Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

25% of Portland metro residents say congestion could make them switch to biking

Posted by on May 10th, 2017 at 9:31 am

Traffic leading onto the Hawthorne Bridge into downtown Portland yesterday afternoon.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

In 2009, the City of Portland set a goal that many people considered fanciful: one in four trips by bike citywide by 2030.

Eight years later, that’s exactly the ratio of car-owners in the Portland metro area who claim they’d swap their car trips for bike trips “if traffic congestion gets bad enough.”

That ratio held across racial and ideological lines, and was only slightly lower in Clark County, Wash., than on the Oregon side of the metro area. But it wasn’t consistent by gender, age, income or education: women, older people, higher-income people and more educated people were less likely to say they’d switch to biking.

Among Portland-area residents aged 18 to 34, 44 percent said they’d use a bike if congestion got bad enough.

The results came in a KATU-TV poll made public last month. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

None of the above figures included the 12 percent of Portland-area residents who said they don’t own a car.

A similar ratio of Portland-area residents, 25 percent, said they either “regularly” or “occasionally” ride a bike today. (One’s likelihood of riding at least “occasionally” was nearly identical across racial, ideological and income lines, and it held whether or not a person owned a car. But if you didn’t own a car or had a lower income, you were much more likely to report that you “regularly” rode a bike.)

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It’s not clear if or how answers on this question have been changing over the years. And (cue the BikePortland haters) this isn’t an argument that traffic congestion is a good thing in its own right.

But it is a useful snapshot of how many people can conceive of switching to a bicycle for daily transportation.

As bike-skeptics love to point out, bicycles aren’t a solution for everyone. But they are, apparently, a possible solution for 25 percent of car owners. And that’s with the spaghetti-against-a-wall biking network the Portland area has today.

A couple other interesting findings from the survey:

About the same number of people said they would switch to a bike if gas prices got high enough

People under age 50 are more than twice as likely to endorse “widening highways” as the top priority for transportation funds

…but that’s still less popular than “maintaining and repairing existing roads.”

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – mike.andersen@gmail.com Thanks to Jessica Roberts for the tip.

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137 Comments
  • nuovorecord May 10, 2017 at 9:38 am

    “People under age 50 are more than twice as likely to endorse “widening highways” as the top priority for transportation funds”

    I wonder if that response is tied to housing affordability? If younger, and presumably lower-income, folks are moving to the burbs to find affordable places to live, it’s not a huge logical leap to assume they’d be driving more and feel that wider freeways would benefit them, moreso than people living within Portland.

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    • wsbob May 11, 2017 at 11:13 am

      Many people 50 and older, may come to feel that biking, is even less fun for the ‘must do’ kind of practical daily travels, than it was when they were in their teens, 20’s, and 30’s. Roads less congested, that they hope to be able to more easily drive on, might have them inclined to support spending money on freeway widening. Also, maybe some of them are getting smarter as they get older, and are realizing that if the roads can’t move people and freight well, forecast for the economy does not look good.

      Sure, younger and lower income people come out to the suburbs to find an actual house they can afford to buy and live in, rather than one of those dinky new cosmopolitan units in congested close-in Portland. I can’t blame them for that, wanting to get an actual house, not necessarily even a big expensive one, but a modest sized one with a backyard for the kids and the dogs, but semi-seriously, I’d personally, if they like the Lloyd District, or the eastside bridgehead, or the Pearl, I’d rather they just stay in Portland.

      And it’s not just lower income people looking for that kind of housing out here in Beaverton, if this city is even considered a burb anymore. Because of hi-tech, lots of people out here have very good incomes.

      I would say that more people aren’t biking out in Beaverton, in large part because the infrastructure is not really built to support comfortable, enjoyable and practical travel by bike within neighborhoods to key close-in destinations. It’s a haphazard catch as can, means by which bike infrastructure is provided out in this city, as in many cities across the U.S. The city adds bike lanes, but it’s the same old directly adjoining the noisy, dirty and dangerous motor vehicle traffic type of ride infrastructure…which only hard core commuters, roadies, very low income workers, and homeless people will use willingly. Even tempered, mild mannered people that just want to relax on their way to where they need to go, aren’t going to want to put up with that kind of ride challenge…in addition to dealing with being either wet, too cold, or too hot, here in Oregon’s weather.

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  • Greg Spencer May 10, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Shows that people are actually pretty flexible in their transport choices. And that cycling has huge untapped potential here. Wonder how keen the under-50s would be for widened roads if they had to pay for them through user fees?

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    • OregonJelly May 10, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      You mean, like a gas tax?

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 1:52 pm

        Or, better, a carbon tax.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy May 10, 2017 at 3:48 pm

          When I want to reduce my carbon footprint, I just buy smaller carbon shoes.

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        • soren May 10, 2017 at 4:16 pm

          word h, k.

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      • K Taylor May 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm

        Or tolls.

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      • K Taylor May 10, 2017 at 6:01 pm

        But yes – an adequate gas tax that actually covers the costs of driving would be great!

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      • Chris I May 11, 2017 at 3:23 am

        Yes, it would be great if we had a gas tax that covered the full cost of road construction and maintenance. Our current tax doesn’t come close.

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      • mh May 11, 2017 at 12:41 pm

        Better, a weight x VMT tax.

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        • 9watts May 11, 2017 at 12:45 pm

          I’ve looked, but every time I explore this subject it looks to me like this is just a complicated reinvention of the gas tax. Weight and VMT are already reflected in a gas tax calculated on volume of fuel purchased. Or?

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  • rick May 10, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Then let us build the road diets and stop allowing the construction of drive-thru businesses.

