Weasels win

As long as I've lived in Portland and surroundings, the real estate developers have had their way with the local politicians. Oh, Tom McCall might have set them back a bit when he was governor with his land use planning rules, but that was 50-some years ago, and the builders and construction unions have been steadily staging a comeback ever since old Tom gave up the ghost. If he could see what's happened, he'd be horrified.

And this year, the developers' victory is complete. The elected officials they own have created a "homelessness" crisis (or maybe it should be called a drug addiction epidemic), and everybody in the state who draws a government paycheck now seems to be in agreement that the solution is going to be more cheap apartment bunkers, with maybe a ticky-tacky subdivision here and there. Land use regulations are to be thrown to the wind by order of Governor Kohoutek themself. A new state bureaucracy is to be created to pressure the local bureaucracies to roll over and allow the projects to be slapped up faster and in more places than ever. And there will be handouts by the tens of millions for construction, probably sifted through the state's growing army of redundant nonprofits, each of which has an executive director banking an annual hundred grand or two.

Plus, it's a bipartisan game now. The red side has always hated the fact that they can't pave the whole state over, but now the blue sheep have been trained to baaa loudly at every mention of the "equity" of it all. The unholy alliance makes the cr-apartments utterly inevitable.

God help the neighborhoods who'll be getting these new deregulated stack-em-ups. There'll be no place for all the tenants' cars, and more than a few of the occupants will be people with problems too severe for civilized society. Most of us want them off the streets, but we don't want them next door, and for good reason. Tough.

You gotta hand it to the weasels. They have taken game, set, and match.


  1. How is it possible to pave over the entire state if we only live on less than 2% of it . This is about more infill and paving over the entire cities.
    This is just higher densities done faster. Something the city planners have been pushing for decades.

    1. Thanks for the Fox News perspective. Proving my point about the bipartisanship. Wait 'til one goes up in your lovely suburb. You'll be singing a different tune.

    2. I think he's right. UGB's never seem to move much and when they do the infill is tight. We have artificially limited the supply of buildable lots to prevent sprawl. Questioning these decisions amounts to heresy. So now we are left with (un)affordable infill mandates that are (much) worse than the feared sprawl.

    3. I never watch fox news

    4. I never watch fox news

    5. You should, you'd like it a lot.

  2. I would like to know why they thing developer giveaways are a better idea than putting a whole lot of these out: https://www.newsweek.com/amazon-tiny-home-affordable-housing-solution-viral-video-redfin-economist-comments-1867125

    At $20k per, that Multnomah County homeless tax could buy an absolute pile of them, leaving money left over for the developers to build low-income housing as well.

    There isn't just one solution to this problem, so let's subdivide the problem and run parallel solutions: cheap portable housing on city and county owned lots (safe rest villages?) to get people off the street and transitioning into better circumstances, and when they're ready to get out of one of these, there will be new subsidized / low-income apartments opening up that the weasel set can start building.

    Spend some money on something that helps, or stop taking it from my bank account.

  3. We have regulatory capture by the weasels. Private investment was flowing in before the pandemic, but now the weasels have found a way to keep the cash flowing from the public fisc because capital has wisely moved on.

    Here's an idea to instantly reduce the burden of renting in Oregon: make rent payments tax-deductible for purposes of the Oregon income tax for residential tenants. This would also mean we wouldn't need to build or permit a thing. There's no appetite for this kind of change because as Bojack points out, it's not really about reducing costs for tenants. It's about enabling the pathetic developer weasel ecosystem.

    I dug into the original studies that support the "crisis" declaration and they are unsurprisingly devoid of facts, but lots of talk of 'equity'. They cite that most tenants pay somewhere around 1/3 of their gross monthly incomes in rent. Okay? that's what I paid when I was a tenant. It was sustainable.

    "We NEED 500,000 more units of housing," the studies bleat. Do we though? Portland is losing population. Boomers who own the majority of real estate are downsizing (sometimes by choice, other times not). This artificial crisis will sort itself out, but not after we've wasted hundreds of millions of dollars, made a few principals at architecture and development firms very rich, and further sullied the fabric of our neighborhoods.

  4. No more condos, apartment cubes or suburban sprawl/McMansions?

    It’s hosed all-around; the car-centric culs-de-sac w/like 4 lousy cheaply built McMansions on it isn’t sustainable if you want city levels of police, paved roads, sewers etc (check out Chuck Marohn’s strong towns book & YouTube channel opposing sprawl from a fiscally conservative ex civil engineer materialist perspective.), but the growth Ponzi scheme & bill hasn’t come due yet for all the environmental damage & ~50 feet of sewer in the ground per person instead of ~5 that it was pre ww2.

    But all the shoddy built apartment bunkers are no solution, either.

    Philadelphia has brick row houses, but it’s also the poorest big city in America & Baltimore is probably the most cartoonishly corrupt (they don’t get the rep like Chicago, but they definitely punch above their weight) & SEPTA works *at all* but has a lot of shitty parasite suburbanites on its board and bureaucrat hacks and hangers on from the city itself.

    Montreal they have the ‘missing middle’ housing, but still a lot of urban freeways & they speak French on a continent that mostly doesn’t.

    If we had more durable row houses (attached or semi-attached) with street & off street parking, easement/alleys, granny flats, corner (only, with sufficient parking & transit/traffic thruput) duplexes/mixed use grocery stores with some durable low rise apartments &/or roof top/ off street parking, that’d be nice, but the tax code doesn’t favor it, developers can’t make as much money in the short run.

    But you might get neighborhoods with mature trees similar height or taller than most of the buildings, lower landscape costs, less mean nasty HOA rules/less or your yard visible from the public that people bitch about in sprawling suburbia hell mowing and pouring chemicals on their lawns and driving their cars invading the city,, & less celebrity/social parasite white collar anonymity to hide in their condos, cars & McMansions (maybe/one might hope?).

    They still have detached residential in Germany & Netherlands, and if you want that/septic systems, some unpaved roads, solar power etc, why not?

    If you’re a come to town once a week kinda person in your car/ make your own energy, do your own maintenance for a basic permeable gravel road, volunteer fire department, maintain and don’t put anything you shouldn’t down your septic & make some solar, micro hydro or wind power kinda person, why not?

    It’s the luxury condos, apartment bunkers & McMansion affluent suburban garbage around major cities that are a total cancer.
    As are the historic districts preserving Sears kit houses in California that kind of suck or eastmoreland overgrown cottage houses sans full width porches/shared transitional spaces that also kind of suck.

    Hard to decomodify housing.
    No neighborhood should or can be preserved from all change, but no neighborhood should be forced to change too quickly.

    I love the arrogance of city hall to ‘de-emphasize’ neighborhoods…one of the great things about growing up in Portland is that it felt like a big neighborhoody town, not exactly a city.

  5. Not that the Mayor can do much, but Tom potter was a slight respite and lost to Jim Franceconi who was a cartoonish real estate bag man…

    …they got their guy in there with Charlie Hales the tax dodging vancouverite to east Moreland hysteric district thereafter & got after it with a vengeance since 2012-2015, though!

    Say what you will about city council Randy/ corrupt as ever, at least he ever did an actual job?

    Katz, Sam Adams, Kotek etc it’s just consultants, middle men, hacks, flacks and hangers on all the way down as go-betweens between finance & contractors, basically.


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