areas that are heavily populated by minorities are typically dominated by liberal and progressive Democrats who tell us year after year how much they’re doing for minorities, yet, ironically, year after year, peiple like gutter here tell us how neglected minorities are.

            I have to wonder by what criteria these minority communities are determined to be neglected?

            Further, I detect a lot of guilting going on, especially when I see phrases like white privilege being thrown about. White privilege, if it even exists outside the faddish liberal social circuit, does not explain the unbelievably high rate and incidence of black illegitimacy, black abortion, or black crime, generally. And we are far beyond the debunked social science that linked poverty to these characteristics.

            And there seems to be some confusion about Detroit. I grew up in Detroit, attended the Detroit public schools, did my masters work in public admin and urban planning at Wayne State in downtown and then worked for the City of Detroit for nearly a decade while my wife taught in the Detroit public schools.

            I remember when Detroit had 2 million people and was a thriving city. I also remember when Coleman Young was elected and minority politics took over. This is what chased away the remaining whites and their dollars. Sure, so-called white flight was already taking place, but the rapidity picked up following Coleman’s election as mayor.

            But what’s most surprising was the flight of the upper and middle class blacks. And this was not unique to Detroit. Detroit became really hollowed out when the middle and upper class blacks started fleeing the patronage politics, failing school system, corrupt public services, etc. We need to stop this bogus guilt-tripping and let these communities own their problems and their responsibility.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          MD September 27, 2015 at 9:09 am

          I don’t live in Portland but enjoy visiting the city. I often find myself on a run through the streets exploring areas of the city I haven’t been or have changed sincey.last visit. My personal opinion is that the city continues to grow/redevelop in a positive manner and offers locals and visitors numerous options for enjoying the public realm. Rachel b, I encourage you to read this article about gentrification and displacement:http://www.citylab.com/housing/2015/09/the-complicated-link-between-gentrification-and-displacement/404161/

          We seem to have preconceived ideas about the negative results of gentrification, but research suggests otherwise.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            9watts September 27, 2015 at 7:55 pm

            I read the article you linked to. But I found not very much to allay my feelings that gentrification leaves lots of people holding the short end of the proverbial stick.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

          • Avatar
            rachel b September 28, 2015 at 12:13 am

            Hi MD–thanks for the link. Gentrification in Portland has actually hit the black community here very hard. Here’re some stats from a year ago. http://www.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2014/09/25/heres-what-four-decades-of-gentrification-in-north-and-northeast-portland-looks-like

            Though I think all you need to do is listen directly to those neighbors. The thing I hear repeatedly mentioned as perhaps the most destructive fallout is not the loss of individual homes but the loss of community, of an historic community place–ownership of a neighborhood. People were dispersed and there is no real center now. The guests in the video I posted speak directly about that.

            Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Dante September 26, 2015 at 12:49 am

    I kind of grew up in Portland. I moved here in 94 to attend high school at Grant but lived in Sullivans Gulch. The neighborhood I lived was nice, Lloyd was nice, Grant neighborhood is basically a lower Alameda neighborhood, bascially all great neighborhoods. Being black, I had friends that lived in certain areas of N / NE that you just didn’t go to at night. In a nutshell, they were forbidden areas. If you didn’t know anyone in that neighborhood of Alberta, Woodlawn, Mississippi, Williams, you didn’t go there because something bad could happen. Not to say it would but why take chances if you know there is a chance.

    I lived in Gateway in my early 20’s after the Navy and prior to moving to Las Vegas (that’s a whole other story) but besides my year and a half in Camas/Washougal when migrating back to Portland in 08, I have always lived in inner Portland. I now reside on Williams right across the street from New Seasons in a newer building. I love living here. Even though the neighborhood is gentrified, it’s for the better. People can walk, ride, run through this neighborhood and so many others without fear. On the reverse side of the spectrum, not to say anything will happen, this time around the chances are slim in this new Portland.

