… with the advantage of a big corporate sponsor. From Portland Business Journal.
Scotto di Carlo and her husband Michael are local economy experts and the founders of Supportland—a network of independent restaurants and retailers that employ a shared points system (sort of like a universal punch card) that provides an incentive for supporting local businesses.
“Retail is changing rapidly and the sort of discount shopper that [might have gone to the mall] is just going online,” says Scotto di Carlo. “The reason people engage with retailers now isn’t just because they want a product, it’s because they want to engage with a sense of place and their community.”
In its nascence, online shopping was an augmentation of brick-and-mortar retail—but now it’s the norm, placing malls like Lloyd Center in the unfortunate blind spot between independent boutiques and more upscale shopping centers.
In April, the Wall Street Journal reported that a variety of prominent chains are slowly withdrawing from weaker malls—and it isn’t hard to imagine Lloyd Center making that list.
“We’re kind of in this transitional period, but I think that the market footprint of big box stores and malls is going to be vacated at a higher and higher level as we approach this new equilibrium between online retail and [independent retail],” says Scotto di Carlo. “I don’t know if the old investors have given up completely, but I really don’t see how the target market is still going to be there for Lloyd Center.”
Scotto di Carlo also suggests that smaller businesses generally steer clear of spaces like the Lloyd Center, because they violate the values of independent retail by design.
A few weeks ago, Portland residents got some unsurprising news: the city’s housing prices are officially rising faster than anywhere else in the nation. …
Increasing numbers of residents are clearly upset at a wave of historic property demolitions, making way for ungainly ’50s-style white boxes and uber-trendy, in-your-face “space invaders”—or outsized, alien-looking new buildings. Human-scale places are being crowded out by new tall buildings, and luxury condos like the new Park West tower are casting unwelcome shadows over Pioneer Square and other civic spaces. …
Today the emphasis is still on mixed use and streetcars, but thanks to global architectural fashions, the anywhere-Modernism has come back—artsy (some would say cynical) designer packaging for a free-wheeling style of outscale real estate development. In the city’s new Central City 2035 plan, it’s easy to find generous deregulations for developers, but difficult to find any meaningful heritage protection. …
Nowhere is this cultural amnesia more apparent than in the city core, where planning officials seem determined to create a pale imitation of Vancouver, British Columbia. That Canadian city has done an admirable job of partially mitigating the wave of global capital that washed over its shores, fueling a tall-building boom. But Vancouver has also seen many problems and controversies, and confronted lessons that Portland would do well to study more carefully.
Moreover, Vancouver has several crucial (if too easily overlooked) differences from Portland. Its large blocks allow point towers (slender towers in the middle of the block) with minimized impact on the streets, whereas Portland’s small blocks result in massive volumes at the street and dark, dead spaces (like Burnside below US Bancorp Tower, one of the most notably dead Modernist places in the city).
Portland was so affordable, as the slogan went, that young people went there to retire.
Then the city got “discovered,” people started flocking here, the tech companies came, and Portland became more expensive. Oregon has been the top destination for people to move to for three years in a row, according to United Van Lines. …
Now, housing prices are skyrocketing in this city of 600,000, as more people move in and new high-rises and apartment complexes go up. Apartment rents are rising at an annualized rate of 14 percent, one of the largest increases in the country. More than half of the city’s tenants spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. News stories abound of whole buildings raising their rent by 20 percent or by $500, or more. Evictions have skyrocketed as landlords make room for new residents with bigger salaries. …
“I think that there’s a general sense that Portland is progressive enough to be assumed to be doing the right thing, and that’s not the case,” Cameron Herrington, the anti-displacement coordinator at Living Cully, a coalition of neighborhood groups in Northeast Portland, told me.
Until March, the state banned inclusionary zoning, which mandates that new buildings include a certain number of affordable units. There’s no rent control in Oregon, and efforts to pass just-cause eviction laws have, thus far, been futile. The city has embarked on big urban-renewal projects in the past few decades without putting measures in place to ensure that tenants in those neighborhoods won’t be displaced. In September, the Community Alliance of Tenants, a nonprofit advocacy group, declared a renter state of emergency, asking for a year-long moratorium on no-cause lease terminations, and demanding that tenants receive a year’s notice for rent hikes over 5 percent.
