To the Editor:

 

Concerning the extension of short term rentals to condos and apartments, it is not enough for the mayor to say that since they are already doing it, that it should be allowed, or that just because it is now allowed in houses and duplexes that it should necessarily be extended to multi-family dwellings.

Tenants in apartments go through a thorough vetting process, making sure that they qualify to live there, including a criminal check. But short term renters will not be vetted at all. Current long term tenants, especially those with kids, are not going to want to allow non-vetted new tenants moving in every day. In fact, this probably violates the terms of their landlord/tenant relationship.

While it is probably true that only small landlords and small condo associations will actually allow this, it still shouldn’t be allowed at all.

Also, rooms and well as whole houses, contribute to our housing stock, which, due to rising costs need to be preserved for residents in this period of rising rents. Rooms in apartments and condos should be saved for long term residents, and people can earn extra income that way without having to resort to renting to tourists.

Please voice your opposition to this extension of the law in a City Council meeting on Wednesday, November 19 at 2 pm or write to council members by emailing karla.moore-love@portlandoregon.gov.

 

William Gregg

 

Public-Private Partnership – a Time for 82ndAvenue

 

Part I:  Build It and They Will Come

What does it take to encourage family-friendly, urbanite-friendly businesses to locate along 82nd Ave? Current reality:  blight, in the true urban renewal definition of the term. More topless bars (joints, really) per capita than anyplace I am aware of.

I suppose the current dominant economy of the Avenue of Roses benefits a certain sector of the economy, but I would not take my grandmother there, or my grandchild, or even my cousin from the Midwest.

What role do city, regional, and county governments play in establishing a local economy that works for its residents? What about economic incentives to beautify, modernize, and locate local businesses along this state thoroughfare?  Maybe this is enterprise zone territory?  State legislators, are you listening?

Part II:  Businesses Should Contribute to their Community

How can businesses be successful? People, residents are consumers. We buy things.

I don’t think the current businesses are interested in reaching out to more than their narrow constituencies. I am a consumer, a willing Eastside consumer. I want local businesses that give back. I see the old Safeway store turned into a Vietnamese market (the Hong Phat Food Center) as a community-centered store for Vietnamese residents.  I went in there to buy something for a pot luck, I was impressed with health screening, bubble tea, Asian vegetables. Possibly not a community for me – but a good model.

Wanted: businesses that care about local residents and want to use the network effect to grow a web of small businesses that contribute to the economic vitality of SE 82nd Ave.

 

Courtney Brooks

 

To the Editor:

I’ve been involved in a number of parking issues over the past 30 years as a private citizen, city official, and property manager. Here are some of the issues relevant to what’s happening here in Portland.

First, providing parking is a cost of doing business as a developer. When I worked for the developer in Pomona, we advocated for reduced residential parking requirements of one space per unit, but to advocate for less than that would have been irresponsible and unworkable.

Developers are taking advantage of pro-public transportation sentiments here in Portland, and the fact that the public and the media generally don’t have the time or the expertise to scrutinize all of the false claims being made.

Portland isn’t Copenhagen. I’ve been to Copenhagen, and the main part of the city is a densely-built urban environment dominated by block after block of 5-story residential buildings that were built long before cars came into existence. Portland, even with its close-in neighborhoods, is still an automobile-oriented city.

Public transportation in Portland isn’t as great as people make it out to be. Not everyone is young and healthy, and able to walk without difficulty or ride a bicycle.

What percentage of people would actually be interested in voluntarily living a monastic, completely car-free lifestyle, once they face the realities of all the limitations that such a lifestyle would entail? And what percentage of people could actually go completely car-free even if they wanted to?

People living in tiny apartments because the rent is cheaper are likely to have less disposable income to spend. So, they’re less likely to generate any significant economic benefit for most neighborhood businesses.

The installation of bike corrals that take away curbside parking spaces is totally unnecessary. The same number of bike racks could easily be installed individually or in small clusters on sidewalks without disrupting foot traffic.

You’ve heard the cliche about “location, location, location”. Well, parking is part of the location equation, and the business owners who have been doing business on Division St. for years initially made their decision to move there and invest their money there based, in part, on the existence of adequate parking. What the City has done is to change the rules in the middle of the game in such a way that clearly favors the developers over existing business owners.

In a way, the damage has already been done on Division, and the next step seems inevitable. The apartment complexes that have already been built aren’t going to be torn down. So, no one should be surprised if a year or two from now the City suddenly announces a plan to build parking structures paid for with money assessed from neighborhood property owners, which, in the case of Division, could end up including residential property owners on the side streets.

I saw something similar happen in downtown Pasadena, California, back in the mid-1980s. It was a strategy used successfully by city officials and developers to drive out existing mom-and-pop businesses in the city’s old town area in order to make way for high-end retailers and restaurants. In fact, within five years of the parking assessment fee going into effect, approximately 95% of the 250 original businesses were gone, basically priced out of the neighborhood by being forced to subsidize the developers who were forcing them out.

 

  Peter Apanel

   South Tabor

 

PBOT responds

 

Terry Parker’s testimony at the Comp Plan hearings in October, states that bicycles and mass transit are not the key to solving Portland’s parking problems. The letter above from Peter Apanel, reiterates the concern that the City needs to address this problem.

The Southeast Examiner asked Dillon Rivera, spokesperson for the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and Grant Morehead, Transportation Planner, just what steps were being taken to prevent neighborhood frustration like the results of infill on SE Division St. and what policy is being made in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan to alleviate this problem.

According to Rivera, there has only been one stakeholders’ meeting held in September focusing on the parking issue for the Com Plan. The next one will be held as this paper goes to press. He said that it is still to early in the process to develop much policy.

The current Draft 2035 Comp Plan devotes one sentence to the parking problem. “Insufficient parking can negatively affect neighborhood livability and economic vitality.” The rest of the policy page is about managing parking and getting people to use mass transit.

Parker’s testimony at the Comp Plan hearings suggests that bicycles, like cars, should pay for the use of the road, but are bicycles being taxed?

Morehead said that the Comp Plan will look at each business area and neighborhood individually and use the appropriate guidelines to determine the policy on parking management for the Comp Plan.

Both Morehead and Rivera believe the only way to accommodate the 100,000 more people predicted to be moving here in the next twenty years  and maintain any quality of life will be for city dwellers to use public transportation, walk and bike.

The current proposals in the draft plan reflect this attitude.

When The Southeast Examiner asked if cities ever put a cap on how big they can get, Rivera said that San Francisco tried to and is now one of the most expensive cities to live in, plus it created even more urban sprawl.