After two-year stoppage, Portland ready to work on I-5 Rose Quarter project

Some harsh words were spoken about the legacy and impact of I-5 through the Rose Quarter at a Portland City Council meeting Wednesday. But for a project that has withstood years of stinging criticism and controversy, the overall tone was downright collegial.

“This is a big step.”

– Jo Ann Hardesty, commissioner

At one point, the leader of Albina Vision Trust, a nonprofit that walked away from the project in 2020 said, “This is a family reunion.”

After two years of keeping their distance from the contentious I-5 Rose Quarter project — a project that would expand the freeway between I-84 and the Fremont Bridge, build a highway cover and update surface streets — Portland City Council made it clear they’re ready to join forces with the Oregon Department of Transportation to move it forward.

As commissioner-in-charge of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Jo Ann Hardesty had to walk a fine line in her introductory remarks. Just two years ago, the project was so out-of-step with Portland’s values that Commissioner Hardesty’s predecessor took the unprecedented step of issuing a formal stop work order. The project has also faced stiff opposition from people who don’t trust ODOT and who fear any new capacity on I-5 will create more driving and move us in the wrong direction in the battle with climate change.

“The concessions that have been made around the highway cover design and the width of the freeway itself have all been important.”

– Winta Yohannes, Albina Vision Trust

On Wednesday’s agenda was the first reading of an ordinance that would reverse the 2020 order and enter the City of Portland into an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with ODOT so the state can pay nearly $5 million for PBOT planning work related to the project. 

Hardesty’s comments struck a tone of indignation with ODOT’s legacy and past decisions around I-5, and at the same time painted her agency’s work as a major win.

“The Black community bore the burdens of this highway and the city’s failed urban renewal efforts. Instead of a neighborhood we have a trench filled with inhospitable highway traffic and pollution. All this for the sake of making it easier for people who live further away,” she said. 

Left to their own devices, Hardesty said ODOT would have added even more lanes to the freeway and would have made the same mistakes over again. “The City of Portland stopped that plan,” she continued. “Today I’m proposing that the City of Portland come back to the I-5 Rose Quarter project. This is a big step.”

Hardesty gave her bureau a lot of credit, but she didn’t mention that it was the work of activists like Sunrise PDX and No More Freeways who pushed the Overton window and helped create space for elected officials like her and the more conservative advocacy group Albina Vision Trust to force ODOT into compromises.

PBOT says they’re back at the table, not only due to the deal forged by Governor Kate Brown last August, but because ODOT has committed to several promises. According to Hardesty, ODOT will: use congestion pricing to manage traffic and reduce emissions, move Harriet Tubman Middle School away from the freeway, work closely with Albina Vision Trust (AVT), and award construction contracts to Black-owned firms.

James Posey testifying at the meeting.

“[These construction contracts are an] opportunity to make our community whole… to build economic capacity for black people. That’s huge as far as I’m concerned.”

– James Posey

James Posey is co-founder of the National Association of Minority Contractors of Oregon and was invited to testify in support of the project. Posey, also a member of the project’s Community Oversight Advisory Committee, said despite ODOT’s “historical problems” the agency has “bent over backwards” to do things right this time around. Posey called the construction contracts an “opportunity to make our community whole” and a way to “build economic capacity for black people.” “That’s huge as far as I’m concerned.”

AVT Executive Director Winta Yohannes credited the City of Portland for standing up to ODOT. “Because of the city’s clear and decisive action, the community did not get steamrolled,” she said. “The concessions that have been made around the highway cover design and the width of the freeway itself have all been important.”

When public testimony began, the glowing reviews ended.

Chris Smith testifying at the meeting.

“We have allowed climate justice to be pitted against racial justice. In the long run, we can’t win if we allow those two things to be put in opposition to each other.”

– Chris Smith, No More Freeways

No More Freeways co-founder Chris Smith testified that he is supportive of the highway cover and surface street improvements, but not the wider freeway:

“We are both celebrating and mourning today. We’re celebrating the achievement of our friends at Albina Vision and the HAAB [Historic Albina Advisory Board, convened by ODOT]… But we’re mourning the missed opportunity on climate. Your own climate emergency declaration says that we should consider pricing solutions before widening freeways. ODOT has deliberately manipulated the process so we will do it in the other direction. We will program the expansion and then we’ll talk about pricing.”