The city has tried to respond. In October, the Portland City Council declared a housing emergency, focused more on helping the city’s growing homeless population by waiving some city laws to allow the creation of temporary homeless shelters. Later that month, the city council unanimously approved a law that requires landlords to give 90 days notice for no-cause evictions and for rent increases of more than 5 percent. Mayor Charlie Hayes has set aside $20 million for affordable housing in North and Northeast Portland. People who have lived in Northeast Portland, which was for decades majority African American, or who have family roots in the area, will get first preference. …
“There are limits to white urban liberalism,” Justin Buri, the executive director of the Community Alliance of Tenants, tells me. “When it comes to housing and schools, all of that goes out the window.” …
Between 2000 and 2010, Portland became even whiter, not just because more white people moved to the center city, but also because black people and Latinos moved to the city’s outer edges and suburbs.
The best coverage so far on the City of Vancouver’s update on active transportation actually comes from Portland – through Michael Andersen at bikeportland.org:
… an amazing slideshow of survey results presented to the Vancouver City Council on Wednesday are a rock-solid reminder that good bike infrastructure can have a spectacular payoff, even in a city that already has quite a bit of biking. …
Vancouver’s 2014 bike-commuting estimate was 9 percent, up from 4 percent in 2011. According to the U.S. Census, Portland’s bike-commuting rate in 2014 was 7 percent. …
So what has Vancouver been doing differently on transportation over the last few years, enabling it to add tens of thousands of new commutes but hardly any additional auto trips?
Among other things, it’s been taking heat.
Details follow. It’s a good overview of what has happened here in the last few years.
Michael Anderson of BikePortland picked up on this:
Metro is the only elected regional government in the United States. It’s also got one of the most interesting government communications teams in the country. …
For its latest project, a four-part “regional snapshot” about transportation, the agency pulled out all the stops: original tilt-shift photography, narrative video, text drawn from at least a dozen interviews and a whole quiver of custom-made infographics. If you want a single overview on the basics of the region’s transportation situation, I’ve never seen a better one.
On a per-person basis, the Portland region has been driving less since 1996, even as people take about the same number of trips each day. According to Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s Urban Mobility Report, the region’s residents drove just 5,000 miles per person in 2014 – that’s nearly 25 percent less than other US metro regions of similar size.
And here’s good news – though a growing population invariably means more commuters, just under half of the workers added since 2000 drive to work alone. The majority are choosing other modes, or working from home.
Transit ridership is climbing fast, too. In 2014, people in the Portland region took more than 103 million rides on transit. Although ridership has fluctuated over the last 10 years, overall transit ridership has grown faster than the region’s population, faster than the number of miles driven each day and faster than transit service has grown.
The majority of the region’s freight is still moved by truck. However, as Oregon’s economy has shifted from bulk products like farm exports and timber to lighter products like semiconductors, electronics and specialized machinery, the the region is moving fewer tons of goods around. But these lightweight products are higher-valued – as a result, the overall value of freight exports increased by 55 percent between 2007 and 2012.
… we spend less time commuting to work than people in most other regions.In 2014 the average commute was 26 minutes – about a minute longer than in 2010. The Portland region is tied for fifth-best metro area in the nation for the share of people with a 30-minute commute or better – nearly two-thirds of commuters in the region have a commute under a half-hour. In part that’s because people here don’t have to travel as far to get to work. The average commute distance in the region is just 7.1 miles.
Having options is important because different ways of getting around have very different costs.
OMG traffic cones are all the rage. The revolution has begun and it has bounced off Twitter onto our streets.
First, I recommend following AwarenessCone on Twitter. A silly Philadelphia-based account, it mocks the traffic cone’s responsibility to protect us from danger with overqualified cones placed in menial, dead end positions. Their bio sums it up well:
AwarenessCone: a cone placed at the site of damaged infrastructure; a cone marking construction; a cone forgotten. Be aware.
Two examples are better than one.
The Man systemic car culture wants everyone outside who’s not in a car to be dressed in clothing with high visibility (hi-viz). We all know black is the most slimming colour. Drivers are jealous of our active lifestyles. They want us to look chubbier than those in vehicles. They also want to take no responsibility for hitting and killing us with their cars. Activist people on foot and on bike and on board refuse to wear reflectors or bright clothing day or night in protest. Active transportation moderates get mocked as sell outs for having reflective trim on any clothing.
