U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Oregon > Portland
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 03-27-2017, 03:51 PM
 
18 posts, read 35,384 times
Reputation: 88

Advertisements

Many people have commented about the recent changes in Portland, which are dramatic and coming fast. Many talk about the ‘housing crisis’ in the city.

I agree that there is a 'housing crisis' in Portland in that costs, both for rental and ownership, are escalating dramatically, which is making prices unaffordable for many people. This is tragic, and there are things that can and must be done about it. I am not an urban planner and have no professional expertise in this area, and these are only my own personal thoughts. But, unfortunately, I believe the current “Residential Infill Project”, the RIP approved by the Portland City Council last October and the inexorable march to 'high density' and 'infill' will do nothing to address affordable housing. 



One only has to look at cities such as Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Tokyo, London, and others to see the effects of 'high density infill': they have become very dense, not very attractive (some would say ugly) with progressively smaller places to live - and remain very expensive. 

While the idea that 'the market' will reduce prices if the supply of housing is increased sounds intuitive, this is a hopelessly naive view. Left to 'the market', what will happen will always be to maximize profits for those who control supply.

The only way that increasing supply lowers prices is if 1) demand is local, and 2) there is a vast excess of supply over demand because of rampant over-building, as happened in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and parts of Florida. 

Those circumstances will not likely apply in Portland. For one, the demand for housing here is primarily external - people moving here from other, higher cost (more expensive) areas (such as California) to whom Portland still seems 'affordable'. They can afford, and will continue, to pay more than local residents are accustomed to. 

Second, I think developers are unlikely to build a vast excess of supply, because to do so would decrease their profits. Profits are always maximized by keeping supply short of demand. Private enterprise does not build out of the kindness of their hearts or to achieve some social good - it is done to make as much money as possible. It is very naive to think that 'the market' will ever accomplish anything except what is in someone's own financial interests, which is to maximize profits. That is the essence of the 'free market'.



There are studies that support this. The RIP was driven in part by the hypothesis that increasing housing density will lead to more affordable housing. While such a link between density and affordability seems intuitively obvious, there is disagreement about whether this cause and effect really exists. 

Below are a few different views on this. 

The "Illusion of Local: Why Zoning for Greater Density Will Fail to Make Housing More Affordable" points out that local market forces of supply and demand are irrelevant in driving down market prices, because influx of folks with established wealth moving in from more expensive real estate markets (e.g. California, Asia) and foreign investment, lead to "a decoupling of housing from local labor market participation."



See:

https://psmag.com/illusion-of-local-...a03#.s89bay5r6

"Urban containment" (i.e. relatively inflexible urban growth boundary) is primarily responsible for the rising land/housing prices in Portland, and the reduction in its diversity as a result. 



See:

The Evolving Urban Form: Portland | Newgeography.com

Gerard Mildner (Director, PSU, Center for Real Estate) in "Density at Any Cost" argues that reversing the housing mix to (much) more multifamily dwellings would substantially increase housing costs in Portland over the next 20 years, making it the 4th most expensive metropolitan area in the country. He also points out that use of cars has not appreciably changed over the past 20 years despite development of light rail and extensive bus routes, and warns "we shouldn't base our land use planning decisions on commuting assumptions that won't happen". He also advocates for a more liberal --though thoughtful -- approach to the Urban Growth Boundary.



See:

https://www.pdx.edu/realestate/sites..._article_3.pdf


The proponents of the RIP seem to have found supporters among those who are having difficulty finding and affording housing in Portland. Unfortunately, I believe all RIP will accomplish is to further increase prices in Portland. By making single-family homes eligible to be made into duplexes and triplexes, the underlying land will increase in value for development and become more expensive. There is no profit incentive to build cheap housing on expensive land - profit is maximized by building housing that is as expensive as possible.

I believe all that will be achieved will be to decimate our stunningly beautiful and architecturally significant historic areas, destroy the character of what makes Portland 'Portland', and devastate the quality of life which is why most of us to live here in the first place. 

