Portlandia just wrapped up its eighth and final season last week. (Imagine a version for ‘Vancouverland’ – so much potential material.) In honour, here’s a clip from the show most relevant for PT:
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Portland’s apartment-building binge appears to be headed off a cliff.
Applications for new housing developments have nearly ground to a halt over the past year, and there are plenty of reasons for that. Construction costs have ballooned, as have land prices. The glut of new construction, meanwhile, has taken the wind out of rising rents, at least at the high end.
But Portland officials are increasingly worried the city’s inclusionary zoning policy, which compels developers to set aside rent-restricted units in large apartment and condo projects, might be playing a role, too. And if home construction dries up, it could ultimately push housing costs even higher. …
It’s difficult to say, given the many conflicting variables, whether or to what extent inclusionary zoning is to blame for the drop-off. Meanwhile, there’s a backlog of projects that had been submitted before the rules took effect, representing up to two years of future development.
Nonetheless, a city economic planner tasked with monitoring the program says it might be time to consider changes that could give developers a better deal — or risk putting an artificial cap on the housing supply, driving rents higher in the long run.
From Christina Capatides with CBS comes the story of Vanport Oregon and Henry Kaiser. During World War Two this industrialist brought in thousands of African-American people from the Southern United States to work for the war effort in his ship yards. Portland Oregon already had a housing shortage and the Housing Authority would not build additional housing for these new residents. Not to be deterred, Kaiser built a city “on unincorporated land between Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon, and called it Vanport. And it became the second-largest city in Oregon and it was 40 percent black.”
While the rest of Oregon was segregated at that time, Vanport was not, with shared schools, daycare and housing forms. Housing was hastily built with wood foundations. Assumed to be a temporary city for the war effort, it was surrounded by bodies of water held back by a dam. A massive winter of rain in 1948 resulted in the dam breaking. The entire city of 17,000 people washed away in 60 minutes. Brochures had been distributed that morning insisting that despite the heavy rain dikes were safe and people would be warned if they needed to leave.
When the dam broke 20 people died and 17,000 sought new housing in Portland, expanding the segregated lines at the time, and forming a large enough minority in Portland to change attitudes and to have their interests represented. As Ed Washington who was displaced from his childhood home because of the flood observed “Vanport probably had more to do with the changing of attitudes toward African-Americans and other people of color than any other area in Portland. Nothing left here now, but memories. But you can’t take people’s memories from them, can you? Can’t take that.”
Here’s a video produced by Brian Van Peski on the history of Vanport.
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In one of those absolutely classic motordom moments, the Oregon Department of Transportation is already warning vehicle drivers to “be prepared to be stuck in their cars for hours during the solar eclipse.” The Portland Oregon area will see almost 99 per cent of the eclipse commencing at 9:00 a.m. on Monday August 21.
On that Monday the “biggest traffic event in Oregon history” will occur with “State emergency management officials (are) estimating one million people from out of state are coming to Oregon to watch the eclipse. More rental cars and RVs will be added to our highways, not to mention rural single-lane roads to and from campsites.”
Yes. It is Carmeggedon. “One of the things that we’re doing is tracking rumors, and we’re hearing a rumor on Twitter that a lot of people from Seattle are going to be coming down very, very early on Monday morning of the eclipse and that’s going to complicate the morning commute in the city of Portland.”
The good folks at Oregon Department of Transportation looked for a comparable, and came up with the traffic gridlock resulting from the January 2017 snowstorm, when “People left work early when flakes started to fall, only to sit in gridlock for hours, running out of gas.”
Overloaded cell service may mean paper road maps will be needed. There is also a concern that drivers will stop their cars to look at the eclipse. Just as in Medieval Times when it was thought an eclipse would mean the end of a king, it’s probably a good thing not to be driving a vehicle, especially in Oregon.
Ian: Tale of Portland … not so different than Van, it seems.
From Sightline: The Portland Plan – Down with McMansions, Up with Abundant Housing
This article combines and adapts three articles by the Portland for Everyone coalition’s Michael Andersen. See the originals on this blog, and learn more about the group here. Portland’s approach shares similarities with the Seattle Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda recommendation to allow small duplexes and triplexes in single-family zones without letting property owners erect buildings larger than currently zoned.
