This is my city, my beloved city.

By Christopher Icombe of Portland, Oregon. He says he's "23 years old, working and completing my history BA."

The weekend of May the 12th was moving day for the residents of Carlton Court Apartments, formerly located at the intersection of NW 17th and Everett. Thirty days before, we had all come home from a day of school or work, sometimes both, to find eviction notices posted on each of our doors. No reason for the eviction was given, but it was not too hard to figure out. None of us had been delinquent on our rent, thrown loud parties, or decided to grow marijuana in a coat closet. Following an all too-familiar pattern, the owners of the building had decided to convert to condominiums, and so a month later with barely a protest, out we all went.

What follows is not a complaint, nor a denouncement of the owners of my former apartment; they are well within their rights to do whatever they please with a building they own. Instead, I'd like to take some time to reflect on what situations like mine and the other residents of Carlton Court mean for the current and future prospects for my beloved city of Portland.

I moved to Portland from San Francisco with my parents when I was 7, in the summer of 1991. Through high school, I lived first in Lake Oswego, and then in John's Landing in SW (and it goes without saying, I preferred John's Landing). After high school, I attended first Willamette University, and then U of O. During those years, I always knew I'd return to Portland, without a doubt in my mind. I've had the fortune to travel to cities in several countries on most continents, but none could ever compare, there is simply no substitute.

This past January, I finally made my return.

I spent weeks scouting apartments and rooms for rent. This wasn't simply a matter of seeking living space, I was looking for my urban dream, a Portland fantasy realized. For years I'd poured over every article and study I could find about the city: where it came from, where it is today, why it breeds such love from its citizens, how it works in the way in which it does.

The Urban Growth Boundary, mass transit, mixed-use development, density over sprawl, thriving neighborhoods... these ideas and others became a sort of gospel to me. So when I found an available studio apartment in Carlton Court, I knew I was home. The rent was too much for what it was -- barely 200 square feet in a 100-year old building that had certainly seen its glory days a long time ago, but that was of little concern to me. I was in the city, straddling two neighborhoods, on the edge of NW and the Pearl to the east of me across 405.

I lost 10 pounds in the first month I lived on the corner of 17th and Everett, as my car collected dust and bird droppings. I walked to the grocery store, the coffee shop, brew pubs and parks. I crossed Burnside to catch the MAX at the PGE Park station, and walked to Northrup to hop on the streetcar. I met friends for First Thursday and for movies at Cinema 21. The view from my little studio was of the Fremont Bridge, the sounds were a cacophony of cars, train whistles and people passing by four stories below; I slept like a baby from the night I moved in until the morning I awoke to move out.

Ultimately, this experience for me personally amounted to nothing more than a large inconvenience. I was able to find a new place to live, sharing a nice little house with three other people my age in the Belmont neighborhood. I know I was the exception however, among my former neighbors. Some had been living there for nearly a decade, a few perhaps even longer. As much of a pain as it was for me to move again after just five short months, I can't even begin to imagine the plight of those given a mere 30 days to vacate their home of 4, 8, 10 years. While the U-Hauls and pickup trucks converged on that stretch of Everett during our last weekend, it was easy to see a little slice of Portland breaking apart, dispersing with the cardboard boxes. We were a diverse group schlepping our belongings out onto the sidewalk -- young adults like myself, single, married, and same-sex couples. Some of us were older, black, white, Asian, and Hispanic. Hipsters and computer nerds, artists, musicians, students, store clerks and office workers. We were Portland, and we still are, though many of us may no longer reside in its boundaries.

As the building was emptied and the trucks pulled away, I took a moment to consider who the new residents will be, months from now after the apartments have been gutted, expanded and dressed up with granite countertops and the trendiest stainless-steel appliances. They will be more affluent, that is apparent enough. Their money will spawn new shops and new restaurants, they will contribute to the neighborhood in a new way. But it will be different, there is no denying that. And the question must then be asked: is that better? My answer to that is obvious I think; the neighborhood will be different, but not improved.