Every (non-council member) speaker at Wednesday’s meeting who spoke in favor of the project was Black and everyone who opposed it (just two people) was white.

Smith, who is white, was the only person to address this when he said, “What’s happened here is we have allowed climate justice to be pitted against racial justice. In the long run, we can’t win if we allow those two things to be put in opposition to each other.”

Terrence Hayes put a fine point on this dynamic. He testified as an employee of Black-owned Raimore Construction who said his job allowed him to recently purchase his first home.  “I see that there’s a lot of different concerns and those concerns are fair. I think the city needs to also take climate and all those things into consideration. But when we talk about the black community — the community that was more affected by that original redlining than anybody else — we have to hear from folks from that community.”

“Induced demand only matters if you’re creating an induced demand for carbon-based vehicles that pollute.”

– Ted Wheeler, Mayor

After public testimony, councilors discussed the ordinance.

Commissioner Mingus Mapps said he wanted to hear more about how to answer the many environmental concerns he’s received from constituents. ODOT and PBOT staff answered by outlining their efforts on congestion pricing. 

ODOT Urban Mobility Office Director Brendan Finn said they hope to have an I-5 pricing system up and running in the Portland region by the end of 2025. Then he appeared to misspeak when he said pricing would happen, “prior to the construction… or prior to the completion of the construction of the project.”

That gets at the heart of Chris Smith’s comments that ODOT is doing this backwards. “We could cap the existing freeway and manage the congestion with pricing, and get the same benefits while dramatically reducing the negative impacts and probably save money in the process,” Smith said. He wants Council to pause, renegotiate the IGA and do a full analysis of the pricing-first strategy.

Given the tone of comments Wednesday, that seems very unlikely. And given a comment by Mayor Ted Wheeler, more cars on wider freeways isn’t necessarily bad for climate change.

Toward the end of the meeting, Mayor Wheeler said the only analysis he’d like to see is how many people will be driving “zero emission vehicles” in the future. “Somebody raised during public testimony the issue of induced demand… but my question is demand for what kind of vehicles?… I’d like to know what the assumptions are for zero emissions transportation, because induced demand only matters if you’re creating an induced demand for carbon-based vehicles that pollute,” he said.

Wheeler is dead wrong. Emissions are just one of many ways cars pollute and have a negative impact on our city, but that’s a post for another day.

For now, the ordinance will come back next week for a vote. If it passes, the agreement will be in place for two years. At that time, project staff must return to City Council to make the case that ODOT has kept its promises.

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Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
5 months ago

Two major decisions in one day that show America is continuing to dig its own grave even deeper. First the Supreme Court’s decision on concealed carry, and now this. Sigh….

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

The democratic party ignored the threat of a christo-fascist take over of the supreme court (and local governments). They even rolled over like pathetic poodles when the chriso-fascists blocked their legitimate centrist candidate.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

The democratic party ignored the threat of a christo-fascist take over of the supreme court

There wasn’t a lot they could have done to change the composition of the court.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Give me a break. Obama refused to recess-appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

dwk
dwk
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

You must be a secret Trumper… blaming democrats for the state of the nation is so ridiculous. We almost had a coup and his nut jobs on the court are ruining the country but it must be Hillarys fault….
Beyond stupid…

soren
soren
5 months ago

Democratic governor Kate Brown (ODOT’s leader) and the democratic party legislature (who crafted legislation directing ODOT to build this expansion at Brown’s urging) got exactly what they wanted: more freeway lanes in the I5 RQ. It’s Kafkaesque to spin any of this as a victory against new freeway lanes.

If our governments and associated non-profits were genuinely interested in decreasing ecocidal automobile traffic we would have removed lanes and not described their expansion as some sort of absurd pyrrhic victory.

PS: This mess shows how coalition politics with the establishment is always a losing proposition under extractive capitalism.

dwk
dwk
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

I am sure you will be happy when the Trump cult member is elected Governor this fall… things will improve I am sure.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  dwk

Knee jerk support for the blue team at this point in time is like this:

comment image

dwk
dwk
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

Well your non support for perfect candidates is going to get us a Trump like climate denier Republican governor or else a Gun toting nut job like Betsy Johnson.
A sound decision on your part.

