14 Millennials Got Honest About How They Afforded Homeownership

For most millennials I know, the American dream of homeownership doesn’t just feel far away, but impossible. Especially if you live in an urban area, if your own parents didn’t own a home, if you’re saddled with student debt — it doesn’t matter if a mortgage payment might be equal to what you’re paying in rent when you’re struggling month to month, barely putting enough aside to save for an emergency, let alone a down payment.

And it doesn’t just feel like fewer of us are buying homes. Statistics bear it out: According to a 2018 report from the Urban Institute, as of 2015, the homeownership rate for millennials (then age 25 to 34) was around 37% — that’s 8 points lower than the percentage of Gen X’ers or boomers at the same point in their lives. According to the study, there are multiple, intersecting reasons for this, all of which will likely sound familiar to millennials shut out of the market: We’re getting married and having kids later; we have far more student debt; and many of us are drawn (by necessity or choice) to urban areas with “inelastic housing supplies,” where both home prices and rental costs have skyrocketed.

When I lived in Brooklyn, I’d gaze at the prices for a studio apartment in my neighborhood (between $700,000 and $1 million) or a brownstone ($2 million to $5 million) and wonder: Who could ever make this happen? Rich people, sure. But people tend to get rich, at least in part, by owning real estate. To get there, you need a down payment. And if you’re putting your extra money toward child care, or loans, or medical bills — how do you come up with that down payment? And how do you find a home you can actually afford?

Homeownership, like other forms of participation in the American dream, increasingly resembles an exclusive country club, with membership predicated on who your parents are and your race. To wit: A millennial’s likelihood of owning a home increases 9% if their own parents were also homeowners. While 39.5% of white millennials own homes, the black homeownership rate is just 13.4%, the Asian ownership rate is 27.2%, and the Hispanic ownership rate 24.6%. “Left unchecked,” the Urban Institute study declares, “current trends will result in even greater wealth disparities among white, black, and Hispanic millennials.”

The trends we’re seeing right now in homeownership will reverberate for generations to come — and accentuate the 21st-century parameters of privilege. The difference between people whose family can afford to help with a down payment and people who have no choice but to rent might mean the difference between who can live within 15 minutes of their job and who has to commute two hours, between who’s employed full time and those who depend on contingent work, between who can presume safety in public spaces and whose skin color makes them a perceived threat, between who can pay for college independently and whose children — and grandchildren — will eventually take out their own massive student loans.

I wanted to talk to people within this new reality about how they actually managed to make homeownership work. So I created a survey, and asked readers and Twitter followers and friends of friends of friends: Tell me everything. Tell me how you found the house, how you pulled together the down payment, and how you feel about all of it. Being transparent about this stuff won’t necessarily make buying a home easier for others. But it will hopefully demystify what it takes to make it happen, and help make clear that millennials who don’t own homes aren’t failures. They’re just young people who have faced a dramatically different financial and real estate reality than the generations that came before — a reality that has impacted some more than others.

What follows are 14 stories chosen from over 500 submissions, and they all exemplify, in some way, themes I saw again and again. (Stories have been lightly edited for length and clarity; some names have been changed to protect people’s privacy.) Many people received money from family for a down payment; they chose to buy in an area of the country where homes are markedly cheaper; their parents were homeowners or felt very strongly about homeownership as a mark of adulthood; others are ambivalent about their own homeownership and the way it excludes so many others their age.

The shifts in homeownership aren’t just about capital and equity and down payments and mortgage debt. They’re also about how we think about ourselves, and the places we live — and about how places that remain affordable can change.

We can try to articulate new standards, different from those of our parents and grandparents, for what constitutes success or adulthood. But in this moment, we are still a country very much obsessed with homeownership — despite the fact that just over a decade ago that obsession, and the predatory lenders willing to encourage it, sparked a global financial crisis. What’s clear is that homeownership is still one of the most effective means to transmit wealth and accumulate status. Until that changes, the question of who can own a home — and how they’re able to make it happen — matters.

