Land Use and Climate Change

By Brad Baker, LUTC Chair

Climate change has been top of mind a lot for me recently. I used to think that individual consumption choices could help make a change, but recently I’ve adapted more of the mindset that we need to advocate for systemic changes that enable people to lead more sustainable lives and help make sustainable choices the default. Luckily, the city has been pushing for some land use and transportation policies recently that will help achieve more sustainable outcomes.

I’m personally excited about the Residential Infill Project. I will admit that it has flaws, but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives. At a high level, it ends the ban of building 2, 3, and 4 plexes in single family zoned lots. By allowing for the construction of higher density living arrangements, heating will be more efficient (less energy usage!), and transit, walking, and bicycling for daily errands become more viable (less fossil fuel consumption!). Another benefit is that the requirement for off-street parking is removed which will hopefully lead to more tree coverage as there will be fewer driveways and more space for trees. The city’s own analysis also showed that this proposal would decrease displacement in Eliot which is a huge win for the neighborhood.

Another policy proposal the city has recently put forth is the Rose Lane Project. The aim with this proposal is to get busses out of car traffic on the most utilized routes. By helping the bus move more quickly, we’ll be helping move people more quickly and we’ll make taking the bus a more viable alternative to driving for more people. The more people who choose taking the bus over driving leads to less emissions. This project will also benefit Eliot as some of the busses to be prioritized are the 6 on MLK and the 4/44 on Vancouver/Williams.

It’s an exciting time to be involved right now as a lot is changing and there are some projects that make me feel optimistic which can be hard to come by right now. If this kind of thing sounds interesting to you, we’d love for you to come to our Eliot Neighborhood Land Use and Transportation Committee meetings on the second Monday of the month at 7pm at St Philip the Deacon.

CLT in the City: Using Cross-Laminated Timber for Infill Housing

My wife and I have provided rental housing in Eliot ever since we moved here 40 plus years ago.  Our intent then, as now, was to preserve Eliot’s older buildings threatened with demolition by developers who were, at best, clueless about the neighborhood’s origins and history.  One of these homes was at 19 NE Morris that was graced with a mature walnut tree that spread its branches across four adjacent properties.  We bought that property to protect the tree as the lot was zoned for multi-family units and was about to be sold to a developer.  After almost 30 years the house finally got to the point that it wasn’t economic to repair it and replacement required multiple units by code, so the house couldn’t be saved.  To save the tree, we were able to reduce the zoning code required number of new units from 6 to 4, which also allowed for a design like the adjacent townhomes (instead of the typical flat-roof modern box design).

I was Chair or a member of the Eliot Land Use Committee for multiple years.  A common complaint we heard from neighbors was that new development typically resulted in contractors blocking parking and sidewalks for months on end, which is a great inconvenience in Eliot.  I vowed to reduce neighbor conflict like this to a minimum by using construction methods that were faster than conventional “stick framing” that requires large numbers of workers.  This led to the selection of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels that are quickly erected with a crane.  Eliot has a couple of multi-story CLT buildings so the technique isn’t new, but the use of CLTs for a smaller building was new, mostly because it is more expensive than conventional stick framing.  I thought the trade-off between construction speed and cost was worth it to avoid the prolonged inconvenience of neighbors.   

Erecting CLT walls – end of day one at 19 NE Morris. Photo courtesy Mike Warwick

The process for our project was simple in concept.  Provide a concrete slab foundation for the CLT panels, erect the panels using a crane, and finish construction using conventional contractors for electrical, plumbing, finish, etc.  The concrete was poured at the end of October.  The panels came from Austria, which has decades of experience with CLTs; consequently, they are better quality and less expensive than locally made ones, even with the shipping.  Plus, they meet the higher European standards for chemicals in the glue and the sustainability of the wood.  They arrived in November.  Erection was scheduled for mid- to late-December but waiting until after Christmas was favored by the construction crews.  Unfortunately, that was just about the last dry period we had for construction!