Damien
Damien
5 months ago
Reply to  dwk

Quite the contrary, dwk – supporting compromised candidates is what gets us bad candidates. It incentivizes it.

The problem with the “lesser of two evils” rationale/strategy is that it’s only rational in the context of one election. Over multiple elections, it’s a self-defeating downward spiral, i.e., it always leads to greater evil. Taken to its absurd conclusion, we eventually get a choice between, say, just for example’s sake, a mass-murdering psychopath who killed 100 people last week and a mass-murdering psychopath who killed 99 people last week, and well, you’d better vote for the 99-count murderer because they are the lesser of two evils. In the next cycle they’ll double those numbers, because Lesser Evil candidate knows they don’t have to be good, they just have to be slightly less evil than Greater Evil candidate.

Lisa Caballero (Asst. Editor / SW Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Damien

Maybe we could have ranked choice voting, multi-member districts for the city council …

Damien
Damien
5 months ago

RCV unfortunately doesn’t eliminate the spoiler effect, though it does lessen it – mostly it just buries/obscures it. Better would be STAR or approval voting, but it looks like RCV is the option on this November’s ballot, so…I’ll be voting for it.

To the root of your point, though: Absolutely. Plurality+single-member districts incentivizes lesser-of-two-evilism. It also incentivizes the two-party duopoly.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  Damien

At this point, I’m leaning towards no on the charter. Using the “almost no one else uses this form of government” as a reason to switch to a form of government that literally no one else uses is not a compelling argument.

Damien
Damien
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

At this point, I’m leaning towards no on the charter. Using the “almost no one else uses this form of government” as a reason to switch to a form of government that literally no one else uses is not a compelling argument.

Then focus on the better arguments: That these reforms are researched alternatives that by all metrics produce more democratic/representative results.

That they haven’t been tried together in the United States is hardly a knock against them, given that the United States has never actually been all that pro-representation. Huge swaths of our population couldn’t vote at all for most of the country’s history, and even today factions are doing their utmost to dissuade their political opponents from voting.

Lisa Caballero (Asst. Editor / SW Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

We have had a back-end software glitch resulting in four comments being unapprovable. I’m re-posting them.

FROM DAMIEN:

Reply to  Watts

At this point, I’m leaning towards no on the charter. Using the “almost no one else uses this form of government” as a reason to switch to a form of government that literally no one else uses is not a compelling argument.

Then focus on the better arguments: That these reforms are researched alternatives that by all metrics produce more democratic/representative results.

That they haven’t been tried together in the United States is hardly a knock against them, given that the United States has never actually been all that pro-representation. Huge swaths of our population couldn’t vote at all for most of the country’s history, and even today factions are doing their utmost to dissuade their political opponents from voting.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  Damien

Thank you for your post, Damien. A far better response than my meme.

dwk
dwk
5 months ago
Reply to  Damien

So who are you going to elect? Sounds great, nice thesis, no basis for reality.

dwk
dwk
5 months ago
Reply to  Damien

You bothsiders are hilarious.. Dems kill 99, Repubs kill 100… like they are even equivalent in your ridiculous scenario.
One party just tried to overthrow the government and wants to ban Gay marriage…. They are just the same aren’t they?

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  dwk

Luckily we don’t elect parties; we elect individuals. I can still support Democratic candidates even if Democrats elsewhere are nutty. Susan Collins and Ted Cruz are wildly different candidates.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  dwk

Well your non support for perfect candidates is going to get us a Trump like climate denier Republican governor or else a Gun toting nut job like Betsy Johnson.

It’s not like Kotek is some kind of winner.

John
John
5 months ago

Man, Ted Wheeler sucks. That comment at the end is just such bird brained nonsense. It’s not even saying anything, just air headed musings. “I wonder if electric cars might also drive here”. I’ve got sad news for you, electric cars aren’t going to replace all the ICE cars (at least not at any reasonable time), and continuing this insane failed experiment of car-dependent culture just flies in the face of any climate goals.
Induced demand doesn’t just move demand around, it *induces demand*, that means building more cars to fill the demand! It also means more traffic, more infrastructure infecting its way through the surrounding area to support this, and eventually (quickly) gets to the point where you’re back where you were before the expansion. Traffic will be as bad or worse and more people will be dependent on getting around by cars. More people will be forced to buy a car to work, lower income people will be squeezed harder, and on and on.

