Legos, growth, and ‘Dynamic Density’ in Irvington

Hosts Rick Potestio (center) and Jonathan Konkol (right) with the low-density building table in the foreground. (Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

Game on!

Armed with only a bag of legos and a table-sized map of district properties, you and your team have a couple hours to insert 600 new residences into Portland’s historic Irvington neighborhood.

The group which gathered last Saturday at the Broadway McMenamins seemed up to the task and happy to spend a rainy afternoon talking about density and zoning. Their hosts were urban designer Jonathan Konkol and architect Rick Potestio, and the event was a dry run of the duo’s Dynamic Density process, a new method of accommodating growth which empowers neighborhoods.

I bet you think you know where this is headed.

We’re in Irvington after all, the inner-Portland neighborhood which in 2010, after years of work by neighborhood activists, was put on the National Register of Historic Places. With that designation, “Irvington now benefits from important protections that encourage preserving the area’s character and livability for future generations.”

Offhand, one wouldn’t expect this to be the most receptive audience to a pitch about growth.

ReUrbanist Collaborative

Neighborhoods would become Community Development Corporations, making them eligible to receive a portion of the system development charges the city collects from new development.

But Konkol and Potestio think there is a way forward, past the tension between preserving neighborhood character and the need for affordable places to live.

As Konkol says, “It’s not if we grow, it’s how we grow.”

Konkol and Potestio have teamed up to form the ReUrbanist Collaborative, and Saturday’s event was a test to see if their Dynamic Density process was viable. And yes, the test involved a bunch of legos, and a bunch of people who care about their neighborhood, about half of them were affiliated with the board of the Irvington neighborhood association.

Potestio began the day with a presentation about density, zoning and growth. He pointed out that, even without changing a single building in Irvington, the neighborhood population one hundred years ago would have been about double what it is today. That’s partly because families were larger and more people lived in a typical house, but also because our standards have changed. People today want two bathrooms, not one, and they want more space per person to live in. But, in a disconnect between what people want and what is actually getting built, Potestio said “we are right now designing for one-, two-bedrooms, or studios.” We are also in the middle of a housing crisis, he continued, without enough housing production to meet demand. And our local and state governments are responding by undoing decades of growth policy. “There is a lot of pressure to expand the urban growth boundaries, on the precept that more land is cheap land and that we can build affordably by building out. And that argument is being made in legislature right now,” Potestio said.

Both Konkol and Potestio disagree that sprawl is the answer to the housing crisis, and their goal is to increase the housing supply in all neighborhoods — particularly urban neighborhoods well-served by transit — in a way that makes neighborhoods a partner in that growth.

Dynamic Density and the pattern book

We have all heard of duplexes and four-plexes, but what about the cryptoplex and the bricker? Distributed throughout the room were pattern books of traditional building typologies: the twin house, the stacked duplex, courtyard apartments.

With those typologies in mind, the group toured the neighborhood to see examples of them in real life. Upon returning, Potestio numbered participants off into three groups and gave each one a bag of legos representing 600 housing units. There was a catch of course. The collection of legos in each of the bags was not the same, no, no, no, there was a “low-,” “mixed-” and “high-” density bag, each filled with legos representing different types and densities of structures. The Dynamic Density task for each group was to create a granular zoning which would accommodate the additional dwelling types in each bag.

The low density bag was filled mainly with Duplexes and FourPlexes, the high density folks got L-shapes and Towers.

The mixed-density group got an even distribution of the six building types, meaning it had the most diverse set of buildings, and also about an average number of lego bricks—compared to the generous low-density bag, or the meager high-density bag of towers.

And off the three groups went to their tables and maps.

So how’d they do?

To be honest, I took off for a couple hours as the groups worked, but I returned in time for the presentations, and to a room full of intently focused people. Afterward I talked to Konkol a bit about the mood in the room, and he described it as one of “curious problem solving.”

Two participants talk across a soon to be filled map.

The final group to present was the table with the low-density bag (pictured at top), and when they were done everybody ended up in a loose circle around their table. The hosts bought a round of beer for participants and we fell into a relaxed conversation about growth. This was my favorite part of the day, informed people thinking out loud, and the conversation was all over the place: low-density infill doesn’t solve the affordability problem because the new units end up costing the same as the single-family house they replace; ground is expensive in Irvington; zoning is exclusionary; the difference between the old Portland Development Commission and its new incarnation, Prosper Portland; the Pearl district was built by local developers; 25% of the units there were built as affordable housing; today, most developers are based out-of-state, an extractive economy.

For me, the day felt like a long monopoly game (that’s a compliment), and I found myself wondering what it was like to play monopoly during the depression — you didn’t have any money but it might have been fun to throw around the fake stuff.

Similarly, this past few years we have seen all sorts of changes to regulations in the name of encouraging housing production. Some of it might be necessary, but it is also true that the housing crisis is starting to feel like a great big fig leaf covering enormous giveaways to the building industry, giveaways that may not adequately increase the housing supply, or make it more affordable. It seems like there’s a lack of vision and a flailing attempt to do something, anything.

In that context, it is kind of nice to have someone ask for your recommendation about accommodating future growth in your neighborhood, and fun to sit around talking about it.

The sweetener: system development charges for all

I left off the part about money. A key element of the Dynamic Density plan is that neighborhoods would become Community Development Corporations, making them eligible to receive a portion of the system development charges the city collects from new development. This lets a neighborhood benefit financially from the growth happening within it. Neighbors could then direct their allocation to neighborhood projects, such as a community garden, a new dog park, or beautifying.

Jonathan Konkol summed up the ReUrbanizing sensibility to me with some final words:

“We are stewards of our built environment, watching over it for the next generation. There should be a synergy between preserving what we love about our neighborhoods and growing gracefully.”

Learn more at ReUrbanistCollaborative.com.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)

Lisa Caballero is on the board of SWTrails PDX, and was the chair of her neighborhood association's transportation committee. A proud graduate of the PBOT/PSU transportation class, she got interested in local transportation issues because of service cuts to her bus, the 51. Lisa has lived in Portland for 23 years and can be reached at lisacaballero853@gmail.com.

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squareman
squareman
1 month ago

Somebody put a tower lego directly on top of my house. 😮 😀

BB
BB
1 month ago

I have lived in Portland for 35 years. Not one time have I ever thought “Gee, I wish there were more people living here.”
I don’t know anyone who wants more people living here. Not one person.
Well I actually have known people who wanted a more populous dense city.
They moved to one.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  BB

Hi BB,

I want more people living here. That’s why I moved to Portland. I love having lots of people around because it makes my neighborhood and my city more interesting in all types of ways.

Michael Andersen
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

What were your opinions about more people moving to Portland 36 years ago?

BB
BB
1 month ago

I am sure a lot of people were not happy I moved here….
When you go to Mt Hood or the coast or the Gorge do you wish there for more people around?

Michael Andersen
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

In cities on the coast I do, so the restaurants would be open! Glad for the public beaches of course.

Hood and Gorge, no – and that’s exactly why I think Portland seems like a better place to make it legal for more people to live.

Michael Andersen
1 month ago

Yes, definitely agreed! A big part of the reason all that publicly funded affordable housing was fiscally possible to build in LIC is the same reason King’s Hill and Goose Hollow have such a rich diversity of housing types…when the current buildings in those areas were built, the rules were relatively flexible (or at least in the King’s Hill/Goose Hollow cases, almost nonexistent) micromanaging what new buildings were allowed to look like.

But having super flexible zoning rules isn’t going to house everybody who needs housing. Only subsidy will get that done. It’s just that every subsidy dollar goes further if we let people share walls and roofs and land if they want to, by allowing all sorts of housing types in our zoning codes.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

if we let people share walls and roofs 

You make it sound like this is an attribute people want (rather than one they’ll tolerate if the price is right). Noise from shared walls/ceilings is the number one complaint I hear about (and experienced in) apartment living.

Will
Will
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Honestly you just have to have good walls. My apartment is far quieter than the detached house I used to live in. Difference between ca. 2010 concrete construction vs ca. 1920 wood framing.

dw
dw
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

You bring up a good point and it’s something I’ve personally thought about a lot. I will probably always live in shared-wall situations, as being able to walk/bike to places is my “right price” for accommodation.

I think that the first step is a culture change in encouraging people to engage more with their neighbors. You don’t have to be best friends, but you need to at least get along. Whenever I move into a new place, or have a new neighbor move in, I introduce myself and chat with them. It really humanizes the people around you. From a cynical ‘transactional’ point of view, you’ve “done something” for them by helping them feel welcome, so when you do have to have a tough conversation about noise there’s some rapport and all parties will be more willing to listen and compromise. Some people are just not reasonable – but I touch on that later.

Second is making sure that neighborhoods have third places that fulfill typically noisy activities. I’m thinking community music centers, gyms, bars, etc. There also needs to be accessible spaces that people can hang out in without having to spend money.

Third, multi-family housing should have stricter standards for noise insulation between units. Doesn’t help existing housing stock, but new builds could at least have that feature.

Finally – this is the part folks might not agree with – but there need to be clear and steep consequences for bad behavior when living in shared-wall situations. If someone in an apartment chooses to torture those around them, and there is documented proof, they should get evicted, full stop. It is really incredibly easy to be a quiet and considerate neighbor.