I still believe in Portland though, I still see my future here, beneath the hills, along the river. I will stroll through the Park Blocks under the shade of office towers and salute Portlandia. I will buy fruit at the farmers market and Hanukah presents by the Skidmore Fountain. I will take weekend drives out to Sauvie Island and watch fireworks from the Hawthorne Bridge on the 4th of July. I will ride MAX to Washington Park and to stop by Pioneer Square for movies in the summer. I will drink my local brews at Mississippi Pizza, the Lucky Lab and the Tugboat. I will drift off into daydream staring at Mt. Hood on a cloudless day, and awaken to walk through spring storms for coffee. I will hike in the Gorge and see a play at the Armory that same night. I will live in Portland. From Albina to Sellwood, Northwest to Belmont, and all of the people who live within, this is my city, my beloved.

For those reading this, I only ask you to take a moment to think about this place where you work and live. Do you really live here, or are you just passing the time? If you feel as I do, then consider what makes this place so special. Try to imagine the direction we're heading in, and ask yourself if the destination is where you want us all to be. If Oregon is God's Country, as I feel it very well may be, then that places Portland somewhere in the realm of the divine. I believe we owe it to ourselves to very carefully consider what it will take to make sure that my own children, the coming generations, will grow-up without a shadow of a doubt about the validity of that declaration.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    I apologize for potentially disrupting the reflective mood of your meditation with a practical question, but I have to ask: is there really no law in Portland protecting the rights of tenants in condomimium conversions?

  • yahweh (unverified)
    (Show?)

    That was possibly the most self indulgent and pointless post I have ever read on BlueOregon. And believe me, it has a lot of stiff competition.

    What concerns me is that Portland is increasingly populated by people such as you. We are well and truly fucked.

  • Tricia (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I enjoyed taking this journey with you through our great city, thank you.

  • Andy (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Why would there be a law against it? It's what our urban planning deities desire. Out with the starving artists and working class city-lovers, in with the yuppies and scenesters.

    The Pearl District used to be a great, offbeat neighborhood of people who took a run-down industrial area and made their own little alternative lifestyle niche there. Now it's just a couple thousand assholes stacked ten stories high and trying to impress each other with their store-bought new urban chic. Northwest is obviously headed that way too; I'm sure it won't be long before the people in my building are also declared to be insufficiently "thriving" and are booted out on the curb.

  • (Show?)

    That was possibly the most self indulgent and pointless post I have ever read on BlueOregon. And believe me, it has a lot of stiff competition.

    While I don't like agreeing with this person....well.

    What do ya expect from a 23 yr old college student? Looking back at what I wrote during those years, I shake my head.

  • ws (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Oh yes, we're all fucked because we as the population of this city, are not unanimously dedicated to the premise that every individual citizen is expendable in favor of profit? Shameful and potentially disastrous, but more or less true.

    In many, many parts of this city, if you've got the money, you can effectively tell someone with less money to go live somewhere else. If you're nuts, as in legally insane, incompetent, or disabled, you might be able obtain secure housing in a centrally located, subsidized housing in a building protected from speculative development, but if you're lucky enough to be a honest, mentally stable working stiff, better plan on making lots of money if you want to secure a future in housing of your choice.

    As the population of this city, I think there is a need for people to move forward, making conscientious and deliberate efforts to affect a better measure of fairness in housing accessibility and security in Portland. It seems like a better balance of profit potential and livability could be acheived than exists now.

  • Chris (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Yahweh, Jimbo,

    I'm sorry if I'm blind to my own self-indulgence, but would either of you care to explain this further? My piece is simply just opinion after all, about a personal experience.

  • (Show?)

    On the topic of "is that really legal?", tenants get 30 days notice. Thanks to Chip Shields and Tina Kotek, the Senate is considering a bill passed by the House to extend to 120 days: (apologies for verbatim press release insertion!)

    On May 17th, State Representatives Chip Shields (D-N/NE Portland) and Tina Kotek (D-North Portland), along with the Housing Alliance, celebrated the 50-2 vote passage of HB 3186-A in the Oregon House of Representatives.

    Shields says that the condo conversion bill, which now goes to the Oregon Senate for consideration, clarifies how much notice must be given to tenants when their apartment is converted to a condo. He said some developers have given only a 30-day notice when a 120-day notice is required. The bill also adds consumer protections, points people in the direction of resources so that they might be able to purchase their unit once it converts, and requires that construction work done during the conversion notification window be done from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m.

    "This issue is socking working people in the gut all across this state," said Shields. "There were 17 condo conversions in my district alone last year, and many people are being displaced in my North and Northeast district and statewide."

    Rep Kotek added, "This bill will help our state do a better job of balancing the opportunities and negative consequences created by condo conversions in our communities."

