Tempers flare around Tillamook Street tree removal as neighbors press for changes

Photo of traffic circle (sans tree) on NE 7th at Tillamook taken Tuesday, September 27th. (Photo: Allan Rudwick)

Nearly one month has passed since the City of Portland announced plans to remove the traffic circle on NE 7th and Tillamook. And while the large tree that once stood in the middle of the circle is now gone, the frustrations from many neighbors about how this project has transpired are not.

In the past few weeks, a small army of nearby residents have coalesced as Safe on 7th, an ad hoc advocacy group fighting to make sure the Portland Bureau of Transportation doesn’t end up making traffic dangers outside their homes even worse.  On September 14th, they met directly with PBOT staff in charge of the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project to share their concerns that removing the traffic circle would only exacerbate dangerous conditions. At that meeting PBOT heard that not only did many residents want the traffic circle to remain, they wanted much more drastic diversion in order  to reduce the number of drivers who speed through the streets.

PBOT responded to some of their concerns and added additional traffic calming elements to the project, but so far the city’s action have only caused more frustration and anger among some residents.

Safe on 7th Block Party. (Photo: Safe on 7th)

On September 19th, PBOT announced construction of the project would move forward. On September 25th, the same group of neighbors who called the meeting with PBOT and who have placed signs on the intersection that read, “Our Neighborhood Does Not Support this PBOT Project!,” held a block party.

One of those residents, Randy Haj, told us the vibe at the block party was upbeat and positive. “Neighbors got chance to meet each other, often for the first time in person, and finally had some common space to gather without vehicle traffic ruining the atmosphere,” he shared in an email to BikePortland on Tuesday.  Haj was referring to another revelation PBOT will have to grapple with eventually: This neighborhood loves their new carfree street that’s been barricaded off for the construction project for several weeks now. They don’t want drivers to return to this corner of their neighborhood. Ever.

Here’s more from Randy about what it felt like at the block party:

“Kids that were usually confined to their houses were out in droves — most of us had no idea there were this many kids in the neighborhood — and parents who usually need to have their heads on a swivel could sit back and relax into a conversation with their neighbors.  In a working class neighborhood that was used to having their community cut in two by a noisy and dangerous street, there was a feeling that our families could enjoy the peace of mind that so many others enjoy in Portland every day.  The steady stream of bikers crisscrossing the intersection and stopping to sign the neighbors’ petition and shouting words of support boosted the mood.  The handful of drivers going around the party or through gaps in the temporary barricades was the only reminder of what the street used to be like, but they were so infrequent that everyone just laughed them off .”

“The community response team of PBOT showed up in the guise of a Portland Police sergeant all dressed in black with a bullet proof vest and a 9 mm pistol on his belt.”

– Mark Bennett, Safe on 7th

Randy added he and many others were disappointed that Commissioner Jo An Hardesty’s community justice coordinator Andre Miller didn’t show up — despite saying he would.

The day after the party, two things happened: PBOT contractors arrived on the scene to cut the tree down, and Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA) Co-chair Allan Rudwick fired off another letter (PDF) to PBOT detailing his concerns about conditions on lower NE 7th and why he feels more diversion is critical.

According to a story just posted on the ENA website, there was a tense confrontation with neighborhood activists who planted themselves on the circle and demanded that contractors and a PBOT staffer show them a permit for the tree’s removal. When the resident refused to leave, the PBOT staffer called a Portland Police officer to the scene:

And then… the community response team of PBOT showed up in the guise of a Portland Police sergeant all dressed in black with a bullet proof vest and a 9 mm pistol on his belt.

The sergeant said, “You have the right to protest, but not on this circle.  If you do not move from the circle, I will arrest you for misdemeanor trespass.  It may not be a serious charge, but I will take you in for booking and it may not look good to your employers or any future employment you might seek.”

Map using GIS data to show local streets with traffic volumes above desired level. (Source: Eliot Neighborhood Assoc.)