    In short, I agree with Gutter, he said it how it was and now things have changed, for the better overall.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    J4son September 26, 2015 at 5:35 am

    @gutterbunnybikes . . . Chicago cannot be included in your list of example cities where the core has died because of sprawl. The core did die in the 80’s (from what I have been told), but since the late 90’s the primary real estate development has been in the neighborhoods just outside of “The Loop”. In fact, Chicago’s real estate market (within 8miles of downtown) is getting past the point of affordability for most people because of demand.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      gutterbunnybikes September 26, 2015 at 7:57 am

      I reluctantly added Chicago, but but decided to use it for two reasons, Gary is a burb (kind of like Vancouver) which has been decimated. Also the reinvention of Chicago’s south side – (Cabrini Green housing project) was largely influenced by the ideas and successes of Portland’s efforts. And though controversial, there was some successes with of mixing the displaced residents of Cabrini to the new developments.

      Much of the boom to Chicago’s the core in the last few years are the direct results the redevelopment of the South side.

      And just this last week Chicago has basically said they’re on the verge of Bankruptcy

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        wsbob September 26, 2015 at 9:49 am

        “…And though controversial, there was some successes with of mixing the displaced residents of Cabrini to the new developments. …” gutterbunnybikes

        This, I can relate to and support with regards to neighborhood ‘reinvention’ ‘rehabilitation’, or whatever catch phrase seems right to apply to such changes.

        People poor and being obliged to live in decrepit housing doesn’t necessarily mean they’re prostitutes, junkies, thieves and criminals. It seems all too characteristic of the gentrification neighborhood evolution movement, that honest, poor working people are the second or third in line to get the boot, after the criminals are chased out and starving artists find housing for them is no longer affordable.

        New paint, new ideas and enthusiasm are great for sprucing up and re-invigorating neighborhoods, up to the point where that energy’s vision is overwhelmed by investors seeking to repurpose neighborhoods into big, glitzy, rent escalating opportunities. This is a nightmare for people lacking the income to continue living in neighborhoods so transformed.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        zelda September 27, 2015 at 10:40 pm

        Cabrini Green was not on the South Side; it was at Division and Halsted.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          gutterbunnybikes September 29, 2015 at 6:24 am

          Fair enough, been quite (10+ years other than a few layovers)a while since I’ve been to Chicago. Memories do get a little hazy at times. My location is off,but the point remains.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Psyfalcon September 26, 2015 at 8:05 am

      I’m shocked at how far people can live from Chicago, and say they are from Chicago. There has been talk of sending regional rail to Rockford 90 miles away. It already goes to Kenosha, Wi 60 miles away.

      There are also places within 8mi of the loop that are among the most dangerous neighborhoods in the US. You can walk one or two blocks and go from nice, or slightly seedy maybe, to “you don’t want to be there.”

      These neighborhoods also exist because of longstanding racism and redlining. The Great Migration, the 68 riots, white flight. Still, these neighborhoods have lost services for the last 50 years. At what point should the neighborhood, or city welcome redevelopment?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        rachel b September 26, 2015 at 10:54 am

        I think that in all cases the citizens of neglected areas DO welcome redevelopment: they just want to be an integral part of it. That seems to be the crucial missing piece in the gentrification game.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          Mossby Pomegranate September 26, 2015 at 11:45 am

          So true. Portland has excelled in alienating people in this process.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        J4son September 26, 2015 at 11:12 am

        Psyfalcon “There are also places within 8mi of the loop that are among the most dangerous neighborhoods in the US. You can walk one or two blocks and go from nice, or slightly seedy maybe, to “you don’t want to be there.”

        You are correct. I took a closer look at the map of downtown Chicago, and there are 2 or maybe 3 neighborhoods (e.g. West Garfield Park) within an 8 mile radius of Water Tower Place that are still very dangerous. However, those remaining few iffy neighborhoods (pretty much all in the SW) are sandwiched between the redevelopment in all the rest of the core and older (and safe) established neighborhoods like Oak Park and Brighton Park. It still shocks me how the entire city of Chicago has transformed in 20 years.