I don’t think this issue gets brought up enough in pro-density circles. It might be a blind spot, given how many people who advocate for density live in detached homes themselves. Or maybe it’s just a can of worms that nobody really wants to open up. Nobody wants to float through life stressed and sleep-deprived because they can’t sleep over their neighbors’ noise.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

There’s also the issues of apartment management and maintenance. I live in apartments partly because they are more affordable (at least on the short term) but mostly because I don’t have to maintain the building and grounds (unlike a house). The last two places I’ve lived have had really good management and maintenance, and I’ve lived at them for 9 years and 8 years respectively – previous apartments had shoddy maintenance and absent managers, so I’d want to leave as soon as my lease was up. A good manager or agency gets things fixed ASAP – bad maintenance is like a poorly maintained city street – it gets worse and more expensive to fix the longer it’s neglected. I hate my neighbors’ car alarms and noisy stereos, but I note the local detached homeowners have the same issues and complaints. Unlike them, if my neighbors have a barking dog outside, our management makes sure it lasts no more than 24 hours with a very real threat of eviction (however, it’s not as easy dealing with noisy kids).

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

The generalization from personal preference to prescriptive governmental control is one of the worst diseases infecting this discourse.

Judging by the number of occupied apartment units in Portland and its suburbs, and by the competition for some of those units, shared walls does not seem to be a strong deterrent.

In fact, judging by the difference in cost, given the choice between a high rise condo unit in Portland, or a very large 19th century mansion in a small town on the east coast, many people would choose the shared walls.

notarealamerican
notarealamerican
1 month ago

Only subsidy will get that done

Of course the only option is more subsidy of developers, bankers, lenders, and landlords. Anything else would be anti-American interference in our FREE market!

Michael Andersen
1 month ago

Is it subsidy of landlords when we give poor people money so they can afford a home? Is it subsidy of grocery stores when we give poor people money so they can afford food?

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

In some ways I agree. When I moved to Portland 30+ years ago it had a small town vibe (the town I grew up in was <4,000) where people said “hello” and took time to care about others.
It hasn’t felt like that for me for a long time.

If my household didn’t have ties to the community/neighborhood, I’d be voting to move in a heartbeat.

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

I want more people to live here.

dw
dw
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

Same, I like people.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

What an anachronistic perspective on things and a mindset that leads directly to the types of housing “solutions” being pushed through this session.

So, you don’t want more people in the city, therefore we should expand along the edges and lock in more and more auto-dependent development and everything that goes along with it.

Ironically, when people say they don’t want more growth or density in their neighborhoods or cities, it can usually be distilled down to, “I don’t want more traffic,” yet the anti-density bent leads to exactly that: more cars and traffic, oh and more white bread monotony.

Cities change – that’s the rule. I applaud Konkol and Potestio on this effort and their constructive approach to what are always difficult conversations.

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

I don’t want growth outside the city either. I am anachronistic I guess since am anti growth. Who does growth benefit? How many people is enough?
I think the world passed its population limit decades ago.
What is your limit, I assume you have one. The Willamette Valley could easily have a population of say 10 million people. Is that too many? Not enough for you?
Whats the right number?

Andrew S
Andrew S
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

This is a bad argument. Essentially a version of a slippery slope fallacy. Increasing density in Irvington is not going to result in 10 million people living in the Willamette Valley. Even then, if we actually were preparing for an influx of millions to the Willamette Valley, we’d absolutely need higher density in inner ring neighborhoods.

Second, you’re presuming that because someone who wants more density or people in their city don’t have a target number, their position is invalid. This is also fallacious. Example: my toddler wants crackers. I’m not going to withhold crackers until she tells me exactly how many will be enough. However, she is perfectly capable of eating some, seeing how she feels, and determining if she’s still hungry. We can have smart, controlled growth. And that’s exactly what people like this are trying to figure out.

From where we are right now, growth (in density, not area) has benefits for just about everyone here. Portland is almost a grown-up city. We’re almost big enough. We almost have the resources. But we aren’t above the critical mass needed to sustain the nuclear reaction indefinitely. Not saying we need an explosion, but we need more neutrons bouncing around than we currently have. Want better transit? Want restaurants open more hours/days? Want financial resilience from disasters (ice storms, pandemics, etc)? More people and more density will help.

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew S

Stable population works fine. Have you been to Santa Barbara California? Ever been to Ireland? Most of Europe?
You absolutely don’t need population growth for a vibrant healthy society.
It sounds like what you want is a different city and culture.
You can always move to states like Texas.

Will
Will
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

Ireland’s population has grown almost 50% in the last 30 years. Since 1860, there have only been four decades (1940, 1960-1980) where the population in Portland has grown by less than 10%. It sounds like you moved to a city that’s historically had a very high growth rate and a culture that accommodates that. To me it sounds like you’re the one who might need to look for a city with a different culture.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

If you are looking for cities with shrinking population, the East Coast still has quite a few. My community of Greensboro NC is barely growing with 300,000 residents while nearby Winston-Salem is still shrinking slightly with 275,000 residents and High Point even more so – it’s a bit of a dump really.

It’s true about Ireland growing, lots of new immigrants coming in from Eastern Europe and Asia, high growth around Dublin and Belfast but still declining in the far northwest. Lots of updated passenger train services and new tollways being built, there’s even talk of a new subway in Dublin to the airport. As high as the population is now, it’s still a million short of what it was at the 1841 census.

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

So, what would you think of instituting a one child policy? I heard it worked out quite well in China. They also haven’t had any increase in population. Just like Ireland and Santa Barbara.

By the way, Santa Barbara has a median home price of $1.8 million. It’s seen it’s home prices go up an astonishing 48% year over year. https://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/santa-barbara-tops-emerging-home-markets-list-18642141.php

That’s not the city I want to live in. It’s a rich enclave of people who want to keep out the riff raff.

Andrew S
Andrew S
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

Again, bad arguments here. The places you mentioned are fundamentally different from Portland (and not without their own issues), making this a false analogy. Rather than dive into the differences, I’ll just say that we should take lessons learned from other places, but that doesn’t mean that what works for one works for all. I’ll stick to my previous point about the ways in which increases in population and density can improve the vibrancy and health of society in Portland.

Also, you’re presuming two things: 1. That I want to change Portland’s culture, and 2. That changing cultural aspects of Portland is a bad thing. I love this city (I won’t boast credentials like how long I’ve lived here or anything like that because I think that is immaterial to the argument). Yes, I want to change certain things about Portland’s current culture. I will continue to advocate for those changes that I think make this a better place to live. You asked who benefits from increasing population and density. I’ve already provided an answer, so I won’t rehash that.

Ultimately, I really loathe when bad arguments get in the way of positive change, and that’s what I’m trying to dispel. I encourage you to come to the table with an open mind and take a critical look at the legos, rather than trying to flip the board with rhetorical questions.

I’m not moving to Texas.

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew S

Ultimately, I really loathe when bad arguments get in the way of positive change, and that’s what I’m trying to dispel.

Describing someone else’s argument “bad” and your view of change as “positive” is a rhetorical fallacy. And to top it all off, you end with a call to “come to the table with and open mind”. Apart from the puerile condescension, this tone comes across as “true believer” cultism.

And I wrote the above as someone who would like to see a large swathe of Portland’s twee bungalows and craftsmen homes sustainably demolished and replaced with 10-20 story apartment blocks (I’m fine with taller but this seems to be the sweet spot for decarbonization).

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

I am not sure, but I’m guessing that most of the people complaining about population growth have never lived in a place with an aging, declining population.

It’s grim, folks. Boarded up businesses, shuttered schools, a bunch of new elder-care facilities that have trouble hiring staff, fewer government services, all the kids leaving for better economic chances, etc…

I’m not saying that the human race should or could grow infinitely, but honestly, if you see what it looks like when a population shrinks (like rural Russia or Detroit ca 20 years ago), it’s not enticing.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

For better or worse, that is not one of the policy choices we face. What we get to decide is what growth looks like. I take comfort knowing that our younger generation(s) are being more thoughtful about planning for growth and are finding success chipping away at rules and policies (e.g. parking requirements) that make for the type of growth that you are imagining.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

white bread monotony

Please give me more of the monotony of 1920s Craftsman houses and multi-family buildings. That’s so much better than the “variety” provided by the shoddy crap many builders are building today.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Given the context of that sentence, I would hope it was clear that the “white bread monotony” I’m referring to is the predominant development pattern occurring on the edge of the Portland metro region. If we don’t, or won’t allow thoughtful density in central places, we get exactly what is built on the edge: housing that requires everyone to own at least one and likely more than one vehicle to live their lives.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

It would definitely help the advocates of more density if we got it in attractive looking buildings that actually helped make the neighborhoods feel more cohesive.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

“[A]ttractive looking buildings” is a laughably subjective goal for developers to meet in order to have the right to build housing for people who want to be able to keep living here.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

Perhaps, but the more people associate density with “ugly crap”, the more resistance there will be to it.

