Podcast: In the Shed with housing researcher Michael Andersen

Michael and I outside the Shed.

The one and only Michael Andersen rolled over to The Shed on Friday and I’m excited to share our 50-minute conversation with you.

If things would have gone differently, Michael and I might have been working together here in my backyard. Seven years ago, Michael was BikePortland’s news editor, a position he held from 2013 to 2016. I’m typically pretty humble about what happens around here, but I have no problem saying that Michael and I were kicking ass. We had such a great complement of skills when it came to this weird type of community transportation journalism that we do. It just clicked. I loved working with him and — from the Real Estate Beat column, to his detailed coverage of “low-car life” (a phrase he popularized) and national cycling trends (he was working half-time for national nonprofit People for Bikes) — I loved what we produced together.

Why’d he leave BikePortland? He shared something during our chat Friday about that for the first time. “Because I couldn’t have two children simultaneously,” Michael said. “BikePortland was so all-encompassing that I felt like I couldn’t have done them both of them justice. So, I had to choose my son. Sorry about that.”

I still don’t forgive him, but I’ve learned to move on. Just kidding! And it feels great to know that Michael went on to much bigger things as a major part of Sightline, a well-respected think tank with nearly two dozen staff that research, develop policy, and write articles about stuff like housing, climate change, environmental economics, democracy, transportation, and so on.

All this is to say it was really nice to have Michael over for a chat. We of course talked a lot about housing, the politics of density (although he doesn’t use that word and prefers “proximity”), biking, Portland politics, and much more. Here are a few highlights.

On the co-housing development he lives in today in the Cully neighborhood:

“I think it’s a perfect example of the sort of thing that low-car life makes possible because the whole development wouldn’t have penciled if there had been demand for more than 20 parking spaces for those 23 homes. But as it is, the developer couldn’t actually sell three of the parking spaces because not enough people wanted to buy them.”

On his work at Sightline:

“… We are not trying to get everybody to live closer to each other. What we want as a society, is to let everybody who wants to live closer to each other — and in so doing, cut their energy use in half — should get to do so. We desperately need that to happen, because otherwise our electric bills are going to keep going up, and the world is going to keep being destroyed by pollution and everything else. And it’s not that everybody is ever going to want to live closer to each other. But, to the extent that it is possible to get people to do so, then we should let people do so.

And we have so many rules and laws that make it either illegal or overly expensive to make that choice to live closer to each other. And so my job at Sightline is to try and call attention to that fact and say, ‘This is a really stupid set of rules that are forcing people to live further from each other, to be disconnected from each other socially, to use more energy, use more money than they really need to, or than they really want to.

A lot of environmentalism is getting people to do things they don’t want to do. Whereas, I feel like with bike advocacy and housing advocacy, a lot of it is actually letting people live the way they want to. And so that’s really joyful.”

On the state of the pro-housing movement:

“I think the housing movement is at one of those peaks right now. There’s a lot of attention. There’s more funding than there has been. There’s more narrative energy. And I think there are electeds like Tina Kotek, the [Oregon] governor right now, and even the Portland City Council, who are not a boat rocking crew for the most part, but do have this consensus that something needs to be changed on housing, even if they don’t really know what it is. So right now the challenge is to capitalize on that energy and get as much done while we can.

I’m on the older side of this housing scene, and, and I feel like I need to tell the young people, ‘This is not going to last. We don’t have forever. We need to get stuff done while we can.'”

And asked to bring folks up to speed on where the housing issue is in Portland today, Michael went back 100 years. He shared how racism and classism spurred zoning laws in 1924 that largely created the urban form we have today.

Then, during an exchange about Portland’s cycling rise and fall, Michael noted a poster of the Sprockettes I have on my wall (the Sprockettes were an all-female mini-bike dance team that ruled Portland streets for 15 years between 2004 and 2019) and we came up with the “Sprockettes Test” as a measure of proximity and good urban planning. That is to say, those little bikes weren’t comfortable to ride long distances, so maybe it was Portland’s relatively compact urban form that allowed the Sprockettes to flourish and get around to gigs easily.

