By Midge Pierce

As analysts sift through thousands of comments to the Recommended Draft of the City’s Residential Infill Project, a commonality emerges: housing affordability is paramount.

Some respondents say that means adding square footage to all new development. Others call for more incentives to repurpose existing homes into multi-housing. Still others urge extending the boundary of rezoning overlays to allow for Infill everywhere.

Although SE neighborhoods are most impacted by densification, it is a SW neighborhood that is mounting a legal challenge to stop RIP. (See swni.org/multnomah).

Regarding the City’s summary report, Multnomah Neighborhood Landuse chair James Peterson says, “It looks to me like they are writing findings to match the agenda.”

In coffeehouses, online forums and community meetings around town, the most heated arguments rage over whether more housing equals affordable housing.

Fingers increasingly point to Seattle where rampant demolition and Infill has increased housing prices dramatically, displaced longtime residents and decimated existing neighborhoods.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the City’s response report is that they are geared toward “improving” the plan. That requires a degree of buy-in of the overarching concept that RIP is the right solution for Portland’s future growth.

Seeking input on details rather than the overarching concepts of demolition, densification and RIP’s defacto rezoning of single family neighborhoods is a distracting, deceptive practice for those seeking a public vote on the plan. See stopdemolishingportland.org

Planners say City Council will hold public hearings and may amend the Recommended Draft before they vote to adopt the plan. This will likely occur in the fall of 2018.

Meanwhile, debates continue as residents parse the energy efficiency of new homes – with potentially higher costs and waste production against affordability of existing homes with sturdy builds and embedded energy.

Debate has also been on the rise over longterm housing prices and whether the price of older homes with quality materials declines faster than new homes with bells and whistles.