If your concern really is subjectivity, well drafted design guidelines can help make it more objective.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

One example of white bread monotony: a large new single family development in Happy Valley flattened a mature douglas fir forest on the slopes next to the Scouters Mountain Nature Park. Over 223 acres, there will be only 600 units (2.69 units per acre).

This is an unconscionable waste, considering that we can comfortably house so, so many more people per acre.

If one’s opposition to urban housing growth is rooted in environmentalism, it’s only possible by ignoring the displaced growth occurring elsewhere.

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

What do you suggest? Make our city so terrible to live in that no one wants to live here? Build more housing on our farms and forests for the reality that human population is growing, that immigrants and refugees are coming? Fight for constitutional change that allows for us to put gates up around the city now that we’ve had the fortune to move here?

Just because you’ve been here for some time, doesn’t mean that you haven’t contributed to the population gain you’re complaining about. You are at least a +1 on who is here. That’s if you haven’t ever had friends or family join you here or had a family. Thank you for being here. But, there is some hypocrisy in now saying that you won’t welcome others that are making the same choice you once did.

Keeping our heads in the sand about the need for places for people to live is the root of a lot of the terrible problems we’re dealing with today. Lack of workforce housing, lack of low-income housing, lack of enough family housing.

That lack of supply drives up costs and puts on the pressure to expand growth boundaries as we just saw the state legislature do. By definition, expanding the growth boundary means that we are building on previously protected forest and farmland.

Love the Gorge? Our farmers markets? The coast? Thank density. Thank the decisions made before you moved here that we would be a place that was built for people, not cars. For the environment, not large lawns. For vibrant city neighborhoods that are only strong when there is a concentration of social capital.

You don’t speak for “everyone”. Your comment that, “Not one time have I ever thought ‘Gee, I wish there were more people living here.’ ignores large swaths of people who value who are and the unique decisions that have been made to make this place great. So, hear it now. It’s important that more people continue to live here.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

I don’t know anyone who wants more people living here. Not one person.

On the other hand, each time anyone in Portland has a child, they want that particular one more person to live here. And they don’t say, “We can have a child as soon as Grandpa dies”.

And when those children grow up, many want to remain here. They’re not growing up and saying, “Well, a Californian just moved here, so I guess I’d better go live somewhere else”.

The Trailblazers don’t say, “Johnson retired, but he didn’t move away, so we can’t get a new forward to replace him”. And if Johnson does move away, they don’t say, “OK, now we can add Smith from Cleveland to the roster, but tell him his wife can’t move here with him because Johnson was single”.

Lots of people who may say they don’t want more people living here don’t behave that way in practice.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

I got mine. Screw everyone else.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

I understand the discomfort with crowding and congestion. People and busy-ness wear on my nerves, so I go backpacking, hiking, and cross-country skiing to get away from the crowd.

I suppose if that weren’t enough for me I would move to Eastern Oregon, where loneliness comes cheap.

I certainly wouldn’t move to the state’s largest city and then hope that no one followed me, much less advocate for policies that would prevent them from doing so!

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

We shouldn’t have to drive far out of the city to find peace and respite from crowding.

If we’re going to grow our population, we need to grow our readily accessible parks and green spaces as well.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I agree that the city should have parks and green spaces. The metro area has added a number of such places in the last decade: Cooper Moutain, Riverview Natural Area, Cully Park, etc.

They don’t really satisfy my need for “wildness” – I’m at a point where I need more space for that (hedonic adaptation?). But they are a great resource when I only have some hours!

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

I’m not sure that Cooper Mountain will be of much practical use for the folks in Irvington this article is about. Nor Riverview or Cully. For those folks, any of these destinations would be a journey, probably involving a car.

We need sufficient greenspace in the neighborhoods where people live. Many of the inner neighborhoods are already short on parks and open areas.

nic.cota
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

I wish there were more people living here.

Michael Andersen
1 month ago

Great coverage, Lisa, and great project by Rick, Jonathan and company. “Bricker” is a new term to me!

I worry that this level of visioning sometimes lends itself to super prescriptive and specific zoning codes that don’t work out in real life, but I think it’s great to have Irvington folks thinking about what they would want growth to look like. Giving the neighborhood (association?) more control over the use of SDCs is interesting.

MarkM
MarkM
1 month ago

I appreciate Lisa publishing this article. I wasn’t aware of ReUrbanist Collaborative. I don’t see any mention of them on Sightline’s website or in the Sightline newsletters I’ve received. That’s surprising, given that they’ve been around since 2018. Two questions, if you have time.

Q1. Will you profile ReUrbanist Collaborative in your new Sightline Urbanism and Housing series?

Q2. Do you think their vision will align with the Portland: Neighbors Welcome (P:NW) ‘Inner Eastside for All’ campaign? If you can’t speak on behalf of P:NW, I understand.

RE: “super prescriptive and specific zoning codes.”
I generally agree. As I said in my lengthy RIP testimony with word salad, however, I’d like to see more thoughtfully designed, dense construction in Portland, regardless of the neighborhood. I continue to see bland, big-box residential construction going up in Portland. Where are the architects?

I’ll assert that my most recent ramble along N Interstate Ave confirms what I just said. I also don’t see much foot traffic near these big and bland buildings, regardless of the day of the week or time of day, and I rarely see people in their lobbies.

Finally, since I live in a neighborhood adjacent to Irvington, for now, I’m eager to see what results from ReUrbanist Collaborative’s work. I just signed up for their newsletter.

Michael Andersen
1 month ago
Reply to  MarkM

I think that P:NW is likely to talk to both Irvington NA and Reurbanist Collective folks about Inner Eastside for All, yes. Hopefully there’s some common ground to be found!

Watching Jonathan Konkol’s <a href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=182&v=uzaRYMqNHrg&embeds_referring_euri=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.reurbanistcollaborative.com%2F&source_ve_path=MjM4NTE&feature=emb_title”>”dynamic density” video</a>, I have to say I’m more dubious about their specific vision for how to get this done. It seems to me that his claim is that neighborhoods like Buckman, Kerns, or Northwest, with lots of different building sizes and types all mixed together, are some sort of lost technology that will never be achieved again. (“Dynamic density strives to replicate a more organic form of growth”…uh, the plan is to replicate organic growth while continuing to ban organic growth by law?)

Instead of building neighborhoods the same way we Buckman, Kerns, and Northwest – that is to say, let people build housing as long as it meets building code standards – they propose to endow “neighborhoods” (I’m sorry, who’s that? the people who show up to the meetings?) with new power to “evaluate what sites are best suited to new housing.”

I don’t know why these folks think this will lead to anything other than systemically pushing new housing away from the most empowered populations. And in fact the images they show of their desired density seem to illustrate exactly that: low-density blocks of what would be million-dollar oneplexes, two blocks from a high-traffic corridor lined by seven-story buildings. This is described as organic? Doesn’t look like any forest I’ve ever seen.

All that said, I might be missing some parts of the argument here, and even if we disagree on some things, it does seem like there are other things we do agree on.

MarkM
MarkM
1 month ago

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. You make some good points. I plan to watch Jonathan Konkol’s YouTube. Given what you’ve said, I’m also now curious to see what details will be in the first ReUrbanist Collaborative newsletter I receive.

P.S. It’s apples to oranges and I’m painting with a broad brush, but I’m currently sitting in central Florida right now and can’t imagine what Oregon would be like if we had allowed the sprawl like I’ve seen here the past few days.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

I’m glad you mentioned the part about the SDCs. One thing people arguing for more density rarely talk about is how to expand and improve communal infrastructure (roads, parks, schools, etc.) to accommodate more people.

Community Development Corporations might be part of the solution, as would giving residents more voice over the location, type, and amount of density to add.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Yes. I think creating an incentive structure that allows local property owners to personally feel like they benefit from development would go a long way to easing the housing crisis.

Granpa
Granpa
1 month ago

When I moved to Oregon in 1979 I, in my Volkswagen square back was literally run off the road by a lifted truck ( called a highboy at the time).
Policy wonks want more people and I agree that Portland should grow taller to rebuild a critical mass of density but there are a lot more highboy truck drivers out there and their attitude is not changed.

X
X
1 month ago

The caption for the high density map labels it low density. That group put almost all its buildings in the Broadway strip, and all three groups tended to put their largest pieces close to the border of the neighborhood. Was it assumed that no buildings would be torn down?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

The plural of Lego is “Lego”.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

All them little fishes.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

The plural of Lego is “Lego”.

I don’t care what you say. I still play with my “Legos”.

I’ll bet you also say “The data are convincing…”

And ne’er the twain shall meet.

BB
BB
1 month ago

This pro population growth crowd here is so typical American Manifest Destiny BS.
We have unlimited resources, we can breed and populate the planet if we just do the right planning!
Bless the Lord.
I thought most intelligent people who care about climate change and the environment had moved beyond the biblical BS and accepted science.
Apparently not.

X
X
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

There’s population growth and then there’s migration. Migration is going to continue. I have no kids but I moved here from Missouri, a place I’m not likely to go back to. You don’t know from biblical BS and science denial…

I don’t know if Portland can be considered a climate refuge but there are certainly other places that are becoming less livable. For example, several US cities have saltwater flooding in residential streets almost monthly.

