Portland’s bicycling goals are inextricably linked to housing. If we don’t get our land-use right and create smaller circles between where people live and work and shop and play, we will never get over the hump with cycling mode share.
That’s why it came as no surprise that bike advocacy nonprofit BikeLoud PDX co-organized a ride this past weekend with Portland: Neighbors Welcome. The ride was part of the launch of P:NW’s Inner Eastside for All campaign that seeks to “End apartment bans throughout inner Portland neighborhoods.”
That campaign is buoyed by a coalition of over 20 local housing, environmental and transportation nonprofit organizations who signed onto a letter in October to the Portland Planning Commission to influence their thinking on a directive from the State of Oregon to boost housing production.
P:NW wants to re-legalize the fourplexes, apartments and other multi-family dwelling types that were once legal in Portland’s inner neighborhoods until the city updated its Comprehensive Plan in 1980. In a move known as the “Population Strategy” that is now considered part of Portland’s racist planning legacy, city leaders outlawed housing types that they felt were leading to “white flight.” That strategy, “laid out a policy justification for prioritizing middle-class, educated families and wrote policy that favored housing types and neighborhood character that were attractive to those populations at the expense of others. The result was downzoning of inner southeast neighborhoods so that multi-family dwellings were legal only on ribbons of streets adjacent to buy streets.
“This decision helped pave the way to terrible housing shortages and rent hikes, both here and elsewhere in the city, in the 1990s and 2010s,” P:NW says on their campaign website.
The focus of this campaign is from about SE 12th to 60th, and NE Fremont to SE Powell.
P:NW’s vision is to create more walkable neighborhoods with a mix of housing types (including some single-family homes) that are well-served by transit lines and bikeways where you can find bustling commercial centers, corner stores, and public spaces.
The campaign mantra is “Four floors and corner stores!”
“The Inner Eastside is rich in public transit; in walkable, bikeable jobs and services; in mature, beloved street trees,” said Jennifer Shuch, the equitable zoning team lead for P:NW . “Allowing four floors and corner stores to exist anywhere in these neighborhoods is a natural, efficient way for Portland to share those assets while it keeps evolving and growing. We’re urging the city to start exploring the details of such a change.”
On Sunday’s ride, over 40 people showed up for a tour of southeast Portland. “We love policy rides, and this was a very educational experience that included stops throughout inner eastside neighborhoods to discuss the past, present, and future of multi-family housing in this area of the city,” BikeLoud posted on Instagram. “Increasing bicycle ridership will in part depend on the degree to which we build housing in neighborhoods with existing bicycle infrastructure.”
For more information on the campaign, visit PortlandNeighborsWelcome.org.