Even the RIP city employees themselves seem to recognize this. At an infill meeting, when questioned about whether RIPSAC will provide more 'affordable' housing, I heard the city planners say that 'affordable housing is not their mandate' - they are only looking for 'alternative' housing to accommodate the 123,000 households (and appx. 260,000 people) they want to fit into Portland. 



While this may be a heretical view, I also question the wisdom of trying to squeeze that many more people into Portland. There is simply no way to cram 10 pounds of sugar into a 5 pound sack. If another 260,000 people move to Portland, the city will be unrecognizable from what it is today. I believe what will happen is traffic and parking congestion will increase, tree canopy will be lost, schools and parks will become over-crowded, food cart pods will vanish, water sewer, electricity, and other infrastructure may be stressed, irreplaceable historic areas will be demolished and replaced with profit-maximizing ugly housing. The very reasons Portland is such a desirable place to live will disappear. The very soul of Portland will be erased. The laws of physics are very strict, and there are simply limits to growth and capacity of any system.



Once again, the saying 'the cheapest housing is existing housing' seems to ring true. If people really want to make housing more affordable in Portland, I believe the only way to do this is the same way it was successfully done in other cities: rent control. Instead of pursuing the false promises of 'high density infill', I think housing advocates should focus their energies on changing Oregon laws to allow rent controls. The 'free market' will never support rent controls, because rent control also means profit control. If people truly want affordable housing, then pressure our elected officials to allow rent control, and subsidized housing. Without these, I believe housing prices in Portland will only continue to go one way - up.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 03-27-2017, 04:07 PM
 
119 posts, read 117,888 times
Reputation: 249
Blah Blah Blah. Earn more money and everything becomes more affordable.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-27-2017, 04:28 PM
 
18 posts, read 35,384 times
Reputation: 88
It's easy to say 'just make more money', but for many people, that's not an option.

We own our home in Portland and could continue to live here, but choose not to. We believe that a healthy and vibrant city must have people of all walks of life, not just venture capitalists and 'tech' money'. The soul and personality of Portland is largely made up of amazing, wonderful people who happen to not make much money, and their lines of work don't allow them to make mega-bucks.

Such as, musicians. Artists. Food cart vendors. Small business owners, like those of the many but sadly rapidly disappearing small coffee shops (like the Happy Sparrow). Small owner-owned retail stores, like the legendary Hippo Hardware, now leaving. Nurses and other non-MD healthcare workers. Students. Restaurant and retail workers. Hair stylists. Bench scientists. Transportation workers. Police, fire, and emergency service workers. Most civil servants (except City Council members, of course). Construction workers. Social workers. Animal shelter workers. Most retirees. Pretty much anyone who works for a non-profit.

Even if you don't care about the rights of people, everyone's lives would be worse off without them. I think most people in Portland would miss the food carts, restaurants, music cafes, and coffee shops. It would be a pain to have to drive out of the city for a haircut, because stylists move out of the city because they can't afford to work or live here anymore. Without a place like Hippo Hardware, where do you go if you want to buy hardware for an older home? Fewer coffee shops, bars, restaurants, music cafes, etc. means less to do in the city. Without the diversity of people, a city becomes increasingly a place of expensive condos and offices for financial firms and tech companies - like San Francisco. I think that makes for a boring and poor quality of life.

People like these are the very soul of Portland. They give the city its personality, it's color. They should be able to live here just like the venture capitalists and 'tech' money. The city will be much worse off without them. They cannot easily just 'earn more money' unless they leave their lines of work. The disappearance of people like these would be a tragic loss for Portland, and will make it another sterile, soulless monoculture like San Francisco or Seattle.

Last edited by AnalogMan; 03-27-2017 at 04:53 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-27-2017, 05:30 PM
 
292 posts, read 215,258 times
Reputation: 383
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesblazen View Post
Blah Blah Blah. Earn more money and everything becomes more affordable.
This is the guy who would much rather live in SoCal. Go for it. Earning more money would help.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-27-2017, 10:12 PM
 
Location: Left coast
2,320 posts, read 1,289,632 times
Reputation: 3231
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogMan View Post
It's easy to say 'just make more money', but for many people, that's not an option.