Three weeks from start of construction. Photo courtesy Mike Warwick

Part of the street was closed to public parking as was the sidewalk for two weeks starting January 21st.  The first panels were lifted into place by a very large mobile crane on the 22nd.  Panels continued to be installed for two more days and the crew got a couple of workdays to play catch up.  The crane returned the 28th and the final panel was placed at 4 PM the 29th.  Five days to erect the building shell and only two weeks of parking restrictions.  Unfortunately, the Park Department’s required “tree protection zone” around the lone street tree will keep the sidewalk closed for the duration of construction.  The roof trusses were installed in the first week of February, so the building shell was essentially complete in three, very rainy, weeks!  The shell was ready for siding and roofing the first week of March.  Finishing construction will take a while longer to coordinate among the different building trades.  The result will be four, new 2-bedroom townhomes in place of the original 2-bedroom home. 

Day five – final day of panel erection. Photo courtesy Mike Warwick

Reclaiming Stolen Black Lands in the “Whitest City”- history and Q&A zoom

By Emanuel Displaced Persons Association 2

The City of Portland is in a sweet spot. There’s a ripe opportunity to redeem racist policies that destroyed Portland’s thriving Black community but whether city leaders will do the right thing remains unseen.

The Emanuel Displaced Persons Association 2, EDPA2 is an ad hoc community-based organization with membership comprised of survivors and Descendants of the Emanuel Hospital expansion forced removal. EDPA2 wants the City of Portland, Emanuel Hospital, Home Forward, formerly Portland Housing Authority, and Prosper Portland, formerly the Portland Development Commission (PDC) to do the right thing and return land they took from a majority Black community.

During the ’60s and ’70s, more than 70% of Portland’s Black residents lived in Central Albina. This was a problem for Ira Keller, then Director of PDC, concerned with the “high concentration of Negroes in Central Albina.”  Utilizing eminent domain under Federal Urban Renewal Law,  Prosper Portland and Emanuel Hospital demolished the houses and businesses in Central Albina. It was a contrived effort that involved the participation of a religious organization, local business, the City of Portland, the State of Oregon, law firms, financial institutions, title companies, electric company, elected officials and city leaders, prominent Portland families and an aggressive propaganda campaign to stoke fears of a “Negro Ghetto”. The City of Portland created a pamphlet and radio spot featuring an Ogre-like cartoon character called Creepy Blight whose sole purpose was to warn white residents of “Blight”. In 1967, the local NBC affiliate KGW produced a film titled “Albina: Portland’s Ghetto of the Mind”, The Portland Housing Authority, now Home Forward, exercised discriminatory housing practices like requiring a $20 deposit and monthly rent aimed at evacuees of the Vanport flood forced to relocate to Guild’s Lake. The Housing Authority also provided funding for the 1962 Central Albina Report used to justify and legalize the removal of Portland’s Black community from Central Albina. Prosper Portland created a pamphlet ameliorating the devastation caused by Urban Renewal and instructed residents on how to move!

In 1970, Black residents in Central Albina formed the Emanuel Displaced Persons Association, EDPA to combat the destruction of their community and to move “with dignity and without suffering financial loss” as stated in the 1949 Fair Housing Act. They filed a complaint with The Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD. Finding merit with the complaint, HUD’s involvement forced Emanuel Hospital, The City of Portland, PDC (now Prosper Portland), The Portland Housing Authority (now Home Forward) and EDPA to sign a Replacement Housing Cooperative Agreement. The Agreement demands all parties to work together to replace every home that was demolished, a 1:1 replacement for the families forced to relocate. For close to 50 years various organizations and individuals have tried to encourage Emanuel Hospital to enforce the Agreement. To this day, the Agreement remains incomplete. Note: adhering to the legal stipulations of a Cooperative Agreement, The City of Portland adopted a policy preceding the Agreement to address the 1:1 replacement housing; the policy and Agreement were never implemented.

On August 1, 2017, City of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler joined Executive Director of Prosper Portland, Kimberly Branam, and former President and Chief Executive Officer of Emanuel Hospital, Dr. George Brown, in a press conference to acknowledge racist policies responsible for the demolition and ultimate destruction of a once-thriving and self-sufficient Black community in what was Central Albina. Emanuel Hospital intentionally allowed portions of the demolished lands to “remain vacant for future development” for close to 50 years. A glaring reminder of a painful past for Portland’s Black community. Now, they claim to return a small parcel of land at the corner of N. Williams and Russell. For the record, Emanuel Hospital acquired more than 55 acres for their expansion yet less than an acre is offered for “return.”