    Ian Slingerland of the Community Alliance of Tenants and Amy Fauver of the Neighborhood Partnership Fund -- both Housing Alliance members -- approached Rep. Shields to draft the bill. Its purpose is to enhance the rights of tenants by creating clearer guidelines for condominium developers to better respect the rights of tenants.

    The bill now moves to the Oregon Senate for consideration. For further information regarding HB-3186 A or to track the progress of other bills sponsored by Rep. Shields, visit his website at www.leg.state.or.us/shieldsc.

  • (Show?)

    I feel for you. There is nothing like having to move with only 30 days' notice.

    Late last year we decided we'd had enough of our apartment complex not fixing things (we couldn't run multiple appliances at the same time, couldn't have the heat on and take a bath, etc.). The unit was only about 10 years old, so there was no excuse for all the problems we were having. Plus that Wal-Mart may end up at 182nd/Powell, which would have exits/entrances on the only two ways to get home.

    I was working full time again, so we were putting up money for all the expenses of moving (deposits, UHaul, etc.).

    We also started packing. We'd lived in this complex for more than six years, and we had a lot of stuff. Especially since I had a home office plus a toddler.

    My husband brought home boxes from work, and we were packing as we tried to find a new complex to move into.

    Our lease ended in December, but who wants to move in December? Not only is there Christmas to deal with, we often have snow or ice storms.

    We were considering going month-to-month for a few months at the end of the lease, which would cost about $25 more a month. But if we found a place we really liked, we could move out in December - as our manager had already explained, we did not need to give advanced notice that we were moving out at the end of the lease. We could literally tell them the day we moved out.

    Just a few days before the end of November, our apartment managers finally did a fire alarm check (they hadn't done one in more than 2 years). They came in, saw that we were packing up the apartment. The next day we had a notice saying they weren't renewing our lease.

    Now we had to move out in December, and we had to find a unit during one of the worst months to look. Almost every complex we visited was either full or did not have a unit big enough for us (we needed 2 bedrooms minimum, but wanted 3). One acted as if they were full and did not have any specials, even though signs outside said otherwise. Those signs never came down, either. I have the feeling it had something to do with my husband being Asian or that we didn't have wedding rings on (neither of us like wearing jewelry). But anyway...

    We were lucky enough to find a great unit across from Mt. Hood Community College. But that was a struggle that meant we had to take days off. Plus we moved in the middle of a storm. While Portland only saw flurries, we had a strong ice/snow storm in east county. The new complex had a frozen parking lot, which made unloading the UHaul dangerous. The old complex was on a butte and had snow for more than a week.

    So I definitely understand the difficulty you and your neighbors went through.

    I'm glad to see they're going to clarify that these owners are supposed to give 120 days instead of 30 on the condo conversions. These are a huge chunk of the "without cause" evictions that are served in the Portland metro area. They just don't seem to understand that 30 days isn't enough time to get packed, find a new place, get fully moved out, and clean the old unit. Especially when the eviction is completely unexpected.

    As we found out, some times of the year finding a new unit to move into is almost impossible. It's even worse when you're having to compete with your neighbors for those few open units.

  • (Show?)

    Chris,

    Create a city council elected by districts. Then the council would not consist of five guys who get their votes and (prior to public financing) the bulk of their campaign dollars from the same precincts in the city.

    You can find that affordable funky Portland you remember. Head out Jenni's way, past 82nd ave. Try Division, Foster, Lents.

    There are thriving shops, good transportation, income racial and ethnic diversity. Cool Russian bakeries. Best Chinese food in town. Pawn shops, gun shops, strip clubs, wal marts. That part of Portland is still out there.

    But downtown is turning over to the wealthy and the childless. It's happened to many cities and it's on it's way here.

  • (Show?)

    Hey Chris, Terrific article.
    It's too bad that portland is getting so expensive, but it's really hard to see many realistic solutions. Most of your article is a love song to Portland, with which I completely agree. So do thousands of others, and that makes prices go up. I'd like to live downtown (and lose 10 pounds too!) (and be 23 again too!). But I can afford to live out here by 82nd, where the pimps and hookers keep the price of housing down and provide some free entertainment. And its still easy to get downtown, and it's not just downtown that's cool. But thanks for putting into words what a great place to live this is.

  • (Show?)