If we don’t have a supply of available housing the price of living here will go up so fast that some of us will have to leave. Santa Barbara had a 48% annual increase in housing cost?
That leaves two kinds of people, rich and homeless.

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  X

2020 census,
medium income Santa Barbara = $39,604
medium income Portland = $37,342.
If we only allow another 500,000 or so people will we catch up?
The doomsday scenario you all portray if we simply Zone for minimal population growth has no basis in reality.

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

That’s individual income. Santa Barbara has a household median income that is 10% higher than Portland. But, even with that, the lack of supply that has them as the fastest increasing home prices in America will lead to the middle class families that are there to be priced out. “Zone for minimal population growth?” You mean, regulate how many people can live in a home? Are you serious? Sorry… you have too many kids now. You have to move! Speaking of no basis in reality…

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

So, do you think people with that medium income in Santa Barbara can afford to live in the city that now has a median home price of $1.8 million?

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

That’s a big jump from discussing Portland to all of sudden saying the PNW is going to overpopulate the planet. If you’ve had a chance to travel to some of the more dense spots of the world, I’ve seen interior China, Singapore and Hong Kong as well as some of the more livable areas in the middle east, you would know that the rest of the world is facing it’s density issues with……planning. Sadly, we don’t have unlimited resources which is why it’s kind of smart to plan ahead and move those available resources where they will need to be to support the expected growth to come. Oh, and the climate change is here, the effects just haven’t hit us very hard in this neck of the woods. Burying our heads in the sand saying “i’ve got mine and now now one else is allowed” isn’t a good model for surviving what’s coming.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

How do suggest we keep people out? Build a wall? Limited immigration? Forced deportation?

Portland does not have a birth rate that will sustain our population. We rely on migration to sustain our population. Are you opposed to immigration?

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

It’s called zoning . Look it up along with Tom McCall.
”induced demand” only applies to Freeways I guess.
Do you expect a larger supply of housing will lower prices if there is no limit?
No one seems to answer How many people are enough?
You also have a lot of faith that the people who run this city are capable of planning its future.

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

Induced demand is jargon. It’s more clarifying to spell out what it actually means. When you have something extremely valuable (mobility) and give it away for free, there will be a shortage of that thing, or at least a long queue. Back when Mt. Bachelor had a free ski day, there was a traffic jam for miles and long lines at every lift. Same thing.
In the context of highway expansion, “induced demand” describes a system in which the price is fixed to zero, but the supply is expanded to try to reduce the shortage. The situation with housing is completely different. In housing, the supply is fixed by zoning but the price is allowed to go up or down with changes in demand. Using a fixed price system to reason about the behavior of a market price system is going to lead anyone astray. Both systems have one of their components fixed by policy, but there are different implications depending on whether you fix the price or fix the supply.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

So, restrictive zoning to keep out people you find to be undesirable? I think you’d be happy in Lake Oswego.

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

This discussion has jumped the shark.
I have never said we keep out undesirables.
I have the same views as the best most famous Oregon governor whose name is all over the state and revered because he attempted to limit the stampede of humanity that wants to live here.
A most reasonable position.
You want a half million new residents here, be my guest, I will leave.

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

You may enjoy reading The Color of Law. Though, I’m sure you’ll poo poo it because this well researched and documented book doesn’t fit your fanciful narrative that we can keep people from reproducing and moving. That we can ban people from our city in a way that has no negative affects on the world around us. I mean, if you actually care about the world around us.

https://www.epi.org/publication/the-color-of-law-a-forgotten-history-of-how-our-government-segregated-america/

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

You say this:

You also have a lot of faith that the people who run this city are capable of planning its future.

But your solution is this?:

It’s called zoning

Isn’t zoning the epitome of people running a city planning its future?

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

Isn’t zoning the epitome of people running a city planning its future?

Yes, it’s the epitome of well-off mostly-white college-educated urbanists planning for a future that exclusively benefits their class.

Karl Dickman
Karl Dickman
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

If a person wants to live in Portland but can’t afford to, they will live somewhere else where housing is cheaper. Portland is in the top 25 for lowest GHG emissions per capita. If they choose to live in another metro, it’s likely–not guaranteed, but likely–that their carbon footprint will go up. If you’re serious about climate change, you’ll recognize that a ton of carbon is a ton of carbon whether it’s emitted in Portland, Beaverton, or Dallas, and act accordingly.

notarealamerican
notarealamerican
1 month ago
Reply to  Karl Dickman

Portland has among the highest GHG emissions of a medium sized city per capita. If someone chooses to live in a medium-sized metro outside this polluting sh*thole of a nation, it’s likely–not guaranteed, but likely–that their carbon footprint will go down.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago

Which of course is not a desirable or viable option for most Americans. Most of us aren’t willing to just pull up roots and abandon our families and friends to live in a foreign country.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago

I see in some of these comments that some people harbor some kind of Edenic fantasy that if we refuse to allow housing development, that will prevent increases in traffic and other human congestion by keeping people away.

I can understand the frustration with change, and the desire to maintain the community of years ago: conservatism can be noble, and can represent a set of totally normal desires for steady familiarity.

Unfortunately the effects of this kind of conservative housing growth policy have been monstrous for us: the housing shortage has pushed many lower-income locals out of their homes and created a huge homeless population.

The reality is that many people with ample financial resources continue to move here (especially from even more expensive and crowded California), and in doing so, keep housing prices high. Add in household formation, and there’s a very real shortage in the number of residences. It’s not like there is some law that would allow us to turn away moneyed migrants, or to prevent children from leaving their parents’ home!

So the main effect is not that we’ve prevented people from moving here, but rather that we’ve priced out people at the lower end of the economic ladder who are already here. The real losers in the existing scenario are low-income renters, many of whom were born and raised here.

What do you think happens to people who can no longer afford to live in the community they were raised in?

You can choose housing or you can choose an epidemic of homelessness, with its attendant epidemic of very public, very expensive mental health issues, crime, and drug abuse.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

What do you think happens to people who can no longer afford to live in the community they were raised in?

Well, a lot of people actually choose to move, to “migrate” to other places, cultures, and environments, places with more affordable housing and nicer neighbors and better more connected train services, and such. Sure, we miss Powells and WINCO and the Cascades, but I certainly don’t miss the daily right hooks, the stoned drivers, and the constant cloudy drizzle from November through May. Try living somewhere else, in a totally different part of the country, but be careful where you choose to move, you might fall in love with the new place and not miss Oregon at all!

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Yes (and this isn’t aimed at you) and that’s exactly the case (with different examples of what they’re leaving behind) with many Californians who move to Portland.

And hopefully, people who do move from here don’t face the levels of resentment that some people here have for those who move TO Portland.

It is sad when the moving is a necessity vs. a choice, though.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

Freedom to move seems to me like a core value most Americans share, and rightly so!

But being priced out of a community into homelessness is a horrible turn for most people. I’m in favor of policies that can meet demand for housing without such displacement.

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

So you are in favor of anti-landlord/developer/investor policies and a massive social housing program?

YIMBYs/urbanists always falsely claim to care about the “housing crisis”* while narcissistically ignoring how our greed-based and pathologically speculative housing system helped create the “housing crisis” and will, by definition, never build the staggeringly massive amount of no-profit housing needed to being to address our chronic multi-generational housing crisis.

* In my experience few urbanists care about the low/no-income housing crisis but rather are upset at the lack of abundant “nice” homes for upwardly-mobile college educated households. Twee housing for the upwardly-mobile elite is also what they mean by “housing abundance”.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

Judging by the tone and content of your comment, we might have different priorities for solving the problem of housing affordability. For example, I fail to see how dis-incentivizing investment or development in multi-family housing would help build more homes. That suggestion seems quite backwards to me!

That said, I do think subsidized housing can work (as shown by Singapore, Vienna, etc), and I’m all in favor of affordably built public housing. The financing could be tough in Portland, right now, and unfortunately much of the City is zoned to preclude this kind of housing. So that would be a good place to look for reform.

I’m also definitely aware of the ways in which market forces can impede housing production, and it kills me how this country just disinvested from housing after the Great Recession. There was a massive demand shock and the Republicans just stuck their heads in the sand and impeded the appropriate Keynesian response.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

Comment of the Week right here both for overall tone and the great phrase “Edenic Fantasy”!!

curly
curly
1 month ago

While living in east Portland before annexation and living through the consequences of residential infill from ’94 to present (30 years) where east Portland received little SDC, or TSDC funding, it would have been very beneficial to have received those funding sources. It seems that creating a corporation to distribute that funding would have been a great idea. Now, not so much. Appears the Irvington experiment wants to keep that pot of funds for the neighborhood.
If only that was an option 30 years ago east Portland wouldn’t have to beg for the amount of funding required to upgrade the active transportation system that is presently needed.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
1 month ago

The main selling point of SDC or TIF funding is that the tax revenue gained between pre-development and post-development, both in rich parts of the city and in poorer parts of the city, should go to pre-selected designated projects in poorer parts of the city. The idea that ANY SDC or TIF funding generated in a rich enclave like Irvington would ever go back into projects within Irvington would likely be challenged in court.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

That’s pretty much the opposite of what I think it true. The whole justification for charging SDCs is so new projects help pay for the additional system demands they generate.