To add insult to a longstanding injury, city officials claim the only way to develop the returned land is by placing it into the Interstate Urban Renewal Area, IURA. In the decade between 2000 and 2010, the IURA removed thousands of Black residents away from the city’s core in N/NE Portland where the majority of the city’s Black community used to reside. The IURA forced Black folks to relocate to east county, the poorest area in Multnomah County. The IURA is the largest, most gerrymandered and overused–it’s set to expire in 2021…

On August 9, 2017, at a regularly scheduled Prosper Portland meeting, members of EDPA2 and other community members stopped the vote to include the corner at N. Williams and Russell in the IURA. The vote goes before Prosper Portland’s Board of Directors again on March 11, 2020.

EDPA2 does not want the property at N. Williams and Russell included in the IURA where it’s expected to generate millions of dollars. How will the descendants of the Emanuel Hospital expansion receive any of those funds? EDPA2 wants city leaders to enforce and adhere to the Agreement that was signed many years ago. They want anything Emanuel Hospital and Prosper Portland “returns” to go to impacted families of the Emanuel Hospital expansion some of whose names are listed in the ten-panel historical display located in the Emanuel Hospital atrium. EDPA2 has met with City of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on this issue for more than 3 years. In December of last year, EDPA2 responded to the Mayor’s request for a plan with a presentation that includes long term economic development with a focus on community inclusion naming an internship program for neighboring students at nearby Harriet Tubman Middle School, job opportunities for high school students and a training/mentoring program for college students and ownership for Descendants of the Emanuel Hospital expansion. This plan is backed by an international company.

According to the August 1, 2017 press conference, it appears Wheeler and Branam want to relegate the Black community to affordable housing only, omit input from EDPA2 and deny long term economic development opportunities like the plan EDPA2 presented to the mayor.

On April 27, 2020 via zoom (rescheduled from March 31), EDPA2 aims to interject the omitted experiences and stories of impacted families into the current political discussion by presenting The Reclaiming Black Lands in the “Whitest City” lecture. Follow EDPA2 on Facebook. Contact EDPA2 at contactedpa2@gmail.com.

Join EDPA2 for Q&A Session for Reclaiming Stolen Black Lands in the “Whitest City”

Monday, April 27, 7–8:30pm on Zoom

Correction by editor of Eliot News: Prosper Portland reports that 1.7 acres are being redeveloped.

Letter from the LUTC Chair

This has been an interesting fall for the Land Use and Transportation Committee. Lots of neighborhood developments have been presented to us along with some pretty dramatic policy changes on the horizon.

In the neighborhood, we’ve seen small scale housing developments being proposed on the southern part of Vancouver and on MLK, discussed doing a street vacancy in lower Albina where Earthquake Tech has a new property on a dead end street with room for some creative use of space, heard updates on the Emanuel hospital’s renovation plans, and followed the developments on the Lloyd-to-Woodlawn greenway. I’m excited to see much-needed housing coming to the neighborhood and start to see empty lots being developed. On the Lloyd-to-Woodlawn greenway, while the changes won’t be exactly what we hoped to see, they’ll be a step in the right direction for making it safer for everyone to get around.

The proposed housing changes coming before City Council soon will also be a great step forward for improving housing choices for Portlanders and would-be-Portlanders. Better Housing by Design, the Residential Infill Project, and the associated antidisplacement measures will help make it easier to build “Missing Middle” housing – often the most affordable type of housing – and help to minimize displacement. I’m thankful to be seeing the city pushing for policies that will help make housing in Portland more affordable for more people.

Letter from the Chair: Co-Chairs That Work Together

Our co-chairs Allan Rudwick and Jimmy Wilson recently sat down for a discussion about priorities for the coming year. We came away with a few things. Firstly, we are committed to being co-chairs because we want to work together. Working together means taking the shared experiences of our lives and using them to guide where we are going.