While that tussle was going on, Rudwick’s letter was bouncing around email inboxes at PBOT and Commissioner Hardesty’s office. The ENA wants to convince PBOT to install much stronger traffic diversion measures in order to dramatically reduce the number of daily drivers on lower NE 7th Ave from the 6,000 or so today, to a more livable amount of less than 1,000. Rudwick shared a GIS map created by the ENA (using publicly available traffic data) that showed all the local streets in Portland that have way more average daily car traffic volume than they should. They found 10 streets that shared this trait with NE 7th. “Four of the streets on the list have a parallel, non-local street where traffic should be routed according to the city’s policy documents,” the letter states. “Of those, two — SE 52nd at SE Division and SE Clinton at SE 31st Ave — have had vehicle diversion installed. The other two — Lower 7th Avenue and N Columbia Way/N Smith St — are in historically marginalized and politically disconnected communities.”

“We are proposing to keep Lower 7th closed to vehicles until at least one diverter is installed on Lower 7th,” the letter states.

PBOT hasn’t responded to the letter, but work at the intersection is moving along at full speed. City contractors are busy this week removing the circle and prepping to restripe the street with dedicated bike lanes, new crossings, new speed bumps, and other features aimed at allowing NE 7th and Tillamook to live up to its stature as the intersection of two major neighborhood greenways.

What happens once the project is done and the “Road Closed” barricades come down is what we’re anxious to see.

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Chris I
Chris I
4 months ago

And then… the community response team of PBOT showed up in the guise of a Portland Police sergeant all dressed in black with a bullet proof vest and a 9 mm pistol on his belt.

So, a cop?

hamiramani
hamiramani
4 months ago

Why does it have to be like this, PBOT? You know the right thing to do: Install car traffic diverters. Why should people just trying to live their lives in peace have to dedicate hours and hours to get those in positions of power to do the right thing?

Stephanie
Stephanie
4 months ago

I just wanted to point out that you all can recreate this scene once a week in perpetuity, without all the drama! https://www.portland.gov/transportation/safestreetspdx/pbot-healthy-blocks

FDUP
FDUP
4 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Hardly permanent, or lasting.

Tomas Paella
Tomas Paella
4 months ago
Reply to  Stephanie

The Block Party program was not designed as a political cudgel and it’s cynical and disingenuous to use it as such.

We’ve already seen Bike Loud activists abuse it this summer on NE Prescott, pretending to be locals to antagonize drivers and block access to a public street to further their political goals.

It seems that once again, poorly executed activism will prove that we cannot have “nice things” in Portland.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago

Isn’t this exactly what those who think PBOT spends too much time on community engagement want the agency to do? Make the “right” decision and proceed without endless discussion with NIMBY neighbors?

For the record, I think PBOT’s actions here are terrible, and illustrate the profound disconnect between PBOT and those it ostensibly serves, a disconnect that will only worsen if charter reform gives the agency greater insulation from elected officials.

I intend to take full advantage of my ability to vote for (or against) the commissioner ultimately responsible for this situation while I still can.

Cyclops
Cyclops
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Hard disagree – if anything folks in the Eliot would have more people to hear their cause and push their case to PBOT and the city manager. And if it’s an election year in Eliot district, those elected reps would be incentivized to listen and make change for their particular constituents.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Cyclops

How do you envision those reps applying pressure on the manager (who’s being told by PBOT that this project is essential for safety)? Legislators generally do not (and should not) have great influence over officials controlled by the executive.

Legislators write rules, draw up budgets, and decide policy. The manager implements them. Legislators are not supposed to bypass that process to exert personal pressure on individuals working for the mayor. It would be a bit like Mapps trying to get Warner to reverse this decision; it would be problematic.

In this instance, the proper response would be to modify city policy so that this incident doesn’t happen again. But if the manager is following the council’s requirements, they should not be able to interfere.

For residents, the only route of appeal would run through the mayor.

Cyclops
Cyclops
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

You stated exactly how I think those reps would advocate for their local district constituents:

“Legislators write rules, draw up budgets, and decide policy. The manager implements them.”

I’d also add advocating for adherence of policy.