View the full article here at BuzzFeedNews

Oregon Legislature Passes Nation’s First State-wide Ban on Single-Family Zoning in Cities

Two- three- and four-unit buildings will now be allowed in urban Oregon neighborhoods on lots where only one home was previously allowed.

The Oregon Legislature took the dramatic step of passing a bill on the final day of the 2019 session that will require at least duplexes be allowed in city neighborhoods where previously only one home was allowed per lot.

House Bill 2001 applies to cities of at least 10,000 people. For cities of 25,000 or more triplexes and duplexes will also be allowed.

Supporters of the bill hope it will provide one more way to increase housing supply. Some supporters have also backed the proposal as a way to provide economic and racial diversity, reversing what the intended effects of single-family zoning.

Larger cities will have until June of 2021 to officially revise their plans for allowing diverse housing types, and smaller cities will have an extra year.

The bill was the second piece of high-profile housing legislation successfully championed by House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland). The first was a statewide cap on rent increases.

No other state has either policy in place.

The 17-to-9 vote for the bill by the state Senate in the late afternoon came hours after the bill narrowly failed.

Sen. Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis) returned to the Senate floor for the second vote, after declining to be present when State Brian Boquist (R-Dallas) was present.

Boquist, who had implied he would shoot any state police sent to retrieve him during the Republican walkout, was not present for the second vote, and neither was Sen. Herman Baertschiger Jr. (R- Grants Pass).

 View the full article here at Willamette Week

10 awful, oddball Portland-area homes get flipped

Can you recognize a house with “good bones” even when it’s buried in debris? Flippers can. They lay down cash for a dwelling deemed unlivable, then remodel, restore and remake it into a property a new buyer will pay a bundle for. Or so they hope.

Check out these before and after photos to see how 10 awful Portland-area homes rose in value when the hammering was done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A deconstructed, single-story 1965 house was deemed “a major fixer” by listing agent Brian Flatt of Legacy Realty Group. The 0.29-acre property at 352 N.E. Enyeart Place in Hillsboro sold for $307,125 in December 2018.

After it was “taken down to studs” and rebuilt, it went put back on the market at $549,900. “Can I just say WOW,” says listing agent Sherry Hawkins of Knipe Realty ERA Powered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A ranch-style house, built in 1960 on a 6,098-square-foot lot in Northeast Portland’s Parkrose neighborhood sold for $150,000 in March 2019.

The structure was described at the time by listing agent  Beth Kellan of Windermere Realty Trust as one that “cannot be financed even with repairs… a very heavy fixer or tear down.”

The remodeled, expanded house at 10908 N.E. Marx St. is now back on the market at $269,999. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,209 square feet of living space with hardwood floors and new appliances, says listing agent Chris Wagner of Mal & Seitz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tri-level house, built in 1978 on a 10,000-square-foot lot in Sherwood, was for sale as a cash-only transaction since it “not financeable in this condition,” according to listing agents Donald Johnson and Jay Westfall of Premiere Property Group. It sold for $277,000 in November 2018.

Fast forward after a complete remodel of the house with four bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and 2,471 square feet of living space: The property on Southwest June Court sold for $430,000 in June 2019 by listing agent Jennifer McNair of All Professionals Real Estate.

 

View the full article here at The Oregonian

This Otherworldly Museum in China Is Buried Beneath the Earth

Hidden between the sea and the sand, the UCCA Dune Art Museum is a sanctuary for nature and art.

Simple, pure, and touching, the UCCA Dune Art Museum is a fascinating network of subterranean concrete galleries carved into the sand of a quiet beach along the coast of northern China’s Bohai Bay in Qinhuangdao. Designed by Beijing–based OPEN Architecture, the 10,000-square-foot space is programed and operated by the country’s leading independent institution of contemporary art, the UCCA Foundation.

Inspired by the way sand dunes are organically created by countless years of wind, the architects proposed to create a museum underneath the sand that would protect both the land and the vulnerable coastal ecosystem.

