Michael Mehaffy's talk to Portland's Downtown Neighborhood Association,
February 28, 2022
Sustasis Foundation Executive Director Michael Mehaffy spoke to the Downtown Portland Association about Portland's corrent problems, and the wider historic backdrop as well as insights on the path forward -- drawing on the observations of Jane Jacobs and others.
Full version, 52 minutes (includes 12 minutes of Q&A): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfC4ihJvoVg
Shorter version, 38 minutes (does not include Q&A): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsU_M1cwp10
The full chat text is below, or you can download a copy here.
18:19:57 From Wendy Rahm : We will take questions in chat only. Once Michael finishes his presentation.
18:21:51 From jeannemcginnis : Is there a requirement that new apt buildings have a percentage of affordable apts? I thinking specifically
of the 24 story apt building that is being built at the old Oregonian Printer block close to Lincoln High School.
18:24:02 From Meg Merrick : Amen!
18:24:17 From Wendy Rahm : Reacted to "Amen!" with 👍
18:25:01 From Heather Flint Chatto : Reacted to "Amen!" with 👍
18:25:16 From Tim Davis : We merely moved the freeway west from the waterfront to the new I-405. How will we *activate* Waterfront Park?
I see NO WAY to activate it without getting rid of ALL private auto traffic on SW Naito. Otherwise, it’ll be nothing but grass & geese
forever. Naito just a wide car sewer lined with empty parking lots and blank walls.
18:27:28 From Scott Schaffer : The 24-story Press Blocks building was approved before Inclusionary Housing was required. So, no, all market
rate apartments on that project.
18:29:13 From jeannemcginnis : That’s sad re Press Blocks. That’s not going to help the housing/homeless situation.
18:32:38 From Kunwoo Dodd : Why doesn't building more housing help with the housing problem per his Vancouver example?
18:32:59 From Jeffrey Scherer : Reacted to "We merely moved the ..." with 👍🏻
18:34:17 From Xavier Stickler : Question for Michael when/if he has time: in my experience, planners and architects—especially younger design
professionals—feel strongly about creating more walkable, livable communities. Even those that work in aggressively suburban
townships. But developers share no such similar leanings. In the case of the recent Tualatin development, Nyberg Rivers, a coalition
of architects wished to create a mixed-use district—like if Bridgeport Village had been built with housing. However, the Californian-based
developer, CenterCal properties, refused outright to even consider including housing, and instead built a car-centric suburban shopping
mall. It seems the opinion of many planners that government policies have shifted towards livability, but Capital remains resistant.
Do you agree with this? And if so, how do we change this?
18:34:26 From Meg Merrick : It depends on what it is (housing type and size) and where it is.
18:37:34 From Jeffrey Scherer : Replying to "Question for Michael..." Money make motive. Motive makes for an insular city.
18:38:33 From Linda Mantel : for those who have access to the NYTimes, this article sounded very familiar
share&referringSource=articleShare "Even Democrats Like Me Are Fed Up With San Francisco"
18:39:05 From Wendy Rahm : Michael has read that too. We talked a bit about it.
18:41:54 From Jeffrey Scherer : Subtext here: good design is not defined by “historical” examples—many “historical” cities were built with the
money gathered from domination, colonialism and exploitation—specifically built for the elite. Post-modern historicism is not a panacea.
18:43:30 From Xavier Stickler : Revised question: Nearly all planners and architects I have spoken to feel strongly about creating more walkable,
livable communities, but feel developers share no such similar leanings. Do you agree that developers and Capital interests are a major
block, and if so, how do we move past that?
18:45:51 From Maggie Skenderian : Will the recording of this presentation be available to share?
18:46:23 From Barbara L. : How can we love neighborhood sidewalks (I do) when they are overwhelmed with tents?
18:47:13 From Wendy Rahm : Yes, we will be putting the recording on you tube and will forward the link.
18:48:07 From William Lennertz : I really appreciate Michael’s focus on the big picture. Portland will be back, it has Good Bones.
