What UNR does, and why

Portland grassroots group United Neighborhoods for Reform seeks to stem the demolition of viable, affordable housing. 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; in 2017 on May 17; in 2018 on Feb. 1; and many dates since.

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Map shows an evolving Portland

The 40 neighborhoods highlighted in green support
the demolition/development resolution presented at City Hall.

Happy holidays from United Neighborhoods for Reform, whose green grass roots keep on growing. Thank you to Tribune reporter Jim Redden for following the progress in capturing City Council's attention (a favorite line from the recap of the Dec. 17 City Hall event: "The presentation all but hijacked the original purpose of the hearing").

For those still undecided about demos, read a recent op-ed by planner, architect, and writer (and United Neighborhoods for Reform member) Jack Bookwalter detailing "Six myths about Portland demolitions."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

There was so much to say, we'll go back in February

Council showed interest in United Neighborhoods for Reform's proposals in the demolition/development resolution, in both demolition practice(s) and forward-thinking ways, hinting at the possibility for improved new development. At least they hit the pause button on recommendations from the Development Review Advisory Committee to take a longer, bigger look at demolition and development issues that impact everyone.

If you missed attending the hearing, you can watch the video here; the United Neighborhoods for Reform presentation starts at about 162:45.

Thank you to all who've supported the cause so far. We hope you'll attend our City Hall session Part II, set for 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12.

In the meantime, watch the movie that Fred Lifton made for the effort, which debuted today at City Hall and clearly shows what neighborhoods give and get in these heavy demo days.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

You are invited

As East Columbia and South Burlingame add their support to the demolition/development resolution, United Neighborhoods for Reform prepares to present its ideas for saving affordable housing and improving new construction in Portland at City Hall (right) this Wednesday.

The Details
What: United Neighborhoods for Reform presents its demolition/development resolution and responds to recommendations proposed by the Development Review Advisory Committee, or DRAC
When: 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17
Where: Portland City Hall, 1221 S.W. Fourth, Council Chambers
Why: So we can save affordable housing, see more beneficial development, and—

(I swiped this off the blog of Dr. Tanya Lyn March, which chronicles
the superworthy effort to save Northwest District's Ballow & Wright building.)

By the way, the DRAC recommendations, already a mixed bag, not only call for reduction of the optional 120-day delay to 30 days (it's hard enough trying to buy a house as an individual in that amount of time, much less marshal a neighborhood effort), but they propose requiring that an extension request be signed by both the requester and the property owner or the owner's agent. That's another big change to a bit of code that's been on the books for 25 years and has actually saved houses, per its intent.

Given how few of the developers combing Portland are based in Portland or live in Portland, can you imagine how easy it would be tracking them down to sign a request for a demo delay they probably don't want to honor?
Step up and sign up if you have something to say on Dec. 17.

If that signature can't be procured in a timely manner, the proposed added language to code is clear on what happens: "If the request for the extension is not signed by the property owner or the property owner’s agent, no extension will be granted."

Now that's DRAConian.

We hope you'll make it to City Hall on Wednesday to show support for the neighbor voice in development decisions that affect us all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Now that Arbor Lodge is in the right place on the map, here's an update

Neighborhoods highlighted in green have endorsed United Neighborhoods
for Reform's demolition/development resolution, which heads to City
Council next week.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The resolution rolls toward City Hall

Going greener all the while: The resolution incentivizes retention of affordable
small homes instead of wasting them for living larger and less efficiently.
Neighborhoods highlighted in green back the resolution.
Maplewood, South Portland, and Richmond have endorsed the demolition/development resolution. This last vote of support brings to mind last summer's community walks conducted by the Bureau of Planning. (I'll add back the "and Sustainability" when Portland stops wasting old-growth homes.)

City planner Barry Manning (middle) waits for the neighbors
turning up to take a walk in Richmond last summer.

Neighbors at the Richmond event almost wanted to mutiny. "We don't need to go on any walk," one neighbor shouted. "We can settle this right here." City planner Barry Manning managed to keep things on track. Hopefully, some of those same neighbors turned out last night at Richmond's meeting to show their support for more thoughtful planning and development that benefits all.

There's a lengthy writeup on the resolution at BikePortland.org, just wishing "density" never made it in the headline. United Neighborhoods for Reform takes no position on density. It only aims to maintain our stock of affordable housing, and to encourage more positive development in the neighborhoods.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Welcome, Alameda, Irvington, and Vernon

Three more neighborhood associations support the demolition/development resolution. If your neighborhood does not appear in the list at top right, there's still time to have it consider, discuss, and vote on the resolution before presentation at City Council in mid-December.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Good growth or homogenous metropolis? Portlanders deserve a say

Neighborhood associations highlighted in green have endorsed the
demolition/development resolution (for the full list click at top right).
Grant Park and Centennial have joined the group of neighborhoods that support making neighbors' voice part of the discussion in planning Portland's future.

Meanwhile, stories chronicling development in Houston, Nashville, and San Francisco show what could happen here if business continues as usual.

Some quotes from the first article, by Anis Shivani:
"When existing vibrant neighborhoods are torn down and those being displaced are crucial members of the community, we’re not just talking about gentrification. We are witnessing a full-scale sellout to developers, who are working closely with municipal government for short-term speculative gain."
"This is how ruling oligarchies kill a city: one business, one person at a time, pretending that market forces are doing all the work, when in fact all sorts of incentives and disincentives are at play. ... [N]ot a day has gone by in recent years when [Houston real estate website] Swamplot hasn’t reported the closure of yet another historic restaurant or bar or antique shop. But after about five years of this, there’s nothing distinctive to shut down anymore." This will sound familiar and scarily prophetic to those involved in Portland's music scene.
"Incentives should be provided to increase livability and expand the range of options for every class of people. Instead, [some] neighborhoods remain static and ignored [East Portland comes to mind], while the mega-developers keep tearing down and rebuilding the stock of inner-city housing that is already solid. The logic of gentrification is to continuously package and commodify and leverage the same bit of land for speculative purposes. Save the neighborhoods that need to be saved and leave those that are doing great alone."