But I’m sure that’s what Johnathan meant by a post for another day.

kernals12
kernals12
5 months ago
Reply to  John

Akron is dismantling a highway that can carry 120,000 vehicles per day but sees less than 20,000. Where’s the induced demand?

And if this extra lane does somehow fill up with 50% more traffic, there’s enough space to restripe for another lane.

idlebytes
idlebytes
5 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

And if this extra lane does somehow fill up with 50% more traffic, there’s enough space to restripe for another lane.

Ooof this is almost as bad as what Wheeler said and plays right into ODOTs dreams of expanding that whole corridor. How is striping another lane for one mile going to help? It will just create another bottleneck when the lanes go back down to three.

Also ODOT themselves have said this will not reduce congestion only increase throughput. Meaning more cars through the same point at the same speeds. In other words induced demand. It’s not up for debate that this will be the case in this section.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  John

continuing this insane failed experiment of car-dependent culture

We’re going to continue it. There is no appetite (or resources) to change our patterns of living, abandon our rural and suburban development, and rebuild our cities to hold everyone. It’s just not going to happen.

We are going to have to find ways of adapting our current patterns to climate realities, and electrification of cars is one important step.

John
John
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This is just nonsense. We don’t have to bulldoze and rebuild to move away from car dependence. This is a strawman. It would cost fewer resources and cause less harm to move away from car dependence. It would require some zoning changes, spending some of the billions this I-5 garbage would cost on buses and other transit, etc.

Of course there is appetite for it, but people have to be exposed to something other than the lies or at best myths of the necessity of cars and highways that are constantly blaring in our ears and repeated by the “vErY SeRiOuS” people.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  John

We don’t have to bulldoze and rebuild to move away from car dependence.

How do you think we’re going to relieve the vast suburban and exurban/rural areas from their dependency on personal vehicles? Buses? We can’t even get good bus service to SW Portland, and even if we could serve rural areas, the emissions profile would be significantly worse than it is today.

Of course there is appetite for it

Uh… what? Most people don’t want to take the bus, even in Portland where service is passable. Most people want single family housing, and many want a suburban lifestyle. It’s not that people don’t know what they want because their ears have been filled with lies and they haven’t heard your utopian vision; they know exactly what they want, and they’re not going to give it up easily.

People think they need cars because, for a great many cases, they do.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Fixed:

We can’t even get decent bus service in Portland.

John
John
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Well, I find it hard to believe that “people want a suburban lifestyle” without evidence. The most desirable places to live are all in dense urban areas, that’s where prices shoot through the roof and those places are populated by families. People actually do want to live near access to public transit, good bike paths, and short distances to downtown. This isn’t new information. It’s just that suburbs are cheaper so many people have no other choice.

And yes. Buses. The bus system here isn’t great. We need more and more frequent buses, more dedicated bus lanes so they’re faster. We “can’t get good bus service to SW Portland” because we’d rather waste money widening a pointless section of I-5 that won’t do anything to help with this problem.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  John

The most desirable places to live are all in dense urban areas

That’s your opinion, and I share it to a certain extent (though I prefer the single-family neighborhoods to the concrete apartment buildings that are the hallmark of “dense urban areas”), but it is hardly universal.

We “can’t get good bus service to SW Portland” because we’d rather waste money widening a pointless section of I-5

Blaming poor bus service in SW on ODOT’s widening project suggests a certain “innocence” about how government funding works in Oregon, and perhaps about how transit works as well.

Running buses (and hiring drivers) is expensive and energy consumptive, and running them on low-demand routes is a loser from every angle. That’s why bus service will never replace auto use in any kind of vaguely rural setting. The idea that we can give up driving without abandoning huge swaths of our built environment (and redeveloping the rest to accommodate those displaced from further out) is a fantasy.