“Because of the museum, these sand dunes will be preserved instead of leveled to make space for ocean-view real estate developments, as has happened to many other dunes along the shore,” explains the firm.

Gently carved into the sand, the structure contains a series of cavernous rooms, including 10 galleries of different shapes and sizes, a cafe, and a space for reading. Skylights above silently yet powerfully fill the museum with natural light.

Openings of various sizes allow museumgoers to intimately connect with nature, while also observing and contemplating the ever-changing expressions of the sky and sea throughout the day.

Sustainability was another key aspect in the design. “The building’s many skylights, each with a different orientation and size, provide natural lighting for the museum’s spaces at all times of the year; its sand-covered roof greatly reduces the building’s summer heat load; and a low-energy, zero-emission ground-source heat pump system replaces traditional air conditioning,” states the firm.

Recently recognized as the best building under 1,000 square meters by the 2019 AZ Awards, the UCCA Dune Art Museum will soon be expanded to include a long walkway that extends into the ocean. This path will allow guests to visit another smaller art gallery, also to be designed by OPEN, which will be partially submerged by water and only accessible during low tide.

View the full article here at Dwell

Emotions flare as Portland, long friendly to neighborhoods, weighs gutting their powers

As it gets more expensive to live in Portland, officials have been pondering: What to do when the city’s vaunted neighborhood associations seem to act more like swank homeowner associations?

The answer reached by a government committee – to erase neighborhood associations from the city code altogether – has dozens of neighborhood leaders sounding the alarm that their renowned system of civic engagement is under threat.

That proposed undoing has board members of Portland’s nearly 100 neighborhood associations drawing battle lines against the city committee, officials in the Office of Community & Civic Life – the bureau that works with neighborhood associations – and the bureau’s commissioner-in-charge, Chloe Eudaly.

It has also surfaced long-simmering tensions. Neighborhood activists view themselves as representatives of grassroots Portlanders and the distinctive parts of town they inhabit. Detractors see the associations as entrenched, overly powerful voices for homeowners, who tend to be older, white and opposed to housing density, homeless shelters and other development helpful to a growing city’s health.

Sam Stuckey, for example, said neighborhood associations “are just there to be obstructionist and delay housing we desperately need.” Despite that qualm, Stuckey, a 32-year-old architect, sits on the Mill Park Neighborhood Association board.

“I think there’s some level of truth to that,” said Stan Penkin, chairman of the Pearl District Neighborhood Association, though that line of thinking fails to acknowledge “all the things that neighborhoods do that are positive.”

John Legler, a board member of the Creston-Kenilworth association, sees it differently. In his view, the city wants to “get rid of neighborhood associations because we cause too much trouble” over land use issues. If the committee gets its way, he said, “We will exist in form but without legitimacy.”

At a meeting of the committee in June, many board members also insisted their groups are more diverse than critics acknowledge.

“I am neither old, nor rich, nor white,” said Elizabeth Deal, 33, a nurse and leader of the King Neighborhood Association who is Asian.

Erasure of the associations from city code would have sweeping effects, though the full extent is unclear. Officials say the worries of neighborhood association champions are overblown.

At its core, the change would remove the special powers of neighborhoods to officially weigh in on city government actions. The most notable of those are zoning decisions adopted by the City Council, often at real estate developers’ urging. Currently, neighborhood associations must be consulted on such decisions and may formally appeal them at no cost.

Activists also worry the update is a pretext to cut off neighborhood associations from city-paid event insurance. They say doing so would prevent family-friendly events like block parties and also push some associations into financial ruin.

Neighborhood matters would also be less transparent, as the committee plans to remove requirements that associations allow the public to attend board meetings, make a record of votes and preserve copies of documents.

Activists have also cried foul about the code change process. Neighborhood board members say they were not notified of committee meetings. While officials are adamant notices were sent, members of associations across the city said, without fail, that was untrue. And a survey about the code change, which garnered more than 1,000 responses, was seen as insufficient by officials because 69 percent of respondents were white.

