Col. Summers Park Improvement Plans Finalized

col-summers-2Next summer there should be an interesting new water feature in Col. Summers Park  to  replace the existing circular wading pool.

The new water feature, known as a “Splash Pad,” has received much attention over the past year from Portland Parks and Recreation in association with the Colonel Summers Task Force and the Buckman Community Association in their efforts to improve Colonel Summers Park.

It will be a linear stream-like water course that can be turned on by the those using it. The water will flow for a set period of time to the end of the water course where it will slowly drain out. In this way the water does not need to be chlorinated. Water jets will shoot out all along the stream.

Picnic tables, seating, and landscaping appropriate to a stream-like environment will enhance the area for both users and observers. The design is in its final phase of development and construction will occur next spring. Hopefully it will be enjoyed by everyone all summer.col-summers-1

Funding will be provided by the local System Development Charges by developers of the new buildings being built in the area. Fifty members of the Buckman community attended the two meetings to review the plans and 400 nearby residents provided comments by email that generally were in favor of the project

The brick pavilion, a major feature of the park, will be the first of the park improvement project. Over the years it has not been used appropriately and its bathrooms have received heavy use causing them to be closed much too often.

The major project within the pavilion are the ornamental metal screens in the vaulted openings of the pavilion to provide improved access and security. They are being fabricated now and are expected to be installed by late fall or early winter.

A new free standing restroom will be placed to the east of the pavilion. It will be one of the newly-designed Portland Loos that are simple, but sturdy flush toilet kiosks that are located in public areas. Portland Loos provide the community with clean, safe, environmentally-friendly restroom facilities.

Funded through the $68 million Parks Replacement General Obligation Bond that was passed overwhelmingly by the voters in 2014, the Loo will be installed next spring along with the Splash Pad.

The park is named in honor of Colonel Owen Summers when Belmont Park was renamed in 1938. Summers was a prominent businessman, a member of the Oregon Legislature, and the commanding officer of the Second Oregon Volunteer Regiment in the Spanish-American War.

Perhaps he is best known for the significant role he played in the creation of the Oregon National Guard. In the SW corner of Colonel Summers Park, there is a large volcanic rock with his image on a bronze plaque along with a description of his contribution to Portland and Oregon.

 

The full article can be found HERE at the Southeast Examiner website.

Radon: What to Know

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What is radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. Radon is what is called ionizing radiation emitting very destructive alpha particles. These alpha particles destroy sensitive lung tissue and can damage DNA causing cells to become cancerous. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer killing 20,000 Americans each year. It is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon only becomes a health issue when it is trapped within homes and buildings. Methods for removing radon from buildings are simple and affordable. The most recommended method for radon mitigation is called sub-soil depressurization. Simply put, the system uses an inline fan and 3-4” pipe to suck the soil gas (and radon) out of the soil under the building.

Why is radon testing important?

The EPA recommends that every home be tested because there is no way of knowing if you have a radon problem unless you test. After thousands of tests each year we have learned the areas of Portland and SW Washington that are “Hot Spots,” but you just cannot tell from one house to the next if radon is present in unhealthy levels. A short term test is always recommended first to get a 2 day snap shot of the radon levels to be sure there is not high radon levels. It is also recommended to follow up with a long term (91 days to 1 year) test like an Alpha Track test, because long term average radon levels are the most accurate representation of your exposure in the home. A short term test requires “Closed House Conditions” to be accurate and the radon levels often fluctuate seasonally, so the best time to short term test is in the cooler seasons when the radon levels are higher.

When should a home get tested?

A home should be tested as soon as possible and particularly in the cool months. When running a long term test you do not have to maintain closed conditions. You can live in the home as you normally would and at the end of the long term test you will have an average based upon many months. Short term charcoal test kits are typically under $15, and long term Alpha Track canisters are about $30. This price included return shipping and lab analysis.

Short term radon testing has become very common in real estate transactions and the preferred method is using a continuous radon monitor (CRM) because you don’t need to wait on your radon test results, you get them immediately upon picking up the radon monitor. This is especially important when there is a 10 day inspection period and you need to figure it out quickly. These short term tests typically cost $150. These tests also come with a nice report printout and hourly radon levels.