Co-chair Jimmy Wilson expressed a vision to help the homeless community. “As a city, we have been in a ‘housing emergency’ for 5 or so years and we don’t have much to show for it.” It was further discussed what it would mean for the Eliot NA to do something about it.

Co-Chair Allan Rudwick expressed concern about the desire to see vacant land in the neighborhood turned into useful places for people to thrive. This means a bunch of different pieces, working with the city and landholders to actually motivate building on vacant land. Some of that is just
reaching out to landowners, some of it is working with the city.

In addition, Co-Chair Allan Rudwick’s desire is to see something done about Diesel pollution. “We have a problem in Portland and in Eliot in particular with the number of unfiltered Diesel trucks rolling down I-5 in particular and other streets in the area. This is leading us to breathe more Diesel Particulate (aka Black Carbon) than other neighborhoods farther away from major truck routes. There are some solutions that seem obvious like requiring filters on trucks.” Cochair Jimmy Wilson mentioned that the problem of diesel particulates has been an issue for a long time and people have complained heavily in the past to no avail. This new effort may have legs but it should recognize those that came before and tried.

It is the sentiment of the co-chairs that “we are second to the community. We aren’t attending meetings just for fun, we’re doing it to try to make this a better place. Whether it is picking up trash, feeding people, or keeping a space for local residents to get help with their issues, we want the people of the neighbor to know that the Eliot NA Board is here for them. “We are trying to support the strong citizens in the neighborhood. Sometimes that is advice on how to get in touch with the city, sometimes it is financial grants but always it comes from a place of respect and understanding that everyone is trying their best.”

Further, we are out here trying to make the world better for the next generations.

Our time is now, but if we can’t clean up pollution and build a great place, what are we leaving for the young people? There is no personal glory in this job, but there is satisfaction with helping people make a difference.

Overcoming Oregon’s Past and Embracing Diversity

By Monique Gaskins

Summer is here! Portlanders can take advantage of the warmer weather to explore new parts of town and meet new people. While moving around Portland, you might notice posters supporting neighbors of various ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. Although this might seem unnecessary in “liberal Portland,” this wasn’t always the case. Starting before Oregon even achieved statehood, its inhabitants enacted various laws to preclude the immigration of non-white neighbors.

You may have overheard jokes about the lack of diversity in Oregon. For example, “There are no Black people in Portland.” Or, “You live in the Great White North.” You might have shaken your head and continued on, but the lack of diversity in Oregon is very real and isn’t due to chance. According to The US Census Bureau’s 2018 data, the percentage of Black residents nationwide is 13%. The percentage for the state of Oregon is 2%. The city of Portland is slightly higher, with 6% black residents. 

The low number of black residents in Oregon is not an accident and is the outcome of over 150 years of exclusionary policies.

  • 1844: The first Black exclusion law was adopted. This law mandated that “blacks attempting to settle in Oregon would be publicly whipped—thirty-nine lashes, repeated every six months—until they departed.”
  • 1850: The Donation land act of 1850 granted land to white settlers, establishing home ownership specifically to whites. This offered an incentive for more whites to populate Oregon, and reap the benefits of land ownership.
  • 1857: The Oregon Constitution was adopted. It excluded blacks from legal residence, including voting, using the legal system, and owning property. 

After explicit race-based policies were unavailable, other methods were utilized to maintain the homogenous status quo. The Ku Klux Klan had an active presence in Oregon, targeting not only black but also Jews and Catholics. This preference towards white protestant neighbors led many neighborhoods and individual homeowners to add restrictive clauses to their deeds or neighborhood documentation. For example, a deed from neighboring Irvington (officially Dolph Park at the time) included the following, “For a period of twenty-five years from the date of this dedication, the premises shall be used exclusively for residence purposes and shall be occupied by the white race and no member of any race other than the white race shall own or occupy any portion of DOLPH PARK”. This practice, called Redlining, made it difficult to procure bank loans and housing insurance for homes in non-white neighborhoods. Redlining also meant that these homes weren’t providing as many wealth building opportunities to its owners as those in white neighborhoods.