Toward the end of our conversation, I asked Michael what he wants BikePortlanders to understand about the housing issue:

“I think most bike people have an intuitive sense of the fact that transportation and housing are really closely associated and you can’t do one without also thinking about the other.

I think the key idea that I’m trying to communicate lately is that we cannot change the status-quo without changing the status-quo — that the source of the cost of housing is all the rules that we put around housing and not all those rules are bad. Some of those rules are good. Like, you should be able to enter a building in a wheelchair without an assistant. But that’s not free. It’s not free to require compliance with the Fair Housing Act. So we all pay for that and maybe that’s fine, but what we need to do is figure out what are the least bad rules to get rid of.

And the top of my list of bad rules are getting rid of the mandate that you’re not allowed to share walls, not allowed to share roofs, not allowed to share kitchens in many cases.

And beyond that, there’s a zillion little rules, but every little additional rule we add, adds a little bit more cost. No one rule is the deal breaker, but they all add up. And so we’ve got to figure out which are the least bad ones, and we’ve got to have an argument about it.”

Michael also shared who he likes for Portland Mayor, and much more. Listen in the player at the top of this post or find our show wherever you get your podcasts.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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Michael Andersen
1 month ago

Oh and to be clear: the all-encompassing feeling of working for BikePortland was entirely voluntary. It wasn’t that you required me to care about the site like it was a kid competing for a new dad’s attention. It was that you and the readers created a site that made me care about the site and its community almost as much as a parent cares about their kid.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor

I’ll 2nd that, there is something all-encompassing about BP.

Michael Andersen
1 month ago

Thanks for the invitation and the great conversation, Jonathan. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

We are not trying to get everybody to live closer to each other. What we want as a society, is to let everybody who wants to live closer to each other — and in so doing, cut their energy use in half — should get to do so.

Is the converse also true? That is, do you want everyone who wants to live in a single family house to be able to do so?

All this sounds like you want people to have self-determination in the way they live and what their communities look like. Which is exactly what I want as well.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Since no one answered your question, I will answer it the way I think Andersen would:

Absolutely not! – at least not in the way you or I have become accustomed to living in single-family houses in suburbs. Sightline and their ilk want our beautiful leafy suburbs to be densified beyond all recognition, so that we’re all living cheek by jowl on top of each other.

Their thesis – that you can’t have good cycling or transportation without massively densifying housing – is complete bunk. I currently ride my bike everywhere around the suburbs of Portland, and there’s nothing stopping me or anyone else. Riding a bike in the suburbs is wonderful, and everyone can do it, as long as there is infrastructure, which Portland should have and many suburbs in America already do. Portland doesn’t have it b/c our gov’t has been incompetent.

Don’t forget the leading role Sightline took in killing the MAX line in SW Portland. They actually took the position that the SW suburbs didn’t DESERVE a MAX line b/c we are too wealthy and drive too much. So guess what? – no decent public transit means everyone will continue to drive. Nice work!

“Only when the suburbs are turned into a horrible hellscape will we be able to have good public transit, good cycling, etc.” It’s a ridiculous thesis and needs to be rejected.

dw
dw
1 month ago

Didn’t the voters ultimately kill the SW MAX extension?

It felt like really bad timing for it to be on the ballot in November of 2020 – after a summer of political unrest, economic instability and a damn global pandemic the idea of building another train to an empty downtown seemed absurd.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

No, Fred that is not the way Anderson would answer.

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

and in so doing, cut their energy use in half — should get to do so.

With all due respect, this simply isn’t true when it comes to the so-called “missing middle” that Mr. Andersen has zealously promoted. People living in modest multi-story apartments (that are common in Europe) cut their energy use largely because their homes are smaller. People living in the >1500 sq feet luxury duplexes/condos that Mr.Andersen has promoted tend to have higher energy use than a similarly-sized detached single household home.

comment image

https://www.jchs.harvard.edu/blog/us-households-are-using-less-energy

PS: I believe both the so-called missing middle and detached single household homes should be illegal or punishing expensive to build in central urban areas so don’t @ me about being a NIMBY.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

I can always count on BP commenters to come say that anything that anyone is proposing won’t work because, blah blah blah and explain why.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Serenity

But when someone says why they think something won’t work, then backs up that opinion with some evidence, as EV did, that’s constructive.

