Wacky Wednesdays in Portland

Years ago, I learned that you don't want to write when you're buzzed. Sometimes I wonder whether the gang at Willamette Week have ever considered that proposition. Their last couple of issues came across as the work of a bunch of thoroughly baked college students.

First they gave us a new edition of their recurring "Portland Isn't Doing That Bad" trope. This involves comparing us to other cities, on the dubious assumption that if it's worse somewhere else, it must be fine here. And it's invariably based on some carefully selected statistics, highlighting the wisdom of Mark Twain.

One of the stats that they leaned hard on this time around was a supposed 1.8 percent vacancy rate in Portland housing. This proves various dubious points of their narrative, including the age-old Portland mantra that if we just had a couple hundred more crap apartment buildings, everything would be cool.

Whenever I'm looking for information about the rental market in Portland, I go to some experts that real-world landlords and bankers use. Their website is here. Unlike the Weed, they inform us that the vacancy rate in Portland multi-family housing is something like 4.8 percent, and the "stabilized" vacancy rate is around 4.2 percent. I'm not sure what the difference is between the two measures, but these experts' numbers are a far cry from the 1.8 percent plucked out of Census data and flogged in the not-so-"alt" weekly. 

In their next issue, the first of the new year, the Weedsters blessed us with "How to Fix Portland," full of self-proclamed "big ideas." At that point, they must have added beer to the bong, because most of these suggestions are ludicrous. 

You know what will save Portland? 

  • An all-night diner downtown. Can you imagine? 
  • Close off more of downtown to cars. For what, more tent ghettos? 
  • More tax abatements for apartment developers. Because the ones we have spent the last 30 years handing out have made the city so much better? 
  • Tolls, tolls, tolls. That will bring them back from the suburbs?

You get the idea. It's all laughable – maybe they were pulling our legs – but one of their flashes of genius really ticked me off. It was the suggestion that all of the close-in east side neighborhoods be razed and the houses replaced with three-story buildings. Notice, that's the east side, where the Weed's readers live – not the west side, where the people on the top of its masthead live.

I've got a better idea: The city should annex Dunthorpe, the toney real-world-avoidance enclave where the editor and publisher of the Weed are reportedly from, and build it up three stories. And don't forget to include the soup kitchens and methadone clinics on the ground floors of the new "mixed use" Dunthorpe apartment bunkers. 

The more I think about it, the less I'm kidding. Annex Dunthorpe!

Hoo boy, pass the beta blocker. 

Nowadays I fully expect to be annoyed when I read the natterings of the WW crew. But usually it's not as bad as the drivel at the Merc, which I know will have me absolutely tearing out what remains of my thin, straight hair if I dare look over there. The past few weeks, both publications have been equally exasperating. Let's hope this week's Weed, which hits the stands in a few hours, makes more sense.


  1. The same rag that championed the policies and politicians that brought us here, is now in full team Portland cheerleader mode.

    Sorry WW, that ship has sailed. Stick to your bread and butter.......articles about which weed strain to best pair with kale casserole.

  2. This might be pertinent if WW gets their odd wish to have a Waffle House in Portland. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVrFzg4xWps


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