        Oh, and the city is broke because of corruption (kickback pet projects, and fraudulent TIF districts). Meanwhile, the governor for Illinois usually ends his career in prison.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Wells September 26, 2015 at 10:19 am

    In the early 80’s recession collapse of sprawl housing, Carter energy policy (Home Weatherization Tax Credit) kept small business carpenters busy. I told customers that energy saving insulation ‘added value’ of more comfortable, cleaner, healthier homes of higher resale. Portland’s older homes needed the upgrades. Many young couples starting out rebuilt rebuilding. Cost of living was low. Starting a small business along the commercial avenues was simple enough (for those with real management skills). New Urbanism planning philosophy sprang from the sense of walkable neighborhoods emerging.

    The next phase of NU to prevue is “Regionalism” or how entire metropolitan areas connect their many New Urbanist districts together. When just the beginning of that effort reaches a fruition, the innovation Portland achieved will be dwarfed or be considered a gigantic advancement, depending upon your point of view. With Regionalism, we could enter the last days of the car-centric era. The self-driving autonomous car is a complete ruse and wouldn’t improve our lot in life even if it were technologically possible, which it isn’t.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Anne Hawley September 26, 2015 at 11:50 am

      I’ve got plenty of conflicting thoughts and feelings about autonomous vehicles, but “technologically impossible” is definitely not one of them. I don’t know that I’ll go as far as “inevitable” but we’d be crazy not to plan for the coming of robot transportation in some form.

      Do you believe that the technological barriers are so high that we can simply ignore the technology in any form?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Pete September 26, 2015 at 9:18 pm

        As with many things, the technology is the easy part, and autonomous vehicles are not new – introducing them to roadways are. We already see the effects of the Waze smart app (if you live on roads adjacent to busy roads), and you can bet that intelligence will be incorporated into autonomous fleets, because transportation is slowly creeping toward being a scalable, elastic solution just like cloud computing. The antiquated way that transportation engineers look at our street layouts and configurations is already overdue for change. You hit the nail on the head Anne.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          Wells October 6, 2015 at 9:19 am

          The “easy part” is misleading people to believe its possible, desirable, effective. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

          Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Wells October 6, 2015 at 9:15 am

        It astounds me that people are so easily deluded into believing it’s technically possible, desirable or effective. It would certainly increase traffic congestion and energy consumption, further impede mass transit, walking and bicycling, fundamental modes of travel suffering severe impediment from traffic. It would further empower car-dependent monopoly control over urban/suburban travel and their corporate global economy with worsening explosive bubble. Those who believe autonomous vehicles are possible are witless puppets awkwardly dancing under the grimy hands of fossil fuel industry and ruthless big business interests.

        Some of the R&D could produce safer cars – automatic emergency braking, limits on reckless accelleration and speed. However, steering, normal braking and accelleration will remain in driver control. We’d manage traffic better with technological advancement in stoplight systems.

        I hoped to affect the discussion toward Transit-Oriented Development, but I’m not surprised how mainstream media hypnotic programming misleads so many so completely.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Wells October 6, 2015 at 10:38 pm

        “Do you believe that the technological barriers are so high that we can simply ignore the technology in any form?”

        I’ve answered Anne’s question above. Yes, I believe ‘some’ R&D will produce automatic emergency braking and a limited control over speeds and accelleration, nearly never normal steering, braking and prudent accelleration and speeds within the posted limit.

        I’m more interested in holding an actual debate over which of the 3 EVs has the most potential – (BEVs or PHEVs or HFCEVs). I’ll argue indefinitely until readers agree that PHEV tech has the MOST potential to reduce fuel/energy consumption while promoting the MOST photovoltiac array systems, mega-array and rooftop.

        Until that debate is actually held, honestly, assume
        I’m TOTALLY RIGHT about autonomous vehicle tech being bogus.
        Imagine more cars overall some without passengers. It’s absurd. )^:

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Wells October 6, 2015 at 10:43 pm

        “Do you believe that the technological barriers are so high that we can simply ignore the technology in any form?”