What happens if a radon test comes back high?

The EPA recommends mitigation at or above 4.0 pCi/L, whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) has an action level of 2.7 pCi/L. The EPA also recommends that people consider radon mitigation when the levels are between 2-4 pCi/L. During a real estate sale the magic number is typically 4.0 pCi/L, but that is just an industry standard. There is still significant risk for lung cancer with long term exposure at 4.0 pCi/L. The estimates based upon scientific research is that a 15 year exposure, 12 hours per day at 4.0 pCi/L will result in approximately 7 in 1000 lung cancer deaths! When we install our mitigation systems we guarantee them to keep long term average radon levels below the WHO action level of 2.7 pCi/L. This performance guarantee is unconditional for a period of 10 years and transfers to anyone living in the home.

What is mitigation and how much does it cost?

Radon mitigation systems are typically around $1600 in our area and can go up a bit for more elaborate sub-membrane depressurization systems in crawlspace homes. Many basement or slab on grade homes are easily mitigated with a sub-slab depressurization system by drilling a hole through the basement floor, sealing a pipe to that suction point, installing an inline fan to create a vacuum on the soil, and then running the pipe to above the roof line to meet code requirements. These systems, when designed properly by a radon professional are very effective, very quiet and well hidden for aesthetics.

What can be done to reduce radon in the home?

In the Summer months it can help to have fresh air coming in and out of the home, but what about when it gets too hot or too cold out and we shut the windows and turn on the air conditioner or furnace? Fresh air is always a good thing, but it will not solve a radon problem. The best plan is to remove the source via soil depressurization.

What is the accepted level in the air for Portland?

The national average radon levels in the ambient air are about 0.4 pCi/L, or about 1/10th the EPA Action Level. Often times homes with fairly porous soil types can be mitigated to ambient air levels! We have even seen our systems even mitigate the neighbors home next door.

Can you buy a reliable testing kit at the store?

Yes you can, and make sure it is an EPA approved kit. Read the fine print though because often times these store bought kits do not include shipping or the lab cost, so you may pay some hidden fees. The America Lung Association sells radon test kits and www.radon.com is an accredited lab that also sells kits directly to the public.

What is the benefit to using a trained professional versus buying a kit?

Anyone can set up their own radon test according to the instructions and following EPA approved protocol. It is not difficult at all. If you are in a time crunch or just want to make sure it is done by a certified radon professional then you should consider hiring one.

The full article can be found HERE  at the All Things Real Estate website.

e665c24e-6eb5-11e6-a845-38d55c9fbce5-780x1170WASHINGTON — Home prices in the Northwest continued to climb at a double-digit pace in June compared to a year ago, easily twice the rate for the nation’s 20 largest metro areas.

Seattle home prices rose 11 percent, second only to Portland, where prices rose 12.6 percent, according to the Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday.

 Portland, Seattle and Denver have topped the list of price gains for the past five months. From May to June, Seattle prices rose 1.4 percent, again trailing only Portland at 1.6 percent.

Home values have slowed to more sustainable rates elsewhere. In Northeastern cities such as New York and Washington, D.C., they are rising at roughly the rate of inflation, and in Boston, less than 5 percent.

Still, nationwide prices are increasing more quickly than incomes as buyers compete for the dwindling supply of available homes. That reflects an ongoing imbalance in the housing market that could stifle sales in the coming months.

“June represents the fifth straight month of flat or decreasing year-over-year price gains, but homebuyers are still being challenged as prices outpace income growth,” Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at real estate data provider Trulia, said.

Cities in the Midwest were mixed. Over 12 months, home prices in Cleveland and Chicago rose 2.5 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively, while in Minneapolis they climbed 5.1 percent, the same as the nationwide pace.

Southern cities saw stronger price gains. They rose 8.9 percent in Dallas, 7.9 percent in Tampa, and 5.8 percent in Atlanta.

“Nationally, home prices have risen at a consistent 4.8 percent annual pace over the last two years without showing any signs of slowing,” said David Blitzer, managing director at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The 20-city price index plunged after the housing bubble started to burst in 2006, plummeting by more than a third before prices began to rise again in March 2012. In June, they were still 8.1 percent below their peak level.