In a challenge to the conventions that have underscored more than 40 years of local activism, Eudaly, the commissioner in charge of outreach to neighborhoods, said many Portlanders view themselves less as members of neighborhoods than as a part of ethnic, religious or other non-geographic affinity groups.

“Personally, I am more likely to identify as someone in the disability community or as a renter than as a neighborhood resident,” the commissioner said.

Winta Yohannes, Eudaly’s aide assigned to the code change effort, said the complaints of neighborhood association board members do not reflect Portlanders’ views. “Why should we elevate them over other groups?” Yohannes said.

Asked to provide an example of another group that should be on equal footing, Yohannes said Portland United Against Hate, a coalition of 70 organizations that track and respond to “acts of hate,” according to a city webpage.

Comments such as those have led neighborhood activists who are white or not religious or don’t speak another language to ask: What group speaks for me if not my neighborhood association?

The proposed code strongly states Portland is an inclusive, welcoming city. It directs the civics bureau to connect Portlanders of all backgrounds with their government, facilitate discussions and develop “learning opportunities that focus on culturally-empowering civic engagement through community-based partnerships.”

Neighborhood association leaders say those are admirable goals but fail to acknowledge the role that neighborhoods play in making Portland vibrant. Far from being heartless NIMBYs, neighborhood leaders say they are instead focused on the mundane but important work that City Hall mostly ignores.

Consider Allen Field. His foray into neighborhood politics began 15 years ago over a typical small-time issue: dog parks.

The board of the Richmond Neighborhood Association was stacked with “dog haters,” said Field, 58, an attorney in private practice. So, he ran for election to the board and recruited other canine admirers to do so. The slate won and used the association’s influence to support the designation of a section at Sewallcrest Park for dogs to roam off-leash.

As a process-oriented lawyer, Field said he is greatly concerned about the city’s plan to remove open records and meetings requirements from applying to neighborhood associations.

“I want things to be open and transparent,” he said. “I believe in notice and being heard. Due process rights.”

Being active in neighborhood matters is rarely about complex land use decisions, he added. Instead, his involvement focuses on graffiti removal, coordinating movie screenings in public parks, trash clean-ups and tending community gardens.

“We’re a city of neighborhoods,” Field said. “And neighborhood associations do things that no other groups do.”

One of the things neighborhood associations do is slow or stop development.

Take leafy neighborhoods like Laurelhurst, where residents shielded themselves from development by seeking a historical area designation. Or Eastmoreland, where neighborhood leaders stopped construction of two homes by launching a protest against the felling of three sequoia trees. And the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood, where bitter opposition to a homeless shelter, spurred on by a neighborhood association leader, has complicated the project.

Using their powers to appeal zoning decisions free of charge, neighborhood associations like those in the Pearl District or Old Town have tried to stop construction of office and condominium towers with varied success.

Critics note those boards may appeal free – and therefore slow developments’ progress – even if the challenges are later deemed frivolous. The fees are waived even for neighborhoods where residents have pooled funds to hire land-use attorneys who charge tens of thousands of dollars to challenge housing density efforts.

Housing and renter advocates have an ally in Eudaly, who said the city government needs a new paradigm for engaging residents.

Yet concerns that the city wants to eliminate neighborhood associations are off the mark, she said. The groups will continue to exist and be “a critical part of what we do,” Eudaly said, adding that the notion she wishes to undermine neighborhood associations is “absurd.”

Suk Rhee, director of the civics office, said the code change is not about “the fate of neighborhood associations” and reducing the groups’ influence “is not a topic that we’ve had.”

The code change committee is supposed to recommend updated language to the City Council in July. It’s unclear if it will. The panel was scheduled to approve the changes at its meeting on June 26, but it could not establish a quorum necessary to hold a vote when a majority of the members failed to attend.