When they propose something they think will work better, as he also did, that’s even more constructive.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

But he didn’t. “Middle” is not synonymous with “luxury.”

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  Serenity

blah blah blah

As I wrote above, building dense and small apartments reduces energy use to a greater extent than the so-called “missing middle”. Could you please explain why you are opposed to this model of sustainable urban development?

Will
Will
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

Soren, had you bothered to look at the underlying data, you would see that energy usage per square foot is inversely proportional to total home size.

Table CE1.5 Summary annual household site consumption and expenditures in the West—totals and intensities, 2020

https://www.eia.gov/consumption/residential/data/2020/c&e/pdf/ce1.5.pdf

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

Your link shows that energy usage per square foot use is modestly higher for 2-4 multi-household housing than for SFHs. Energy use for >5 unit multi-household housing is on the other hand markedly lower than SFHs.

Once again your more recent data argues that if we care about sustainable development in urban areas we should discourage low-density housing (including the so-called missing middle) and encourage high density apartment buildings. And I gotta say that the push back against a focus on high-density apartment buildings from P:NW members is telling.

Will
Will
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

Your failure to address the point I made is telling. Your inability to disaggregate confounding factors is also telling. Without controlling for the age and location of the home types, as well as the the income levels and family sizes of the inhabitants, you can’t make a argument about the relative energy efficiency of different typologies. You know that, of course. Just as you know that P:NW is doing the hard work of trying to get more of the city opened up to high-density apartments. But of course, you aren’t actually trying to have a conversation about the relative energy efficiency of different housing type, you’re trying to take swipes at Michael. Your politics seems to be entirely driven by petty interpersonal score settling. Perhaps if you set your ego aside your political projects will be more successful. You aren’t an outsider because of your politics, you’re an outsider because you’re unpleasant.

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  Will

you know that P:NW is doing the hard work of trying to get more of the city opened up to high-density apartments.

Nice straw person. I don’t know this at all. Please provide evidence of the “hard work” P:NW has been doing to advocate for high-density apartments (e.g. 10+ story apartment buildings).

Your politics seems to be entirely driven by petty interpersonal score settling…

Not only is this an ad hominem attack but it’s also one where you create a paranoid straw-person (of my motivations for posting). For the record, my commentary here has consistently opposed low-density housing regardless of who I respond to. What exactly is this “score” that I’m supposedly setting? Disagreement on policy? Political differences?

 you’re an outsider because you’re unpleasant.

And once again a mean-spirited and “unpleasant” ad hominem attack.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

“As the figure shows, residents of detached single-family structures used less energy on a per-square-foot basis than residents of other types of units. However, on average, single-family homes are 2.5 times bigger than multifamily units. As a result, people living in detached single-family units also consumed significantly more energy per household – and per person – than people living in any other type of structure”

This is a great example of how looking at the chart without reading the labels can be extremely misleading.

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

This is a great example of how looking at the chart without reading the labels can be extremely misleading.

Considering that my comment focused on area (e.g square feet) your comment is a great example of not reading a comment or not understanding a comment and replying to it anyway.

I also made the point that many of the missing middle housing types that Mr. Andersen has lobbied for (e.g. duplexes) are of similar square footage to a detached single family home but use ~30% more energy than a detached single family home.

However, on average, single-family homes are 2.5 times bigger than multifamily units.

Speaking of being of “misleading” it was not the very-low density 2-4 unit housing that markedly reduced energy use but rather (and I quote):

“…average household energy consumption in detached single-family homes was 94.6 million, more than double the [energy] usage by households living in units in larger multifamily buildings…”

The main point of my comment was that we should be prioritizing dense multi-household apartment development not the low-density “missing-middle” housing that Mr. Andersen has lobbied for.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

Implying (wrongly) that single-family housing is more energy-efficient is an odd way of advocating for more dense multifamily housing. How many 1,500 sq. ft. single-family houses are being built in Portland today?

