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.

Monday, October 31, 2016

In runup to Halloween, planners release scariest trick of all

Portland prescient: If only all neighbors knew what planners
have in mind for the city's future. RIP city indeed.
The city's Joe Zehnder says
the RIP proposal won't
help with affordability. 
After months of discussion and open houses, we waited for the changes to the recommendations coming out of the Residential Infill Project (RIP), which were supposed to incorporate public input and—we hoped—reduce demolitions, an original goal of the project. That's not what happened, as the planners ignored the input and chose instead to recommend rezoning huge swathes of the city—64 percent of the east side alone—a move that promises to exponentially increase the destruction.

It's still true, as Portland's chief planner, Joe Zehnder, said at an East Portland open house in July, that the proposal won't help with affordability. Again: According to its own drafters, this proposal will not help with affordability. The frustration out there for tenants and homeowners alike looking to gain or maintain a foothold in the market is real, and the last several years of record numbers of teardowns has made the situation worse. The market has never built affordable housing on its own accord, and it never will. We would have seen some by now.

A sign of the times shows the proposed "overlay" for what it is.
As we gear up to tell City Council what a bunch of poor ideas they're about to consider on Nov. 9 and 16 (please join us, and pipe up if you can attend), let's keep pressing for our mission. It's simple: Reduce demolitions. Control hazardous materials if demolition must occur.

Granted, the RIP isn't an all-out failure. It got people talking, and invested, in our city's future. Far more people now know about FAR (Floor Area Ratio). Many more people are alerted to the potential changes afoot. Ultimately, it showed the prevailing winds among our leadership and city staff. And it certainly showed the need to ask that the concerns and well-being of local stakeholders and residents take priority over short-term and usually out-of-town profiteers. More of the same years of record-breaking demolitions won't give us needed affordable housing (especially while erasing it from our neighborhoods); why should we give the nod to more?

Planner Noré Winter came to town in mid-October
talking about his work to help cities grow. His big
question when it came to RIP was whether the
recommendations enhance the unique housing
that we have. 
Waves of people are waking up to the economic and environmental realities of build at all costs, as rents and home prices ratchet up along with the pace of new construction, and the air and Earth are dusted with lead and asbestos. The wholesale loss of mostly modestly sized and affordable homes must stop, and the neighbors and environment protected from irreversible effects of uncontrolled hazmat.

This Halloween, let RIP RIP (rest in peace), and leave the pro-demolition forces behind as we craft a safer, more sustainable city.

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