If a key issue in a district is safe streets where traffic volume is too high – even by pbot’s own traffic policy that dictates those roads are meant for local access with lower volumes – residents then can take that concern to their reps to bring those issues at council. Either the mayor or the manager can prioritize those concerns and implement measures that would fulfill policy and/or legislators can enact further law/policy that forces orgs like pbot to follow.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Cyclops

I don’t assume that my new reps would be any more pro-low-traffic streets than my current reps are, or that my voice would be any louder than it is today. As important as this issue is for me, there are bigger problems to worry about, and I’ll only get one vote, so I wouldn’t spend it on the good-on-transportation person.

I’ll have to rely on my neighbors for that, and many of them are drivers first.

Tomas Paella
Tomas Paella
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

I intend to take full advantage of my ability to vote for (or against) the commissioner ultimately responsible for this situation

Hardesty is checked out. Not interested in running PBOT or doing much else. It’s imperative that we elect someone who actually wants the job, not just a platform for furthering their own political career.

Damien
Damien
4 months ago
Reply to  Tomas Paella

Not interested in running PBOT or doing much else. It’s imperative that we elect someone who actually wants the job…

That’s the funny thing about our current system, though – you have zero ability to do that. There’s no guarantee someone running for PBOT will get PBOT. There’s no guarantee Hardesty will keep PBOT even if she is re-elected.

Cyclops
Cyclops
4 months ago

Perhaps well and true that they may come back to add more traffic calming measures – but looking at that map and what I’ve gleaned from BP reporting and Portland city’s website is that it will take a long while – Perhaps several years, and that’s really disappointing considering that they are making this change now – and folks there are unhappy with this half measure. The neighborhood perception is that the Pro’s are potentially making things worse.

Randy
Randy
4 months ago

Jonathan, thanks for your thoughtful reporting on this issue and for your valuable perspective from years of observing PBOT in action.

I think it’s important to point out that neither the neighbors nor the public ever had the opportunity to comment on the current project at 7th and Tillamook. This was presented as an either/or with the 7th street greenway, and when 9th was selected this aspect of the plan was adopted without the opportunity for discussion or input, including about alternative designs.

Taking I-5 as an example, if ODOT had presented the project as an alternative between adding a lane or removing the highway entirely, if you opposed removal would that mean you support adding a lane? Or that after presenting those “alternatives” ODOT could move forward with “community support” and not offer any other alternatives? Of course not. That isn’t a meaningful opportunity for input. That’s what didn’t happen here, and explains the opposition by the neighborhood, vulnerable street users, etc.

I agree the engineers at PBOT are pros, but they unwisely didn’t follow their own plans to restore 7th street to a local access road and ignored their own experts who identified 7th as the appropriate N-S bike route east of MLK. Now they have a plan that (by their own admission) will not fix the underlying safety problems of excessive vehicle traffic and speeds– and calls for the Tillamook greenway to get bisected by a 6,000+ vehicle per day road with documented excessive speeding without any new protections for cyclists. If PBOT engaged in a real discussion now they could improve this plan before more money is wasted on the current proposal.

This isn’t a case of NIMBYism. The neighbors want a project in their back yard. They just want one that will make 7th safe for everyone, not the current project which doesn’t even have the potential to make this street safe.

Randy
Randy
4 months ago

And I don’t think it’s possible or productive to compare this to I-5 Rose Quarter.”

Lol, you’re right, one issue at a time! My point was that presenting two alternatives out of many isn’t really giving people a chance to engage, and if people are forced to make that choice it doesn’t mean that option has public support.

We need to have an intelligent discussion about what the best option is to accomplish the goal of a safe Tillamook greenway, safe 7th street, etc. The current plan is not it, in my view.

I’ll refrain from any more I-5 analogies 🙂

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  Randy

I think the comparison with RQ is apt. Trust the professionals, or trust the citizens?

Same issue, different scale.

Nick
Nick
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

Agreed. Both instances indicate the way that our car centric transportation agencies generally interact with the public.

Watts
Watts
3 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Perhaps, but I was coming from the other side, noticing how Jonathan trusts PBOT over “armchair planners” in one case, but discredits the professionals in another.

