What UNR does, and why

Portland grassroots group United Neighborhoods for Reform seeks to stem the demolition of viable, affordable housing and its replacement with expensive and inefficient large single-family homes. Our demolition/development resolution, developed through significant neighbor outreach, gathered endorsements from 43 neighborhood associations citywide. We also regularly take our message to City Hall, starting in December 2014, continuing in 2015 on Feb. 12, June 3 (UNR presenters start at 51:20), Oct. 14 (UNR at 1:07:35), and Nov. 25 (UNR at 1:05); in 2016 on Feb. 17, Nov. 9 and 16, and Dec. 7; and in 2017 on May 17.

"The time is always right to do what is right."
—Martin Luther King Jr.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Infill expo shows the options

Mayor Charlie Hales says he loves the old houses too
at the infill expo hosted by the German American Society. 
Mayor Hales kicked off the June 4 industry event, saying all the right things about Portland's dwindling inventory of affordable well-crafted homes that have served generations—and could shelter many more if allowed to stand. The infill expo, with its crowd of people interested in creative, quality ways to provide housing, highlighted the many attractive and environmentally sound alternatives to demolition, whether it's building auxiliary dwelling units (ADUs), renovating homes, or crafting additions.

United Neighborhoods for Reform took part to show the damaging effects of demolition on neighbors and neighborhoods and what we are doing to curb or mitigate them.

Some scenes from the evening:

UNR steering committee members go one-on-one explaining anti-demolition efforts.

UNR works to stem the wasting of well-crafted, -sited, and -designed housing,
such as this unique 1928 home slated for demolition. As the sign points out, it's
not very Portland (historically, anyway) to throw away or, more likely, burn houses
just to make room for more expensive, much larger, and lower quality structures.

UNR members (from left) Barbara Kerr, Jim Gorter, Barb Strunk, Jim Brown,
and Janet Baker (obscured) talk with concerned neighbors at the infill expo.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Salem answers the SOS

Yesterday Senate Bill 705 passed the House, after collecting a yes from the Oregon Senate earlier this year. When implemented, it will require an accredited inspector to perform an asbestos survey before demolition. State leaders, in particular Sen. Michael Dembrow, heard out concerned neighbors at a constituent coffee here in Portland and went to work to help protect people from some of the hazardous materials that billow uncontrolled from demolition sites.

He's not done yet, saying lead is next.

With these protections, public health and safety will be better assured. According to federal studies, dust from demolitions travels up to 400 feet, and and until now city leaders were simply powerless to control it, or care. Luckily, we have state leaders looking out for us.

Sold for $815,000 and set for demolition: This Northeast
Portland home stands in the way of big profits.
If demolitions are curbed altogether, the hazardous materials problem eliminates itself. Imagine the lead dust that will emanate from the site of this slated demolition. This showcase house, built in 1928 on Northeast Alameda, probably has been painted numerous times inside and out over the past 87 years, many of those years before 1978 when each can of paint contained 15 pounds of lead. Pulverized during demolition, lead and other hazardous materials are free to waft into yards, lungs, and bodies. Children in particular are susceptible to irreversible damage from lead, with the Centers for Disease Control decreeing that no amount of lead is considered safe in kids.