    Chris -- Ignore the idiot trolls like Yhwh and Jimbo. They're just upset they can't write as well as you do.

    (And really, Y, do you have to use the name of a deity as your blog pseudonym? The only reason to use that name is to be deliberately offensive to the people that believe it's a sin to print the name of their god. Knock it off. Find another nom de guerre.)

  • (Show?)

    Chris, I second Kari's comments - keep writing, please.

    I live overseas at the moment, but will be coming home to Portland in July. It is my beloved city too. I grew up in Portland and have watched it change over the past couple of decades. I remember when the Pearl was a gritty extention of Old Town, when NW 23rd was bohemian rather than upwardly mobile, in a time before First or Last Thursday or the Mississippi neighborhood. There's been a lot of change, both good (MAX lines expanding East, West, and North) and bad (the corporate Pearl, rising rent/housing costs).

    There's a balance to find, between preserving what we love about our city and letting it grow and change. And that balance shouldn't include pricing people out of living in the city center.

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Well Chris, first off you can blame the smart-growth and land use proponents for the fate of your apartment building. The rush to subsidies condo farms and 'preserve' rural areas by our electeds is pushing anyone below the median income level out of the city proper. However, It's not surprising all the density apologists on this blog neglected to point that obvious fact out.

    Second, I'll admit Portland does have some strong points, but overall it's Oregon and the northwest that really shines. Portland is nothing more than a polished turn set in an idyll.

    P.S. Before ya'll accuse me of being an Orange County transplant -- I'll have you know I've lived here 40 years and have experienced more of this state than most will in a lifetime.

  • (Show?)

    "Well Chris, first off you can blame the smart-growth and land use proponents for the fate of your apartment building."

    Why would "land-use" be blamed for turning a high-density residential complex into...the same high-density residential complex, with individual ownership of the units. That's the obvious fact, in this case. I don't recall seeing anyone note that a subsidy was in play for conversion to condos, either, so not sure where that came from.

    If you think Portland is a turd in an idyll, one would think that you'd support keeping the turd as compactly controlled as possible, lest it crap all over the idyll that surrounds it. What crap there is already, is known as sprawl.

  • raul desousa (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Yeah sure, land use. I blame it on light rail as well.

    Chris,

    As a Portland homeowner, I have mixed feelings about these condo projects. It feels as if an individual has true ownership in the neighborhood, it will improve. I work in Downtown, and if the wingnuts don't live down here, they sure have easy access to get down here. I'm not talking about local color, either. Three times I have been assaulted in this past year, twice downtown and once on Hawthorne, by people who appeared indigent and intoxicated, but lived in the area and were well known to the Police.

    I really like the idea of housing that is affordable for artists and bike commuters, but all that cheap apartments bring in my area are tweakers and the like. When they go condo, and the section 8 folks are gone, my bike quits getting stolen and my car doesn't get ransacked monthly.

    Chris is young and 23, and when you are building yourself a career, etc. you have to live in the area you can afford to live. Once you start your career then you can find your sweet spot.

    Portland isn't gone or going away. When I was a kid 35 years ago, I stepped on a hypodermic needle when I went to see a show at the Schnitz. My daughter saw a concert there last Saturday and it was clean and great.

    Cheap housing is important, but not everyone can live in the choice area of town.

    And these condo projects show how we are revitalizing our downtown core, where so many cities that I travel to have a downtown that is empty and daunting.

    I really love Portland, I plan to live my whole life here.

  • Chris (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I'd like to thank everyone for their comments, this was the sort of discussion I was hoping my piece would spark.

    Chris McMullen: I respectfully disagree about blaming Portland's land-use policies for the situation myself and others are finding themselves in. Those laws have helped sustain and nurture the very neighborhoods I wrote about, and without them I feel that Portland could easily resemble something more like Phoenix or Atlanta, with their out of control sprawl. I'll admit that these policies can also be blamed for the ever-increasing housing and rent costs, but I don't think the solution lies in gutting these laws. Instead, further attention should be given to assisting low-income citizens, in order to make sure that they remain a viable part of the community. Which brings me to Raul's comment: I agree that I can't expect to be living in a Pearl high-rise or something at this point in my life. However, I think that having a diverse range of incomes and age levels in a neighborhood is just as vital as having a good mix of religions, races, sexual orientations, education levels, etc.

  • Miles (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Well written post, Chris.