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  • Middle of the Road Guy May 10, 2017 at 9:57 am

    I’d like to lose 10 pounds, but that doesn’t mean I will.

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    • El Biciclero May 12, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      Hey, me, too!

      I’ll go on a diet if I get “fat enough”.

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  • Eric Leifsdad May 10, 2017 at 10:04 am

    A good way to maintain and repair existing roads would be to restrict neighborhood auto traffic such that the wear is concentrated on arterials. Then we could maintain our streets instead of letting them all get smashed to bits and replacing the foundation at greater expense. Given enough diverters and other obstacles to driving a car through the neighborhood, people would take the shortest route to an arterial, even in congestion.

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    • jonno May 10, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Like, double-like, triple-like.

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    • Spiffy May 10, 2017 at 11:02 am

      they don’t replace the street foundation, they just pave over the old crumbling pavement… the curbs keep getting shorter as they put layer after layer on top of the original road… at my house I step up into the road when I step off the curb, not down…

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    • David Hampsten May 10, 2017 at 2:31 pm

      East Portland was designed that way, in the 1950s & 60s, when that was considered “best practices” in city planning. Arterial roads along super-blocks, with dead-end and no-outlet streets in between. Some super blocks even had schools and parks in the middle of them. Portland annexed it in the 80s and tried to mess it up – they are still trying.

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  • Kyle Banerjee May 10, 2017 at 10:09 am

    I wonder if the young people endorsing widening highways and saying they wouldn’t consider cycling are coming in from far away — i.e. this age group seems more likely to live in cheaper housing that requires greater transit times.

    Note that more than 20 miles one way would be doable, much faster than a car, and certainly more fun on some e-bikes on a properly separated path even for people with less experience.

    I find it interesting that a quarter of people say congestion doesn’t affect them. Even as a cyclist, I consider it one of the biggest detractors of quality of life here. If anything drives me out of this town, that will be at the top of the list.

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    • soren May 10, 2017 at 11:28 am

      A fast ride through a large urban traffic jam is to me what a ride up to and around crater lake is to you. This has nothing to do with my bike transportation advocacy, however.

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      • Kyle Banerjee May 10, 2017 at 12:01 pm

        I must admit I am sometimes guilty of schadenfreude with motorists — though it doesn’t happen often here because traffic is so bad that I feel sorry for most people.

        But if your normal experience is having traffic blast by you on the highway at 65+mph, there is something uplifting about blowing by miles of cars at top speed while pretending to be hardly breathing…

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        • lyle w May 10, 2017 at 11:01 pm

          I love passing the new bottleneck that backs up for the entire westbound course of Hawthorne around rush hour now, all the way from the the bus mall to basically SE 12th. It’s especially satisfying as they’re stopped dead on the ramp between the end of the Westbound lane and all the way up to Grand.

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  • Rebecca May 10, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Portland saw a spike of new bike commuters during the $4/gal gas years that didn’t fall even after prices dropped again in 2014. Presumably the expensive gas was an incentive for people to give cycling a try, and it was an opportunity for them to discover that they liked it enough to continute to do so even after driving became cheap again.

    Time wasted in traffic is a cost just as much as gas. Congestion isn’t something to promote (obvs bad for air quality, freight, etc.) but if it’s the disincentive that introduces some dedicated SOV commuters to the bike lanes, well hey. Welcome and remember to pass on the left.

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    • soren May 10, 2017 at 11:34 am

      That spike was maintained so one of the lessons is that when “something” causes people try cycling many keep on doing it. IMO, driving disincentives (taxes/fees, lane reductions, congestion management, traffic calming etc) need to be given greater consideration when it comes to active transportation advocacy.

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      • soren May 10, 2017 at 11:37 am

        apologies for the “car head”. i should have written: “lane reallocation”.

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  • mike May 10, 2017 at 10:33 am

    I would rather see money spent to make the existing roads smooth as glass. Not for driving but nothing beats riding on a well maintained road. Portland’s roads are developing country level crap. Kicking the can down the road too long gets us in the position that we are in. T

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    • rick May 10, 2017 at 10:48 am

      BH Highway will be repaved this year from SW 18th to SW 45th Ave. The bike lanes are still rough from the Multnomah county line at 65th to 45th, though.

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    • Kyle Banerjee May 10, 2017 at 11:01 am

      If people like cars to go slow, the best thing that could happen would be to practically not maintain the roads at all.

      People drive a lot slower on bad roads than they do on perfect ones.

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      • Dan A May 10, 2017 at 1:25 pm

        I’m worried about Kingston through Washington Park for this reason. They have paved it all nice and smooth and put new double yellow lines on it, and it’s a 20mph road. It’s super sweet to ride on, but I already know cars are going to be flying up and down the road now.

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    • 9watts May 10, 2017 at 10:57 pm

      maybe wider tires would be a cheaper way to solve this ‘problem’?

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      • Adam H.
        Adam H. May 10, 2017 at 11:40 pm

        +1 on wider tires and sprung saddles.

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      • mh May 11, 2017 at 12:48 pm

        Gimme a (small frame) bike that will take them. Neither of mine can.

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  • chris May 10, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Maybe that Horace Dediu guy is right that dockless electric bikeshares could be a “disruptive “game changer in this regard. A lot of people don’t want to make the initial investment of buying a bike, given the risk that they might not use it, but are likely to try bike share because the cost of entry is low. However, I think they’d be more likely to use electric bikes, as the electric assist would compensate for the fact that a) rental bikes are tanks and b) new riders often aren’t sufficiently in shape to ride even a light carbon fiber racing bike without getting winded, much less a tank. And even if they are in shape, they might not want to show up drenched in a pool of sweat. If bikeshares are dockless, they don’t require as much of an initial capital investment and can be spread out over a wider area, which could be more effective. It will be interesting to see if this technology catches on, but I think a number of factors could change the incentive structure for transport.