EV enthusiast
EV enthusiast
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

Implying (wrongly) that single-family housing is more energy-efficient is

I made no such claim and I’m really tired of bad faith responses. The entire point of my comments was that home size was the most important determinant of energy use and for someone to falsely claim that this is pro-single-family housing is very intricately twisted logic.

lvc
lvc
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

From the text immediately under the graph EV pulled:

“However, on average, single-family homes are 2.5 times bigger than multifamily units. As a result, people living in detached single-family units also consumed significantly more energy per household – and per person – than people living in any other type of structure.”

As an aside, (I’m not going to relisten to check, maybe I misunderstood) the way I understood Micheal’s comment was that he was including transportation energy, not just household energy like that Harvard study was looking at.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  EV enthusiast

How many 1,500 sq. ft. single-family houses are being built in Portland today? How much more land and resources are needed to accommodate a neighborhood of single-family houses compared to middle housing such as duplexes? How many more miles do residents of sprawling single-family neighborhoods have to drive just to get to and from their house every day?

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Steven

How many duplexes do you have to build to begin to dampen the growth in shelter cost ? Because building duplexes might not make living in an inner Portland neighborhood affordable. It really requires a micro economic analysis—by an economist. Only in the first week of a first semester micro-econ class is the supply-price relation a straight line.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago

I’m sure, but I was responding to a comment about energy efficiency, not the cost of housing itself.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I can’t speak for Michael Andersen, but I’m absolutely fine with people living in detached houses in suburbs. What I don’t want is for the rest of the society to be literally paying a bunch of subsidies to enable them to do so.

Damien
Damien
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

That is, do you want everyone who wants to live in a single family house to be able to do so?

I mean, I’d love for everyone to have what they want. Unfortunately what most people want is wholly unsustainable or physically impossible. Your direct question falling under the former generally, or latter if you start talking specific constraints like “in the city of Portland”.

I personally want to live in a single family house with neighbors that are far away, but still have density-supported fun things like bars/restaurants/etc that I can walk to (but not so close that I get any noise from at home), and uncongested roads that take me where I need to go quickly but nobody else gets in my way on. Hell, I want a helicopter to skip all that. Let’s have a community of folks who travel by helicopter (but not so many that my rides have any resistance whatsoever).

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Damien

The quote I was responding to said the goal was to provide dense housing styles to those who wanted it, rather than force everyone to live there. I don’t actually believe this is an honest characterization of Sightline’s goals, but if it is, people who want other housing styles will also need places to live. If this is, as you state, physically or environmentally impossible, then Andersen is either misleading or misinformed.

Maybe you’re right that it would be better for the world if only the rich lived in single family houses, but I’m not sure this is politically feasible. We have an awful lot of single family housing around that is not going to disappear. We’re going to be living with sprawling transit-proof suburbs for a good long time, and Kotek wants us to build more.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago

I am also trying to stay positive about Portland.

nic.cota
1 month ago

Great listen. Personally a big fan of Sightline’s work, esp Catie Gould’s articles on Parking!

Lenny Anderson
Lenny Anderson
1 month ago

re Interstate Avenue. One of the concerns of the Interstate URA advisory Committee was that the light rail project would spur overly intense development like in The Pearl. There was also a big community planning effort for station areas.
Planning/Sustainability was slow to rezone for denser development, but over the last 20 years a lot of multi-family housing as been built along Interstate.
Some credit needs to go to Katz and Hales for the rezoning of transit corridors…Williams/Vancouver, SE Division, E. Burnside, etc.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Lenny Anderson

A lot of that rezoning in N/NE Portland happened during the Albina Plan of the early 90s, as I’m sure you know. One irony is that one reason it was supported was that once people in wealthier areas saw that the Planning Bureau was serious about changing zoning to allow increased density, they organized to oppose it, but then realized if they pushed for putting all the new density on streets like MLK, Williams/Vancouver, and Interstate, the City would back off upzoning their own single-family neighborhoods.