    One question: Does Portland still have a surplus of relatively inexpensive apartments? My understanding is that the rental market in Portland has always been pretty good -- it's the housing market that's unaffordable. Lack of affordable housing is a serious issue, but I always thought that at least if the rental market stays reasonable, the young bohemians would still inject life into the city. But it's been awhile since I was looking for a rental, so I wasn't sure if that still held true or not.

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "Those laws have helped sustain and nurture the very neighborhoods I wrote about..."

    Huh?? You and Torrid seem to be lacking in the economics department. Your apartment building went condo because Portland has in part forced the market in that direction. The building of subsidized condominiums has increased demand. Therefore surrounding properties can now offer condos at a superior ROI to rentals. To say the wholesale shift to high-priced condominiums hasn't effected the rental market is flat-out wrong.

    I also take issue with your idea we should subsidize low income housing. We already subsidize rich developers and condo owners, now you want to subsidize the 'poor' as well? I guess its okay with you that the middle class foots the bill. Great vision.

    As much as you may despise 'sprawl', Atlanta and Phoenix have a lower cost of living than Portland. Run the comparisons here:

    http://cgi.money.cnn.com/tools/costofliving/costofliving.html

    Salary in Portland OR: $50,000 Comparable salary in Atlanta GA: $39,167.76

    If you move from Portland OR to Atlanta GA... Groceries will cost: 20.698% less Housing will cost: 28.889% less Utilities will cost: 24.926% less Transportation will cost: 20.15% less Healthcare will cost: 4.142% less

    Salary in Portland OR: $50,000 Comparable salary in Phoenix AZ: $41,755.67

    If you move from Portland OR to Phoenix AZ... Groceries will cost: 19.856% less Housing will cost: 22.436% less Utilities will cost: 10.163% less Transportation will cost: 15.815% less Healthcare will cost: 8.638% less

    Seems those low income folks you want to help would be better served if Portland wasn't forcing density on them.

  • (Show?)

    Apparently I'm lacking in the economics department, although what economics has to do with the number of residential units in an apartment complex as opposed to a condo complex with respect to density, I've no idea. As should be clear, density is unaffected by condo conversion.

    And as for this bit of genius: "As much as you may despise 'sprawl', Atlanta and Phoenix have a lower cost of living than Portland. Run the comparisons here:"

    Forgive me, but why would I be excited about living in a city where things cost about 20% less, but where I would also MAKE about 20% less? And have you BEEN to Atlanta? Part of the reason housing is cheaper is that much of the affordable housing is nowhere near the city center; rather, SPRAWL has put many metro Atlantans far away from Peachtree. Which means they have to commute--and no one who has been in both would ever say driving in Atlanta's is preferable to Portland's.

  • Miles (unverified)
    (Show?)

    As TJ says, the cost-of-living comparisons are only valid if you can earn the same or higher salary. When I moved here from DC, I took a 15% pay cut but the cost of living was about 20% less. So in essence I got a 5% raise -- and got to live in the best city in America to boot. Perhaps Atlanta is cheaper than Portland even taking salary into account, but "livability" (that hated lefty word) is just as important to most of us. Maybe I could afford a 2,500 instead of a 2,000 square foot house, but who cares if you have to live in Atlanta or Phoenix?

    The building of subsidized condominiums has increased demand. Therefore surrounding properties can now offer condos at a superior ROI to rentals.

    Fascinating application of the idea of "induced demand." Fascinating because the whole idea that public investment in infrastructure can create demand is generally a liberal idea -- and you don't sound like a liberal, Chris. The theory of induced demand is the basis for investments in public transportation (e.g., light rail) rather than new roads, since building new roads may simply lower the cost of travel (through less congestion), thereby inducing more people to drive, thereby resulting in the same amount of congestion but more cars polluting the atmosphere.

    In the case of Portland housing, you may be right that subsidies for condo development led to increased demand for condos. This happened because areas such as the Pearl needed to reach a "tipping point" before people would invest in property there. This was actually the exact theory behind the City's subsidization -- that it would create a new neighborhood of condos, restaurants, bars, galleries, etc. That idea was ridiculed by conservative critics when Vera Katz proposed it. Turns out not only that she was right, but that you agree with her.

    So, Chris, what exactly is the problem with the City pushing condo development so that pent-up demand can be met? Isn't this exactly the same argument for building new roads? While we know the negative externalities that can result from new roads, what are the negative externalities that result from new condos?

