Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lessons for Marin (especially Marinwood and Novato) from the Portland Planning disaster

In Gateway, a well-meaning project draws objections

Glisan Commons represents the kind of taller, denser development planners say will turn Gateway into a true regional center. It's also highly controversial. (Faith Cathcart/The Oregonian)
Anna Griffin | agriffin@oregonian.comBy Anna Griffin | 
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on July 12, 2013 at 1:29 PM, updated July 17, 2013 at 12:35 PM


[Editor's Note: These are the type buildings we can expect to see in Marinwood in the near future if we are unsuccessful at repealing the Housing Element for unincorporated Marin.  So far, Supervisor Adams and her business/political associates seem intent on making Marinwood the next "smart growth" community in Marin despite all community objections over costs and infrastructure demands.  Please remember this on voting day]

Glisan Commons, the concrete and steel 

creation rising at Northeast 100th Avenue and Glisan Street, is that rarest of things in Gateway: New construction.

Despite bold plans to remake Gateway into "Portland's second downtown" and a "regional center," the east Portland district remains a mishmash of car-centric, suburban-style sprawl, much of it dating to the 1950s and '60s.

Broken Promises

Follow The Oregonian's series on the future of east Portland, looking closely at promises not kept.
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So a multi-story, mixed-use project less than 1,000 feet from a MAX station would seem cause for applause. This is, however, east Portland, where nothing comes easy and neighbors harbor a generation's worth of resentment and distrust. Both the process and the policies behind this particular bit of urban renewal have some Gateway advocates frowning.

"It's more desirable than what was there," said Arlene Kimura, president of the Hazelwood Neighborhood Association. "Unfortunately, it's also another nonprofit project that does not generate tax revenue."

Up until a year or so ago, this busy corner was home to a shuttered golf-club manufacturing plant, a dirt-floor barn, two houses and a crowd of homeless people and drug users who occupied it every night.
Human Solutions, a nonprofit that helps poor families find permanent housing, bought the land in 2006 with plans to build 155 apartments. Then the recession hit.
"The timing was horrible," said Jean DeMaster, the nonprofit's executive director. "We couldn't make it work."

In 2008, Human Solutions sold the land to the Portland Development Commission for $1.9 million. Two years later, the Portland Housing Bureau released a request for proposals from developers interested in building affordable housing in Gateway.
The RFP wanted to target renters earning from zero to 60 percent of the Portland region'smedian family income. It promised special consideration for developers who included commercial space on the ground floor and those willing to rent to the poorest of the working poor -- people earning less than 30 percent of the region's median family income. The regional median is $68,300 for a family of four or $47,810 for a single person.

Two groups responded. The winner was a two-phased partnership between three nonprofits.
In phase one, Human Solutions will build 67 apartments for people just entering the workforce. The ground floor will include 16,000 square feet for Ride Connection, which helps seniors and people with disabilities find transportation options. Some 50 Ride Connection workers will relocate to the new headquarters.
In the second phase, Reach Community Development Inc. will build 60 apartments for senior citizens.
glisanstreet.JPGConstruction has begun on the first phase of Glisan Commons.
A handful of units in each phase will be priced for people earning at or below 30 percent of the region's median family income, which translates to rents of $325 a month. The entire complex will be either studios or one-bedroom apartments, a favor to the severely overcrowded David Douglas School District.
The city is providing $5.9 million in urban-renewal money for the two phases, and the land for $1 a year.

From government's perspective, the project meets multiple goals: It's taller, denser, environmentally friendly construction in a stretch of the city envisioned as more urban in feel. It targets two of east Portland's fastest growing demographic groups in new workers and seniors.

And it meets a city requirement that 30 percent of money spent in urban renewal districts pay for new affordable housing, a policy pushed by former Commissioner Erik Sten as part of his effort against homelessness.

"I think it's going to be a fantastic project for the community," said Patrick Quinton, executive director of the Portland Development Commission. "If there are complaints, I'm not sure where they're coming from."

They're coming from years of frustration with how city leaders have handled Gateway redevelopment.

The view from east Portland

"We get ripped off by paying a disproportionate share of taxes for services that we don't even get."
— Carrie A., Montavilla
"The best thing about east Portland is the diversity. There is so much variety in lifestyle and experiences with diversity."
—Lauren Ashley J., Powellhurst-Gilbert

See more

Residents and property owners here say the city has routinely used urban-renewal money generated in the district for projects that don't improve the area's economy. The first $682,000 in Gateway went to build a county receiving center for abandoned or abused children. Urban-renewal money has also gone to extend light rail to Clackamas County, to build a Gateway Transit Center parking garage and to buy land for a park that the city cannot yet afford to build or operate.