I try to hold myself to a little more consistency than that, and I believe the job city officials is to help residents build the communities they want.

J_R
J_R
4 months ago

I’ve ridden through that intersections scores of times and previously opined that the tree and circle should remain.

It’s not my neighborhood, so I wasn’t paying attention to the PBOT outreach efforts. You suggest they were “reasonable.” I really don’t know what efforts PBOT made and when. What I remember from BP articles was that outreach was conducted after the contract had been awarded, but before the construction (de-construction) began.

I don’t think we have enough leaders (elected and higher-ups in bureaus) who actually ride bikes. And, because of our weird commission form of government, only one commissioner really has an influence on the process and decision.

Betsy Reese
Betsy Reese
4 months ago

“a lot of folks just love being armchair planners/engineers” 

This language is dismissive and disempowering of citizen advocates. Rick Gustafson taught us in the PSU Traffic and Transportation class to say, “I may not be a real engineer, but I do have a PhD in My Neighborhood.”

I agree with most of what you have said here, Jonathan, but I also know that City Pros do, in fact, listen to, and sometimes incorporate ideas that come from project neighbors.

Betsy Reese
Betsy Reese
4 months ago

Jonathan, I think we are mostly in agreement here, but I feel like you have missed my point: the use of a demeaning term to describe citizens who participate in the public process. Not only does it insult these specific people, it contributes to dismissing and disempowering citizen advocacy efforts overall.

Calling someone an armchair critic is sneering that they actually know little to nothing about the topic, and have no real experience of it. It’s an insult. It’s in the category of calling them a “crank”, or saying “they have too much time on their hands”. Near neighbors and people who use a transportation corridor frequently do have real experience, do know things, and often do have valuable input that our City Pros may not have thought of.

Would you consider rewording this sentence?

“I think a lot of folks just love being armchair planners/engineers and forget that the people working on this stuff at PBOT are not amateurs.”

Randy
Randy
4 months ago

If you’re looking at the project in isolation, then I understand where you’re coming from. This will probably make traffic and speeds only marginally worse than they were before.

The reaction you’re seeing is because of the bigger picture safety concerns on 7th. People speed through here aggressively almost every single day. Kids cannot ride safely on this street. Kids cannot walk safely across this street. The aggressiveness of drivers while they try to save a minute compared to MLK is unbelievable. Even as an able-bodied adult I have a negative interaction with a car every single time I ride my bike up 7th– this means someone coming dangerously close to me, accelerating to pass me, or shouting something/honking.

PBOT isn’t trying to solve this problem. They admit that their own plans call for this to be a local street, and that this project will not do anything to implement PBOT’s own goals for this street. The neighbors aren’t second guessing PBOT’s technical skills. They’re questioning why this major project isn’t designed to make the street safe for them, their families, and all users– and PBOT is refusing to engage with them on this issue in a meaningful way.

Viewed in the larger context I think the reaction is appropriate and exactly what you would expect from people who have been trying to have their safety concerns addressed for decades while the situation just gets worse every year.

X
X
4 months ago

Everyone knows it’s your blog: is your comment not editorial?

Armchairs are the province of critics. Adding the word does make it seem like a put down, as in “armchair quarterback”.

maxD
maxD
3 months ago

Why wouldn’t you disagree with Nick Falbo? He is not an engineer. He consistently promotes NACTO standards but does not seem to engage in site specific design. I like Nick and he is very knowledgeable, however, this design appears to be a hasty cut-and paste that does not function very well for anyone. My criticism aside, Ia mgenuinely curious why you would single Nick out as someone who’s opinions and designs should not be disagreed with.

Evan Heidtmann
Evan Heidtmann
4 months ago

I agree that PBOT staff are professionals. The issue I have here and always is around goals — does PBOT share my goals of reduced car traffic? I think we both know they don’t.