  • (Show?)

    Here's an example using a situation I am familiar with:

    Salary in Portland OR: $50,000 Comparable salary in Houston TX: $36,218.37

    If you move from Portland OR to Houston TX...

    Groceries will cost: 31.57% less Housing will cost: 45.246% less Utilities will cost: 0.286% less Transportation will cost: 22.382% less Healthcare will cost: 6.771% less

    Does that mean I want to move to Houston? Heck no! I lived there for almost a year and I hated every minute of it. The cheap rentals and homes were all in bad, bad, bad parts of town. The only parts worth living in all had people whose income was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Definitely not affordable if you're only making $36K.

    Cost of living does tend to be lower in the south. Not always, but most of the time. They also have worse pollution, the heat, "fattier cities," discrimination, less diversity, etc.

    There's a reason why the Portland metro area is regularly in the top 5 best places to live in the country.

  • Chris McMullen (unverified)
    (Show?)

    "So, Chris, what exactly is the problem with the City pushing condo development so that pent-up demand can be met?"

    Miles, you can always induce demand when you throw enough tax dollars at it. The 'tipping point' you describe for the Pearl has done nothing more than line rich developers pockets and create a playground for the wealthy -- all on our dime. I'd love to see a true debt to income ratio for the Pearl, but you know the CoP and PDC would never want to release those numbers. Meanwhile, medium income apartments are becoming converted into condos -- forcing the riffraff out on the streets. Nice to see induced demand catering only to those who can afford it. Hope you're happy.

    And your road building theory doesn't work in practice. Pouring our tax dollars into light rail and not freeway expansion has done nothing more than increase auto congestion, thereby causing more cars to idle away in traffic jams, wasting gas, time and polluting the atmosphere. Oh yeah, and MAX has done a bang up job lining even more rich developers pockets with Transit Oriented Development zones and Tax Increment Financing schemes (ala The Pearl, SoWa, The Round, etc.).

  • YoungOregonVoter (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Wow, people are taking time to comment on a blog with all these economic numbers. LOL. No offense intended.

    It is all a matter of choice when it comes to city life. Obviously, Torrid and others cannot stand sprawl hence they vigorously support strict land use policies. Others who live in Atlanta and Phoenix prefer cheaper living at the expense of living in what looks like one big development track.

    Fact is, retirees from California and all over the U.S. will continue to come in droves to Oregon. As expected they will be coming with at least 500k in the bank to blow on housing and many will choose to buy a Condo in the Pearl or the South Waterfront. That is a given and will become more obvious in the following decades.

    This influx of elderly will change Portland as anyone with an inkling of knowledge in politics knows that the elderly are the most powerful voting bloc. Whether our land use system survives in the next few decades hinges on influencing their vote. Just pray that the vast bulk of them buy condos in Portland and don't buy property that they may want to subdivide to leave their children and grandchildren an inheritance in the Umpqua and Rogue Valleys.

  • (Show?)

    Actually, studies show that adding more lanes of traffic doesn't cut down on traffic jams. It just means more people sitting on more lanes of road.

    The HGA (Houston Galveston Area) keeps throwing roads at the problem, hoping to fix it. Yet they continue to have some of the worst traffic jams in the nation. I know, I used to sit in those jams as I tried to get between home and the University of Houston. Or to work (at the Galleria). Or to the store.

    Improving public transportation in the suburbs is a huge part of getting more cars off the road, and therefore decreasing the number of people sitting in traffic jams.

  • Herb Hamilton (unverified)
    (Show?)

    What a wonderfully crafted story. I enjoyed the entire journey. The analysis of Portland 'the home town city ' caused me to feel great pride and a sense of hope for the future.

    The reality of an analysis of any neighborhood is that is goes through cycles. The begining, the hay day, the decline, rock bottom, and rebirth.

    Fortunate or unfortunately for you, you chose to live in a neighborhood that is in its rebirth phase.

    The Fortunate part is that you got to live in the old neighborhood if even only a former shawdow of it old days of glory.

    Unfortunate for you in that you were not yet in a position to be one of the new residents of the new neighborhood.

    Perhaps you will settle in the Belmont or Hawthorne area. Or perhaps you will do like many of the young people I work with and move into the inner North and Northeast where you can taste those beers at the Mississppi or a pastry or two at the Blue Gardenia.