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    • Paul May 10, 2017 at 11:41 am

      I read that article, but I’m still not sure how dockless electric bike share works. How do they get charged?

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    • Phil Richman May 10, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      BikeTown is now dockless north of Market on the PSU campus and east of 12th on the Central Eastside.

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      • Phil Richman May 10, 2017 at 1:30 pm

        I meant South of Market…

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        • Phil Richman May 10, 2017 at 1:46 pm

          And west of 12th! Sorry, had my mental map upside down 🙂

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  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Unfortunately, being theoretically willing to do something in the future and actually doing it are very different things. My life would be very different if that weren’t so.

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    • SE Rider May 10, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      Bingo. “gets bad enough” is so subjective as to be almost useless. I would have liked to see categories like “adds 5 minutes” “adds 15 minutes” “doubles my commute time”.

      Like the “interested, but concerned” group I”m skeptical of these vague, hypothetical surveys. Traffic has significantly changed with commutes taking longer over the last 5 years, has that really moved the needle on bike commuting?

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      • John Liu
        John Liu May 10, 2017 at 5:16 pm

        Yes, seems like a meaningless survey. “Bad enough” means nothing at all. Survey should have asked 1) how many miles is your drive commute each way, 2) how many minutes does it take you on average each way, 3) how many minutes would it have to take for you to commute by bicycle instead.

        About all that this survey tells you is that 59% of car owners cannot conceive of congestion bad enough that they’d consider commuting by bicycle, and the relative propensity of different groups to consider it.

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        • Matt S. May 12, 2017 at 4:05 pm

          Many of my coworkers don’t bat an eye at a 45 min commute one way. Especially the ones who have company paid parking downtown.

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      • El Biciclero May 12, 2017 at 3:58 pm

        Well, one thing it means definitively is that congestion, as much as people whine about it, is not yet “bad enough” to do anything about it…

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    • J_R May 10, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      Agree absolutely.

      I rather suspect that people answered the question by considering their personal aspirations and what they know to be good. Of course, they’d consider riding their bikes (when the trip is short enough, the weather is good, when they don’t have that much to carry, etc.) The fact is they will, more than likely, vote with their right foot on the gas pedal and promise themselves that they’ll bike next time.

      Some are probably answering that they’d bike mostly because they want their neighbors to bike so they can drive more easily and find a parking space at their destination.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. May 10, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Even more reason to just let traffic congestion happen, rather than trying to alleviate it (which doesn’t work anyway)

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    • Dave May 10, 2017 at 11:14 am

      I agree, specifically with regards to the housing market. Building more units only attracts more people.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 11:28 am

        Induced demand.

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      • chris May 10, 2017 at 11:28 am

        Bad analogy. Road usage isn’t priced in response to demand as housing is.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 11:31 am

          If we were somehow able to outbuild the demand curve and actually lower prices, it would encourage more people to move here from more expensive cities (as is happening when people cash out of the Bay Area). I think it is a very good analogy.

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          • Michael Andersen (Contributor)
            Michael Andersen (Contributor) May 10, 2017 at 11:55 am

            Rich people, wherever they’re from, have no problem moving here today, with or without new housing capacity. They just offer a slightly higher price for a house than somebody else could and they’re set. If they want a fancy new-feeling home, they can buy a cheaper one and remodel or they can buy one from a home flipper.

            The migration and/or lower displacement rate induced by lowering home prices in the lower-housing-prices scenario you describe (which could be accomplished by shifting away from freestanding homes and steel towers and toward several-story attached wood-frame homes) would be migration by lower-income people than in the baseline/status quo scenario.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 11:59 am

              Yes, and the same market forces that pushed prices down push them back up and we’re in the same boat, only a little more crowded. Those that need affordable housing are still screwed.

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              • chris May 10, 2017 at 2:32 pm

                People who need affordable housing in a highly-desired area are going to be screwed anyway, whether or not you build anything. I don’t understand why people think it’s the god given right of the underclass to live in the most desirable areas. I realize they have to live somewhere, but what entitles them to top-tier real estate?

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              • Matt S. May 10, 2017 at 2:46 pm

                There is direct correlation of the quality of latte and property tax.

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              • 9watts May 10, 2017 at 11:05 pm

                “I don’t understand why people think it’s the god given right of the underclass to live in the most desirable areas. I realize they have to live somewhere, but what entitles them to top-tier real estate?”

                Tell us what you really think.

                I (and this is just me) would differentiate between
                + those who may have always lived here and are being priced out because they are not wealthy. I feel for them and would like to see policies enacted that reflect their history here, and
                + those who drift here from who knows where and are unable to, as you say, rent or buy in what have become highly desirable areas. Hello, Kitty and I seem to be the only ones here who observe this difference, but it seems pretty real to me, and one way to try to sort through some of the verbal fisticuffs.

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            • soren May 10, 2017 at 12:14 pm

              imo, having lower-income people move into a neighborhood changes it’s “character” in a very good way. for example, i strongly believe that the laurelhurst and eastmoreland neighborhoods need more low-income housing, dive bars, pot dispensaries, taco trucks, food cart pods, and body modification shops.

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              • Kyle Banerjee May 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm

                Agreed. Diversity in the neighborhood improve this for everyone and helps mitigate problems. Economic diversity is an important component of that.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 12:21 pm

                I agree as well.

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              • Cory P May 10, 2017 at 12:23 pm

                At least Laurelhurst has Sandy. But Sandy needs much more housing on it.

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              • chris May 10, 2017 at 3:13 pm

                I guarantee that none of that sort of development will ever touch Eastmoreland.