Growing cities across the US and Canada are grappling with the challenges of displacement and affordability in their housing markets, and many of them are looking to Cascadia’s innovative cities for answers. Portland, the smallest of Cascadia’s three major metropolitan areas, has perhaps one of its biggest and best ideas: the “residential infill project.” …
When a city gets more desirable but isn’t allowed to add more places for people to sleep, this is what happens: the old homes don’t stay affordable. They just get priced up and up and up. …
The residential infill project that went before Portland City Council November 9 and will again November 16 is an opportunity to make this happen. It’s a chance for the city to strike an anti-McMansion compromise and shrink the maximum size of new homes (which would reduce demolitions) while also legalizing duplexes, triplexes, and backyard cottages (which would mean that the demolitions that do happen would result in more small homes instead of fewer, huge, expensive ones).
Instead of allowing new single-dwelling homes to look like this:
To be clear, nobody is talking about requiring new homes to look like this. The overwhelming majority of residential homes would still have lots of space and yards of their own. But by making it once again legal to build these small homes in residential areas, Portland would make this an option for people who want something in between an apartment building and a freestanding house, which means fewer people would be competing for apartments and for freestanding homes.
There’s another possibility here: the city might decide to shrink the size of new homes but not make small multiplexes legal.
If that were to happen, it wouldn’t stop developers and landlords from finding ways to make a profit. It would mean that the only way they could make a profit is by replacing poor folks with middle-income folks and middle-income folks with rich folks.
Lots more here.
Tim Davis of Portland Oregon alerted Price Tags to this extraordinary public art work in Shorewood Wisconsin-“The Ghost Train” designed by Marty Peck of Creative Lighting Design & Engineering, an architectural lighting specialist. Using lighting and sound, Peck has created “the allusion of a Ghost Train crossing the bridge twice each evening to recall the schedule, speed and drama of the passing of the historic 400 train. At other times the bridge will have a subtler artistic illumination. Both the Ghost Train and bridge lighting will be a permanent installation.”
From the official website for the Village of Shorewood, this public art installation enables “visitors to travel back in history, imagining the round-trip journey of the ‘Twin Cities 400’ which was operated by the Chicago & North Western Railway and crossed that same location from 1935-1963. Touted as the fastest passenger train in the world, the Chicago & North Western Railway’s ‘400’ routinely covered the 400 miles between Chicago and St. Paul, MN in just under 400 minutes – including its travel through Shorewood along the route of today’s Oak Leaf Trail. “
This installation was a partnership between Shorewood’s Public Art Committee and the Shorewood Historical Society. Since the project commenced in November 2016, 100 to 150 people a night come to watch the train’s “performance”. A detailed story about the installation written by Marty Peck is available here in “The Ghost Train – Revealed.“
There is a Ghost Train Committee and a schedule of “Ghost Train Departing Times”, with the train going north and south on the tracks mimicking the actual speed and sound. There is an excellent short video on the official website, and here is a short clip from YouTube showing the opening night party and the train action starting at the 56 second mark.
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It just makes sense, and Portland Council saw it that way. Bike Portland reports that in Oregon Portland City Council will be looking at “person trips” when reviewing Transportation System Development Charges, or TSDCs. Those are the charges that each developer pays for redevelopment of a property and are based on a model that estimates how many trips a new development will generate.
The trouble was that the standard used by Portland was developed by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Trip Generation Manual which has a tendency to overcompensate as if everyone in the city travels only by car. By using “person trips” instead of “car trips” the street can be reimagined in a way that is inclusive of active transportation users and also include transit, foot and cyclists.
Portland Council unanimously passed the motion to move towards the post motordom 21st century by ditching the ITE standard and moving to a more inclusive definition that will build better streets for all users. Providing meaningful standards that are no longer based upon 20th century ideas of car only movement is important in encouraging active transportation and building appropriate facilities. Good on Portland.
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They’re tackling the tough one: Council to consider rezoning for higher density housingThe City Council will debate how much of Portland’s existing single-family neighborhoods to rezone for higher densities on Wednesday.