By Midge Pierce
Shocked by a planning commission recommendation to add more multi-units to internal lots in the proposed Residential Infill Project (RIP) and include virtually all R2-R10 zones that are not environmentally prohibitive, critics say planners are impervious to concerns about rapid growth.
The Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) approved a “no-strings attached” proposal that allows four units inside residential, single family blocks with no affordability incentives.
Objectors call it a headlong rush into densification without regard for demolition, resident displacements, housing costs, the crush of traffic or the stress on infrastructure.
“With this vote, the PSC has raised the banner of ‘New Portland’, where economically challenged, disabled and elderly citizens no longer matter,” according to Michael Molinaro, member of a RIP advisory council called the SAC7 who disagreed with significant aspects of the project.
James Peterson, part of a mounting legal challenge against RIP, said, “I am not surprised that the PSC voted to have all interior lots have up to four units without conditions since the PSC membership is heavily made up of individuals from the development community.”
He questioned whether the PSC used Roberts Rules of Order since the vote did not follow normal practices.
“A gross failure of civic responsibility and due diligence,” declared a blogger on the Stop Demolishing Portland website with its No Vote, no R.I.P. motto. The post slammed the planning and sustainability bureau for deleting map tools from the RIP site that gave meaning to gentrification risk areas, median family income, vulnerable populations, historic districts, population density and cross-references to rental housing. The deletions, she claimed, make evaluation of RIP impacts impossible.
Over the last decade or so, Portland’s Eastside has absorbed the brunt of single-family demolitions according to research posted by Mark Graves on The Oregonian’s Oregonlive website.
Graphs show that among 22 areas charted, parts of Foster-Powell-Lents experienced the highest percentage of single family demos at roughly 4.5% of existing single family homes. Sellwood-Moreland-Brooklyn was next. At nearly 350 in a single year, demolitions peaked in 2016.
It is a virtual given that the majority of homes destroyed were small, affordable bungalows that fit this description: “the greenest, most affordable house is an existing house”, according to detractors who claim RIP will rip up Portland neighborhoods and destroy the City’s legacy, charm and reputation for smart planning.
Given additional adjustments, it is likely the revised RIP proposal, expected to go to City Council in September, will delay until 2019.