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              • chris May 10, 2017 at 3:15 pm

                A 206 unit apartment is on the cusp of being built at 28th and Sandy and a smaller building with 90 units will be built at 25th and Sandy.

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          • chris May 10, 2017 at 2:17 pm

            That’s why other cities have to build more too, which fortunately, they are. There is a national demographic limit to the target market of those who seek to live in close-in apartments.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 2:22 pm

              People aren’t moving to Portland because there’s no room in their cities. It is, strictly speaking, true that there is a finite number of people who would move to Portland, but it’s a higher number than anything we could reasonably accommodate while keeping housing prices well below other west coast cities.

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              • chris May 10, 2017 at 2:46 pm

                Not even Californians priced out of the Bay Area, LA or SD? They Bay Area is notoriously restrictive of high density development. Although SF is finally building many new apartments, there’s a backlog of 20-30 years worth of demand that they’re attempting to fill, and most of the Silicon Valley suburbs aren’t stepping in to approve apartment construction in their own city centers. Portland housing is a bargain for anybody who wants to keep their Silicon Valley job and telecommute, but fewer Californians might move here if the Bay Area built sufficient capacity.

                I do agree that building more housing isn’t ever going to make Portland cheap again though — it will only stabilize prices and perhaps drive them slightly downward. What’s happening in Portland is happening nationwide in all metro areas. Rents are spiking in all cities that have any semblance of a decent economy, mainly because metro areas are the only places to make money, the countryside is emptying out, lifestyle preferences are changing. We aren’t going back to being a sleepy logging village. Portland has people’s attention, like it or not, and the only way to stabilize prices is to build to accommodate demand. If we don’t build, they will come anyway and prices will be even higher.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 2:57 pm

                Even building enough to stabilize today’s prices would be a challenge given the price differential between here and other cities on the West Coast. I think it would be possible to slow things temporarily, maybe, but not possible in the longer-term. And even then, we’re really only talking high-end stuff. No one is talking about building for the lower end of the market.

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              • chris May 10, 2017 at 3:09 pm

                Well, inclusionary zoning was passed, so anything submitted since the end of February has to have 20 percent affordable units, and there are already some projects in the pipeline.

                You also have the process of “filtering”, which is the tendency for people who make less to fill up lower end housing as those with means abandon it for better alternatives. For example, when I started earning more money, I abandoned my cheaper early 1900s brick apartment and moved into one of those newer modern “efficiency apartments” that many people here love to hate, meaning that my old apartment was available to somebody else who either doesn’t make as much money or doesn’t want to spend as much on rent. If my current apartment wasn’t built, I’d still be in the old apartment, preventing somebody who makes less from moving in.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 3:21 pm

                That works to a certain extent, but I’ll bet there are plenty of people here who are living in “less apartment/house” than they could afford simply because they like where they are and/or the lower rent.

                Many people don’t automatically rent/buy the most expensive place they can.

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      • Paul May 10, 2017 at 11:43 am

        To me, attracting more people is a great reason to build more units. The more people here, the better.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 11:45 am

          I know, right? The city just feels so empty.

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          • Adam H.
            Adam H. May 10, 2017 at 11:46 am

            It really does. Try walking down Foster sometime. You can go a mile without seeing a single other person.

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            • Brian May 10, 2017 at 11:51 am

              You must not be looking in the windows of NWIPA.

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              • SE Rider May 10, 2017 at 12:33 pm

                Or walking down Foster at 4AM.

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              • Adam H.
                Adam H. May 10, 2017 at 1:35 pm

                Nope, this was yesterday afternoon.

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          • chris May 10, 2017 at 2:25 pm

            The Central Eastside and the Lloyd Center area have a lot of very desolate sections, and would be improved with more street life. I see those as ideal areas for high-density mixed use construction because of their close proximity to downtown and because of the lack of bungalow dwellers who are invested in keeping things exactly as they are. I don’t see the downside to this. The area is full of vacant/surface lots and unremarkable one-story buildings. There is nothing particularly quaint about any of it that’s worth preserving for aesthetic purposes. I’m aware that many of the industrial properties are still profitable, but multistory industrial buildings are also going up in this area to compensate for space lost to residential.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 2:49 pm

              I totally agree about the Lloyd, but I would like to see the Central Eastside preserved as an industrial area. There’s already a lot of encroachment from residential and commercial there, and there’s a lot of benefit to having an industrial area like that close in.

              I dream of killing the Lloyd Center Mall and replacing it with something more urban.

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              • John Liu
                John Liu May 10, 2017 at 5:22 pm

                Huge amount of apartment development already underway in Lloyd. The entire parking lot east of Holladay Park will be apartments and also the parking lot to the east of Sears. Many other projects underway as well. And the mall will either change to something different and much better, or it will eventually be redeveloped.

                Hopefully Lloyd’s development will include commercial, so that people can live that much closer to work.

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              • chris May 10, 2017 at 6:29 pm

                There are a ton of multistory industrial office buildings in the pipeline, under construction or already complete in the Central Eastside. See nextportland.com for details. I also want the industrial component to remain, but a lot of the industrial buildings are one story warehouses. You can consolidate a lot of that into multiple stories so that residential and industrial can coexist.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty May 10, 2017 at 6:52 pm

                The new industrial space will be as expensive as the new housing. Great for an established company that has money, less so for someone small. It is the small companies I worry about. Leatherman or Timberline will do fine regardless.

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        • OregonJelly May 10, 2017 at 1:59 pm

          More people does nothing to improve the quality of life of anyone here.

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          • chris May 10, 2017 at 2:27 pm

            In the Central Eastside and Lloyd Districts, it does. I wouldn’t have wanted to live in the Central Eastside ten years ago, but now, it’s the place to be.