PBOT is working to improve safety within the context of existing and projected driving behavior, but they have never shown (to me at least) any appetite for reducing driving overall.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago

I agree, the proof is in the pudding. Has PBOT done anything that has actually reduced driving?

soren
soren
4 months ago

From white lanes (Williams) to whiteways (7th) in a historically-black neighborhood that was intentionally gentrified by this city. (The words I really want to write would be moderated.)

The absurd amount of time, funding, effort, protest, and media attention spent on a single traffic circle (and its precious tree) while poor people continue to die on our high crash network is a perfect metaphor for cycling activism in this town.

Steve
Steve
4 months ago
Reply to  soren

So, people shouldn’t advocate for their neighborhood, or a route they use, if people someplace else have it worse?

Chris I
Chris I
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve

A rising tide sinks all boats?

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
4 months ago

So PBOT will remove a tree and traffic circle that neighbors desperately want to stay, but they won’t remove dangerous illegal drug camps that neighbors desperately want gone.

paikiala
paikiala
4 months ago
Reply to  Bryan Morris

Conflating PBOT, the transportation bureau, with city council and the police? Do you call a plumber for heart attack?

Really?
Really?
4 months ago
Reply to  paikiala

In two years of reporting the multiple zombie RVs on our block and the city has done zilch. Nothing. No callbacks, no visits, nothing. Weekly multiple reports from multiple neighbors — using multiple methods of reporting spanning over nearly two years.

I don’t believe removing derelict vehicles from Portland streets is the purview of city council or PPB but I could be mistaken.

qqq
qqq
4 months ago
Reply to  paikiala

But, following that logic, why would anyone call a heart surgeon for a plumbing problem?

If the activity involves (as it so often does) vehicles parked illegally, and/or abandoned vehicles, PBOT’s own website instructs people to contact PBOT.
https://www.portland.gov/transportation/parking/report-illegally-parked-vehicle
https://www.portland.gov/transportation/parking/abandoned-auto

John
John
4 months ago

It seems to me like there is no reason to have that street open to car through traffic at all. Not in an optional kind of way, but concrete barriers. There should be more dead ends on streets we don’t want through traffic on to train drivers to use the roads they’re supposed to be using.

John
John
4 months ago

That would be great (the culdesac), so it’s just a bummer that PBOT is bravely sticking to their guns in the most useless way possible here, making everyone equally annoyed (other than cut-through drivers).

Randy
Randy
4 months ago

Did the neighbors further North object to diversion at Tillamook and NE7th, or were the access concerns further up too?

(I genuinely don’t know and would appreciate any info).

Watts
Watts
4 months ago

Can anyone actually articulate how making this intersection easier to navigate by cars exceeding the speed limit will help neighbors further north? Is this about preserving some positive benefit for a specific group of people, or is it more about some sort of sense of racial payback?

Allan Rudwick
Allan
4 months ago

I learned how to use GIS for this analysis and it isn’t that difficult. I used the free QGIS software and used the city’s ‘export shapefile’ tool on their GIS maps. More people should learn this it is quite powerful

Steven Smith
Steven Smith
4 months ago

The main cause of too many cars on the street are too many people driving. I imagine all the people protesting conditions on “their” street drive their cars on somebody else’s street. Want fewer cars? Drive less. Walk, bike, use transit instead. Get involved with advocacy when the discussion is about streets other than yours. Join the Street Trust. Join BikeLoudPDX.

There was an involved process for this project. It didn’t work out to divert most of the traffic from 7th–which was the initial PBOT proposal–because, in part, of the history of racial injustice in this city.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
4 months ago

We have learned from Hawthorne and 7th greenway disaster that slowing down cars and making streets safer is not considered “equitable” anymore, so what did you expect from PBOT? Also it now clear that some public input is more valuable than others to PBOT depending on the type of person giving it.