Penkin, the Pearl District leader, said neighborhood associations, ethnic and religious groups and immigrant communities tend to advocate for the same neighborly ideals. Divides are mostly a matter of perception, he said, and passions tend to erupt only when broad changes are afoot.

“This goes back many, many years,” Penkin said. “Everything’s complicated.”

View the full article here at The Oregonian

 

Why Beaverton, Oregon Is One of the Coolest Suburbs in America

Beaverton was chosen as one of Apartment Therapy’s Coolest Suburbs in America 2019. We showcased the burbs nationwide that offer the most when it comes to cultural activities, a sense of community, and simply a good quality of life. For more on how we define “cool” and what exactly counts as a suburb, check out our methodology here. To view Apartment Therapy’s other Coolest Suburbs in America 2019, head here.

The living is easy in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. Neighbors are chatty. Bike trails to neighboring towns and downtown Portland abound. Hop in your car to dozens of box stores minutes away. It seems like everyone composts. Parking is readily available and free. There’s never a line at the post office. City employees return calls swiftly. I could go on. Have I mentioned that all aspects of life are comically uncomplicated? Especially compared to a stint in Manhattan? They are.

Beaverton particularly excels at public spaces and programming: Well-maintained trails weave through mossy forests right out of “The Hobbit,” in a dozen residential neighborhoods. Full rosters of movie nights and festivals fill warm evenings.

Get here sooner rather than later, because housing prices continue to rise. If you envision the West Coast as a very expensive block of cities, the Portland region is the cheapest destination on an overpriced block, which will continue increase in price. Beaverton’s many imports from L.A. and San Francisco constantly say things like “I would’ve moved here a decade ago, if I’d known how nice people are.”

Editor’s note: Beware that locals scratch their heads at the Beaverton city map, which is inexplicably oddly shaped, with Beaverton entirely circling multiple downtown areas. The main impact on locals is that many residents who appear to live in Beaverton technically do not, and thus miss out on cheap parks and recreation classes. This guide covers the Beaverton area.

Average rent price:

$1,337, according to Rent Café.

Median house price:

$392,200, according to Zillow.

Price per square foot:

$223 in Beaverton, vs. $231 in the surrounding metro area of Portland/Vancouver/Hillsboro, according to Zillow.

Walkability score:

48, according to Walk Score.

Median household income:

$64,619 according to Census data.

Population:

97,000, according to the City of Beaverton.

 

View the full article here at Apartment Therapy

Baseball Investors Gear Up For Marketing Push

The plan to bring Major League Baseball to Oregon is rounding the bases, and its founder believes this summer is going to be a grand slam.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the plan to build a Major League Baseball stadium in Portland has struck out. Or at least faced a rain delay.

The Portland Diamond Project, a group of investors with their hearts set on building a major league baseball stadium in Portland hasn’t made a peep since April, when they revealed design concepts for the proposed waterfront stadium.

Not that the Diamond Project has stayed out of the news. Recently a story on Oregonlive.com made it seem like the project was about to stumble. The article concerned the group’s exclusive access to its preferred building site, a 50-acre marine cargo terminal in Northwest Portland.

The exclusivity agreement with the Port of Portland is set to expire at month’s end, meaning the project could end up having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep the spot reserved.

But according to Craig Cheek, founder and president of the Portland Diamond Project, the Port of Portland agreement isn’t a cause for concern. “We’ve had a lot of discussion with the port. Everyone still wants to help get this thing through,” he says. 

According to Cheek, the Portland Diamond Project is engaged in a “city-led process to pour over the viability of the port site,” meaning that state and local authorities can speed up or slow down the process, depending on their inclination. The site still faces zoning and transportation issues that need to be resolved before the build.

But it’s important to note that although plans to build a stadium have been around for a while, the situation with the Port of Portland is only 10-weeks old. “We have the support of the city. We have support of the bureau heads.” says Cheek. He adds talks with the city are “going very well.”