18:48:19 From Jeffrey Scherer : Reacted to "I really appreciate ..." with 👍🏻
18:48:24 From Peggy McDaniel : Reacted to "I really appreciate …" with 👍
18:48:26 From Jeffrey Scherer : Reacted to "Yes, we will be putt..." with 👍🏻
18:48:50 From Laurence Qamar : I really appreciate Michael’s focus on the big picture. Portland will be back, it has Good Bones.
18:48:58 From Heather Flint Chatto : Reacted to "I really appreciate ..." with ❤️
18:49:12 From N. Chapin -82nd Ave BA President : At what point do developers, planners and cities acknowledge that spread out cities with 75%
of adults that still use vehicles to work and shop and public transportation that isn't everywhere need to allow for places to park those
vehicles. ie: 140 apartments and 21 parking spaces fronting on SE Division Street and 84th,
18:49:48 From Tim Davis : Reacted to "I really appreciate ..." with 👍🏻
18:50:17 From Wendy Rahm : Reacted to "I really appreciate ..." with 👍
18:50:38 From Jeffrey Scherer : The evacuation of Hong Kong was a primary reason Vancouver’s housing exploded...
18:52:43 From Xavier Stickler : At what point do developers, planners and cities acknowledge that spread out cities with 75% of adults that still
use vehicles to work and shop and public transportation that isn't everywhere need to allow for places to park those vehicles. ie: 140
apartments and 21 parking spaces fronting on SE Division Street and 84th, At what point do we get serious about preventing the planet
becoming unlivable? There is not enough lithium on the planet to make every vehicle that exists even in America into electric cars.
Unfortunately, we need to change western society so that it doesn’t cause the elimination of the species.
18:53:16 From Susan Lindsay : People who are heavily addicted to extremely powerful, overwhelmingly addictive drugs are not simply homeless
due to a lack of housing and job opportunities. Where do you see the addicts, currently living on the streets in tents and tarp constructs, going to?
18:54:25 From jeannemcginnis : Good question, Susan Lindsay.
18:54:36 From Christa Reyes Klein : Reacted to "People who are heavi..." with 👍
18:55:40 From Linda Mantel : How did we ever get to so many hotels in the middle of downtown, with the loss of many small local businesses?
18:56:15 From Heather Flint Chatto : Great talk Michael. People describe Portland as a City of Neighborhoods. Polycentric approaches are key, and
recent policy has not necessarily been tuned to context. Can you speak about 1) human scale design and 2) Portland's Center's and
Corridor's approach that has been foundational - you did a great talk on what was done early but the pieces that are still missing which
were part of the original intent to make it work.
- Heather, Forage Design + Planning
18:56:46 From Xavier Stickler : People who are heavily addicted to extremely powerful, overwhelmingly addictive drugs are not simply homeless
due to a lack of housing and job opportunities. Where do you see the addicts, currently living on the streets in tents and tarp constructs,
going to? Excellent perspective, Susan. I suppose my response, if Michael doesn’t have time to respond, is that West Virginia has far
more per capita opioid and meth usage than Oregon, yet a fraction of the homelessness. As does TN, Kentucky, and more. Why? Because
the homelessness graph and the housing cost graph are always the same shape.
18:59:40 From Daniel Friedman : With Downtown Portland heading to a ~40% commercial vacancy rate and with most office buildings being unsuited
to conversion to residential (for reasons of design and cost), what other uses can you envision for millions of square feet of empty office space?
18:59:59 From Christa Reyes Klein : Thank you!
19:00:33 From Xavier Stickler : Bravo, thank you so much, Michael!!!
19:00:45 From N. Chapin -82nd Ave BA President : Thank you!
19:00:53 From Susan Lindsay : Thank you, Michael!!!!!!!!
19:01:12 From Gayle Bast : Thank you!
19:01:13 From Angela Rico (Commissioner Rubio) : Heather - could you please send me that recording if you find it?
19:01:17 From Tom Karwaki : Unfortunately we have lost the center and corridors wuth ADUs
19:01:19 From brian borrello : That was awesome, thanks!
19:01:29 From John Czarnecki : Thank you for opening our eyes and keeping them open. Quimby!!!