The first sentence on Portland’s SDC page is:

The System development charges help offset the project impacts on the City’s storm and sanitary sewer systems, parks and recreation facilities, water and street systems.

https://www.portland.gov/bds/current-fee-schedules/system-development-charges-sdcs

The “Who charges fees and why” section describes that each bureau’s fees at paying for the specific demand a project places on a resource:
https://www.portland.gov/bds/current-fee-schedules/system-development-charges-sdcs#toc-who-charges-fees-and-why

Any court challenges seem more likely to come from a project challenging their fees going to another neighborhood–because obviously a apartment building in Irvington, for instance, isn’t generating demand for parks or traffic signals in Lents, and projects have won lawsuits of that type.

It may be helpful to Portland for SDC fees from projects in wealthy areas to fund improvements in poor ones, and that may be happening in a legal way even, but if it does I’m guessing the City has to be careful in how that happens in order to stay legal. At any rate, using SDCs from a project to finance improvements in another part of the city runs counter to the thinking that created SDCs in the first place.

curly
curly
1 month ago

We would have been thrilled with a fraction of those funds. As it turned out we received zero the first 15 years.

BB
BB
1 month ago

So when the next Freeway expansion or new road construction is complained about endlessly here, and all the pollution etc that comes with it is lamented, remember you all want another 500,000 people to live here or some such number.
I am certain they won’t drive cars at all.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

What?

You’ve got this entirely bass-ackwards. Population density and transportation alternatives go hand in hand!

Most commenters on this website are *for* increasing the number of people using transportation alternatives (bike/walk/train/bus, etc) and *against* building new highways.

Most of us recognize that people are more likely to drive when, as you seem to prefer, development takes the form of single-family homes in far-flung suburbs.

So many people want to live in inner neighborhoods that are “bikey,” but anti-growth policies force these people to live farther away, and thus rely on a car for their trips.

One of the most regular comments *against* transportation alternatives is that we just aren’t currently dense enough to allow people to get around with bike/bus/train/etc. The example sometimes given is that, unless we’re as dense as NYC, there’s little point investing more into bike infrastructure, because of the relatively large distances between work, school, and housing. That is exactly a function of density!

Increased density would help with all of this, and limit the suburban development that keeps people stuck in cars.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

“Most commenters on this website are *for* increasing the number of people using transportation alternatives (bike/walk/train/bus, etc) and *against* building new highways.”

This has no bearing on how newcomers to the area will get around. Maybe they’ll adopt bicycles and transit, or maybe they’ll continue doing what they’ve always done and use their cars.

Over the past 10 years, cycling rates in the inner neighborhoods have fallen, despite increasing density and improving bike facilities.

Even if at some point in the future density has achieved some level that allows new transit work, there are still many years between now and then where the number of auto trips is going to increase.

I believe that the number of hard-to-serve-by-transit trips will continue increasing, and even with new transit service at some point in the future, the number of car-based trips is going to continue to increase.

I don’t think we can build our way out of driving by making buildings taller.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

This sub-thread has gotten a little muddled because it’s toggled between arguing over BB’s original claim of hypocrisy (that pro-density commenters on BP will turn about and complain about the highway building that BB predicts will happen when, as commenters supported, the population increases), and arguing over Watts’ claims about the behavioral response to land use and transportation policy choices.

I’m arguing that the claim of hypocrisy is nonsense because the integrated policy preferences of the theoretical BP commenter in question is for a *denser* city in which housing, work, school, and shopping are near enough that a resident can travel by bike/bus/etc. That would not require more highways!

Watts seems to be skeptical that policy choices will have near-term effects on transportation behavior and that’s a familiar argument.

Whether or not Watts is correct, many of us disagree, and so it doesn’t follow that we are being hypocritical when we advocate for the kind of population increase (density) BB really dislikes.

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

Maybe it’s muddled because you won’t acknowledge facts and Watts does.
The population and density of Portland has grown a lot in the last 20 years and non car use is LOWER than it’s almost ever been.
You have not posted any facts to support your idea that density and population growth will increase public transportation at all.
You need to actually walk outside and look around.
The roads and freeways are jammed.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

BB-
So you’re going to back off your claim of hypocrisy?

I’ll happily provide some facts if we’re going to move off of the argument you initially made.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

As to Watts’ skeptical views on land use and transportation policy:

For argument’s sake, let’s say Watts is right and the linkage between good things (increasing urban density in very desirable neighborhoods, bike infrastructure, transit improvements) and specific good results (in this case, reduction in car driving) isn’t as strong as some of us believe.

Should that lead us to skepticism of these policies? I say no.

Bike lanes make for a safer, more pleasant riding experience for riders! I place a high value on that, even if the infrastructure doesn’t draw statistically significant numbers of new riders.

Apartment development in popular neighborhoods might fail to create a large number of car-free residents. And yet I still think property owners should have the right to build that housing, because those residents living there want to live there! Why should the government have the right to stifle that?

I don’t ride transit much because it’s been so awfully unpredictable recently. But I’m still in favor of transit improvements because the people who ride it now deserve good transit and I’d like to be able to ride it again someday!

This reminds me of people arguing against renewable fuels, because they don’t think the fuels cause climate change. To that I’d like to point out the awful cost of carbon pollution on human health: the resulting asthma alone has huge global costs. Even if carbon didn’t cause climate change, I think it’d be better world if we didn’t make kids suck diesel and gasoline pollution into their young lungs.

The skeptical comments show a lot of clear thinking about the opportunity cost of change, but relatively little clarity about the costs of the status quo. Those costs are hidden, familiar, taken for granted.

This status quo bias is the heart of conservatism, and as I’ve said, that can be noble and helpful. But at a certain point, it’s hard to discern this attitude from a simple defense of entrenched interests.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

Bike lanes make for a safer, more pleasant riding experience for riders! 

Agreed!

And yet I still think property owners should have the right to build that housing, because those residents living there want to live there! 

Disagreed! Since your development impacts me, I should get some say in deciding the rules we all agree to live by, just like I get some say in making sure you keep your rose bush from blocking the sidewalk, or whether you can practice your saxophone in your back yard at midnight, or whether you can turn your house into a biker bar. (Your libertarian views on this question represent a very conservative viewpoint, which contrasts with your more pro-community views on other issues.)

I’m still in favor of transit improvements

I am too (even though it should be clear to all of us that transit will never be more than a bit player in our transportation system, it’s better for all of us when it provides better service).

Even if carbon didn’t cause climate change, I think it’d be better world if we didn’t make kids suck diesel and gasoline pollution into their young lungs.

Agreed! Again!

Three out of four isn’t bad.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Yeah! Not bad. Agreeing to three out of four is practically the whole modus operandi of the Democratic Party.

“Since your development impacts me, I should get some say in deciding the rules we all agree to live by…”

There’s clearly a conflict of two important values here (freedom to, and freedom from). My approach on this specific issue is basically utilitarian: the freedom from the annoyances of nearby apartment development seems really unimportant compared to the freedom to develop housing, because the consequences of failing to build that housing are so plainly monstrous.

“(Your libertarian views on this question represent a very conservative viewpoint, which contrasts with your more pro-community views on other issues.)”

My politics are idiosyncratic, and lean towards “take the policy that leads to the greatest human flourishing, without concern to the policy’s party of origin.”

Sometimes that looks more right (“legalizing possession of meth and fentanyl was a well-meaning disaster”), sometimes more left (“we need to reduce carbon pollution drastically and government action is required to do so”), sometimes more libertarian (“the drawbacks of privately developed multi-family housing and green energy infrastructure are outweighed by the benefits”).

I never studied political philosophy, so I might misunderstand this, but I feel like the terms have gotten kind of twisted by political happenstance into meaninglessness. For instance, I see nothing inherently “conservative” about an environmental policy that allows entire ecosystems to be upended for economic gain, and nothing “progressive” about allowing people to sleep on sidewalks, in the throes of psychosis.

As regards housing, I think that *the community* benefits when private developers have significant leeway to build multi-family housing. When the freedom to build this social good is constrained, social ills result.

I think it would be more *conservative* to say “I like the way this community is now, and prefer not to see it change.” In fact, Trump actually campaigned on that a bit in 2020:

https://www.theurbanist.org/2020/07/31/trumps-desperate-suburban-appeal-underscores-need-for-fair-housing-and-zoning-reform/

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

Without some underlying political philosophy, you’re left with post-hoc justifications for what you want to do.

I am not 100% consistent myself, but most of my political views are derived from a fairly compact set of core beliefs, an important one of which is democracy and rule-of-law.

My belief in self-determination leads me to conclude that decisions should be made at the lowest level possible, and so communities should decide what policies govern them, not some outsider who doesn’t have to live with the consequences. In other words, they should decide what benefits them, not you.

Portland used to have a series of neighborhood plans that were developed by city planners working with residents to determine where density should go and what form it should take. That process allowed planners to address the city’s higher level goals while empowering communities to have a voice in how it was implemented at the street level.

I have long believed that communities would be more welcoming to density if it came in more moderate and attractive packages (there are a lot of very attractive duplexes out there). I don’t think it’s “new people” that are the problem (the classic YIMBY strawman), but what developers choose to build and what they destroy in the process (existing building stock, mature trees, etc.)