Betsy Reese
Betsy Reese
4 months ago

Anyone taking down a tree on public property should have the tree removal permit on them onsite and produce it on demand to whomever asks for it. If they cannot produce a permit, the work should be shut down until they can. Fines for taking down trees illegally do not replace mature trees.

maxD
maxD
4 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Reese

I agree Betsy! PBOT should also show they are addressing stormwater management. They are removing a fairly large area or permeable surface and a large tree that contributes a lot to slowing and intercepting stormwater in an area with awell-known and well-documented localized flooding just down the hill. Did PBOT get a pass on treating stormwater like they got a pass on mitigating for this removal?

paikiala
paikiala
4 months ago
Reply to  maxD

Your statement regarding a pass on mitigation is untrue.

maxD
maxD
4 months ago
Reply to  paikiala

explain

paikiala
paikiala
3 months ago
Reply to  maxD

City bureaus have to mitigate tree removal just like a developer does, inch for inch replacement.

paikiala
paikiala
4 months ago
Reply to  Betsy Reese

Work by a public entity in the public rights of way does not require a permit. It is contracted work directed by the City. The bureau directing the work mitigates for tree removal per policy. Changes to the public rights of way by private land owners and developers is what requires a permit (permission from the stewards of the right of way on behalf of the residents of Portland).

maxD
maxD
3 months ago
Reply to  paikiala

Are you claiming witha straight face that rban Forestry reviews a request for atree removal from PBOT the same as a request froma homeowner? Are you suggesting that PBOT IS indeed doing something to mitigate the stormwater problem that will be worse as a result of this project?

FDUP
FDUP
4 months ago

I’m going to throw this out there b/c I think it’s important – If PBOT ends up needing to rely on / install speed bumps (or the more PC terminology, ‘speed tables’) for this project, that is essentially an admission by PBOT that their proposed / preferred design is a failure. I’d also like to retroactively apply this analysis to all the speed bumps that PBOT has installed over the years throughout the city on greenways and elsewhere.

The corollary is that it is not that easy or simple to control motorist behavior solely through engineering ‘fixes’; there also needs to be some sort of large scale motorist reeducation campaign, which PBOT (and the Oregon DMV) has so far refused to engage in.

paikiala
paikiala
4 months ago
Reply to  FDUP

Comrade,
Please describe your ‘reeducation campaign’ and how it differs from all the things PBOT already does.
BTW, speed bumps, tables and cushions are the most effective and low cost way to reduce speeding, bar none.

X
X
4 months ago

The existing diversion is great. I’ve ridden up NE 7th Avenue the last two nights and been passed by exactly one car. There was a public reaction to taking away the roundabout but where’s the outrage over the impact of diverting motor vehicle traffic from NE 7th? As far as I know there is none. The sun came up, and life goes on.

It’s a natural experiment and I’d say the outcome is, total diversion works well and there’s no controversy.

maxD
maxD
4 months ago

It is a shame to lose this tree, and I think the proposed design is an even bigger shame! I know Jonathan respets PBOT for their professionalism, but what I see is is PBOT hiding behind “best practices” and NACTO standard designs and failing to actual perform little meaningful site-specific design that tries to meet multiple goals. Why paint a northbound green bike lane that runs right though the middle of pedestrian curb extension? A cyclist using this will be in danger of getting hit by a car and hitting a pedestrian! PBOT’s explanation: they don’t intend bikes to use it- a confident cyclist should take the lane. So, the cyclist moves out of the painted bike lane and intothe travel lane where there are too many cars driving too fast (according to PBOT stats) inan environment where cars are already frustrated with cyclists and honking at them!

The sight lines could have been addressed with pruning and improved lighitng. Compliance (going around the cirlce) could have been fixed with a center lane divider. Or, PBOT has already identified the problem that needs a design solution: too many cars driving too fast. Nothing in their design addresses that. They added speed bumps and sharrow markings- why not do that first and remove the tree if problems persist?

guy berliner
guy berliner
4 months ago

Man, talk about “peak capitalism”. “I’m gonna arrest you, and your future employment prospects will suffer”. Did this cop watch “Brazil” like a training film or something?? “Why not confess and get over with quicker, Sam? If I have to torture you, the information retrieval charges will ruin your credit rating!”