I strongly support a carbon tax, which would encourage people who drive to switch to more sustainable vehicles, and might (possibly) lead to an adjustment in housing prices as more efficient housing types become relatively cheaper.

Lisa Caballero (Asst. Editor / SW Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

Hi Watts,

“Low-demand routes” weren’t always low demand. If you cut a route enough you can kill it. In 2018(?), I got a hold of the bus service metrics spreadsheet for all routes. My route, the 51, was in the middle of the pack in terms of ridership.

With HB2017, TriMet intentionally focused on the periphery of their service area, EP and Hillsboro, and trimmed service to the SW. TriMet makes data-driven decisions, and they justified this with in-house research showing a correlation between gentrification and falling ridership. Basically the white people who moved to inner NE Portland road the bus much less than the black people who moved out, so by redistributing its service TriMet was chasing its ridership. At least that’s how I remember it.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago

 If you cut a route enough you can kill it.

Agreed. But you can’t make a 10 mile rural route with 30 households work by implementing frequent service.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  John

It would cost fewer resources and cause less harm to move away from car dependence. It would require some zoning changes

You do realize the vast majority of ‘murricans either can’t afford to live in twee bougie inner cities or choose not to. The idea that something like 80% of the population could be housed in areas with robust transportation alternatives and economic resources without spending thousands of billions is utterly risible.

(Market urbanism is a Reaganite cult that is profoundly detached from reality, ATMO.)

John
John
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

Wow, something many other places have done – robust transportation alternatives and dense housing – is somehow impossible for the United States.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  John

without spending thousands of billions is utterly risible

Did you read my comment?

Impossible via milquetoast zoning reform (or trickle down economics) but we could definitely move in this direction via redistribution that funds hundreds of billions of dollars in social infrastructure.

something many other places have done – robust transportation alternatives and dense housing

Massive investment in public transit and public housing was never a result of Friedmanite “free” market dogmatism* but rather a result of redistribution that funded social welfare systems (and to a lesser degree continues to fund welfare states in some regions).

*What YIMBYs and market urbanists often term “econ 101”.

John
John
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

Who said anything about trickle down economics and free market dogmatism? I believe you’re arguing against a strawman. I’m far from a believer in “free” markets (which, as the scare quotes imply, neither of us believe are a real thing), I lean more towards dictatorships of the proletariat kind of thing. The mention of zoning is merely to illustrate how a basically free change would move things in the right direction and indicates the priorities of our politicians are nowhere near the right direction. And my reason to point out the huge cost of this I-5 widening is to imply that this money could be spent on something else amounting to redistribution. Maybe we’re on the same page.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  John

would move things in the right direction a

In the context of crony capitalism it simply favors one set of capitalists more than another set of capitalists, ATMO.

Once again, there is no housing crisis for the ownership class. Our housing crisis is a crisis of the poor and of the lower-income working class. Tiny changes to zoning that favor a different cohort of economically comfortable people (able to own “smaller” housing capital) are a nothing burger when it comes to addressing the actually existing housing crisis.

That being said, I would enthusiastically support the abolition of low-density zoning in urban areas but this would only be possible in an economy where capitalism has lost political power. The housing crisis is fundamentally rooted in class politics/economics, not in minor changes to zoning policy.

For example changes in zoning policy has not been the primary cause of the sharp drop off in missing middle housing (the cultish mantra of the YIMBYs):

comment image

The Minskian bubles of financialized real-estate speculation, on the other hand…

dictatorships

I’m not a fan of this based on my family’s lived experience with actually existing Leninism. I favor democracies of the proleteriat.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

*bubbles (gah)

Lisa Caballero (Asst. Editor / SW Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  soren

Good chart, thank you.

soren
soren
5 months ago

Many who are sympathetic to YIMBYism don’t realize that ~15% of Portland’s low-rise residential lots allowed 2-6 unit buildings for 30+ years (R1-3 — now RM1-2). Despite this long-lasting upzone, rentiers and their developers built single unit detached homes on the vast majority of these lots. The city’s own reports indicate that the same is very likely to be true for “RIP”. Deregulation is not enough when it’s the “free” market that has helped create and perpetuate housing scarcity.