Another approach is to offer benefits for welcoming new development. A great example is the new homeless camp at 15th & Powell (the biggest in Portland to date); that is a classic “over my dead body” issue, but the city worked with neighbors in Brooklyn and HAND, and there was little to no pushback on the project that I’m aware of.

For whatever reason, “partnership” has become a dirty word in planning circles.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

“Without some underlying political philosophy, you’re left with post-hoc justifications for what you want to do.”

Well, sorta. If you define political philosophy as “a set of desired outcomes, based on closely held values,” it’s not that hard to have a political philosophy!

I value material prosperity, social flourishing, individual autonomy, environmental conservation, human rights, etc. Since these values exist in a constant web of tension with each other, the optimal policy might prioritize one value over another.

For instance, I value material prosperity, like housing, even though that requires the environmental impact of logging to produce the necessary lumber. On the other hand, while I value individual autonomy, I do think it’s appropriate to regulate the logging activities of private forest owners, to mitigate erosion, stream degradation, and habitat destruction.

In this way, we protect the common good of environmental health, while allowing for the common good of housing. The opportunity costs are some degree of environmental degradation and some degree of prohibited profit.

Maybe that’s post-hoc to you, but that kind of thinking broadly aligns with the platform of the Democratic Party, which indicates to me that there is some underlying logic to the set of policies I hold.

I think that politics does the worst when principles are the clearest cut, and the hardest held:

a. If human life really does begin at the point of conception, that’s philosophically convenient, because it’s a discrete moment in time. The policy choice would be conveniently binary, as compared to the fuzzy, unscientific grey area between “life” and “not life” that most Americans hold. Even the Alabama legislature is currently showing that strictly following this belief is a dead end.

b. Immigration has basically been a great win for the US, so it might follow that we should abolish ICE and throw the door open. However, in many countries where the immigration policy loosened, or immigration was perceived to be “out of control,” the ensuing political disruption has risked empowering actual fascists. Just look at Biden, touring the border today, and complaining that Trump deep-sixed border crackdown legislation.

In this way, a reliance on the ideological clarity of political philosophy can lead us into weird places. I prefer weird on bumper stickers, not in policy.

Philosophy and principals are great! But reality is where the rubber meets the road, and only through a careful and constant analysis of reality itself will the ultimate values be honored.

9watts
9watts
1 month ago

It is interesting reading through these comments here.

BB is the Cassandra you all can’t hear, would rather pillory. So easy to lob talking points at him, throw out gotchas, smear with China’s one-child policy and sundry other bad faith quips.

Would it be fun to have our density cake and eat it too? Maybe. But almost none of you paused long enough to listen to what BB is saying. Allowed that even though what he is saying makes you uncomfortable he may have a point.

We won’t solve our increasingly global problems by discouraging fecundity here in the PNW or problematizing density (a ratio, for crying out loud!) as a solution to those problems, but someone encouraging us to think about these *if it sounds too good to be true it probably is* nostrums peddled here shouldn’t be shouted down either. I used to be that guy here in the bikeportland comments.

Any policy starts local. And Tom McCall was onto something. And yes there are racist policies sprinkled throughout our history, and xenophobic bandwagons to hop on or off wherever you look. But in the end we still have to ask ourselves how this will all end? What we want (and please no ratios!) Why is growth in this country one of our sacred cows that no one dare question. What does that say about us if we refuse to listen to the guy pointing out that growth is cancer, growth on a finite planet must eventually end, growth in the short run benefits some while hurting others, and growth over the long haul is anathema to all environmental objectives we may have or even share?

Inconvenient sure, but why the anger, the abuse?

It is unfair to demand that BB have all the answers to your questions (some said in good faith, others less so). We could all instead put our heads together and try to figure out the best ways to address all these interconnected problems we face: homelessness, ecological doom, inequality, overpopulation, racism, transportation idiocy, and the list goes on.

Cassandra told people a truth they couldn’t allow, so they shouted her down.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

willing, maybe even eager, to make the changes that support a more efficient use of resources

What if we limited this conversation to those who don’t eat meat, drive under 3000 miles per year, forego air conditioning, and use clothes lines to dry their laundry?

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

I’ll bring some fava beans and a nice chianti.

9watts
9watts
1 month ago

it’s that the other commenters are willing, maybe even eager, to make the changes that support a more efficient use of resources.”

And therein lies the problem as I see it. Efficiency (another ratio!) by itself solves nothing. It just allows—invites us—to kick the (how much is our carrying capacity?) can down the road for another generation.

Density, efficiency, those are not goals; they are ratios. Capitalist logic loves ratios because we can fool ourselves into thinking we don’t have to make any hard choices. But this is magical thinking.

“BB’s point of view was popular half a century ago, but the conversation has moved way past Paul Erlich and the population panickers of the 60s and 70s.”

Popular then yes, and they are not popular now, you’ve got that right. Cassandra was /never/ popular. But popularity is a terrible measure of whether a constraint, an imbalance, a biophysical threshold is nigh or an existential threat. Earthquakes and Climate Change and Inequality aren’t popular either but that doesn’t mean they (several of those) aren’t worse now than they were in the 1970s.
The conversation has moved on. To Ratios. And we and our future prospects are the worse for it. Capitalism has no way of dealing with limits, with constraints, so we who swim in these capitalist waters must convince ourselves that we needn’t worry our pretty little heads over them.

”the carrying capacity isn’t a set number”

Also true, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t overshot carrying capacity decades ago. Increasing density to combat climate change is a feel good distraction and exacerbator. And the ostensible tradeoff of sprawl vs density as our only two options is a false choice.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

And the ostensible tradeoff of sprawl vs density as our only two options is a false choice.

Gosh, I’ll ask. What is the third choice then that no one else is seeing? Unless you are willing to deliberately “cut back” on the human population then density is a foregone conclusion.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

the third choice

Human population is going to peak soon, and has already done so in many rich countries.

No need to deliberately “cut back”; it’s going to happen organically.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

By the time the population is organically cutting back on its own there won’t be an internet to talk about it. So all your extensive musings on population control/density is just to wait on the ongoing climate catastrophe to thin the herd and be able to tell who’s left that you were right all along? Interesting.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

So all your extensive musings on population control/density

I think you’re confusing me with 9watts.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

You’re so right. Sighhhh! I’m so tired. I apologize. Now I’m panicking and going to have to look over my work correspondence to make sure I didn’t mix anybody up.
I didn’t understand why your tone was suddenly so caustic and now I know.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Dude… I got like three work emails from you as well, so you’d better get some sleep.

BB
BB
1 month ago

The population panickers?
Excuse me but please point out the benefits of going from 3 billion people to 6 billion and climbing rapidly.
You must think the climate change alarmists are just panicking as well since it’s all completely related.
The population panickers were absolutely correct.

BB
BB
1 month ago

You called people who were correct “panickers” not me.
If you do not think a population that has doubled since the 1960s is not responsible for climate change then you are wrong.
I just pointed it out.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago

The fact is, and it is a fact, no one here controls human population growth. That is not on the table, not something we get to vote on.

And this is the point where Watts gets stuck in his logic tree. Theorizing we can impose a “carrying capacity” through selection by a group of people we would trust to select for us might seem like a logical extension, but it simply can’t happen in a way that could ever be fair or equitable.


9watts
9watts
1 month ago

The fact is, and it is a fact, no one here controls human population growth. That is not on the table, not something we get to vote on.”

A taboo, in other words.
This is what I have been trying to suggest: population growth is treated as exogenous, off limits, is pointless to discuss.

Opting out of grappling with the consequences of exponential population growth is no more a fact than a generalized disinclination to take earthquake preparedness seriously, or treating climate change as a someday problem our grandkids get to solve is a fact. These are not facts but political choices. And in the world I imagine myself to live in we should be able to discuss them, bat ideas around, see what we can learn from each other.

Like all parameters that come up against biophysical limits, keeping a discussion of population growth off the table is eventually self correcting. Except that the eventual misery will be exponentially greater. Malthus was astute, and one day when the fossil fuel bubble that allowed us to defer the reckoning bursts we may recognize his (inconvenient) wisdom.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

The population panickers were absolutely correct.

Who cares if they were correct or incorrect? Population is going to increase in a healthy world. If there is more misery and death then there is less to worry about as far as population increase. Despite the industrialized bloodletting of the past 100(ish) years, the numbers still keep going up. What do you plan to do about it other than to yell “keep off my lawn” even louder?

BB
BB
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

The population of Japan has not grown for 30 years.
It’s not a failed state.
I am amazed by some of the comments here.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  BB

Japan is also stagnating.

“Low birthrate and ageing population pose ‘an urgent risk to society’”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/sep/04/japan-wrestles-with-its-views-on-outside-people-amid-population-crisis

You seem to be amazed at a lot of things in the real world.

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

Unfortunately libertarian “market” urbanism has pretty much taken over the cycling enthusiast/advocate scene so anyone who does not parrot its hyper-capitalist prosperity gospel is furiously attacked (e.g. dogpiled/ratioed). These attacks are often especially vicious when nonbelievers are fellow liberals/progressives but refuse to agree that more luxury ADUs/condos are the solution to every urban problem (e.g. the narcissism of small differences).