Moschino, always known for its tongue-in-cheek, society mocking designs, has a new line out for Spring/Summer 2016 called Dangerous Couture featuring ridiculous, high fashion, hi-viz clothing and their version of street signs (including little Do Not Enter signs as earrings).
Which all leads me to the third trend for cones. People are using them to control their streets. Call them safety heroes or vigilantes, drivers don’t know if they are City-issued or not and are slowing down. These movements are cropping up in various cities. PDXTransformations in Portland, OR was separating cars from bike lanes with traffic cones recently. Now its members have put up (illegal) 20mph speed limit signs and are getting local media coverage for their antics. (The Portland Bureau of Transportation has said publicly removing the signs is not a high priority with limited resources.)
We are not a “bike advocacy group.” We are a Transformation Action Group. We want our streets to serve everybody.
Our dream is that the people of Portland stand up to unsafe drivers and say ENOUGH. You can’t do that here anymore.
They are inspiring others.
If these rogue antics were organized in your town, would you be tempted to make a request? Is there a dangerous spot near you? Have you reported it to the City?
Clearly cones are trending and improved safety for all on our streets can’t be far behind.
Leave it to Portland to figure out how to remove the boredom and inconvenience of going to the Laundromat. Behold the hipster laundry lounge: Retro video games, a chill-out loft area with couches, ATM, and a bar for soaking up some suds between spin cycles.
In addition to minimizing the stress of doing your washing, Spin Laundry Lounge minimizes their impact on the environment using eco soaps and a range of sustainability principles in true Portland style.
Working class priced out, kicked out in new Portland housing boom
Despite 22,000 new apartments coming on line in the metropolitan area since 2012, more than half in Portland proper, vacancies remain practically non-existent. That has freed apartment owners to charge eye-popping rents — think $1,200 for a 400-square-foot studio, as much as double that for a one-bedroom.
The average rent in Portland has jumped 41 percent since 2010 to $1,242, according to Axiometrics, a Dallas real estate analysis firm.
The boom raises troubling issues of economic inequality, as rent hikes have spiraled far beyond workers’ wage increases. The posh new apartment houses are prevalent on Portland’s east side, historically the gritty home to the city’s working class. Even developers share foreboding that the central city is becoming a playground for the affluent while the young and the old and the people in the service economy no longer can afford to live there.
Critics have coined a nifty phrase for the trend — “economic apartheid.”
Affordable housing has become a hot political issue up and down the West Coast as prices continue to escalate. But addressing the downside of popularity and growth is no easy task. Said one local planner: “This is capitalism. How do you fight it?”
While bureaucrats mull policy, people are struggling to stay in their homes.
“We’re getting a hundred calls a week from local people in some sort of housing crisis,” said Bobby Weinstock, of Northwest Pilot Project. …
The target market for the developers are the thousands of highly paid tech workers now working in the central city, particularly transplants from the Bay Area and Seattle who view Portland housing as a bargain.
“The city is really attracting a lot of young, educated people and those people are attracting companies with jobs,” said Sam Rodriguez of Mill Creek Residential, a Texas-based developer.
It wasn’t too long ago that condominiums were developer’s product of choice. But today, it’s all about rentals. Between Millennials who can’t borrow or don’t want to be tied down and baby boomers who want to retire in the central city, the urban apartment market is hot.
“You have this confluence of the two largest demographics in the country,” said Homer Williams, a Portland developer. “You’ve got the baby boomers downsizing and the Millennials who can’t upsize.” …
Because of the strong in-migration, vacancies hover at just 3 percent, which gives landlords enormous leverage to raise rents. Portlanders suffered a 15 percent year-over-year average rent increase in the 12 months ended in August, the steepest increase in the country, according to Axiometrics.
As a result, Williams said, the portion of income Portlanders can expect to devote to housing has increased from 25 to 35 percent. Renters moving from major West Coast cities are used to paying 40 to 50 percent of their income for housing.
The escalating rents in Portland have attracted the biggest institutional investors in the world, who are buying apartment houses at hefty premiums.
Like home-flippers from the last housing boom, the developers are now reselling buildings only recently completed to big institutional investors. …
Tenants are often forced out by building renovations or rent increases they can’t afford.