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          • Chris I May 11, 2017 at 3:53 am

            I’m sure that’s how the First Nations people feel as well.

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        • rachel b May 10, 2017 at 10:14 pm

          Ugh. Teeming humanity. Ugh.

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          • rachel b May 10, 2017 at 10:17 pm

            P.s…. I hate that Portland now has anyplace that’s “the place to be.” My place to be is clearly the place not to be. 😉

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            • rachel b May 10, 2017 at 10:17 pm

              ….which used to be…. PORTLAND!

              USA!

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 10, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Thanks for writing this michael! And FWIW this completely jibes w/ my feelings about all the BS we are constantly fed by city staff/policymakers/the media/the corporations about how much “people really love their cars”. That entire “everyone wants to drive!” narrative is simply not true. People do what is easiest/cheapest/most convenient/expected/encouraged. Our culture/laws/system encourage driving over everything else in all the aforementioned ways… so of course most people do it!

    This is why widening freeways and taxing bike purchases is such a dumb idea. Politicians and community leaders need to take charge and change this narrative so that more people are not so encouraged to drive.

    we can do this. it’s not as hard as the auto industry, the media, and your elected officials say it is.

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  • Dan A May 10, 2017 at 11:17 am

    Wait a minute — these are the only options on the survey for transportation spending?

    * Expand Mass Transit
    * Widen Highways
    * Build New Bridges
    * Maintain & Repair Existing Roads
    * Synchronize Traffic Lights
    * Not Sure

    They are missing some (ahem…walkey bikey) choices. And why do you only get to pick one thing? Seems like they should ask people what percentage of dollars should be spent for each item.

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  • BrianC May 10, 2017 at 11:21 am

    I’m already in the bicycling is better for *me* than driving camp…

    My current client is right off of the Milikan Way light rail station. I live in Wilsonville and have three choices to get back and forth from work:
    – Bike (Hall Blvd and Boones Ferry) ~70 minutes door to door
    – Drive (I-5 and 217) ~60 minutes? (I just mentally figure it’s an hour – never kept track)
    – Bike -or- Walk with WES+MAX (~46 to 65 minutes )

    Because I usually commute during prime drive time, it turns out that biking Hall Blvd and Boones Ferry is on par with driving and maybe a little longer than using the bike/WES combo. (Making the best use of WES requires timing when I leave home/work to get to the station just before the train leaves. So WES trips usually mean 5 to 10 minutes of dead time waiting at the station.)

    However the real benefits are being able to read, if I’m on the WES, or getting one or two hours of exercise if I ride…

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  • VTRC May 10, 2017 at 11:28 am

    How many car commuters switching to another form of transit would it take to improve congestion and/or parking?

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    • GlowBoy May 10, 2017 at 11:40 am

      The difference between congestion and free-flowing is usually just a few percent demand.

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    • SilkySlim May 10, 2017 at 1:44 pm

      Great question. I bet if we got bike trips up from 7% to a still paltry 15%, and got telecommuting up 10% from wherever it currently stands, we would see a dramatic improvement.

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  • phillip porter May 10, 2017 at 11:28 am

    I get the feeling that the infrastructure is struggling to keep up with present demands, and the largest demand is of course created by these 1500kg pollution machines we call cars and which so many people insist on operating day in and day out on our streets.

    I think people have to come to terms with the fact that “congestion” is only going to get worse, because more people are going to move to Portland with their cars, period.

    Congestion doesn’t bother me at all, because 1. I ride a bike everywhere and avoid high volume traffic streets anyway 2. It kind of fills me with delight to see columns of zombie faced motorists endlessly trapped in their vehicles while I happily ride by them on a beautiful spring day…

    Personally I hope for more congestion, and higher gas prices, though it’s going to suck for friends of mine who are, say, delivery drivers, or hopelessly addicted to using cars for everything, it will decrease the cars on the road and sort of force people to choose bikes or public transit.

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    • Matt S. May 10, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Maybe they’re just intensively listening to NPR and not zombie faced at all 🙂

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      • bikeninja May 10, 2017 at 3:47 pm

        I think the two go together

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      • Middle of the Road Guy May 10, 2017 at 3:53 pm

        In a Prius.

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  • soren May 10, 2017 at 11:36 am

    But if you didn’t own a car or had a lower income, you were much more likely to report that you “regularly” rode a bike.

    repeated for emphasis.

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    • Matt S. May 10, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      …and be well educated, underemployed, and living with three other roommates to afford rent. Hey, who said it isn’t fun riding in the rain to a job that you know has no upward mobility. At least you can defer your student loans.

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  • Brian May 10, 2017 at 11:44 am

    To get people from the suburbs to work, and back, barriers need to be eliminated IMO. For many, it is too far of a ride to get from home to work in PDX. For others, it is a safety issue riding in the burbs. Both of these issues are exacerbated by rain, cold and darkness. What about a drive, bus/MAX, ride to work option? People could toss their bikes on their car in the burbs, drive to their nearest bus/MAX station, park the car for the day, jump on and then get off and ride to work. Once they get the hang of riding, maybe they will begin to eliminate part of the drive and/or MAX part of the trip and instead ride more. Now, if we could only figure out the bike space on BUS/MAX issue.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. May 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      When I was working in Washington County, I would cycle downtown and bring my bike on the MAX. It was far more convenient than taking either bike or transit all the way. IMO the biggest barrier is the overcrowding on the MAX trains that prevent you from bringing your bike. This prompted me to purchase a folding bike, however I recognize that not everyone has this option. This is a great use case for region-wide bike share, which eliminates the need to bring a bike on the train.