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

What should they be parroting instead, Pierre? Where has anything but Capitalistic forces improved the lives of the population? Granted hyper capitalism is not good and means those who work the least benefit the most, but what other model would actually work?

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

I saw many comments here at least that didn’t seem to be coming from people who think that luxury ADUs/condos are the solution to every urban problem.

Many that BB seemed to disagree with weren’t even arguing for population growth.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

Discussion of population isn’t remotely taboo: The NY Times did a series of articles on it recently. Lots of governments have tried to boost their fertility rate… to relatively little effect.

I do think it’s kind of ironic, all these strong feelings about the subject on this forum: given the content of the forum, it’s reasonable to assume this is a pretty well-educated bunch of commenters. It’s likely that many of us have below-replacement-level numbers of children. I didn’t have any kids, partly because of my own desire to limit my ecological impact.

I’m 42 and, unless attitudes toward immigration change, I expect we’ll see massive social and economic consequences of low fertility in East Asia, Europe, and North America in my lifetime. I’m not looking forward to it.

9watts
9watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

“I expect we’ll see massive social and economic consequences of low fertility in East Asia, Europe, and North America in my lifetime. I’m not looking forward to it.”

This is fascinating to me. I have to say I don’t understand this attitude, find it baffling. Most everything we struggle with here: inequality, homelessness, affordability, water shortages, deforestation, urban growth boundary pressures, overfishing, militarism, traffic, and a hundred other troubles would all diminish if instead of growing our population were to shrink.
Obviously capitalism is based on growth and so some (all?) of us may have internalized the compulsion to grow, but surely we can also step back and see that as doomed, impossible over the longer run.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

I’m not sure you understand what the ramifications are to a gradual decrease in population. It’s old age with no one to take care you. It’s being trapped in a house (if you’re lucky) watching it literally decay around you as you can’t maintain it, can’t cook meals for yourself and slowly die of malnutrition and an slow avalanche of accumulating health problems.
I’ve seen towns in the midwest that are empty except for old people living alone without electricity since they can’t afford it, desperate for any human interaction as they face an increasingly dark future alone.
I’ve seen people in China TERRIFIED of not having children to support them in their old age and the misery and starvation that awaits.
So unless you want to turn the switch off on a lot of people (and even the up to 80 million Mao killed didn’t “help” china) there is not a positive to population stagnation.
I’m guessing this seems dramatic to you, but it’s the real world outside the luxury of the wealth that abounds in the PNW and especially the Portland/Multnomah area.
All the things you mention are based on extreme privilege and assumes you yourself won’t experience any of the ill effects of a reduced population to provide for its elderly. Maybe we can just do a “Logan’s Run” and disintegrate people at 30?

9watts
9watts
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Believe it or not I have heard this perspective, dozens of times. The bogeyman of an aging population, brought our of the closet for one more Halloween performance.

The fact that your imagination prevents you from accepting this, from allowing that a stable or declining population can flourish, is regrettable but your (and others’) resistance to this doesn’t have any bearing on the fact that any social or economic system that implodes without growth is doomed, and not for emotional reasons but for biophysical, ecological reasons.

Insisting that population *must* grow or else is simply madness. And invoking economically depressed regions as proof of this pronatalist requirement is absurd. There are many reasons why certain areas, locations, towns have lost population, but to reinterpret this as the inevitable outcome of a society that is not experiencing population growth makes several category errors.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

Believe it or not I have heard this perspective, dozens of times.

While you may have heard it, I’ve actually seen it which is why our perspectives differ so much. I am speaking from what I have seen and experienced, not from a theory.

There are many reasons why certain areas, locations, towns have lost population.

Yes, there are many reasons and they don’t matter at all. Those populations are declining and suffering because there are not enough people to provide or create resources for those left behind. It really is that simple.
Do you assume that you and yours will not suffer the same fate if there is no one left to care for you? To grow and provide food, medicine and keep the grid going?
If population does not grow, it will not remain at some magical point where as one person dies, another embryo is brought forth into life in a direct one for one replacement.

The fact that your imagination prevents you from accepting this, from allowing that a stable or declining population can flourish

I would love to hear of a real world place that is thriving with a declining population. BB tried to use the example of Japan, but if you glanced at the article I provided, they aren’t really doing well. Besides declining, is there even a stable human population that you have experienced or seen or I would even accept read about?
All this really just sounds like you are not wanting to give up or even face up to the idea of giving up your luxuries that you have living where you do. The time for luxuries though is slipping away from us and we can’t hide behind theory if we want to prepare for what is coming to Portland and the greater PNW area.

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Even though its population had been declining for two decades, Japan’s quality of life is better and cost of living is lower than in the USA.

https://www.mylifeelsewhere.com/cost-of-living/united-states/japan

https://www.mylifeelsewhere.com/compare/united-states/japan

9watts
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Between 1969 and 1988 West Germany”s population growth was zero. I moved from there to Oregon in 1987. I have no recollections of any of the doomsday scenarios from my time there. In fact, Postwar West Germany had a lot going for it, was a pretty dynamic, happening place. The idea that population growth is necessary for anything like happiness is certainly widely proclaimed but I find it ridiculous and at odds with my experience.
I have never lived in a society with a declining population but would welcome that, would consider myself lucky.
The finitude of resources, space, climate, etc. spread
over fewer (rather than more) people strikes me as pretty simple math.

Thought experiment:
(A) we all have two (or three or more) children: everything we inherit to them (both privately* and publicly**) is divided by two (or three or more).

(B) we all have one child: everything we inherit to them now is not divided in half, they can keep it all. You and others have here been shrieking from the roof tops that the declining version is somehow inconceivably horrible. I’m just not seeing it.

(C) we all have zero children: now we can skip the grasping accumulative, who-dies-with-the-most-toys-wins rat race since we don’t have any offspring to inherit our loot to, can give it away instead. Leave what is left of our planet to others.

*whatever folks inherit their offspring: money, material objects, perhaps a dwelling.
**a per capita share of the roads and sidewalks and trees and streams and atmosphere and farmland and water and food and energy.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

How about:

(D) I have two (or more) children, and I raise them to be scientists and engineers with a love of knowledge, a compassion for their fellow humans and the natural world, and an ethic for hard work, and they help us build the technologies we’ll need to thrive sustainably on a finite planet.

If I’m successful, they won’t need my loot.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Nailed it!

I’ve actually heard this as the prime argument of the pro-natalist camp: that tomorrow’s green future can only be built by a large number of scientists, and we need that kind of human ingenuity to get ourselves to a better future.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

Nailed it!

Not really… the flaw in my scenario is all those people who aren’t blessed with parents who instill a love of knowledge and the skills and desire to improve the world. That is, most of us.

It’s really hard to argue that 8 billion people is a sustainable population. To be pro-natalist, you have to be a techno-optimist, which is a view that is not popular here.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

We are fortunate that by the time the demographic issues seriously bite here, we’ll have watched how a number of other countries have, successfully or not, dealt with a shrinking population, and hopefully we’ll learn from them.

One other advantage we have is that, unlike almost every other country, we have (almost) always accepted a relatively high level of immigration, which provides us with a steady supply of ambitious young people from other countries (to their great loss).

The US is likely to fare well in a depopulating world, at least for a while. Not because a shrinking population isn’t damaging, but because we’ll be better insulated from its ramifications.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I think you’re probably right. On the other hand, the last decade’s backlash against immigration really threatens this possibility.

It may be that an aging population sees the need for young foreign workers to act as caretakers, and supports immigration for its economic benefits.

Or, it may be that an aging population resents the loss of cultural homogeneity, pines for the good old days, and opposes immigration.

Who knows- we might not have much choice. Short of shooting at border crossers, or a surveillance state keeping an eye out for visa-overstays, the US will continue to draw immigration, legal or not.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

the last decade’s backlash against immigration really threatens this possibility.

The linked chart shows that, while it has fallen recently, support for legal immigration is higher now than at any time before 2015. As of June 2023, 68% of people still thought immigration is a “good thing”

We’ve gone through plenty of periods of heightened concern about immigration. It comes and goes with the weather.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/1660/immigration.aspx

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

Maybe you’re right, 9watts. Maybe a less crowded state would flourish in the way you suggest. Maybe people would gratefully spread out and calm down. However, I can see a lot of reasons why it might not be great.

Politics- I fear that an aging electorate, with fewer younger voters, would drift rightward. That could have drastic consequences for a lot of the subjects you mention.

Look at the maps in the link here: I don’t think we should emulate any of the areas with declining population that one can readily see (the Plains, large stretches of Texas, West Virginia, the Deep South, etc).

https://www.ndsu.edu/sdc/publications/greatplains/chartbooksections/chartbook_agedist.pdf

Inequality seems like a distribution issue: there’s plenty of wealth to go around and pro-worker policies are the best way to share that wealth. Would an aging or increasingly retired electorate favor such policies? Would those voters support increased entitlement spending aimed at retirees, as opposed to social support for younger people?