        Yes Anne, I believe ‘some’ R&D will produce automatic emergency braking and a limited control over speeds and accelleration, but nearly never affect normal steering, braking and prudent accelleration and speed within the posted limit. I’m more interested in holding an actual debate over which of the 3 EVs has the most potential – (BEVs or PHEVs or HFCEVs). I’ll argue indefinitely until readers agree that PHEV tech has the MOST potential to reduce fuel/energy consumption while promoting the MOST photovoltiac array systems, mega-array and rooftop.

        Until that debate is actually held, honestly assume
        I’m TOTALLY RIGHT about autonomous vehicle tech being bogus.
        Imagine more cars overall some without passengers. It’s absurd. )^:

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Anne Hawley September 26, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Gutterbunnybikes’ comment has a lot of merit: Portland’s various neighborhoods have tended to improve, and lots of good comes from that.

    Rachelb’s comment, above, has a lot of merit too: the improvement has happened on the same foundation as everything else in the US: racism, rampant patriarchal capitalism, eminent domain… Imperialism, if you will. Plenty of bad comes from that.

    In the unending churn of a city there’s a wave of opportunity that slightly-marginal people like me can ride a little ways further into a better life than we could have in a non-urban environment. We don’t get to shoot the curl like the big winners, but we have some chance not to wipe out – that is, to live a life, to make some difference, to be who we are in the world, to be among other people, to create while not-starving.

    It’s not the wave of gentrification per se, but the wave just before that. (For me that wave ran from downtown-in-1975, to Northwest-in-1980, to Hawthorne-in-1985, to Sabin-in-1994.)

    Not everyone who wants to can get on that wave. We should never stop trying to fix that. It’s right and proper to discount the good by the cost of the bad.

    So the question is, does that discount result in a net good of less than zero? The answer is going to depend on your personal perspective. Me, I believe that there’s more good than bad in the process. It might be a 49-51 split, but that tiny margin accumulates over time. Cities (as a species) are better, healthier, more prosperous, more interesting places today than they were 50 years ago. I think Portland is one of them.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      rachel b September 26, 2015 at 6:06 pm

      I hope you and gutterbb are right, Anne. Though I thought Portland was much more interesting before the gentrification. 🙂

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson September 26, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Here’s the perspective of a local guy…grew up in Multnomah… who left as soon as he could. Four years in Chicago on the South Side, then the Bay Area for 18 years. Helped “gentrify” Potrero Hill in SF, co-founding a community newspaper there in 1970. In ’86 returned to Portland in debt and unemployed to find a hometown still slowing emerging from the depths of the Regan Recession. Its been a great ride; I am very thankful.

    A key reason why inner N and NE began redeveloping (or gentrifying if you prefer) around the turn of the millenium was simply due to its being the last affordable close-in quadrant. NW was pricey already in the 90’s, SE was soon to follow, SW except for funky areas like my home turf was never low cost. Yes, MAX, adidas and the PDC played a role, but simple economics was the big driver. It was where you could afford a house!

    To be sure, the siting of Memorial Coliseum in the 50’s, the construction of I-5 in the 60’s, and the failed Emanual Hospital URA the 70’s all took direct aim at the commercial heart of Portland’s small African-American community. Portlanders left a shameful legacy there.

    The Albina Plan from the 90’s attempted to address those transgressions and had a ton of community input from local folks at a time when over 700 residential properties were abandoned in inner NE and storefronts on Mississippi and Alberta were mostly boarded up. The founding document for the Interstate URA in 1999, based on that plan, had explicit language that called for holding harmless existing African-American residents and businesses, especially renters who were most vulnerable. Was enough done? No, but putting 30% of URA dollars into affordable housing was a good start. There’s more to do.