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      • Brian May 10, 2017 at 12:26 pm

        Agreed, the uncertainty of space for a bike is a huge barrier that needs to be overcome.

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      • Stephen Keller May 10, 2017 at 12:37 pm

        You’ve described my regular winter commute. It works remarkable well in the morning. The afternoon is complicated by crowding and limited room for bikes on MAX, but can be made reasonably convenient by careful timing to select less-burdened trains. The bike/MAX combo doesn’t take any less time than the ride, but it does cut out a 1000 foot climb over the hills.

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        • Allan Rudwick May 10, 2017 at 2:57 pm

          E bike would help hee

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          • fourknees May 10, 2017 at 3:17 pm

            Agree. I usually drive, but try to ride when I can (takes about an hour). Done both WES/MAX and Bus with folding bike. An e-bike may do the trick to eliminate nearly 100% of driving and trimet from my commute. Due to uphill bothways, I estimate an e-bike could shave 15 minutes off my commute and leave me with more energy.

            I’ve noticed more e-bikes passing me going over the west hills toward Tigard/Beaverton the last month then I ever have before. Not sure if it’s a trend, taking different routes or happened to be good timing for me to see them.

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    • Matt S. May 10, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      Or the fact that buses wait in the very same traffic that cars drive. This is why it doesn’t work.

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      • Brian May 10, 2017 at 1:05 pm

        True, which is they entire system needs to be revisited simultaneously. HOV lanes? Are they possible for hwy 26?

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  • B. Carfree May 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    Only 3% of people age 35-64 ride a bike regularly and 0% of people over 64 do so. This says to me that we’re looking at a very long time frame to move from failure to success in getting people on bikes. I fear it will mostly happen by cohort replacement over the next several decades. Of course with only 10% of those younger than 35 riding regularly, it might take even longer unless some things really change (much higher fuel prices, greatly increased congestion, much higher science education levels…).

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    • Matt S. May 10, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      We have a problem coming with gas. Once we hit five to six dollars a gallon e-cars will probably be affordable with extended range taking advantage of that eight cents kilo hour. It might become cheaper than ever to drive in the near distant future.

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      • Stephan May 10, 2017 at 1:03 pm

        I am wondering how much children affects the drop at age 35, whether some of that drop is not comparing different cohorts (young folks who endorse biking versus old folks who cannot imagine anything but driving) but different life stages. It is much less complicated to bike on your own than to figure out how to transport your kids around. I do it, but I know a lot of young parents who do not because driving requires so much less thought, seems safer, etc.

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  • Kyle Banerjee May 10, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I’d like to know where all these cars people want to bring in will park. Everyone goes in a tizzy if the price of gas goes up by a buck. But that doesn’t really affect the cost of most peoples’ commutes in a meaningful way.

    Now if the cost of parking were to be driven by market forces and get to something like in SF….

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    • alankessler May 10, 2017 at 1:52 pm

      Not to worry! PDC has been in garage construction mode for a while now.

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  • jeff May 10, 2017 at 12:53 pm

    Cory P
    At least Laurelhurst has Sandy. But Sandy needs much more housing on it.
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    Sandy…Foster…Lents…it all needs more housing. That’s why its currently being built.

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  • tridork May 10, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I’m confused. The article claims this:
    “That ratio held across racial and ideological lines, and was only slightly lower in Clark County, Wash., than on the Oregon side of the metro area.”

    But the survey results say this:
    ** Too few respondents of this type were interviewed for this data to be meaningful.

    Your headline and article do not accurately reflect the actual survey results.

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    • Matt S. May 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      You mean, not stisticallly significant.

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    • Michael Andersen (Contributor)
      Michael Andersen (Contributor) May 10, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      We don’t know either way about Black folks on these questions (as you note, the sample turned out to be too small) but the ratio was similar between white folks and Latinos and it was higher among “other” folks.

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  • SD May 10, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    The most common reason that people tell me that they don’t bike commute is that they don’t feel safe. This has also been shown in surveys to be a prominent factor in mode choice. Increased congestion plus better bike infra may get us far beyond 25%.

    That being said, surveys like this one are not all that valuable unless their methods are available to review.

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    • Michael Andersen (Contributor)
      Michael Andersen (Contributor) May 10, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      What methods are you wondering about? Looks from the page on SurveyUSA like it was just your basic telephone survey, same as any political poll.

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      • SD May 11, 2017 at 8:32 am

        I didn’t see where they listed a specific protocol for this survey, but I read the general statement of methodology, which starts “SurveyUSA opinion research is conducted using a methodology optimized for each particular project. In some cases, this means data is collected 100% by telephone; in some cases, 100% online; and in other cases, a blend of the two.” You are probably right; “same as any political poll,” which is not an indication of quality or thoughtful design. Worth considering and I am not trying to diminish your article, but results are not conclusive.

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    • bikeninja May 10, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      Perhaps we will hit the magical tipping point of congestion where the cars will not move at all or will never move over walking speed then cycling can become very safe and attractive for all. We may all need to switch to fat bikes so we can ride over the hoods of the cars stuck in the intersections though.

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    • lyle w May 10, 2017 at 11:04 pm

      I’d say if anything would have stopped me in my desire to cycle frequently, or to get into it more seriously, spend a bunch of money on it, and generally just take on the identity… it would have been enough close-calls/threats/lack of police response to road rage, etc as I started riding full time. I definitely had to think about it and talk myself into sticking with it at a few points.

      One person getting screamed at in traffic, or almost hit by a texting driver, etc might just shrug it off and have perspective on the big picture… but the next person might let the small things accumulate to the point where the bike goes in the garage and comes out once a year.

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    • Dan A May 11, 2017 at 8:36 am

      That is the number one reason my wife would prefer that I don’t ride to work.