PS: In a similar vein it’s darkly comical seeing the cognitive dissonance of “abundant housing” types as the real estate industry begins to slam the brakes on development as we enter another Minskian boom-bust cycle*. How could rentiers and their developers stop housing creation when there is such a large housing shortage??? Sigh.

*Probably not as big as the last one.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

developers built single unit detached homes on the vast majority of these lots

This is the housing type that most people want, and is the most profitable to build. No surprise that that’s what developers deliver. The “missing middle” would be accurately named “the middle most people don’t want”.

Damien
Damien
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

This is the housing type that most people want…

So what do we do when what most people want is ultimately unsustainable?

Most life, let alone people, wants to consume the most energy/resources possible. People just happen to be the sort of life unshackled enough from natural selection to be able to do this to incredibly damaging effect. So do we just do that, because it’s what most people want?

John
John
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

If you ask people multiple questions about what they want with no context or explanation or caveats, they will say they want conflicting contradictory things, and you’re also missing the point if you don’t ask follow ups about *why* they want that. Survey questions can be manipulated to show whatever you want. People will say they want things that they have been conditioned to think are “good” on some level without actually understanding the implications, or they will say they want things because of the current state of infrastructure. Like, some people think suburban life is “good” for raising kids, while in reality it is quite harmful to the well being of everyone involved, it causes a lack of independence, a requirement of driving everywhere, increased traffic, etc. etc. It’s not good. So it’s more complicated than just asking what people want. It’s like, you ask a child what they want for dinner and the answer will be ice cream every day because they simply don’t know. It’s the job of advocates and politicians to actually change opinion on “what people want”.
But not only that, what is “most profitable for developers” is an explanation for why developers build certain things but has nothing to do with what people want. Building what people need and what is best for everyone is frequently not the most profitable because capitalism doesn’t care what people need. Its focus is on making the most profit which is not aligned with the best interests of people.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  John

Building what people need and what is best for everyone is frequently not the most profitable because capitalism doesn’t care what people need.

Great comment. This is why the promise of abundant market rate housing is such a scam, ATMO.

Lisa Caballero (Asst. Editor / SW Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

FROM DAMIEN:

Reply to  Watts

This is the housing type that most people want…

So what do we do when what most people want is ultimately unsustainable?

Most life, let alone people, wants to consume the most energy/resources possible. People just happen to be the sort of life unshackled enough from natural selection to be able to do this to incredibly damaging effect. So do we just do that, because it’s what most people want?

Lisa Caballero (Asst. Editor / SW Correspondent)
Editor
Reply to  Watts

reply to Watts:

FROM JOHN:

If you ask people multiple questions about what they want with no context or explanation or caveats, they will say they want conflicting contradictory things, and you’re also missing the point if you don’t ask follow ups about *why* they want that.

Survey questions can be manipulated to show whatever you want. People will say they want things that they have been conditioned to think are “good” on some level without actually understanding the implications, or they will say they want things because of the current state of infrastructure. Like, some people think suburban life is “good” for raising kids, while in reality it is quite harmful to the well being of everyone involved, it causes a lack of independence, a requirement of driving everywhere, increased traffic, etc. etc. It’s not good.

So it’s more complicated than just asking what people want. It’s like, you ask a child what they want for dinner and the answer will be ice cream every day because they simply don’t know. It’s the job of advocates and politicians to actually change opinion on “what people want”.

But not only that, what is “most profitable for developers” is an explanation for why developers build certain things but has nothing to do with what people want. Building what people need and what is best for everyone is frequently not the most profitable because capitalism doesn’t care what people need. Its focus is on making the most profit which is not aligned with the best interests of people.

Damien
Damien
5 months ago

I did wonder if something was up, given that I could see John’s post pending moderation. I’d only experienced that with my own and naturally assumed to see others’ in that state defeats the point.

That all said – John’s take is much cleverer than mine in rejecting the initial premise to start with. Go with John’s.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Take away the staggeringly massive financial subsidies for this type of housing asset and what people want will rapidly change.