Despite the Port of Portland’s deadline, Cheek believes the city, the business community and the public at large are warming up to the idea of a waterfront stadium.

“It would be the most transformative site as far as the city is concerned,” he says, referencing the need for development in the area. “You would create a new Northwest edge to the city. Our project would bring new life and a whole new district there.”

The stadium would likely be a windfall for local businesses, and not just food and entertainment. The project could introduce a civilian ferry to make use of the waterway. Cheek has also floated the idea of a completely carless stadium, a welcome relief to Northwest Portland, which already faces monumental parking problems.

Another reason to believe the project is about to swing for the fences? It’s star-studded, ever-growing list of backers, including Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, his supermodel wife Ciara, former Chicago Cubs player Darwin Barney and Harvey Platt, retired CEO of Platt Electric. The project has raised $1.3 billion already, nearly half their $3 billion estimate.

On the local front, Olympia Provisions and Breakside Brewery have already tested new products at Diamond Project events, and the project’s swag is selling like hotcakes.

Though there has been much chatter from the dugout lately, the project isn’t going to be silent much longer. “We’re going to be very active in the business community over the summer,” says Cheek. “We’re going to be talking to businesses small, medium and large to get their support.”

But backing from the city and the business community are only two parts of a three-piece puzzle. Not wanting to repeat New York’s Amazon headquarters disaster, in which the e-commerce platform failed to garner broad public support for its new headquarters, Cheek says public support will be a critical element moving forward.

“We’ve encouraged fans to help us create a groundswell for [the stadium.] Thirty-three thousand people have already signed our petition, and we want to grow that number up to 50,000 in the coming weeks.”

Not only could the stadium be an economic grand slam, the project would also introduce Oregon’s sustainability values to major league sports. When completed, the new ballpark could be the most sustainable professional stadium in the country.

For reference, the greenest sports stadium in the nation holds gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. “We want our stadium to be the first one to reach platinum,” Cheek says.

As of now, the Diamond Project has its eye on the ball. The project’s summer marketing push is about to commence, and with a few MLB team’s futures up in the air, the project could be coming to a head at just the right moment. 

But for all of his dreamy ambitions about revived waterfront, budding baseball culture and sustainability dreams, Cheek’s message to the business community is far more matter-of-fact.

“Portland is in competition with other places trying bring this kind of project to their city,” he says. “If we don’t jump on this, someone else will.”

 

View the full article here at Oregon Business

Meet the Mastermind Behind the Plywood Cartoons Invading Portland, Oregon

IF YOU’RE CRUISING AROUND PORTLAND, Oregon, and come across across a six-foot-tall cut-out of Patrick, the pink, portly starfish from SpongeBob SquarePants, chances are good that Mike Bennett left it there for you to find.

For the past few months, Bennett has been busy with plywood, paint, and power tools, speckling his front yard and the city streets with playful, oversized figures. It all started after a snowstorm, when he was noodling over his collection of Calvin and Hobbes books that his parents had recently shipped to him and thinking about a scene where Calvin makes a big snowman. Bennett hadn’t had a front yard in years, and wanted to figure out how to make it fun. What if the delight of some mounded-up snow could last all year, and never run the risk of melting?

He headed to Home Depot, came back with a jigsaw, and went to town on wood from a nearby ReBuilding Center. Bennett, who was once active on the short-video app Vine, where he recreated scenes from movies and TV with little paper dolls, began to fill the yard with pop-culture characters. “Familiar stuff brings more smiles to people’s faces,” he says.

And then he took the show on the road—within reason. “I’m a pretty big baby when it comes to trespassing,” he says, and he’s also careful to avoid damaging property or plants. He’ll sometimes fasten his wooden characters to light posts, trees, or telephone poles with a few hooks and twine. His information is printed on the back of the figures, so if someone gets in touch to say that they want one to come down, he can swing by and grab it. (So far, he says, he hasn’t encountered any issues.) To make it easy to keep an eye on things, he installed them along the routes he tends to follow each day as he drives around for his day job as an assistant for a real estate company. “They’re my babies now,” he says. “I like to check in on them.”

