Portland's Smart Growth Faces Cries of Gentrification

Portland, famed for its progressive policies and smart growth, is facing criticism that the same growth they are applauded for is squeezing other groups out- particularly African-Americans.

"Not every neighborhood in this city is one of those Northwest destinations where passion for espresso, the environment and plenty of exercise define the cultural common ground. A few places are still described as frontiers, where pioneers move because prices are relatively reasonable, the location is convenient and, they say, they "want the diversity."

Yet one person's frontier, it turns out, is often another's front porch. It has been true across the country: gentrification, which increases housing prices and tension, sometimes has racial overtones and can seem like a dirty word. Now Portland is encouraging black and white residents to talk about it, but even here in Sincere City, the conversation has been difficult.

"I've been really upset by what I perceive to be Portland's blind spot in its progressivism," said Khaela Maricich, a local artist and musician. "They think they live in the best city in the country, but it's all about saving the environment and things like that. It's not really about social issues. It's upper-middle-class progressivism, really."

Thanks to Sightline Daily

Full Story: Racial Shift in a Progressive City Spurs Talks

Comments

Comments

First hand account

I lived in NE Portland in the the late 1990's where lower income people were slowly being pushed out by gentrification as higher income (whites) bought up more and more houses, brought in Starbucks, Whole Food, etc. There was a large mostly black neighborhood just north of me where rents were going up and landlords were cashing out to newcomers wanting to live in rapidly hipifying "close-in" neighborhoods.

And yes, I was part of that trend. The neighboorhoods were walkable and the houses charming, and everything was convenient ... in short, everthing new urbanism is about .... but there is a cost to lower income people.

Portland never had a very high black population to begin with (nor anywhere in the NW), so 'diversity' in the NW is just a slogan in my opinion. If you want real 'diversity' live in the South, or in Hawaii.

By the way, same thing is happening in San Fran.
http://www.planetizen.com/node/23617

New Urbanism has a diversity defect

When the Wash Park Prophet railed against the planning profession, one of the blog responses described a Duany lecture with a slide show in the background.

The whispered comment, "I see white people"

http://washparkprophet.blogspot.com/2008/04/against-planners.html

Defects in comment threads.

The whispered comment, "I see white people"

I'm not sure if your cherry-picked comment from a libertarian blog* is a result of confirmation bias, inability to read, or something else. But for whatever reason, you didn't highlight other comments there such as

    urban planning as it is practiced today is heavily invested in the task of cleaning up yesterday's planning mistakes.

    and

    I would like to point out that although planners provide the tools, we are not the decision makers. That is left to City Council.

Your comment here suffers from oversimplification and the logical fallacy of hasty generalization.

HTH.

Best,

D

* Boy, a libertarian living in WashPark. I wonder if this particular ideological adherent isn't pushing low-cost housing solutions, like we find in other blogs, and whether they refrain from arguments based on the hypocrisy of others...

New Urbanism Not Helping Lower Income Folks

Dano,

I'm guilty as charged on all counts. Just sayin' that gentrification (sometimes due to New Urban policies) has generally pushed out lower income demographics.
Jane Jacobs taught us that diversity is essential for urban health. Otherwise, I'm a huge fan of New Urbanism.

If anyone is looking for solutions, a city-wide ADU policy with minimal restrictions is a starting place. It's not catching on in some places because longtime residents are afraid of the same things cities were afraid of in the 1950's when ADU's were outlawed nationwide: Density, Traffic, Parking, Privacy, Noise.

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