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    • Kyle Banerjee May 11, 2017 at 10:18 am

      SD
      The most common reason that people tell me that they don’t bike commute is that they don’t feel safe. This has also been shown in surveys to be a prominent factor in mode choice. Increased congestion plus better bike infra may get us far beyond 25%.

      What people say and what they do are two different things.

      I can’t help but notice that the number of cyclists plummets anytime the weather isn’t great (like today). It’s not even cold, dark, or that windy. All of those things further reduce ridership.

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      • Dan A May 11, 2017 at 11:10 am

        I feel less safe riding in the rain. Visibility for drivers is considerably worse, and I’m aware that I’m barely a blip on their radar.

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        • Kyle Banerjee May 11, 2017 at 1:39 pm

          For those concerned about visibility, heading into bright sunlight is one of the most dangerous conditions you’ll encounter. Yet that seems to dissuade very few people.

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          • Dan A May 11, 2017 at 2:27 pm

            That’s one of the reasons I ride home early. I ride westward, so I make sure I leave early enough that it’s not a problem, like 3pm. Also, if I leave at 5 or 6, I encounter more crazy (drunk?) drivers in the Pearl.

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      • Brian May 11, 2017 at 11:16 am

        Yesterday compared to today was a huge difference in the number of morning riders, and it was barely raining (and warmer). Rain appears to be a big deal for people.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu May 11, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Hello, Kitty
    Even building enough to stabilize today’s prices would be a challenge given the price differential between here and other cities on the West Coast. I think it would be possible to slow things temporarily, maybe, but not possible in the longer-term. And even then, we’re really only talking high-end stuff. No one is talking about building for the lower end of the market.
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    It is even worse than that.

    Around 3,000 houses have been officially demolished, plus many thousands of unofficial demolitions, in the last several years. Virtually all of those were low priced houses, some were pretty funky but most were simply smaller and older. Almost all of them were or could have been affordable housing for a family or roommates.

    What were those demolished houses replaced with?. In a few cases, with apartment buildings, almost all market rate/higher priced. In most cases, with high priced speculative houses that were then sold for much, much more. Sometimes with high priced duplexes.

    I don’t yet have city wide data, but we have studies in some neighborhoods. In Beaumont Wilshire, there have been around 80 official and unofficial demolitions in the last several years, and on average the new house was 2.5X larger and 2.5X more expensive than the demolished house. In another neighborhood, we looked at 30 demolitions and the new houses were average $900,000 and the demolished houses were average $360,000. We looked at one particular infill developer, that company demolished 100% of the over 100 houses it has bought, average price of the original house was about $200,000 (i’m writing this from memory), the average spec house it built was sold for about $650,000. I’ve looked at some new construction duplexes and they sell for $600,000 to $750,000, in place of the original house that cost $200,000 or so.

    Demolition of basically sound houses is eliminating affordable housing for thousands of Portlanders every year and making close-in neighborhoods less inclusive, less diverse. The rate of demolitions is going up every year. And there is no inclusionary zoning (IZ) or affordability requirement for infill house and duplex development.

    Demolitions will remove more affordable housing than IZ will create.

    This is something we need to think about. In my opinion, the city should discourage by rule or fee or tax, the demolition of a sound house. With reasonable exceptions of course, e.g. to build a large apartment building with IZ, or for a non-spec house (i.e. owner project and owner occupied).

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty May 11, 2017 at 10:19 am

      The thing that frustrates me so much is that the city is talking about policies that will add incentives for demolition, which will exacerbate this problem. I think this is exactly the wrong direction.

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      • SE Rider May 11, 2017 at 12:03 pm

        If you’re talking about the RIP, I don’t think thats a completely fair way to characterize it.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty May 11, 2017 at 12:26 pm

          The RIP has threeish focuses, one of which I totally support (reducing the size of new construction, though I think the rules as proposed will be ineffective), one of which I am wary of, but hopeful for (fixing skinny lot policies), and one which I would characterize as I did above (allowing more houses to be built on a lot), which will make redevelopment more profitable and provide incentives for more rapid destruction affordable housing. If those policies did not apply to parcels with existing structures, or were coupled with stronger disincentives for demolition, or had requirements for affordability, I would not oppose them.

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          • SE Rider May 12, 2017 at 11:11 am

            More houses on a lot, or more units? Keep in mind that under RIP, while duplex (and triplexes on corners) could potentially be built in single dwelling zones, they can’t be bigger in combined size that what a single home would have been. Theoretically this should make the multi-units cheaper than the single family homes that would have been there instead (although I understand skepticism to this notion).

            In my view, with or without the RIP, you’ll still have a relatively similar number of demos. Developers will still want to turn a profit on older, cheaper (sometimes undesirable) properties. But yes, increasing incentives to reduce demos would be great. It’s a complicated problem for sure with a lot of various stakeholders.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty May 12, 2017 at 11:42 am

              If what you say is true, that the RIP will not increase pressure for demolitions, the package should include protections to ensure that is true. That would help it earn support from skeptics like me.

              Alternatively, it should be split up into several independent sub-plans, so we can pass the less controversial parts quickly while we debate the more controversial parts.

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            • John Liu
              John Liu May 12, 2017 at 8:34 pm

              New construction is very expensive. In close in Portland, you can’t buy an existing house, demolish it, and build a new duplex for a cost per unit that is less than the original house cost. And obviously you’ll sell those units for as much as you can get, not for your cost.

              Fire up Redfin or Zillow, and do a search for new construction duplex/townhouse in close in Portland neighborhoods. See what the average price is. Compare that to the median Portland existing house price of a bit under $400K.