Carole Anne
Carole Anne
4 months ago

In a working class neighborhood\

This characterization is laughable. This was a working class neighborhood 25 years ago. It is not now. Looking at Zillow I’m seeing homes valued at nearly $1M. The one house actively for sale next to the diverter drama is currently listed at $750k (and likely expecting a bidding war). If Randy needs a reminder of what “working class” looks like he’s welcome to come east of 205 and see what living on a truly busy street is all about. I’ve heard way, way too much from NIMBYs in gentrified close-in NE over the nears, thank you very much.

The hypocrisy here is astounding, too. Activists showed up and tried to interfere with construction… and you’re still claiming to be “working class”? Anyone who threatens or interferes with a city employee laboring in the street does so out of privilege and a feeling of entitlement.

I hope the “neighbors” who are working against making Portland a better place take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror. Who are you, really?

squareman
squareman
4 months ago
Reply to  Carole Anne

Sometimes people don’t move. I’m in the neighborhood (7 blocks away) and there are an awful lot of homes on my block that have been owned by multiple generations of NE’ers, a significant portion of those are made up of black families and other POC. Please don’t erase them. And where they’re not multi-generational, they have been occupied for decades. My next-door neighbor bought his house in 1963 after trading the extreme racism of Arkansas for the slightly less extreme racism of 60s Oregon and Portland. Three generations down from him used to come and regularly visit until he died at 96 a few years ago. I miss him, as I used to get some seriously old first-hand Portland history. The house is currently still in the family.

Yes, the values of the homes are still very high in the neighborhood. The two houses to the south of me are owned by an elderly black couple who also live in another home nearby. They took advantage of a real estate investment plan the same way people complain about white people doing it. Their middle-aged daughter lives in one of the homes. I could never afford the house I own anymore if I were to buy it today, but I don’t intend on leaving. It’s what I consider my “forever” home unless something necessitates me changing that. Just because the value is high, doesn’t mean that homes are constantly trading hands. As far as home turnover goes, I usually see the same collection of houses in my neighborhood come and go on the market (i.e., house flippers trading up over and over).

Yes, there are blue-collar workers and desk jockeys alike in my neighborhood. This is exactly what attracted me to urban living in the first place (along with a diversity of ethnicities). I grew up in a homogeneous suburban hellscape and hated every minute of it. I’ve been an inner urban denizen for over 35 years now. Could Portland housing equity be better? Sure. Most definitely. Without any doubt.

The thing that needs to change, more than anything, is getting rid of the mortgage interest rate deduction (at least for anyone who isn’t buying their first home) – it was a federal plan to make home ownership easier by giving more buying power to first-time home buyers. It worked when it was introduced, but it also resulted in ballooning property prices that have far outpaced all other investment buckets, for decades now. If I had my druthers, I’d be in a high-density housing, like I prefer, and not a single-family home – but one makes certain concessions in a marriage that are more worth it.

Watts
Watts
4 months ago
Reply to  squareman

“getting rid of the mortgage interest rate deduction”

It is probably worth noting that Trump made this tax break much less valuable by substantially increasing the standard deduction.

squareman
squareman
4 months ago
Reply to  Watts

It still inflates the buying power of existing mortgage holders and locks out those who cannot save up for their first home downpayment.

Charlie
3 months ago

I’m going to add my N of 1 here. I cross this intersection twice daily and I find myself rolling up 7th towards Knott because it’s peaceful and lovely with construction blocking nearly all traffic. My key question is: Who is harmed by the current state, exactly as it is now? The previous objections for diverters, are those people not able to access the places they need? If not, then PLEASE just replace the temporary hardware with an elegantly built permanent version. I wonder if the expected difficulties haven’t materialized. Let the temporary construction act as a proof-of-concept test for a permanent facility.

X
X
3 months ago
Reply to  Charlie

Eight days later–NE 7th Avenue is now my preferred route to travel up to Going St. Bike riders outnumber MV operators and often they have more passengers as well, it seems to be a favorite of parents with cargo bikes or trailers.

Most of the cars I see are headed South. I wonder if there is some shovel ready project that could be commenced in the vicinity of Beech Street so that these folks could also discover MLK Jr Boulevard?