Bennett loves a good scavenger hunt, and invites people to go out looking for the figures he’s scattered around Portland. (He sometimes drops location hints on TwitterInstagram, or Reddit.) Taking a cue from a geocaching log, he affixed a little form to the back of each one. There, visitors can jot down their name, the date, and a positive thought.

Some of the signs also nod to culture and quirks that are more particular to Portland. The city famously hatched The Simpsonscreator Matt Groening, and some of the show’s characters borrow their names from Portland streets. Bennett decided to play that up by installing a cutout of Homer’s chummy neighbor Ned Flanders on one corner of NE Flanders Street. When he saw the street sign and made the connection, Bennett thought, “What? Come on,” he recalls. It just seemed too perfect to pass up. He’s also setting his sights on slightly more out-there local lore. “Oregon being the way it is, we’re into Sasquatch,” he says. By August, he hopes to make more than a dozen Bigfoot cutouts, each sporting different proportions and fur colors.

In the more immediate future, he’s planning to confetti the city with little cutouts of Diglett, the petite, pink-nosed Pokémon that sticks its head out of the ground. Bennett intends to make a brigade of the little guys—about 100 in all—with scrap wood he’s accumulated from his larger-scale figures. He’ll tamp them into dirt around the city over the course of June. Each creature will be about five inches tall, and anyone who finds one is welcome to adopt it and make their own yard or windowsill a little more wonderfully weird.

 

View the full article here at Atlas Obscura

Portland’s Home Care Experts Spill Their Secrets

TILE

“Always double-check your tile quantities and purchase more tile than you think you will need. We recommend 10–15 percent for waste and cuts,” says Megan Coleman, cofounder of local modern tile maker Clayhaus. She adds, “if you are going to go busy on your countertop, go simple on your backsplash, and vice versa. Only one can be the star.”

HOUSE-CLEANING

“Add cut lemons or limes to vinegar and let steep a month to make an aromatic natural cleaning concentrate,” says Gina Ross, owner of local housecleaning and organizing service Green Clean by G. “You can get creative and add mint, rosemary, or essential oils. Plus, she notes, the concentrate looks pretty sitting on a counter in a mason jar. Add a ¼ cup to a spray bottle filled with water or dump ¼ cup in your mop water—just don’t use vinegar-basedcleaners on marble, granite, or stone.

PEST CONTROL

Want to keep rodents out of your house? Brandon Clark, owner of Get Smart Rat Solutions, says to quit feeding backyard birds and squirrels. “A bird feeder is like cocaine for rodents,” he says. “If food is available year-round, [rats] will breed year-round—and two rats can produce 1,500 offspring in a year. It’s mind-boggling.” The time to get a pro involved? “As soon as you see something in the house,” he says. That means there’s already a breeding population underneath your house or in your attic.

ENERGY

“A home’s energy system is made up of individual components. Replacing windows without installing insulation or upgrading your heating system might not have the impact you’re seeking,” says Stephen Aiguier, founder of eco-friendly Green Hammer Design Build. “Hire an experienced firm that can help you prioritize energy-efficiency upgrades that will save you money, reduce your carbon footprint, and improve the health of your home.”

PAINT

“Painting is one of the easiest ways to transform space. But it’s very disruptive, and it always takes longer than you think.” says local painter and artist Michael T. Hensley of MTH Painting. “Don’t have your friends come over and do it for pizza and beer. People try to save money that way, and it [rarely] looks good. Take your time in choosing colors. Cleaning, especially kitchens and bathrooms, where there’s a greasy residue is important before you start painting. Paint the ceiling first, then the trim, then you cut in the walls. It’s easier to cut the wall into the trim than vice versa. Also, use FrogTape on the trim. It’s moisture activated, so it seals itself up when the paint hits it.” (No website, email mthpainting@gmail.com)

ORGANIZATION

“Organization is kind of having a moment, with everything going on with Marie Kondo,” says professional organizer Clementine Hacmac. “One of the things I believe in most is there’s not a single system for every person . Decide what works for [you]. I’m a big fan of organizing things in rainbows—like books. I love rainbowtizing. It always looks really beautiful and clean and super-intentional. And that’s one of the tricks of organizing: when it looks beautiful, you are more likely to keep it up. Getting rid of stuff doesn’t mean you’re losing anything. It means you’re opening the possibility to have only that which truly serves you in your life.”

