Portland’s Affordable Housing Strategy: An Open Letter to the Mayor and City Council

As a longtime Portlander, I've seen our city go from one of the most affordable cities on the west coast to one of the least. Many people of modest means have been pushed to the east or out of the city entirely.

I'm at the tipping point of being there myself.

The bursting mortgage bubble in 2007 and the explosion of rents has accelerated the problem over the past few years.

When I moved to Portland almost two decades ago, I found a remarkable city where people of various income levels seemed to live side-by-side, as one community.

Perhaps my memories of those days are overly rosy. There were people struggling then too, and there were wealth disparities in plenty of our neighborhoods then too. Certainly there was already much angst about newcomers and their impact on affordability.

I have no issues with Portland's new arrivals. They just want what we all want. They came here for the same things we all did. Who can blame them?

Actually, I take that back. In one respect I do begrudge them: They never knew the Portland I knew. They probably came from places where enclaves of wealth were common, where gated communities were assumed, as were geographic pockets of poverty. Maybe they think that's how every city always was and always will be.

Because they're new here, maybe they can't fully understand what Portland is losing. Perhaps they don't feel the same urgency I do to prevent it from happening.

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Public Invited to Todays NAYA Generations Project Launch

The old Foster Elementary School site in Lents has been empty for years, but a coalition of community groups has come together to create something innovative and new on the property.

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Lents Grown – Our Stories: Deadline this week to nominate a local business

Every small business has a story, and now Rose Community Development and local architects Propel Studio are teaming up with the PDC to tell some of them.

Lents_Grown_-_Our_Stories-2This Friday is the deadline to nominate a local business to be featured in the Lents Grown - Our Stories project. The project involves a temporary art and public-gathering space on a PDC-owned vacant lot at Foster and 88th Ave.

Young people working through Portland Youth Builders will create the installation, which will feature photos and stories that focus on local small businesses. PDC kicked in $7500 to help make the project happen.

Rose staffer Luke Bonham says that locals are encouraged to nominate their favorite local small business or farmer's market vendors to be featured in the installation.

Nominations can be submitted here.

Streetscape Approved 5-0

Yesterday the City Council approved the Foster Streetscape Plan, greenlighting $5.25 million in pedestrian safety improvements for Foster Road between 50th and 90th Avenues.

The unanimous vote comes after more than a decade of activism by neighborhood leaders and small business people seeking to make Foster Road safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users.

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The most controversial element of the plan is the "road diet" that would shrink the street's profile for 24 blocks of the 40 block project area. The current configuration has two travel lanes in each direction. Once completed, the new profile would have a single travel lane in each direction, plus a center turn lane. The additional space would also allow bike lanes in both directions.

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Summit Recap – Innovative Appoaches to Housing for All

By way of follow-up to February 15th's Foster Summit event, we're running summaries of topics and ideas from the Summit breakout sessions. We will publish these, along with the 'butcher paper' notes in the weeks to come.

Were you were there? What did we miss? Even if you couldn't attend the event, we hope you'll share your take on these important community issues.

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fostersummit_332We had a diverse and great group for the Foster Summit breakout session on housing.

Portland's hot real estate market of a few years ago gave way to a real estate crash in 2009, which is now being followed by a comeback of sorts. If these tribulations have buffeted the middle class, they've been devastating to low income Portlanders --many of whom are not Portlanders anymore.

Much of the housing discussion at the Foster Summit focused on ideas for how we, at the neighborhood level, could try to stem the negative impacts of these changes.

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Franklin High School Renovation Raises Controversy

benjiSaturday morning more than 100 staff, teachers, students and community members took part in what was billed as a "Schematic Design Workshop" for the new Franklin High School. Franklin is undergoing a "full modernization" as a result of the $482 million school facilities bond measure approved by voters in 2012.

As it turned out, however, the event was less a workshop than a town hall in which dozens of attendees voiced complaints about the allocation of classroom space under the new design.

At issue was the proposed design's reliance on shared, flexible classroom space, rather than on dedicated classrooms assigned to specific teachers.

In sometimes emotional comments, teachers and students talked about the impacts of moving teachers and teaching materials from room to room, moving desks, and removing materials from walls and blackboards each period, which teachers said would impact instructional time and their ability to build relationships with their students. (more…)

This Week: Get Your Green On!

smokestackWhat's more important than passing on a healthier planet to our kids and their kids? This week there are two pretty easy ways to help do just that.

Neighbors for Clean Air has looked at state data and found that right here in Portland there are 17 cancer-causing toxics that exceed health based standards from 10 up to 800 times.

The group has been working with local communities, state regulators and elected officials to reduce the toxic emissions that impact the health of every Portlander every day.

Tonight, Neighbors for Clean Air is hosting a public meeting to talk about real, practical ways that people at the neighborhood level can identify polluters and get them to reduce the toxics they're putting into our air.

That meeting takes place tonight, at the SE Uplift office, 3534 SE Main, from 6 to 7:30 pm.

Closer to home, the Foster-Powell Community Garden is putting out a call for help this weekend.

The garden is getting a shipment of native plants on Saturday, and they need help building the retaining wall and dirt hill where the new plants will go.

Their "Fill the Hill" work party event happens Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Organizers say they'd LOVE to see some new neighbors come out to help --and as an extra incentive they say that this weekend's volunteers will get to the front of the line when garden beds become available this spring.

The Community Garden is located at the southwest corner of 62nd and Powell. For more info, email them at 62ndgarden@gmail.com

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Mount Tabor’s Maple Entrance: Neighbors Ask for Long-Delayed Southern Park Access

tabor_2Mount Tabor Park is indisputably one of Portland’s crown jewels, a stunning ancient volcanic cone that’s home to some of the most beautiful forest, wildlife and views the city has to offer.

Initially proposed by the famous Olmstead Brothers, the pioneering designers of many of the nation’s great parks, Mt. Tabor is one of the most popular parks in the city.

Beginning as a Water Bureau facility –which it still is, in part –the park was designed by one of Portland’s first Parks directors, the landscape architect Emanuel Tillman Mische, in 1929. Mische began his career with the Olmsteads before coming to Oregon, where he was part of the team that created Crater Lake National Park, among many other iconic northwest parks.

Within Portland Parks and Recreation’s designation system, Mt. Tabor is a “metropolitan park,” meaning it is intended to serve the citizens of the entire city. And residents to the west, north and east have easy access to its charms.

Those to the south, not so much.

But it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Mische’s original park plan included the “Maple Entrance,” a major park entryway from the south at Division and 64th Avenue. (more…)