The PDC has done a smaller series of street improvements and storefront upgrades with urban-renewal money, but neighbors and property owners say the big-ticket items funded with tax increment financing always seem to be projects dearer to elected officials downtown than people in Gateway.

"I'm positive about Glisan Commons because we need more good, affordable housing for seniors," said Bob Earnest, a longtime east Portland resident. "I also feel like we're always spinning our wheels in Gateway."

"The idea behind urban renewal is to generate tax-increment financing and use that to reinvest in our community. That just hasn't happened here. This is one more case."
Residents and private developers in Gateway note that the city's decision to buy land from Human Solutions then quickly -- at least, quickly in development terms -- donate it back to a Human Solutions project looks inappropriate. But city and Human Solutions officials say there was no deal in the works when the city made its purchase.
Affordable housing is always a controversial topic in east Portland, which has seen a flood of cheap apartment complexes and publicly subsidized projects in the past decade. When early plans for Gateway's transformation into a regional center were in the works, some residents argued for putting all new affordable housing in the district on property along I-205.

"I remember standing up at a meeting and telling people, 'That's not right, and that's not fair,'" Earnest said. "It also wasn't realistic."

Community advocates also have a more specific concern: That Glisan Commons puts a publicly funded project in direct competition with private developers.
Riad Sahli, Reach's housing project manager, said surveys done pre-construction suggest most Glisan Commons apartments will cost about 20 percent less than the market average.

glisaninside.JPGLee Jackson takes a break from plumbing work on the first phase of Glisan Commons. The two-part project will eventually offer 127 units of affordable, one-bedroom apartments.
A 2012 market study conducted for the Portland Development Commission showed that newer one-bedroom apartments in outer northeast Portland rented for an average of $765 a month, including utilities. Most of the one-bedroom apartments in the first phase of Glisan Commons will go for around $570 a month, not including water and electric bills.

"Our housing prices are still so cheap," Kimura said. "A lot of people who qualify for Glisan Commons could also afford something offered by the private sector."

That equation may be true today, but city officials and project organizers are betting it won't continue as Gateway grows and the private market becomes more upscale. The Housing Bureau's request for proposals required that the Glisan development meet the criteria to be considered affordable housing for 60 years.

"Yes, we'll probably be competing for some of the tenants in the area right now," DeMaster said. "But we're building something that we know has to last 60 years. By that point, it might be the only affordable housing on this street."

In that regard, project organizers sound more optimistic than Gateway advocates about the future success of redevelopment here.

Thank you for this venue.
When I ran for Multnomah County Commissioner District 3 in 2012, I readily admit that I was not remotely ready for prime time. Not anymore! I sincerely appreciate the kindness of voters that did vote for me (23.81%), and the encouragement from voters and neighbors throughout the county. As a citizen candidate with no experience in the process? I ran because I needed to know the score!

And, with all due respect, there is no leadership in this state. The pandering is embarrassing and quite frankly, Oregon politicians get most of their money as a cover for the "big guns" that run all of our lives. And so, they can be proffered very small contributions compared to other states. On the cheap.

That spells disaster for YOU! There is no there there. We are all being sold a "bill of goods" and it is not good for us.

Watch the disaster in Dallas, Friday, November 22, 2013 and the aftermath with Alex Jones of "Prison Planet" documented on YouTube and his website:
Over 250 riot gear garbed Homeland Securitized robo cops mowed down approximately 50 citizens; some of whom were young children in the pouring down rain. There is NO EXCUSE for this! NO EXCUSE!

These were "federalized" Dallas Co. sheriff's deputies and not, according to Mr. Jones, the local Dallas police. One Dallas police officer was openly sobbing.

The "chess" game. Oh Boy! I have uncovered significant insights in the politics of Oregon overall that scream "Yikes!" and I am much more savvy about the internal
I and other people who live out here like it like it is... suburban and car oriented with lots of bus lines for those who need to take the bus.

go make another downtown next to downtown -- its stupid to make another downtown 6 miles from downtown
Further eroding Gateway and points east seems to be the City of Portland's only tactic to to remove and relocate blight from their own pet project neighborhoods. The city has already dismantled a once healthy middle class community, promised support to put Gateway back on the map in a positive way (an empty promise), and have mismanaged their charge over Section 8 housing by plucking it out of its more prominent neighborhoods and moving it east of 82nd. Before you know it they'll be moving The Pearl's homeless camp east of 82nd too.