These clauses and related attitudes consolidated non-protestant whites into specific areas of the city, such as Eliot. From 1910 to the 1960s, blacks began moving to Eliot because of its convenient location to transportation, railroad, and hotel jobs. After the end of World War II, Portland targeted Albina (including Eliot) as a suitable neighborhood for blacks who were displaced in the Vanport flood of 1948. According to an interactive redlining map of Portland from around 1930, the Eliot neighborhood ranked as “Hazardous”, the lowest of 4 possible categories. The clarifying remarks are, “Zoned multi-family residential and business. This area constitutes Portland’s “Melting Pot” and is the nearest approach to a “slum district” in the city. “Three-quarters of the Negro population of the city reside here and in addition there are some 300 Orientals, 1000 Southern Europeans and Russians.” These categories made it difficult to qualify for loans and home insurance in Eliot, but residents often didn’t have much choice, as they were unwelcome in other parts of the city.

Portland’s lukewarm approval of a multicultural neighborhood in the middle of the city wouldn’t last. In the 1960s, the I-5 construction destroyed parts of Eliot and displaced many black residents. In the early 1970s, the city condemned parts of Eliot – including the land purchased for Legacy Emanuel – further disrupting black families. 

Today, housing in Portland is unaffordable for many people of all races, religions, and ethnicities. Let’s move beyond our history, and support policies that help all people feel more housing secure in our state, city, and neighborhood. A key to helping our neighborhood thrive is to allow diverse types of housing that would be more affordable to more people. Currently, much of Eliot is zoned for single-family homes, pushing up housing costs, and supporting a policy with racist roots. The Residential Infill Project aims to make housing more affordable by allowing more types of housing to be built in areas zoned for only single-family homes. Another resource is Portland for Everyone. They’re advocating for housing that will serve many different types of neighbors. 

Let’s learn from past mistakes and embrace diversity. Let’s be good neighbors, especially for people that might not have historically been welcomed in Oregon.

Taxed to Death? Part 1 of 2

By Mike Warwick

Introduction

It’s winter, a time for holiday cards and, less welcome, property tax bills. This time next year you may look back fondly at your tax bill as the Governor, Speaker of the House, and legislators from Beaverton and Hood River have all indicated they want to revisit our property tax system. Their public justification is that “gentrification” has resulted in “those homeowners” not “paying their fair share.” Of course, “gentrification” is a code word for homeowners in inner N/NE Portland; namely, us. To see how this might affect you and your neighbors, look at the difference between the “assessed value” and “market value” of your home. “Reform” will likely reset assessed value to market value so the difference (currently about 4 times for an older Eliot home), is how much taxes could increase; 400%!

Continue reading Taxed to Death? Part 1 of 2

More homes. All shapes and sizes. For all our neighbors.

This is the mantra encouraged by a Seattle based research group studying solutions to increase livability in their city. Portlanders find ourselves in a similar situation; we need more housing options. 40% of people in the Portland-Hillsboro-Vancouver MSA rent their homes. At the same time, according to a study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the average rent for 1-bedroom apartments is no longer affordable for people earning the mean renter wage. For families that make less than half of the median family income (Portland’s median family income is around $83,000 per year), there is an affordable housing shortage. In Multnomah County, the estimated wait time for housing assistance is 14.5 years. If you were to get on the waitlist when your child is a baby, you’d be waiting for housing assistance until your child was a high schooler.

Continue reading More homes. All shapes and sizes. For all our neighbors.

Cascadia’s 52-unit Apartment Building

Garlington Center Housing
Garlington Center Housing

Garlington Place Apartments will open its doors in February 2018, offering 52 housing options including studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. The four-story apartments will anchor the northern corner of Monroe Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, offering 31 units for anyone qualified, with preference for former North and Northeast Portland residents.  In addition, 10 units will be for Veterans who qualify and who are facing homelessness, as well as 10 units for people with mental health challenges. Cascadia began accepting Garlington Place applications through the Portland Housing Bureau’s Preference Policy on Monday, October 16th in anticipation of new tenants moving in as soon as February 2018.  This article is the third in a series describing Cascadia’s Garlington Health and Wellness campus, and explains the Garlington Place amenities and application process.

Continue reading Cascadia’s 52-unit Apartment Building