Advocacy groups struggle to bring attention to the impact. The Community Alliance of Tenants claims hundreds of Portlanders have been forced out by landlords seeking higher rents — known in the rental business as a no-cause termination. Last week, the group declared a renters’ state of emergency and called for a year-long moratorium on no-cause terminations and stricter notice of rent hikes.
The next day, Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman said he would introduce new tenant protections requiring that landlords give a minimum of 90 days notice of a pending termination – up from the current 30 days.
After speaking with people at various Portland drinking establishments it appears their version of wealthy Chinese money flowing into real estate comes in the form of Californians cashing out and heading North for the Portlandia dream driving housing out of reach for locals.
Fitting then to come across this art installation across the river on East Burnside.
Here’s something to keep you commenting while I’m away, based on a response that Guest, PT’s best balloon-pricker, placed on this post from the Daily Scot: Gentle Density in Portland:
If you zoom out on the Portland map, the continuous line of larger buildings (retail commercial, presumably) on those east–west “smaller” arterials is quite striking.
By comparison, Vancouver has much smaller pockets of retail strips, even along the arterials, and generally not parallel to each other for great length. i.e. Main Street, Cambie Village, and South Granville may be on the same latitude, but Oak is devoid of a commercial strip, and only Main Street’s commercial zone extends any great length.
Dare I say that these east-west Portland streets can afford to remain small because of the existence of the I-84 freeway, so long-distance travellers from the east will not need to traverse the neighbourhood on surface streets. i.e. these roads do not “need” to be stroads because of the existence of the freeway, so they can remain smaller and more neighbourly.
Click to enlarge.
Scot and others decry the heavy traffic on our old streetcar arterials like Main, or the lack of pedestrianized streets like Robson, or the concern about the Viaducts coming down without lessening the impact on Prior. And the counter argument is that none of that is possible because those streets have to perform the contradictory functions of local street and through arterial, both for car traffic and transit.
In other words, they have to be stroads.
So is Guest’s implication right: would Vancouver have more options if we had built a freeway like I-84 to handle the through traffic so that now we could create more local mixed-use streets like Division?
This is not just an academic exercise. The Citizens Assembly in Grandview has called for a tunnel under their neighbourhood to handle the volumes currently on East 1st. If, in a reorganization of TransLink, the Major Road Network was turned over to the Province, then the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure could, for instance, come up with a plan like this:
- Absorb the median to the east of Nanaimo to widen East 1st
- Build underpasses under the cross arterials
- Dig a tunnel from Victoria to Clark
- Redesign a route across the False Creek Flats to serve downtown and the new hospital.
Voila, a de-facto freeway to handle the cross-city traffic that would connect to and from Highway 1.
Arterials like Hastings and Prior could then become neighbourhood service streets, narrowed and densified to create more livable, bikeable, mixed-use environments.
Click to enlarge.
And once they’ve got the boring machine going, how about other connectors to the south and north? Then Main, Cambie, Fraser and others could be our new Division Streets.
So maybe we should build that freeway that never was. After all, we’re not funding new transit.
Another missive from Scot’s trip to Portland:
Colourful and well-scaled residential infill along Division Street in Portland:
It’s quite an intimate streetscape with the building elevations +/- 50 feet apart with street neckdowns of 24 feet at either end of the block, reducing traffic speed and book-ending the small commercial strip. Unlike Vancouver’s main arterials which are largely stroads with high traffic volume and speeds, Portland’s main Eastside routes (Burnside, Hawthorne, Division, etc.) are narrow in cross-section and, subsequently, with lower speeds and volume, making living above them more pleasant.
Intersection is SE Division Street & SE 32nd Avenue looking east. (Map here.)
Old warehouses converted into Magical residential walk ups in Portland’s Pearl District.
Apartment courtyard space at street level in Portland’s Pearl district blurs the lines between private and public realm.
We’ve seen books and blogs using the “Then and Now” treatment to show side by side the historic and present via photos. But in our curiosity and research, we could not find many or any examples of this comparison being done with motion video.
Thinking about it more, we got excited to use timelapse and slow motion to bend and warp present time while exploring past time. The idea was sparked.
It’s almost conventional wisdom: young people are leaving (or not coming to) Vancouver because they can’t afford to live here; appropriate housing is unavailable, especially for families; there are no jobs or at least jobs that pay well enough; opportunity is elsewhere; fill in blank with appropriate reason.