....
Such as, musicians. Artists. Food cart vendors. Small business owners, like those of the many but sadly rapidly disappearing small coffee shops (like the Happy Sparrow). Small owner-owned retail stores, like the legendary Hippo Hardware, now leaving. Nurses and other non-MD healthcare workers. Students. Restaurant and retail workers. Hair stylists. Bench scientists. Transportation workers. Police, fire, and emergency service workers. Most civil servants (except City Council members, of course). Construction workers. Social workers. Animal shelter workers. Most retirees. Pretty much anyone who works for a non-profit.


People like these are the very soul of Portland. They give the city its personality, it's color. They should be able to live here just like the venture capitalists and 'tech' money. The city will be much worse off without them. They cannot easily just 'earn more money' unless they leave their lines of work. The disappearance of people like these would be a tragic loss for Portland, and will make it another sterile, soulless monoculture like San Francisco or Seattle.
OK guys, I see that theres a real concern that Portland's housing crisis is following along the lines of these other cities, but I have to say San Francisco is a FAR Cry from that description....
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-27-2017, 10:59 PM
 
Location: WA Desert, Seattle native
6,437 posts, read 4,265,988 times
Reputation: 4905
The major west coast cities are all on the same trajectory, with some exceptions.

San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle. Let's use them as examples for this argument.

What do all these cities have in common, and what do they not have in common?

First, all are now expensive, with San Jose, Portland, and Seattle all increasing in COL in recent decades. All cities are desirable to some extent or another, and all are growing.

However, there are differences. San Diego is stable. It just continues to be one of the best places to live in the US. Climate, a stable job force, and development that doesn't overwhelm. San Jose is a huge satellite to San Francisco, and certainly anchors the South Bay, but tends to also be a somewhat overshadowed city. San Francisco is what it is and we all understand how expensive it is, but also how important it is. Seattle is growing like a 13 year old kid...increased density that is slowly becoming the #2 behind SF.

Portland is in the mix somewhere between all of the above. I will say Portland IS changing, but I don't think for the better. It has a vibrant downtown, but it also has a lot problems. Industry is hanging on, but for the most part this city is for the haves and not have nots. They don't want to be big like San Francisco or Seattle, but they don't want to be small like Eugene or Spokane. They are kind of caught in the middle of this west coast situation, and IMO they are the most complicated in trying to identify.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-27-2017, 11:53 PM
 
Location: Portland, OR
9,626 posts, read 10,097,690 times
Reputation: 9318
Default If You Can Make It Here...

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogMan View Post
It's easy to say 'just make more money', but for many people, that's not an option.

We own our home in Portland and could continue to live here, but choose not to. We believe that a healthy and vibrant city must have people of all walks of life, not just venture capitalists and 'tech' money'. The soul and personality of Portland is largely made up of amazing, wonderful people who happen to not make much money, and their lines of work don't allow them to make mega-bucks.

.

People like these are the very soul of Portland. They give the city its personality, it's color. They should be able to live here just like the venture capitalists and 'tech' money. The city will be much worse off without them. They cannot easily just 'earn more money' unless they leave their lines of work. The disappearance of people like these would be a tragic loss for Portland, and will make it another sterile, soulless monoculture like San Francisco or Seattle.
Here is some perspective for you. To wit: NYC, my alma mater... COL index 286. No other American city comes close, except HI (186). Portland COL 104 - 107 depending on who you ask. Despite this the minimum wage in NYC remains at the Federally mandated $7.25/hr. Portland's minimum wage is close to $9.00/hr or higher, and is scheduled to get much higher relatively quickly. Seriously, if there is a place to be a minimum wage worker, the Pacific Northwest would be it. But there remain scores of pizza delivery persons, clerks in a variety of retail concerns, and all the rest of minimum wagery, and they are (don't ask me how) keeping it going in NYC.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2017, 08:32 AM
 
723 posts, read 417,515 times
Reputation: 501
Ahhh yes. The social engineering theories. The perception is that something is not fair. Therefore, an agenda must be enforced to make things more "equal".