Glisan Commons low income housing is not going to attract business to a neighborhood whose residents haven't the resources to spend in their establishments. This means, this community is stuck with low quality national chains that lend absolutely nothing to make Gateway a destination. And this is sad. If you go up Halsey and down Weidler people can find what could be a terrific destination to grow into a 'village' of sorts. If this core and Glisan could be focused upon and serious effort and follow through made, not just promised, by the City Gateway could come out of the rubble. But will the city do it? Will the city help do what they did for Mississippi Avenue and North Portland? Will they put serious money behind their mouthpieces? Will they do what they said they would do? Will there be a day when Whole Foods, New Season's, Zupans, Trader Joe's will vie to gain retail space in Gateway and points east or has the destruction by the City degraded 
I find it disturbing that the "urban renewal" funds in mid- and east-county are being used to build "social engineering" and "social service" facilities that do not contribute any tax revenue back to the community. Another great example of this trend is the "renewal of Rockwood" by building a Multnomah County Courthouse annex on part of the old Fred Meyer site, which would have generated tax revenue until the county bought it. The west half of the site is still an open field. As a result, the property now consumes tax dollars instead of generating them.  
It's clear that Portland annexed the mid-county region in the 1980s just to capture more tax revenue to subsidize "renewal" projects in the Pearl, S. Waterfront, Northwest, and Interstate, and to have a convenient stash of land on which to build facilities for community services/functions they want to move far away from Downtown. To add insult to injury, the property owners got soaked by the City of Portland when they were forced to connect to sewer at excessively high prices.  
The City of Portland sucked the life out of Gateway just for the sake of "renewing" Downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods.
You nailed it, Mike. I loved in Parkrose for 17 years and got soaked big time. In the meantime, the city kisses the butts of OHSU and other trendy and powerful influences.
Can anyone say "Deja vu all over again"? A few years back an Oregonian staff writer waxed effusively about the planned Moyers Tower downtown for the "arts, culture, and restaurants" it would cntain. He briefly mentioned income disparity, but lynne97030 would be heartened to know that the building included "workers quarters". The Rounds, Orenco Station, etc...the convention center hotel in the future. Ever see anyone hauling a couch back from IKEA on the airport MAX? Unmentioned here is how the MAX was orginally sold promising to revitalize the area, instead it became the conduit to export Portland's urban poor to that area and Gresham via Metro's high density requirements. You can drive along E Burnside from Gateway to 181st and you'll see the first floor retail space is vacant and unused. The only sign of hustle and bustle is the methadone clinic at 162nd.  
What's particularly offensive about this scheme is it's meant for you, not for them. You won't find any of the planner class living in a 120 room unit high rise with no parking lot and depending on MAX to get around their 20 minute neighborhood. 
I'd love to see public employees have to take public transit too and from work for about 6 months to show us how convenient it is..and maybe even for work travel. No flex time, no exceptions or free passes, or comp time for the extra travel time, just as the rest of us would have too. Just to see how well it fits their needs.  
Perhaps if they need an iconic project, how
your points are very well taken. but isn't this ultimately the product of higher property values close or closer to downtown which dictate the movement of people with lower incomes and lesser resources outward? but it is worrisome, the ghetto-ization of the poor to places where they won't be seen.
Oh yes, but those higher property values were partially driven by Metro restricting available building space via the urban growth limit. I don't know if the effect was planned or just happenstance, but it happened.

I'm not against urban planning. I don't want an oil refinery in my back yard or next ot an elementary school, but I want it built somewhere close to derive the economic benefit. Metro sees a future that limits your freedom and prosperity for their view of the greater good. Like Andy Kerr, the former head of Oregon Natural Resources Defence Council, who retired to a big redwood home in southern Oregon; that future is not for them. It's a lot easier to control people when they are poorer and have fewer or no options of their own.
Sorry, but disagree.

The urban growth boundary didn't cause property values on Mississippi, or Belmont to increase by 1000%. It was urban blight and dying neighborhoods that were a result of the original wave of suburban out-migration. The resulting rock bottom property values made these areas ripe for re-investment, which in turn with increasing fuel costs,frustration with long commutes, and decades of environmental clean up esp of waterfront areas, led to the current 'urban renaisance' which is a global, not local, phenomenon.
I doubt that an urban renaissance is the cause. The people in those blighted neighborhoods would have no place to move to without Metro high density planning for outlying communities and MAX to provide a corridor...which post dates "out migration" to the suburbs. At the same time, Metro has constricted the amount of land available for suburban type housing. That has been and is their plan for the future.

Since Portland has been bleeding jobs to the 'burbs, one has to wonder if those people in NE are working Tualatin, Tigard, and other suburban locations.
Outstanding job of reporting
The best thing that can happen for Gateway - or anywhere else in East Portland - is for all of Portland east of ODOT's property line on I-205 to secede from the City and form its own city.

The fact that a PDC/City Hall staffer is on record as saying - from the article, ""I think it's going to be a fantastic project for the community," said Patrick Quinton, executive director of the Portland Development Commission. "If there are complaints, I'm not sure where they're coming from." ", shows once again City Hall's absolute disdain for the citizens of the city.

