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Ritzy Neighborhoods Struggling Against Infill

The market forces that push developers and landowners to build “more” and “bigger” have cropped up in some of the swankiest neighborhoods in Portland. So far, neighbors who oppose the projects are finding scant legal recourse to prevent the changes.
March 13, 2014, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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“Infill, tearing down an existing structure and putting up one or more replacements, has become common practice in some of Portland’s oldest neighborhoods over the past few years,” reports Anna Griffin. In fact, “[the] number of single-family home demolitions has skyrocketed since the end of the recession and was up almost 50 percent last year from 2011.”

Moreover, infill is even cropping up in “more upscale, established neighborhoods such as Irvington, Eastmoreland and…the pricey stretch of Beaumont-Wilshire along Alameda Ridge.”

Residents of these neighborhoods are struggling to find ways to oppose projects that demolish buildings to replace them with multiple residential units. “City policy allows property owners who simultaneously ask permission to demolish one home and put another to avoid delays. The idea is to prevent land from sitting vacant for too long -- a problem before the Rose City was a real estate hot spot -- but a growing number of Portland neighborhood groups want Mayor Charlie Hales and the rest of the City Council to rethink the policy now that infill is so popular.”

Meanwhile, residents of these neighborhoods are not pleased with the changes in their neighborhoods. Griffin quotes Al Ellis, president of the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association, whose opinion is sure to rile those who don’t believe neighbors should have veto power over the legal rights of a landowner: “At this point, the way the code is written, it’s so easy to get around informing anybody…So the shape and character of our neighborhoods are being determined by owners and developers.”

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Published on Thursday, March 13, 2014 in The Oregonian
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