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.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Wait, it could get worse?

As the Planning Commission decides to up the rezoning ante by recommending fourplexes on standard-size lots throughout much of the city, it ought to subsidize a massive printing of these signs:

Courtesy of The Hightower Lowdown
One commission member, Andre Baugh, had the temerity to ask re the Residential Infill Project (RIP), "Who's this for? ... We're not building affordable housing." Yet there he was later voting for the fourplexes. In a rezoned landscape incentivized for multiple-unit payouts, modest homes don't stand a chance (nor do those who would like to buy or rent them); we're already seeing duplexes and triplexes demolished for more luxurious and higher-profit housing.

These are confusing times, for sure. For instance, many people still believe the misinformation of RIP, that it will "limit" the size of new construction (not when the top and bottom floors are exempted from the allowance--gotta wade into the fine print for that). RIP was written, driven, and approved by the teardown lobby and has plenty of money push behind it. On this topic especially, all Portlanders are encouraged to read widely and well, sniff out the $ trail, and dig deep for truth.

Increasingly, this is a city that seems to think lip service can actually fix things. A Vision Zero campaign for traffic safety mostly shuns actual infrastructure improvements in favor of a bunch of orange Twenty Is Plenty signs, and guess what? Pedestrian and other deaths by traffic keep rising.

In the same way, the City Council's adoption of a "housing crisis" paved the way for RIP's all-out giveaway to teardown builders, with a wave of support engineered by paid lobbyists flush with Trumper money. And guess what?: the homeless population and loss of affordable housing keep increasing. (By the way, that Trumper behind Portland for Everyone/1000 Friends' support of RIP is a billionaire developer from Washington salivating over Portland sites to create another "trophy community," which probably would not include a diverse range of inhabitants representing all income levels.)

As on the world stage, operatives are at work, here undermining decades of careful land use planning and its success in creating "complete" neighborhoods full of open space, trees, old-growth housing, and a wide range of residents. The recent record-breaking years of demolitions already have taken a toll on neighborhood diversity, as noted by city staffer Paul Leistner, formerly of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement. RIP promises more Mississippi Avenue-style whitewashing.

The grassroots effort to keep affordable housing out of the landfill has no money, (clearly) not much influence, and no city bureaus or leaders at its beck and call. But you can't buy moral high ground, and as sincere, local, and unpaid defenders of an inclusive, sustainable city we hope you'll join us in the months ahead. Maybe we better change the signs above from "poor people please leave quietly" to "let's make a stand—and big noise." No one should sleep through RIP.