Frankly, Quinton should immediately resign his executive director position for saying something so crass and idiotic.
Excellent comments. The PDC, City Hall and all those bureaucrats are all about themselves. Between Fluoride, covering reservoirs and ripping off East county residents, they should all be removed from their positions.
Ms Griffen I don't suppose you would invite the City Council, County Commission, Metro, TriMet, Planners and mediate the confrontation between them and residents, would you? Are you willing to address the fact that the Oregonian has been a stanch supporters of this development without deviating from the script written by the PDC, while - until now - ignoring those who live in the Gateway Area? This has been going on for 12+ years, and ONLY now you are addressing the overzealous government we have been having to deal with for all that time? Do you promise to follow up on this, or are you just doing this to force government to do something, weather we want it or not?
Tombdragon: I'll follow up. And feel free to hold me to that:
This article outlines various plots of welfare being slushed around between dubious government and non-profit agencies.
As a business owner and a business owner in Gateway I have a vested interest in improving the area. That being said, KEEP THE PDC AND GOVERNMENT OUT OF THIS, the government cant even tie its shoes, let alone be a part of a successful "redevelopment" plan.
Business and building bad
I notice you didn't say 'resident'
"The entire complex will be either studios or one-bedroom apartments."

Families not welcome.
Fully one-quarter of all Americans live alone. There's a serious lack of affordable housing for single people, especially seniors, in East County. We really do not want grandma taking in roommates off Craig's List, now, do we?
But seniors aren't suppose to live independanly. They are eith suppose to "pay their own way for housing" or relinquish all of their assets to government - along with their care. They aren't suppose to have the ability or "fredom" to chose to live as they wish. Come on Gate way is an "Urban Renewal Area" - which is government code for FORCED Gentrification.
IamObservin: The people behind this project made a conscious choice to only build 1-bedrooms out of deference to David Douglas School District. One of the biggest budget problems facing DDSD is the influx and turnover of kids living in apartment complexes. Sticking to single-occupant or two-occupant units is a way to avoid putting even more students in a district already overwhelmed.
The problem is the City of Portland wants to impose its vision on a very independent minded neighborhood who actually own their property, and resent the City Council's interfearence in our lives. The City Council, Metro, County Commission, TriMet and Planners have continuously lied to residents for the last 35+ years, begining with the first MAX, and their projection of 42,000 riders a day, the City of Portlands promise to install sidewalks if we choose to pay to accept sewers - they chage us $75 additional each month, and not fulfil their promise of sidewalks. Their insistance that we embrace their plan to become a "walkable" neighborhood, and let land lay fallow for 12 years, and build government buildings that don't produce tax revenue, and then aren't even used to bring in people that spend money, and sit empty. The City of Portland, Metro, Multnomah County, TriMet, and their planners are all just incompentent bafoons who lie cheet and steal from the middle class, and Gateway is the epidomy of that incompetence. The elected leaders wouldn't dare come a talk with us - there would most likey be a riot if they did.
Actually, I think the only improvement to the Gateway landscape I might check into would be moving the power and phone lines from overhead to underground. Aesthetically, this is the only real unappealing feature of the area currently. Over time and left to its own devices, Gateway will develop its own free spirit and freely arrived at structure.
Without micromanagement planning and artificial land barriers (the UGB), there would be less of a need of taxpayer subsidized "affordable" housing.

These high-rise 'mixed use' type buildings tend to be small in size and expensive; requiring rent subsidies for even middle income families. This in itself fosters dependence on government and creates a class of perpetual renters. Renters of these types of buildings tend to use more government services and entitlements as well.
Neither seniors on SS benefits nor single women leaving TANF for the workforce are in the market for buying homes. Obviously the seniors will remain on government entitlements until they die; it's hoped that by making housing affordable and accessible by public transportation, the latter group will find a way out of poverty and into a better life.
It appears as though the "planners" never bothered to consult the little people - the area residents before implementing their Grand Vision.
The City of Portland, Metro, Portland City Council, and the planners continue to act in bad faith, lie, and treat residents like dirt, the problem is that they use our money to do it.
Great, a project that subsidizes lower income people, decreasing overall property value within the region. Crime rates will increase making it less likely investors will develop in the area.
There are definitely forces at work-- not officially, but just in a general sense-- to push the homeless eastward, out of downtown. Look at the "Clean & Safe" officers fighting to protect the PBA's bottom line. They're doing a good job of putting homeless on the other side of the river. Look at how far out they placed the new can & bottle redemption centers. Homeless advocates have noted the shift even as of a few years ago. If I lived in Gateway, I'd be suspicious too.
Nothing could lower property values more than what was previously on this site -- abandoned, derelict buildings!

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