    Let’s face it “capitalism sucks,” but its what we’ve got. It needs to be carefully watched (note VW!) and its social costs addressed. Good jobs are how you really make a community affordable, and education is the path that gets you there as a individual and a society. Enough said!

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      BeavertonRider September 29, 2015 at 9:03 am

      Capitalism sucks? Compared to what? I dont see capitalist natiins murdering 10s of millions of its own people – deliberately – like sociakist and communist regimes in the USSR and China. We dont massive bread lines and hyperinflation as we do in contemporary Argentina and Greece, respectively.

      So, capitalism sucks why? It has been the greatest force of good for the human condituon in world history.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Pee September 26, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    I see the city through a different lens.

    I was born here in 1946. My grandfather drove streetcars in the 1920’s and ’30’s. Dad took me on the last ride of the Council Crest streetcar. I remember the drowning of Celilo Falls, the end of steam trains, the Columbus Day Storm, Yaw’s Top Notch, cruising Broadway.

    I also remember Harbor Drive, a massively polluted Willamette, field burning smoke, crappy restaurants, and angry drivers.

    The city I see today has flaws–as pointed out by other commenters, but it’s a huge improvement over what I grew up with. I ride my commuter bike or road bike almost every day, and usually a whole lot more safely than even 10 years ago.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Anne Hawley September 28, 2015 at 10:38 am

      I remember some of those things, too. My family moved away to distant shores when I was 11, and when I returned as a young adult in 1977 (Rip City!) the place had changed for the better, but it was still five or six years before you could get a café au lait and a croissant – and then only in one place (Le Panier, down on 3rd and…Stark? Pine? I think?). And the fancy beer was Henry Weinhardt’s.

      Also, the grade school I attended in NE Portland had, as I recall, a grand total of one student of color, and boy did she stand out.

      I maintain that there’s bad and good in urban change, and that good wins by a narrow but meaningful margin.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Mark September 26, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    Portland is entirely too flat. It needs more infill and tall apartment buildings. The idea that laurelhurst is sacred will only drive up rents and prices. Rezone laurelhurst as multifamily. Otherwise there will be no real growth.

    Oh…put multifamily right up to the spring water trail to rid the area of homelessness.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      rachel b September 26, 2015 at 11:29 pm

      ugh.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      Eric September 27, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Hell, start by getting rid of the vacant lots, surface parking (!), 1 and 2 story buildings (!!) downtown and inner SE.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Avatar
        Anne Hawley September 28, 2015 at 10:38 am

        I’d argue for keeping a couple of the really cool old 2-story buildings right on Naito. But generally, I agree.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

        • Avatar
          Wells October 6, 2015 at 10:39 pm

          “Do you believe that the technological barriers are so high that we can simply ignore the technology in any form?”

          I’ve answered Anne’s question above. Yes, I believe ‘some’ R&D will produce automatic emergency braking and a limited control over speeds and accelleration, nearly never normal steering, braking and prudent accelleration and speeds within the posted limit.

          I’m more interested in holding an actual debate over which of the 3 EVs has the most potential – (BEVs or PHEVs or HFCEVs). I’ll argue indefinitely until readers agree that PHEV tech has the MOST potential to reduce fuel/energy consumption while promoting the MOST photovoltiac array systems, mega-array and rooftop.

          Until that debate is actually held, honestly, assume
          I’m TOTALLY RIGHT about autonomous vehicle tech being bogus.
          Imagine more cars overall some without passengers. It’s absurd. )^:

          Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      eddie October 5, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      I really hope you’re kidding…

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar
    Mark September 28, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Portland has the political capitol to go further and farther with bike/ped infra. What are they waiting for? If people are crying for potholes filled, then those who live in front of the potholes should be assessed. If they don’t want to be assessed, the road shall be dieted to one lane each direction with protected bike lanes with the speedlimit dropped to 30 along with speed humps.

    There is far too much traffic on roads that are not designed for it.

    Problem solved.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Avatar
      BeavertonRider September 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      Not a big fan of representative democracy, eh?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Avatar