John
John
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

It’s not a cultish YIMBY mantra to point out the fact that zoning restrictions prevent some of the kinds of building that are both popular and efficient such as multi-family units and mixed commercial use. Although, I think Portland mostly doesn’t have those restrictions (but also isn’t really the problem, the suburbs are). YIMBYs might be misguided but it’s not like they don’t point to real problems sometimes. Changing zoning is necessary but not sufficient. Ultimately letting capitalism do everything will always result in failure.
(Also not for nothing, but your comment about “democracies of the proleteriat” is a bit off base. That is the same thing.”Dictatorship of the proletariat” literally means the working people running things, i.e. real democracy. And it wasn’t a Lenin invention. But this is off in the weeds.)

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  John

It’s not a cultish YIMBY mantra to point out the fact that zoning restrictions prevent some of the kinds of building that are both popular and efficient such as multi-family units and mixed commercial use.

There is no one in Portland more supportive of large multifamily building than I. I would be happy to see every single twee bungalow demolished and replaced with forests of 20+ story apartment blocks. In fact, one of my main criticism of the PDX YIMBY movement is that its reforms tend to do almost nothing to open up twee residential areas to large multi-unit apartment buildings.

”Dictatorship of the proletariat” literally means the working people running things, i.e. real democracy

The “dictatorship of the proleteriat” in Romania was no democracy.

John
John
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

large multi-unit apartment buildings.

Yes, we’re in full agreement about that. Although I don’t think we would even have to go to huge apartment blocks everywhere, even simply having town houses and what not, buildings with 3-5 units in them that aren’t play houses I mean tiny houses. Even constructed all from wood, etc, would totally change things for the better. (But also yes, more 20+ story apartment blocks too).

Romania was no democracy.

If it wasn’t a democracy, then it wasn’t a dictatorship of the proletariat. This is not disputable, that’s what the words mean. People can call their government whatever they want, plenty of undemocratic countries literally have “democratic” in the name but that has no bearing on what democracy means. But I don’t want to play silly word games so you do you.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  John

We have plenty of places with “robust transportation alternatives and dense housing”. (NYC is one obvious example). And “many other places” have less dense areas as well; even Japan has many non-urban areas where driving is the standard means of transportation.

So no, not impossible here, and something you could have if you wanted to. Just not something we have everywhere.

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The darkly comical thing is that Oregon and the USA are also failing at electrification of SUVs/trucks/cars. The one thing that this Fordist anocracy could do to limit transportation CO2e without tying SUV-headed ‘murricans undies in knot and we are failing at even that.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  soren

We are in fact taking steps that will make this more difficult, such as building residences where people need to park on the street, where charging infrastructure is more of a challenge (and where, if it comes, the cost will have to be borne by the city rather than those creating the problem).

soren
soren
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

And taxing EVs at a far higher rate than monstrous petro-burning SUVs, which will certainly help make them less of a niche product for wealthy technophiles.

maxD
maxD
5 months ago

Posey called the construction contracts an “opportunity to make our community whole”

I would like to hear more about this! This project will provide some lucrative contracts for a handful of black-owned contracting businesses. The assumption is that some/most of their employess are also black, and some/most of their subcontractors are also POC. A large influx of cash and some training/capacity building is undoubtedly significant, but it seems to fall well short of making the community whole!

Fred
Fred
5 months ago
Reply to  maxD

Great question, maxD. I can’t help feeling that in some very real sense ODOT has simply bought off the Black community, with promises of lucrative contracts, jobs, and caps over the widened freeway.

I have the same problem with the union movement when unions support eco-disaster projects on the basis of the number of “family-wage-paying jobs” they will produce. Yes, we need family-wage-paying jobs, but shouldn’t they be in service of climate-friendly projects? It’s kind of like arguing that WW2 death camps would have been okay had they been built by Black workers in Black-owned, unionized businesses.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Did the “black community” meet and agree that they’d support the project in exchange for contracts to some companies? The whole arrangement reeks of tokenism and low-level race-based condescension.

maxD
maxD
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred

It sounds to me like ODOT has bought off a tiny sliver of the Black community with a few short-term contracts and that is being touted as Black community restoration. I would love to hear what someone who can speak for a broader cross section of the Black community thinks about this.

kernals12
kernals12
5 months ago

This is a great victory for common sense. I’m glad the council put the needs of the ordinary people of Portland over the eco-apocalypse fantasy of a fringe cult.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