The City was planning to add density on those corridors, but they also originally were hoping to create zoning to allow more “missing middle” projects throughout the area. Eliot (relatively poor at the time) was the only N/NE neighborhood that I recall welcoming upzoning in its residential sections. Irvington was vehemently opposed, and managed to avoid most upzoning by pushing for high-density residential zoning on MLK.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

The result of which was to confine new rental housing (disproportionately lived in by poor and nonwhite people) to the most noisy, dangerous, and polluted arterial streets. Progress?

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

I think it was unfortunate that the plan’s initial intention of creating more density opportunities in single-family areas was thwarted.

But I don’t think increasing housing along the busier streets was a mistake.

And while much of the new housing (most but not all rental) is located on the busier streets, and I’m guessing the residents are overwhelmingly white and not poor.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

“New rental housing (disproportionately lived in by poor and nonwhite people)”

How much of this new rental housing have you looked at?

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

It’s easy to point to a single luxury condo building. It’s also easy to find examples of less fancy rental housing built along major streets since the 1990s. And especially in an overwhelmingly white city like Portland, nonwhite people still make up a disproportionate share of renters without being in the majority. According to the housing bureau’s 2022 State of Housing in Portland report:

“Rentership rates vary by race and ethnicity. Forty-three percent of white households rent homes in Portland, while 70 percent of Black households, 61 percent of Native American households, and over half of other Communities of Color rent their homes.”

And as these buildings age, affluent whites will move on to newer housing and more poor people and minorities will move in.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

“And as these buildings age, affluent whites will move on to newer housing and more poor people and minorities will move in.”

Or not… If a landlord maintains their building well, rents will not fall. The older buildings you see with lower rents always had lower rents… they were built crappy. We don’t build cheap apartments anymore.

Also, I would also expect affluent non-white people to behave in a similar manner to their white peers in regards to escaping crappy housing; it surprises me that you would expect something different.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Real property depreciates in value with time as normal wear and tear happens and people seek out newer styles and amenities. Also, as initial construction costs are paid off, buildings are able to be rented for less money, making them more affordable.

Median rents in the Portland metro by year of construction show a steady decrease as buildings age. This is called “filtering” and the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis found it to be “one of the major ways to provide reasonably priced workforce housing for those making in or around the median family income”.

I would also expect affluent nonwhite people to seek out the best housing they can afford. However, housing discrimination still exists even though it’s illegal. Just one of those political and economic realities we all have to reckon with.

pdxrent14
Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

Also, as initial construction costs are paid off, buildings are able to be rented for less money, making them more affordable.

Not many landlords would lower the rent just because their costs are lower. Rents are generally set by what people are willing to pay, not the owner’s cost structure.

Median rents in the Portland metro by year of construction show a steady decrease as buildings age. 

The chart you showed does not look like a steady decrease to me — it looks mostly flat, with a dip in the years of peak crappy construction, followed by an increase when developers started focusing on more profitable on high-end units.

Some people may indeed filter, but most renters I know who have the resources to spend more on rent would prefer to save that money in order to buy a house and get out of the rental game altogether. Yes, sure, it’s anecdotal, and doesn’t apply to everyone, but it is a very common pattern that many readers here will recognize, perhaps from their own lives. As much as YIMBYs talk about filtering, I’ve never seen evidence that it is a major factor in the housing market.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

What people are willing to pay depends on the available options, which is the whole point of price filtering. Here’s the evidence:

https://oregoneconomicanalysis.com/2016/05/25/housing-does-filter/

https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/7/25/why-are-developers-only-building-luxury-housing

Higher rents for the oldest apartments in Portland can be explained partly by the fact that only the best-built buildings survive 70 years or more, and such high-quality housing naturally costs more (although still less than newer buildings). Older buildings are also more centrally located in historic streetcar suburbs which have recently gentrified, raising median rents in those neighborhoods.

https://www.oregonmetro.gov/news/you-are-here-snapshot-housing-affordability-greater-portland

HomeValue_yearBuilt
Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

That first article shows that 1970s era housing is now less expensive relative to median housing cost now than it was in 1980. This is exactly what I would expect — we’ve since built a lot of fancy new housing, raising the median price considerably and crappy 1970s housing looks less good compared to what’s available now than it did then. 1920s housing, which is not generally crappy, has maintained its relative value.