Militarism– it’s persuasively argued that Putin felt pressure to invade Ukraine because of the rapid decline in Russia’s population. The thinking is that he feels that it might not be possible to field as large an army in the future. Maybe that’s not quite right, but I think we can expect to see a lot of dodgy foreign policy, in a world where fielding an army of young men starts to look like a time-limited endeavor.

Homelessness and Housing Affordability– Here, you’re on firmer ground. Homelessness is way lower in the depopulated Plains, West Virginia, etc. Very few people compete to buy houses in rural Nebraska.

The problem is, houses are cheap there because almost no one wants to live there.

And that’s my last point. Since it is speculative to forecast Oregon’s population and the ways in which the population will change the state, the best way to game out population decline is to look at other places where it’s happening. I am not encouraged by the view.

I’m not going to tell you “if Portland is growing too much, just move to rural West Virginia” because that’s rude and I can tell you’re commenting because you love this town and want to see it succeed. But if you look at the communities that are depopulating, it’s clearly not working out well for them.

In spite of the low cost of living, people are not clamoring to move to these places, and that should tell you a lot about how successful these communities are.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

Pro-worker policies: If there are fewer workers, they’ll be in high demand, and will thus have more leverage to demand better policies.

Putin: While you might be right about his motivation to invade Ukraine (now or never), most countries are firmly in the “never” camp. I don’t see Italy invading France to stave off its sharp decline in population.

Housing: Fewer people means more housing per person, and more options (not just apartments). That rural Nebraska is not a hot destination does not invalidate this point.

A static or gradually declining population may be a great scenario for Oregon.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Good points.

But…

Foreign policy: judging by the last few years, it only takes a few insane countries to cause a lot of strife. Italy likely wouldn’t be one, anyway.

Housing:

Of course it’s cheaper when there are abandoned houses everywhere, fewer economic opportunities for young adults, and fewer resources to solve the area’s problems! But if you’re trying to sell me on how great it’ll be by pointing at those places… well, I just hope you’re not in sales!

This is a complex, multi-factor issue, and we might struggle to game out the futures of the diverse places that have declining populations. That said, it is strongly suggestive to me that declining population in the US is very strongly correlated with economic and social decline.

So if y’all are going to convince me how great a depopulated state could be… cheaper housing won’t do the trick!

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Charley

That said, it is strongly suggestive to me that declining population in the US is very strongly correlated with economic and social decline.

It might be, but it’s going to be a while before we find out. And that’s different than a leveling out or small decline in Oregon’s population, which is the scenario I mentioned (quite different from wholesale depopulation). In fact, Oregon’s population declined in each of the past two years, and nothing has changed.

Also, Russia’s geography, history, and capabilities are likely unique. I don’t see the Russia/Ukraine dynamics playing out elsewhere. And, in fact, we don’t.

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

So easy to lob talking points at him, throw out gotchas, smear with China’s one-child policy and sundry other bad faith quips…But almost none of you paused long enough to listen to what BB is saying. Allowed that even though what he is saying makes you uncomfortable he may have a point.

Talk about dismissive! This is so offensive and aloof I can’t even. None of his talking points were novel. This isn’t the first time folks around here have thought about these questions. The idea of stopping population growth has problems in terms of being grounded in my view of reality. It also has some harshly negative consequences even it were possible.

As the person who brought up one-child policy, it was a legitimate pushback. He was saying that we should stop population growth. I was asking how. There would need to be some very heavy handed policy to enforce it. No response from him with ideas about how to get there. So, I kept putting out ways that I could think of to stop population growth. One-child is one way to get there that I brought up. It would mean that 2 people would procreate 1. Mathematically speaking, this would lead to population decline. The only response is an insult from you.

There was also no response about Santa Barbara. He mentioned that the median income here and there are similar. The median home price in Santa Barbara is now $1.8 million. How can people afford to live there? Is that the city we want? Not a gotcha! A legit question that was not answered because it was too inconvenient to confront.

I could go on. Just because we’ve presented you and BB with inconvenient questions and truths does not mean we are smearing, mindlessly spewing talking points, or presenting gotchas. We are engaging in a legitimate conversation with informed questions and perspectives.

Practice what you preach. Ascribing bad faith to challenging questions wreaks of pillorying those who you don’t want to hear.

9watts
9watts
1 month ago
Reply to  I'll Show UP

idea of stopping population growth has problems”

Sure. In various places and at various times (racist eugenics, xenophobic immigration policies, etc.) we have seen examples that are problematic. But to bury a commenter’s questioning the *celebration* of population growth with a litany of failed or deplorable eugenics experiments is what I am calling bad faith. Shouting someone down is not the same thing as engaging in good faith, acknowledging that population growth in the present has a thousand costs, that many people both in the present and the future must bear.

I don’t see your points as inconvenient as much as grasping. I am happy to engage any of them. But keep in mind that I am not BB, have never to my knowledge met him, and so am not able or inclined to engage on all of his points, even as I think I agree with the general tenor of his posts.

If you want to talk about strategies for slowing and reversing population growth we can certainly have that conversation, but your approach here so far is not promising.

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

There you go. Cherry picking 7 words and ignoring the message I was sending. “Celebration of population growth” … ??? Who said that there are not challenges created by people on this earth. Exactly zero commenters did. It’s a label you ascribed to others who have a point of view that population growth is part of our reality and we need to have plans that work within that reality.

So far, there has not been any responses with straight forward answers about how to get to slower or reversed population growth. “It’s called zoning” was about the most substantive reply I’ve seen. Even with that, there are so many layers and consequences that details matter. When I asked what that zoning would say… dead silence. What I’ve heard is philosophy about how to solve the world’s problems without any specific steps for how to get there.

But, then, come your labels and insults. My points are “grasping”. You’re “happy to engage any of them”… but haven’t engaged any of them other than to label and offend.

Your aloof message: I know better than you and your points are superfluous and grasping. Your questions are not worth answering or considering. Let me tell you what’s worth answering and considering. I’ll make sure to do it with SAT words that make me feel superior to you peons who have never said or heard the word “fecundity” used in any conversation nor read it in any book.

Your dismissive message: Your points have no value and are just attacks anyways.

Your offensive message; You have a closed mind. Your points are thoughtless talking points that demonstrate that you can’t think for yourself.

My message: I hear your and BB’s philosophy about population growth. But, I don’t hear any there there in terms of what you would do to satisfy your philosophical stance. That’s not fecundity, that’s asking for realism about how we live our lives and impact the world around us.

9watts
9watts
1 month ago
Reply to  I'll Show UP

Many folks in this conversation piled on in their exuberance for people to move here, make things more vibrant. That is what I was referring to as celebrating population growth.

You aren’t in a good position to lecture others on tone.

We now have several parallel discussions going – one about societies that have zero or negative population growth that aren’t imploding. Germany in the seventies and eighties and Japan today were both briefly mentioned.
And then your (perfectly reasonable) question of how we might get there, steer this (US, Oregon, Portland) ship away from greater population growth and toward less growth and a steady state or even negative population growth after that.

Plenty of smart people have tackled this for both the US and for our bioregion. Most anything published by Alternatives for Growth Oregon could be discussed here (and we have at some length in the past here). The Rockefeller Commission on Population Growth looked at this question for the US (also discussed here at length in the past).
To recap briefly, a first step would be to identify and do away with all the incentives, subsidies that currently still go to encourage births, and moving here.
Next would be to discuss who the winners and losers are from population growth (the City Club could commission a report on this just as an example).
I could go on but have to get back to work.
Happy to continue especially if you are game.

I'll Show UP
I'll Show UP
1 month ago
Reply to  9watts

How much population growth is happening because people see a financial incentive to have a family? In the grand scheme, I can’t imagine it’s nearly enough to reverse population changes. Last I checked, having a baby doesn’t result in more discretionary income.

Stop people from moving here? Are you talking about our borders as a country or as a city? The financial incentives people have to move to a big city is often better salaries and benefits. Are those the financial incentives you’re thinking about? Or, are you thinking about financial incentives to attract jobs? Not sure what you mean.

Even if you mean our borders as a city, how do you do that? If you do that, what does that mean for the forest and farmland around us? How do they not get impacted due to the reality that population is, indeed, increasing and people need a home? How can you constitutionally stop people from moving here? Why is it OK that you and I moved here, but it’s not OK for others to (assuming you were not born and raised in Portland). But, even if you’re born and raised here, I’d ask the same question of BB. Actually, I did ask the same question of BB without a response.

I wasn’t lecturing on tone. My tone has been fine. You and BB haven’t liked my questions. When you were downright insulting and degrading in that last post, I was upset and responding to the lack of content coupled with broad brushstroke labeling and demeaning of people you disagree with. I’m glad we’re moving onto content.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  I'll Show UP

The financial incentives people have to move to a big city is often better salaries and benefits. 

Or (especially with remote work) a lower cost of living, which is why there will be an endless supply of people escaping the higher costs of living in California, until we reach some sort of equilibrium.

Portland simply can’t house every Californian who wants a cheaper place to live.

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  I'll Show UP

So, I kept putting out ways that I could think of to stop population growth.

Education.
Reproductive rights.
Empowerment of women.
Access to reproductive healthcare.

Charley
Charley
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

These are inherently good policies and I’d argue that, whether one is pro- or anti-natalist, one should support them, come what may!