Neighbors Press for Moratorium on Demolition

By Midge Pierce

A resident near the SE 50th corridor, a recent target of development between Hawthorne and Division, says he has a solution to unrestrained growth.

He is calling for the City to impose at least a six-month moratorium on some 200 living units planned for development along the street.

Michael Van Kleek cites state law he believes allows for moratoriums on urban development not justified by compelling need or a shortage of public facilities. (See

Van Kleek, a software engineer who was instrumental in stopping the removal of a rare Paradox walnut tree on the street to make room for development, says moratoriums can be used if “applicable law is inadequate to prevent irrevocable public harm from development.”

Based on this, Van Kleek claims the City would be well within its rights to declare a moratorium along SE 50th. “The proposed development poses a danger to pedestrians, cyclists, bus passengers, and drivers all over 50th, especially at SE 50th and Lincoln St.”

For precedent, he cites a decades-old land use moratorium used by Wasco County and the City of Antelope to try to prevent the expansion of the notorious Rajneeshpuram community in the mid-80s.

“The bottom line is that the law gives council power to save SE 50th and our neighborhoods, and they are actively choosing not to at this point.”

A preservation source says that both Los Angeles and Seattle have successfully implemented moratoriums on demolitions. “We have been told the City does not have the power to implement moratoriums. If the state land use law is a tool, it’s not being utilized.”

Here is an excerpt of a Van Kleek’s letter calling for neighborhood support:

“Our goal is to get city council to adopt a moratorium on construction on SE 50th for a minimum of 6 months, as allowed by state land use laws. This way the city can correct issues in zoning code and transportation standards that make the planned developments unsustainable, unfriendly to the existing community, and most importantly, extremely unsafe.

‘We are asking the council to immediately adopt the moratorium and convene a coalition of neighborhood citizens, city leaders/staff, and developers to create a plan that protects the citizens of Portland develops SE 50th as the community treasure it is.”

Neighbors Press for Moratorium on Demolition

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