It’s not at all clear to me that this meets “the needs of the ordinary people of Portland”.

kernals12
kernals12
5 months ago
Reply to  Watts

The vast majority of Greater Portland residents own cars. Those that don’t will at some point ride a bus or take an Uber. All of them will benefit from this exceedingly minor widening that requires no ROW acquisition

John
John
5 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

They own cars because they have been convinced (and occasionally correctly) that they need to own one. That says nothing about how much they actually drive, how much they need to drive, etc. Making it easier will just make more people do it, and that will (as has been proven again and again and ignored by people like you) get us right back where we are now. Only this time the bottleneck won’t be in the same place with some “exceedingly minor” billion dollar project. It’ll be some intractable mess like LA where we’ve widened everything as far as it can and there is no clear thing to fix because everything is backed up everywhere.
This is not the solution. It’s not even a bandaid. It’s a handout to some contractors for a quick buck to profit off of us without solving anything.

kernals12
kernals12
5 months ago
Reply to  John

Los Angeles has 5 times more people than Portland and is much more densely populated.

And the good thing is there will be enough ROW to restripe the highway to 8 lanes.

John
John
5 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

I don’t know why this is so hard to understand. If they did add a lane (which they can’t), it would not alleviate traffic. It would make traffic worse *everywhere*. It would increase the amount of driving which would have to go somewhere (you know those cars don’t vanish when they take an exit off I-5). That would happen until I-5 has the same traffic it does now, and the effect would be to increase traffic congestion everywhere else.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  John

“Induced demand” for a project like this is purely speculative. The congestion largely disappears off-peak, and that hasn’t induced new demand to consume the available capacity.

Where will this new demand come from?

(I want to be clear I strongly oppose this project, but I find the “induced demand” attack specious.)

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

The vast majority of Greater Portland residents own cars. Those that don’t will at some point ride a bus or take an Uber.

Stipulated.

All of them will benefit from this exceedingly minor widening that requires no ROW acquisition

This assertion does not follow from your first statement. Even if you accept all of ODOT’s claims about this project, I think it will benefit a relatively small number of Portlanders.

rick
rick
5 months ago
Reply to  kernals12

Why doesn’t ODOT use common sense to even maintain Powell Blvd, SW Hall Blvd, SW Canyon Road, and 99E and 99W?

Watts
Watts
5 months ago

What’s happened here is we have allowed climate justice to be pitted against racial justice. In the long run, we can’t win if we allow those two things to be put in opposition to each other.

Smith is right about this, but I’m not sure that either will ultimately prevail. And without “climate justice”, nothing else really matters.

It is another disappointing collapse by tough-talking leaders who obviously don’t care about climate change as much as they say they do. [See also Metro]

(On the plus side, this is exactly the outcome those who think we give too much weight to community voices wanted — leaders “leading” regardless of what those most impacted want.)

cc_rider
cc_rider
5 months ago

if you’re creating an induced demand for carbon-based vehicles that pollute,” he said

Big brain Ted thinks electric cars aren’t carbon-based. Impressive. That’s why we pay him the big bucks I guess.

Damien
Damien
5 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Not to mention this factually incorrect idea that electric vehicles don’t produce emissions. They don’t produce tailpipe emissions, but as has been discussed multiple times on BikePortland and elsewhere, they produce just as much brake/tire/etc particulate emissions.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
5 months ago
Reply to  Damien

Not to mention the rape of the planet to produce their batteries.

Mark McClure
5 months ago

“Wheeler is dead wrong. Emissions are just one of many ways cars pollute and have a negative impact on our city, but that’s a post for another day.”

I agree and am looking forward to your future article. Regarding the future, I think the sooner the USA intelligently factors EVs into our transportation infrastructure network, the better. It seems from this Wired article yesterday China isn’t dithering.

China Is Racing to Electrify Its Future

The country wants electric vehicles to make up 40 percent of new cars sold by 2030—but first it has to figure out how to keep them charged.

Mark McClure
5 months ago
Reply to  Mark McClure

Relatedly, I thought this May 29th New York Times opinion article (paywalled) by Ezra Klein could be instructive to our state and regional political leaders.

What America Needs Is a Liberalism That Builds