    Maybe one day you will move back to the NW when it is once again it's hayday.

    But certainly continue to regail us with your tales and wonderful style of writing.

  • ws (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I can appreciate what Raul Desousa says about being assaulted and having his bike stolen by certain downtown residents. That sort of thing definitely needs to be more affectively addressed than it is now. Passively accepting condo conversion of affordable housing as a means of eliminating the kinds of problems Raul Desousa has had is not good social policy.

    There needs to be more police on the street, on foot, as we go to an increasingly dense housing situation downtown. Tonight, about 9pm, walking on...I believe 12th between Stark and Burnside near Red Light Resale,(just across the street and a block away from Whole Foods) I think I saw the very same drunk that I saw Sunday night about the very same time, conked out as before, halfway in the service entrance and halfway with his legs and feet out in the middle of the sidewalk under a very bright overhead light.

    I mean, he was in the very same doorway as a couple days ago, in virtually the very same position. Who knows? Maybe the guy's dead. Didn't even think at the time, to take his pulse. Nicely dressed people just coming away from an enjoyable dinner or an ice-cream being having to negotiate there way past this guys feet. Great.

    Common occurrences of this kind of thing is definitely going to kill any realistic aspirations of low, middle, and upper income people living in close proximity to each other.

  • raul (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Yes

    More foot patrols would be a great help- but indigent services must be improved. Shipping low income folks to the street is definitely not my idea of urban planning.

    One day when I retire, I would love to buy a condo in the downtown core- this is something I am saving for. My line of work has let me know where the section 8 housing is at, they seem to be subsidized centers of crime.

    Making more housing a business in the core of Portland is great. I cannot wait until the PDC has to be audited, as I know that will really improve the way business is done.

    Subsidizing businesses in this core is good in certain aspects, I just wish the focus was on smaller, local businesses.

    I have been to Phoenix and Atlanta, both are not my preferred living environment. Driving for an hour to get anywhere- while passing endless lines of Chilis and Applebees that all look the same- sucks.

    Light rail may seem like a burden, as well as reserving farm land for future use, but as energy becomes more expensive, these things are what will make Portland a viable city- maybe we will have to take refugees from Phoenix when they run out of water.

  • Ms. Mel Harmon (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I chose Oregon, and the Portland area in particular, in which to make my home back in 1990. I've been in all but three states and never felt more at home than here. I lived at NW 21st and Overton before it went "upscale", then at 11th and Belmont for years until a sewage/water line break forced me to move--FAST! So, I moved to the Park Blocks downtown for a year. Then I leapt out here to Gresham. While there are differences between Gresham and Portland, I don't find them to be as extreme as many people state. Still a great vibe out here as well. I plan to move back to Portland proper someday, perhaps once I retire...if, of course, I can afford it. Anyway, thanks for the trip down memory lane and for reminding me why I love this city/area so very much!

  • Jake Rigger (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Chris,

    Thanks for this essay. Contrary to comment number two, if Portland is being increasingly populated by people like you - who so obviously care for the city's future - we're in very good shape.

    I do, however, want to bring up a contrary point on condo conversions. While I definitely agree that better tenant protections are needed, it should be noted that many of these projects provide opportunitites for relatively affordable first time home purchases. My impression is that a large percentage of the buyers in projects like these are young people who want to live in the city, but can't afford single family homes or new construction condos. Despite their problems, these projects do provide a different type of affordable housing: owner occupied and largely unsubsidized (though many do have historic property tax abatements).

    My knowledge of the subject is first hand. I'm 27, not at all affluent, and recently bought my first home in a condo conversion project just blocks from your former apartment. I too care deeply about the city, and that feeling has only been intensified now that I have a financial incentive to help improve my neighborhood. My building is full of people like me.

    On top of that, with ownership dispersed among many, the chances of these beautiful old apartment buildings succumbing to a slow decay, and eventually being torn down, are reduced. While affordable rental housing is certainly needed, it's a shame to let great old buildings deteriorate indefinitely just to keep the rent down.

    30 day eviction notices are wrong, and that needs to be changed. Developers need to use some common sense and morality, and I'm glad to see that the legislature is pushing to make that mandatory. But don't demonize the people who'll move in to Carlton Court after you. I'm sure they'll love Portland as much as you, and many of them will do their part to make it better. Just like you certainly will too.

guest column

connect with blueoregon