|Mayor Hales, shown at the first meeting|
of the Residential Infill Project last month,
says he wants to reduce demolitions,
but his tax won't.
$35,000 per demolition or major remodel
Join us 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 1221 S.W. Fourth Ave. as we present this revised demolition tax to City Council and point out the problems with the mayor's version. After months of discussing how to curb demolitions and their damaging effects on neighborhoods, we are ready for action. A flat tax on demolitions and major remodels without any loopholes helps achieve that aim, especially if adopted with other measures.
Other disincentives to taking down viable affordable housing include effective abatement and control of hazardous materials at demolition sites, solid results from the Residential Infill Project (read on), mandatory deconstruction where demolition must occur, and a ban on lot splits and confirmations.
After seeing all the bungling of the demolition-delay rules adopted in spring, the city can't handle another cumbersome, ill-understood process. Bureau of Development Services staff are overloaded as it is, not financially able to enforce current complex permitting rules according to Council staff, and do not need to parse more labyrinthine code language that in the end does little to cure Portland's demolition blitz and likely will accelerate it.
|Welcome home, Portland. Under the mayor's version of a demo tax, replacement houses will grow bigger.|
Let's keep it simple: A house, or a majority of it, goes to the incinerator or landfill, a tax is paid for the privilege.
Let RIP roll with its mission
|Planning chief Joe Zehnder (with mayoral staffer Camille|
Trummer looking on) exudes optimism for the mission of
the Residential Infill Project at its first meeting. So why the
attempts to halve the meeting schedule and narrow the scope?
The idea for such a task force that would create new-construction guidelines came to the fore via the UNR demolition/development resolution, endorsed by 43 neighborhoods citywide.
The project launched with fanfare, then city staff suddenly halved the schedule for the meetings of the august group, and attempted to whittle its workload accordingly. It's almost as if—after that first meeting last month, when all members gave a short self-introduction—someone feared this group might accomplish something.
After objections raised by members of the group and others, meetings may be added back, and the scope re-expanded, but one wonders if the committee will be allowed to do what it is supposed to do. Just as ominously, staff kept reminding those assembled at the last meeting that the group only was meant to make recommendations, not actual changes, and few if any votes were expected.
|Neighborhood activists show off signs of the times at|
a meeting of the Residential Infill Project last week.
Planning chief Joe Zehnder stayed up until the public comment period at the second meeting last week, but not before emphasizing the goal of fast results. We couldn't agree more, and would add that well-thought-out results are just as important. Hopefully under a restored meeting schedule and scope, the group can deliver both, according to the initial plan.
After two hours of staff and facilitator holding forth at the last meeting, RIP SAC member Eli Spevak pointed out that if staff weren't so busy presenting administrative materials that could easily have been emailed or distributed as handouts, the group could get started. Yet later after more advising, the outside facilitator said, "We really want you guys to talk," but at that point the meeting had just 20 minutes to go.
|Activists citywide fill the chairs to show they care.|
Protection starts here
The first semiorganized effort to spread the word about control of hazardous materials during demolition occurred in Hosford-Abernethy, where an 1895 house is proposed for demolition at 2834 SE 20th Ave. If you receive the UNR flier, thank the person who delivered it and took the time to help neighbors protect themselves and their families from irreversible lifelong, and even life-threatening, illness.
For those who seek to downplay the potential effects of exposure to hazmat, note that these materials are regulated in renovation projects of 6 square feet or more but not for demolitions when they billow across the neighborhood in far greater amounts to settle in vegetable gardens and on kids' play equipment. The Centers for Disease Control says no amount of lead is safe in children. More background on hazmat and links to research are here.
See the next post for the flier itself. Submit your email at top right if you would like a printable pdf of it. The flier has a place to write in the address of the intended demolition at the top right. We recommend distributing copies to neighbors within 300 feet of the subject property, and up to 400 feet, the distance at which the feds have shown the demolition-related hazardous materials' presence in the air returns to background levels. That's about the width of eight standard R-5 lots in Portland.
|A homegrown developer keeps it real in Northeast Portland.|
Let's clone him.
Silver is golden
Local architect-designer Benjamin Silver recently bought a unique well-sited and -scaled home at 3865 N.E. Klickitat St. Where the short-term profiteers plying Portland would have smashed it in a second, Silver decided to make the home even better, and it represents a win for everyone. Read all about it here.