The article explicitly supports my contention that well cared for properties maintain their rental value (i.e. do not filter). That is, filtering only works to the extent that landlords let their properties deteriorate (and, perhaps, only in less desirable locations).

Time will tell if the stuff we’re building today will last — perhaps it will deteriorate rapidly, in which case I would expect rents to fall relative to median, especially if we continue to focus new building on the top end. A rational landlord, however, will maintain their property, as that’s almost always a good investment in the long run.

Your prediction would be that Division Street will be cheap housing in 2090. I’m not convinced.

comment image?w=768

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

The above graph clearly shows that median rent for 1970s construction was more expensive than 67% of the market when new. Not what I would call crappy. And there were even more 1920s buildings around then to compare them with.

I don’t know where the idea comes from that housing built in the early 20th century was always better, but it is untrue and ahistorical. Many flophouses and SRO buildings were built for the working poor, and they were never luxurious. Some of the remaining ones have been renovated, while others have been torn down to make way for newer construction, e.g. the Westwind in Old Town. Huge swaths of older, substandard housing was dubbed “blight” and demolished for urban renewal projects in the mid-20th century in Portland and elsewhere. The quality older houses and apartments you see now are just the ones that survived.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

It’s hard to compare the market then to the market now because the array of what’s available is so different. There weren’t nearly as many high end units around, depressing the median. And yes, those Joe Weston style buildings all over the city were always crappy, even when they were new (though some have been redone and now probably command higher rents than they did when they were built, kind of a negative version of what we’re discussing).

But really, we seem to agree that a well maintained building will hold its value and command similar rents over time, and buildings that deteriorate don’t. So I’m not sure that we actually disagree. Building and management practices have changed, and our population and rental market have changed, and it’s not yet clear (to me, at least) what the trajectory of the buildings we’re building today will be over the next 70 years. I have predictions and you have predictions, and if we actually wrote them down they might not be so completely different.

The key claim of filtering is that people want to spend more to get a nicer apartment, and so will move up as finances allow, freeing up cheaper units in the process. This claim is what runs completely counter to every single example I personally know (yes that’s anecdotal, but pervasive). If your goal is to save money and get your own place, which it is for a lot of people, you want to keep your rent low.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I’m pretty sure the key claim of filtering is that even well-maintained properties lose value, i.e. depreciate over time. Which is what the first graph shows, not that people are seeking more expensive apartments. Although yes, of course some people will want a nicer apartment if they can afford it. Honestly, what would be the point of developers building so-called “luxury” apartments if there weren’t people willing to pay to live in them?

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

For comparison, think about luxury cars vs. economy cars. If people’s goal is to save money, why isn’t everyone driving the cheapest junker they can afford? Yes, expensive cars often have better safety, comfort, performance, etc. But for most people’s day-to-day needs, there’s very little practical difference between a new BMW and a 30-year-old Toyota Camry. Sometimes people like nice things, even when they don’t need them.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

The OEA article says the oldest buildings are more expensive, “largely due to the fact that only a fraction of the homes built 100 years ago remain. Those that do are generally of the best quality, have been remodeled and taken good care of.” In other words, it’s mainly a question of scarcity, not just how well-maintained a property is.

Yes I would expect that Division Street will be cheaper to live on (not “cheap” per se) after several decades have passed. It depends on whether housing continues to be under-built relative to population. to quote the article again, “one linchpin to the filtering process is to continuously add housing supply”.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

I could have taken screen shots of dozens of new housing projects on those streets as similar examples. And it wasn’t even just one project in that photo–it shows one new expensive residential building after another on both sides of the street for blocks.

The other thing showing in that screenshot is the street, which I wouldn’t characterize as an example of your “most noisy, dangerous, and polluted arterial streets”.

And as these buildings age, affluent whites will move on to newer housing and more poor people and minorities will move in.