Is that true?
Hard to know what will happen, but at least we know what has happened. Here are some data, put together by a PT researcher. Read the notes carefully; it’s more complicated than it looks.
20-24 AGE GROUP IN SELECTED CITIES
2001 to 2011 (US cities 2000 to 2010)
25-29 AGE GROUP IN SELECTED CITIES
2001 to 2011 (US cities 2000 to 2010)
The first columns are the absolute change over 10 years. Everywhere except San Francisco added people in both those age groups over the decade. The percent change is as a percent of the 2000 or 2001 number – so, for instance, we added 13.5% 25-29 year olds, while the total population increased by 10.6%.
However, in the rest of the Metro Vancouver area, while the entire population rose by 18.6% that age cohort only increased by 8.1%. Vancouver was more attractive to move to than the rest of the region if you were aged 25-29 – although there were still three times more people in that age group added in the rest of the region than in the city because Vancouver can only accommodate a small proportion of the region’s growth overall.
The next column looks at the number aged 20-24 (and 25-29) compared to the number 10 years younger, 10 years earlier. It gets to the net growth over the number already in the city (if they all stayed in one place. Obviously they don’t – some left, but even more arrived). You’ll see that there’s a big increase in all the cities in all the age groups. Cities are where you move when you’re young.
But you’ll see the story for the rest of the CMA is very different from the City of Vancouver. It’s way more attractive – and proportionally it’s between Seattle and Portland and almost identical to Denver. San Francisco is easily the biggest number, and proportion. It looks as if that was even more true a decade earlier, which is why the number of 25-29 year olds are slightly lower in 2010 than in 2000. Seattle adds more 20-24 year olds (# and %) – in part that might be the University of Washington having an impact.
It’s a complicated story. But is the sky falling and all the young people leaving Vancouver? Not so you’d notice – at least, not in the city. It might be true in White Rock or West Vancouver, of course.
Read that headline carefully. There’s a tendency to misread anything that suggests strategies could deliver something that seems so unachievable in Vancouver.
Community activists have been complaining about the lack of affordable housing for years, saying that the shortage is contributing to homelessness and the displacement of low-income minorities from the gentrifying parts of Portland.
But within the past few months, the complaints have turned into a scramble to support a wave of affordable housing initiatives at the local, regional and state level. New programs are being implemented or considered by the city of Portland, Multnomah County, Metro and the 2015 Oregon Legislature. Although the activists don’t claim the initiatives will solve all of the housing problems, they are amazed by the increased focus on the issue. …
The larger number of Democrats in the Oregon Legislature as a result of the 2014 elections also is playing a role, she says.
“Affordable housing issues are getting more traction in Salem,” Adkins says.
As discussed by the activists, “affordable housing” is a broad term that means many things, from free housing for the homeless to housing with payments structured for those earning a certain percentage of the state’s median income. It also has come to mean programs that directly subsidize housing costs, such as rent supplements. Here are some of the current affordable housing initiatives:
From Ron Richings:
Here’s a link to Portland’s “Sunday Parkways” events for 2015. These public mass rides, are now offered in many American cities, are notable by their absence here in Vancouver. We are missing out on a great way to generate mass use of bike routes/ways and likewise mass appreciation of those facilities by ordinary people who mostly don’t identify as ‘cyclists’, but who nonetheless happily incorporate these recreational activities into their lives. I have volunteered with at least one of these events for the last three or four years, so I have some personal experience with them. And have seen the value that they can have.
I understand that there were some discussions several years ago between HUB and the City about doing something vaguely similar here, albeit with no result. It is way past time to have make something like Sunday Parkways a reality here in Vancouver.
Put up or shut up. CityLab and Transitmix shows you how.
The design-your-own-bus-route tool called Transitmix had all the makings of an Internet sensation when it came out last summer: an addictive fantasy system capable of entertaining both amateurs and wonks alike. And it didn’t disappoint. In six months since the beta version launched, users have created some 50,000 transit maps in 3,600 cities around the world. …
Transitmix simplified and prettified everything. Users can find the map of any city and either import existing bus routes or draw their own from scratch. No more Google Earth. They instantly see the stops, schedules, and cost of individual lines or entire systems. No more Excel. They can even layer in geospatial Census data to see, for instance, how many people in a certain corridor live below the poverty line.