PLUMBING

“Be mindful of your washing machine hoses,” says Craig Anderson, owner and vice president of Craig Anderson Plumbing. “They’re made of rubber. The rubber breaks down. The chlorine in the water, sunlight, heat, all that affects rubber in negative ways. When a washing machine hose fails, you’ve got, as a result, a flooded house. So keep an eye on those hoses. Make sure they are changed out every five to seven years. That could save you a lot of heartache.” 

GARDEN DESIGN

“Most of the time [people] buy one of this [plant] and three of those and one of that, but really you should be buying 20 of one thing,” says Peter Lynn, garden designer at Pomarius Nursery. “In order to prevent a lot of weeding and spraying or mulching, you overplant, and over time things weed out and you’ll enjoy them.” Lynn also says to let ’em be as much as you can: “The more you [walk] on the beds, the more you trample, the more you compact, the less it grows. You want to limit the amount of time you go in the beds if you can. What you’re trying to achieve is that within a year, you don’t see the ground anymore.” 

View the full article here at Portland Monthly

‘Flintstone’ house sparks lawsuit from California town: ‘It’s an eyesore’

The quirky home features dinosaurs and a sign proclaiming ‘Yabba-dabba-doo’, but neighbors aren’t amused.

California architecture has captured the world’s imagination with its classic midcentury bungalows and beach houses. But one architectural landmark in the state has gone a distinctively different route, and it’s not to the town’s liking.

The “Flintstones” home in northern California appears to take its architectural cues from the town of Bedrock. The experimental house was built in the 1970s using a technique that involved spraying concrete to create curved walls. The result is a building where Fred and Wilma would feel at home, and it has become a landmark for drivers passing on I-280.

The home is located in the upscale town of Hillsborough, which has a unique architectural history of its own. It’s the site of a Frank Lloyd Wright house where the celebrated real estate developer Joseph Eichler once rented. Inspired by the home, Eichler went on to help popularize the mid-century modern style; his California homes have become icons of the movement.

It has long been a thorn in the eye of local residents, and the decorating taste of Florence Fang, who bought the home in 2017, hasn’t exactly helped the house gain popularity.

Fang is responsible for big metal dinosaurs and Flintstones figurines dotting the property. She also installed a deck, a parking strip and, in a particularly subtle move, an enthusiastic sign proclaiming: “Yabba-dabba-doo.”

While some might argue she is simply honoring the legacy of a beloved cartoon family, the town disagrees. Fang is facing a lawsuit arguing that the home, whose hilltop position makes it hard for passersby to miss, has become a public nuisance. According to the suit, Fang’s improvements were made largely without permits.

The suit says Fang has been asked to halt her work multiple times, with officials calling it “a highly visible eyesore and are out of keeping with community standards”.

Fang paid a $200 fine last year, the local Daily Journal newspaper reported, but has failed to dismantle her dinosaur collection. In a statement seen by the Associated Press, her grandson said: “I think the dinosaurs are beautiful. They make everyone smile and should stay.”

If town officials get their way, the Flintstone house could end up a little less Bedrockian – suffering a similar fate to that of the Simpsons house in Henderson, Nevada, modeled after 742 Evergreen Terrace. Once a colorful replica of Homer’s home, it now it looks like any other suburban building. But as an inquisitive visitor found, the house can’t escape its history: as paint chips away on the garage, a layer of bright orange is visible underneath.

View the full article here at The Guardian