That’s proving my point. Dozens of new buildings have been built on those corridors in N/NE over the last few years, and they ARE being moved into by “affluent whites”, just as you say. I agree as buildings age, they become less desirable, but these building are almost all brand new, so their aging to any relevant degree is decades away.

I’m not saying there hasn’t been housing occupied by poorer and nonwhite people built in N/NE on busy streets, or that SOME of those streets aren’t noisy, dangerous, etc.

And I’m also not trying to argue that putting all higher density residential zoning on corridors is a good idea. In my first comment that you responded to, I was describing how wealthy N/NE neighbors pushed high density zoning onto the corridors, but I certainly wasn’t saying that was anything positive.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

Yes, price filtering does take decades to have a significant impact, which is why it’s essential to continuously add to the supply of new housing.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

“ It’s easy to point to a single luxury condo building.”

It amuses me that you think it’s a “single luxury condo building” that’s being pointed to. Luxury is pretty much all they build anymore. A few of them *may* have some affordable units, even the rent on most of those is sky high. Unless you’re looking in subsidized buildings, you’re probably going to pay an awful lot.

“ It’s also easy to find examples of less fancy rental housing built along major streets since the 1990s.”

Not really!

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  Serenity

I’m thinking specifically of The Yards at Union Station, built from 1997 to 2003. Another low-income apartment building at NW 14th and Raleigh that opened in 2019 is less than a block away from the I-405 overpass leading to the Fremont Bridge, which I think illustrates my point regarding noise and pollution.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

Those streets will get quieter and much less polluted over the next decade as we embrace vehicle electrification.

So, yes, progress.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

https://earth.org/environmental-impact-of-battery-production/

2021 study comparing EV and ICE emissions found that 46% of EV carbon emissions come from the production process while for an ICE vehicle, they ‘only’ account for 26%. Almost 4 tonnes of CO2 are released during the production process of a single electric car and, in order to break even, the vehicle must be used for at least 8 years to offset the initial emissions by 0.5 tonnes of prevented emissions annually………..The bottom line is that while EVs have the benefits of no emissions and lowered noise levels during functioning, it is hard to consider them to be truly eco-friendly owing to the issues listed in this article. A push for sustainable mining and responsible sourcing of raw materials can prevent the socio-environmental issues that come with lithium batteries. 

Well, at least our streets will be cleaner. The benefits to the less developed nations providing us with the EV components perhaps not so much. Is that a new phrase, “Not in My Water or Atmosphere”?

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Local pollution is the relevant factor to the post I was responding to… But why do you think environmentalists and policy makers are so universally wrong on the need for electrification?

BTW, there are better Li extraction systems coming (Google the Salton Sea project as an example, which alone could satisfy the US demand for Li for decades), and new battery chemistries that avoid Li altogether (a Chinese auto maker has started building cars with a Na based battery).

Electrification is coming, and people living near major roads will greatly benefit.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

That’s pretty interesting. The last time I thought about the Salton Sea was after watching the Val Kilmer movie.

https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2024/01/25/lawsuit-could-block-massive-project-near-salton-sea/72354176007/
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/05/04/the-salton-sea-could-produce-the-worlds-greenest-lithium.html
and many other articles.
It certainly appears to be a solid effort to produce lithium here in the states and I wish them the best, but I read a lot of “hope” phrases, it looks like they are being sued by environmentalists as well as the local indigenous peoples are not too happy about it. As the saying goes though, one can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.

Electrification is coming, and people living near major roads will greatly benefit.

I agree with you on this, but your caveat of “people living near major roads” cuts to the point where I dislike the heavy handed push for EV. The Euro/American people living near roads will benefit greatly from increased EV use, it’s just that the ones actually doing the mining now and producing the components now that are suffering and enduring harm to their bodies and environment that will last their lifetimes.
I don’t think that environmentalists and policy makers are so universally wrong on the need for electrification, I think they are wrong to push it so heavily while it’s still a toxic resource. I think those policy makers don’t really care about the supply chain and I have to assume the environmentalists don’t either.
I don’t think we should outsource our pollution to others to enjoy a quieter, cleaner life for ourselves. Yes I realize that my modern existence is built on the backs of outsourced poor labor practices and the technology I use is overwhelmingly having negative effects on people other than me or mine. For some reason cars just seem a bridge too far to subject other people to my pollution.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

I think they are wrong to push it so heavily while it’s still a toxic resource.