              RIP will result in the construction of new high priced housing, and the demolition of existing low priced housing.

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              • Matt S. May 13, 2017 at 8:24 am

                I live over on 28th and Glisan. A house on a larger lot was demolished and two condos were built in its replacement. They are selling for a million piece. They’ve been on the market for almost a year now. I’ve even seen them in Portland Monthly with their own quarter page spread. There’s demand, but obviously there’s a price point people aren’t willing to enter. I’m sure they will sell soon, but the fact they’ve existed on the market this long may be a bellwether of where the market is at.

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    • SE Rider May 11, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Is this rate of demolitions out of the norm compared to other cities?

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      • David Hampsten May 11, 2017 at 2:41 pm

        If Portland residents really cared about preserving the outward appearance of its buildings and architecture, they would have a building and design code like Siena Italy has. In spite of the ravages of war and frequent earthquakes, the city looks much like it did 500 years ago, thanks primarily to a well-written and still enforced design code from the 1300s, written in exact Latin, of course, by a bunch of rich canonical lawyers who carefully measured existing structures (the “hand” was their basic unit, about 6″), spacing between buildings, window and door sizes, etc. The design code was amended over time, of course, but it focused upon the outward appearance and relative location of buildings, but left land use and interior design and use up to the property owners. So as buildings were destroyed by fire, earthquake, German shelling, US bombs, developers, etc, they were subsequently replaced with exact duplicates, but with new interior modifications such as wiring, interior plumbing, bomb shelters, secret passage ways, crypts, central heating, bigger apartments, SROs, etc. The brick itself was replaced with newer types of brick that allow for wiring, plumbing, insulation, and earthquake resistance. Other “preserved” cities do much the same, such as Bruge, York, Seville, Gorlitz, etc.

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        • wsbob May 12, 2017 at 2:12 am

          Preservation of quality architecture is important, but it’s also important to avoid too much of a good thing. If a city’s design code forbids any modification to the visual design of the city’s new architecture, that precludes opportunity for new, good architectural ideas.

          While not all of a city’s quality, vintage architecture needs to be preserved to perpetuity, it does unfortunately seem to happen that in their enthusiasm to adapt to need for new housing, cities will turn a blind eye to the negative consequences of the design policies they embrace. Like infill for example.

          Poor infill policy can allow quiet, spacious neighborhoods with lots of light pouring in through the trees, to be transformed into noisy and congested with the light blocked by buildings too tall and spaced too close together. Great, classic architecture and landscape design, can get switched out for deplorably bad looking junk. Packing more people into a neighborhood can mean ‘goodbye’, to quiet streets anyone can wander along and visit, whether they live in the neighborhood or not.

          Portland’s close-in neighborhoods, are ideally located and planned to enable travel on foot and bike to be practical and reasonably enjoyable, if the infrastructure for those modes of travel were better. Downtown Portland is great to walk in…beautiful, reasonably quiet despite motor vehicle use on the streets…easy, safe, but the experience of crossing the ugly bridges over I-405, spoils a lot of that greatness, as does to some extent, crossing Burnside St. Downtown’s terrain uphill, probably makes biking a little difficult for many people that might consider walking and biking more.

          If more people walking and biking rather than driving personal cars, is the objective…then especially where the city decides to support planning that will dramatically increase population density, the accompanying infrastructure for walking and biking should be superior. Not simply the same old narrow sidewalks, and streets being impressed into service for both high volume too fast motor vehicle use and biking routes for people biking that have little inclination to deal with the consequences of that kind of motor vehicle use.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty May 14, 2017 at 10:05 pm

            Unfortunately, there is something else precluding good, new architectural ideas. I don’t know what it is, but we can see evidence for it in many of our new buildings.

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    • not that Mark May 12, 2017 at 11:50 am

      Here’s another perspective:

      I have one of those houses the developers want. It’s old and small and on a fair sized lot. It’s almost paid off and the equity is part of my retirement planning. I can sell it and retire elsewhere. Or keep living here until I get farmed out to an assisted living center or die.

      Whether it’s me or the family members who inherit my humble abode, the idea will be to maximize the value. And based on what we are seeing, the highest bidder will likely be a developer who will tear down my one bedroom house and construct a bigger one, and maybe even add an ADU. Or maybe I get lucky and sell it to a mythical californian with a suitcase full of cash who wants a yard and garden. Either way, more money for me. Maybe more density for those who like density. But no chance for an affordable home.

      People like me who bought a house a long time ago are sitting on much more equity than we ever dreamed of. And that is helping us plan for retirement.

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  • wsbob May 11, 2017 at 10:38 am

    “…Around 3,000 houses have been officially demolished, plus many thousands of unofficial demolitions, in the last several years. Virtually all of those were low priced houses, some were pretty funky but most were simply smaller and older. Almost all of them were or could have been affordable housing for a family or roommates.

    What were those demolished houses replaced with?. In a few cases, with apartment buildings, almost all market rate/higher priced. In most cases, with high priced speculative houses that were then sold for much, much more. Sometimes with high priced duplexes. …” Liu

    Disgusting. That’s putting housing way out of reach of people with low and moderate incomes. I can understand that city governments may abhor older, stand alone single family dwellings that don’t represent much in terms of tax revenue. It’s very disingenuous though, for city leaders to speak about affordable and low income housing as though they truly feel this type of housing is an important obligation of theirs, when they steadily and methodically destroy older structures that stand a chance of being truly accessible to people with low and moderate incomes.

    In the last few years, on 5th, and also on Farmington Rd in town, Beaverton has added some new mixed used structures with both ‘affordable’ and market rate units. The dollar amount represented by ‘affordable’, is relative though, to the cost of the market rate units. Not really accessible to people with low incomes.

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