This is how we end up with high income tax and no sales tax (very bad idea), art tax, terrible road infrastructure, and poor school performance.

(My opinion, of course)
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2017, 10:31 AM
 
Location: Portland, OR
9,626 posts, read 10,097,690 times
Reputation: 9318
Quote:
Originally Posted by KJoe11 View Post
Ahhh yes. The social engineering theories. The perception is that something is not fair. Therefore, an agenda must be enforced to make things more "equal".

This is how we end up with high income tax and no sales tax (very bad idea), art tax, terrible road infrastructure, and poor school performance.

(My opinion, of course)
Ok, let's try this again... to wit: NYC, my alma mater. State income tax 10.2% as of 2009 when I left, AND (simultaneously) a sales tax of 8.45%, again as of 2009 when I departed. I doubt those numbers are lower in 2017. Likely they are somewhat higher. And there is that minimum wage of $7.25/hr. to consider. A minimum wage worker in PDX will likely not pay ANY Federal Income Tax, and the State Income Tax will NOT be the 10% top rate, it will be a few percentage points lower.

I won't argue about the Art Tax. It is also ironic that the vast majority of people paying it won't be able to afford to visit the very Art and Music venues in Portland that the tax supports. It should be made more progressive. Portland schools do NOT, overall, have poor performance. Some Portland schools have very poor performance, most are much better, and a few are rather satisfactory. Do you imagine NYC is any different? The 800lb. gorilla of ethnicity and school segregation disproportionately concentrating low achievement students into a particular school district(s)... ... hello... is this thing on? Am I getting through?

I like paying the listed price for my 'Skull Candy' earbuds at Best Buy because there is no sales tax to be applied at the cash register. I like Trimet being on the honor system (sort of) because I will have my proof of fare if asked for it, and thus Trimet hasn't had to pay $2 Billion dollars building a bulletproof fare enforcement infrastructure. I like not having to pump my gas because when you look like me, self service pumps do not work! I will have to go into the office and pay directly because they disable the credit card reader the moment I step out of the car and direct me to come inside through the PA system and that sucks. I am sorry you are having a problem with some of Portland's intrinsics. To be expected I suppose. It even says so in the Bible: "no [entity] can be all things, to all people, all of the time". Not saying your opinions/feelings aren't valid.... but... let's just say that it works for me.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2017, 01:31 PM
 
Location: SNA=>PDX 2013
2,764 posts, read 3,190,970 times
Reputation: 3219
The one thing I loved about Portland was the vast expanses of creeks, forests, hiking trails galore (regardless if I used them or not), and natural beauty in general and in the suburbs/city. I loved that houses were not on top of each other and was not full of condo's. That's what I fell in love with.

Years later, as I live here now, what I see her, is what was happening all over LA/OC (in SoCal) when I left.....got a plot of land? Build it up. Destroy all the natural beauty and landscape it instead. Build upwards (condo's) or build tiny homes with no backyards, that are probably no more than 8 feet apart....just shove as many homes in there as you can. Well, that's what I see in downtown (rip down buildings, even old historical types and build up up up!) and in Hillsboro (got a 1/8 of an acre? Build 50 homes on there) or the "edge" cities that are building out. Ugh. I have seen 6 housing projects go up near my work, in the 3 years I've been employed, and there are at least 3 more being built....this is within a 10 min walk from my work. All that lovely forest I loved, gone.

And I know it's happening all over Portland. Like with humans, when you grow too fast, you end up with issues. We have issues and will continue to have more. I'm sure at some point, it had to happen (growth, that is), it's just too bad it had to happen so fast (from what you and many others have stated, Portland has always been growing, but it seems like it spiked recently - growing pains).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Options
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2016 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Oregon > Portland
Similar Threads
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2020, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top