|Commissioner Chloe Eudaly led the charge |
for public health and safety last month.
Throwing his weight behind new rules effective at least by July 1, Mayor Ted Wheeler's opening salvo of "What would it take to expedite this?" seemed to show he's aware of the hits neighborhoods and Portland residents have been taking with unregulated demolition dust. As discussed here many times and shown by numerous studies, particulates of lead paint and other hazardous materials spread up to 400 feet from a demolition site, dusting people and properties and posing irreversible health and developmental effects.
Just a little hurts a lot. As the Centers for Disease Control has noted, avoidance is the best possible—and easiest—path to prevention.
Other high points of the session included Tony Green of the Ombudsman's Office discussing how current demo rules created inequity because many neighbors would be more exposed to hazardous materials just because the homes in their neighborhoods were not as old as in other parts of the city and therefore not subject to the deconstruction requirement.
Commissioner Amanda Fritz chimed in to say that with this, and other issues relating to demolitions generally, it's shown that activists in a small number of neighborhoods are doing work that brings benefits to people citywide.
|Tony Green of the Ombudsman's Office applauded|
deconstruction but found that the city's mandate, which
only covers houses built before 1917, has resulted in
"geographically disparate community benefits."
Watch here starting at 1:47.
This steady evolution of City Council hopefully will continue with the forthcoming addition of a new commissioner. With a shift toward representation of people who live here rather than the mostly out-of-town business interests preying on viable affordable housing to tear it down for larger-margin projects, things can only get better.
This is especially heartening as the Residential Infill (Refill?) Project hurtles down the pike, which makes a demolition opportunity zone of much of the east side, exempting just a few areas because of the acknowledged displacement risk involved in upzoning.
If new zoning allows a multiunit payout on what had been a single-family property, the house currently there doesn't stand a chance. With few city protections for existing viable, affordable homes—even with many Portlanders embracing an environmental ethic of reuse and sustainability—the loss of old-growth housing will increase. But hopefully, thanks to City Council's efforts last month, we can all breathe a little easier.