We have to push it now, because we simply cannot wait.

It’s not like Li is some uniquely toxic resource. Most industrial scale resource extraction is terrible, and you contribute to the demand for more every day. Li just has your attention because it’s the relatively new kid on the block.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Most industrial scale resource extraction is terrible, and you contribute to the demand for more every day.

I agree with you on this, I’m not pretending there is any moral high ground to be standing on.
The increased mass production of Li hurts the vulnerable in my opinion and readings more than it helps the well off who use the final product. I’m not saying you want to hurt the innocent, we all have lines we find acceptable to endure the suffering of others for our own benefit. The clothes I wear, the food I eat are doubtless hurting those closer to the origin of production and yet I persist.
Li is not the only substance whose production is terrible, but it is toxic and the current means of production using acids and copious amounts of water that is then tainted is not to be glossed over. And for what? Production is being driven mainly by politics and green cronyism rather than any desire to help ourselves by helping the environment. …

https://www.vox.com/climate/2024/3/4/24087919/biden-tariff-chinese-ev-byd-battery-detroit
“Over 166,000 people work in car or car-part manufacturing in the state of Michigan, per the most recent data we have; that’s more than the margin by which Biden won the state in 2020. Michigan also has a competitive Senate race in 2024, as does Ohio, another car manufacturing hub. If allowing entry to Chinese cars alienates the US auto sector, the political consequences for Biden could be catastrophic.”

So what do you see as the desperate crisis that flooding the market with EVs will avert? The climate crisis is here as our fellow humans in more tenuous climates are already feeling the effects and we are starting to see the large scale migrations that will become the norm.
Personally I think that ICE vehicles are fine if they were much smaller and got 60-70 like these…
https://www.carwow.co.uk/economical-cars/diesel
Those that use the resource should suffer the benefits, with EVs so far that is not how it works.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

So what do you see as the desperate crisis that flooding the market with EVs will avert?

Climate change. EVs alone will hardly avert the crisis, but they are absolutely necessary if we have any chance of keeping things within not-completely-insane levels.

Those that use the resource should suffer the benefits, with EVs so far that is not how it works.

What does work that way?

Personally I think that ICE vehicles are fine if they were much smaller and got 60-70 like these

Nothing about electrification precludes smaller vehicles; if anything, it probably makes them more feasible. The popularity of electric bikes shows that there is a market for low-powered electric vehicles in a range of configurations. You just think of them differently because of the increasingly arbitrary categories we put things in.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

https://www.who.int/emergencies/situations/drought-food-insecurity-greater-horn-of-africa

https://www.wfp.org/stories/horn-africa-hunger-crisis-pushes-millions-brink

https://www.wfp.org/stories/horn-africa-hunger-crisis-pushes-millions-brink

Mass displacement due to starvation (which is when there is not enough food in an area to eat, not when someone skips lunch and feels hungry on the way home) and wars/skirmishes/conflict over food (people killing each other for enough to eat) and other essential resources are already underway. I don’t think a bunch of PNWers high fiving themselves that EVs have replaced 10% of the ICE vehicles will matter much. The issues are already here and it won’t be long (but I hope it is) before even we start being effected.

Serenity
Serenity
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

“ The climate crisis is here as our fellow humans in more tenuous climates are already feeling the effects and we are starting to see the large scale migrations that will become the norm.”

The climate crisis has been here for a few years now. Do you somehow think we’re not all feeling the effects?

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Serenity

The way people seem to conduct themselves would suggest you do not. I get that you’re feeling climate change, but that’s very different than the climate crisis those changes have precipitated.

Steven
Steven
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

But not less dangerous, especially in the era of 9,000 lb. electric pickups that can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just over 3 seconds.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Steven

Absolutely true! If anything an EV will always outweigh a comparable ICE vehicle due to the batteries. A car/truck is still a dangerous weapon no matter what it’s propulsion method is.