The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The June figures are the latest available.

 

The full article can be found HERE at the Seattle Time website

A story of the Buckman neighborhood

joecotterThe East Side was involved in the settlement of Portland from its beginning. James B. Stephens arrived in the mid-1840s and settled on the east bank. In 1850 he received title to a 640 acre donation land claim that included much of what was to become the City of East Portland.

The settlement grew and, with the arrival of the railroad, it became a city in 1870. A major facility for the treatment of the mentally ill and destitute was built in 1868 by the Dr. J. C. Hawthorne. The nearby east-west street was named Asylum Avenue and later was renamed Hawthorne Boulevard in honor of this civic leader.

The Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905 put Portland on the national map and led to a large increase in population that expanded in the east side.

Zoning came to Portland in the 1920s and began with only four zones for: homes, apartments, businesses, and industries.

The residential area in Buckman began at SE 7th Ave. and over time, became zoned for apartments. World War II brought an influx of shipyard workers that caused a shortage of housing and many large older homes were subdivided into rooming houses leading to their misuse and deterioration.

The area from SE 7th  to 12th Avenues contained many nineteenth century Victorian homes that became victims of the expansion of the industrial district.

The automobile was replacing the trolleys and traffic and congestion led to the widening of east-west arterial streets. In the post war period, Buckman was in decline and the neighborhood became one of the depressed areas of inner Portland. There was a lack of investment which encouraged speculative interests to acquire properties east of SE 12th Ave. with the expectation of further commercial expansion.

In the mid 1960s, the Johnson Administration initiated the Great Society Program and the War on Poverty. One of the requirements of these federal programs was the involvement of low income residents in decisions about growth and change in their neighborhoods.

The Portland Development Commission created SE Uplift to provide help with the rehabilitation and assistance. This led to the revival of the inner SE neighborhoods as greater interest developed in the area.

Planning was a vital part of the work, and it took the Buckman area several years to finally get funding for its neighborhood plan and the Buckman Community Association was created in 1971.

At the same time, local planner John Perry was hired to facilitate the Buckman neighborhood plan. Even though it was not finished, it identified the basic needs of the neighborhood.

The main goal was to stabilize the neighborhood through the re-zoning of much of the area back to single family residential.buckman-house

A committee was formed to study the rezoning of a small four block demonstration area and upon its completion, the city decided to proceed with the rezoning of larger areas.

The first new row house project in Portland was completed in the 1970s on a half block site that was originally to be just another two story apartment complex. This happened through the advocacy of the neighborhood association. It was designed by neighborhood architects and the units were purchased by people in the neighborhood.

The early 1980s began with the closure of the Washington-Monroe High School. The progressive neighborhood association proposed that the school should become a much-needed community center and affordable housing.

Soon after the second Buckman Community Congress, the REACH Community Development Corporation was created. REACH is an acronym for Recreation, Education, Access, Commerce and Housing. It was not successful in obtaining the rights of the vacated high school, but it went on with various housing and development projects and today REACH is a leading multi-million dollar regional success.

Neighborhood Plans became a priority in the Bud Clark administration and the Buckman Plan was one of the first to be completed. It was a 15 month process that began in 1989.

After many public meetings and at least four preliminary drafts, the final document was approved by city council in 1991. It provides a comprehensive description of the Buckman neighborhood and contains many objectives and strategies that would make Buckman a desirable Portland neighborhood again.

The Central Eastside Industrial District has always been an important part of Buckman. In 2006, it became an urban renewal district. This provided the implementing tool and resources to act on several major objectives of the Buckman Neighborhood Plan.

Among them are the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, the first trolley on the east side of the river in sixty years and progress toward the realization of an East Side Community and Aquatics Center, along with many improvements to the industrial and warehouse areas.

Buckman neighborhood continues to be actively involved in Portland’s growth and change by providing a forum for neighbors to discuss their issues and meet those that represent their interests.

Homeless concerns, the Washington High community center, the comprehensive plan, the new mid-rise apartment buildings, parking issues, and many other challenges engage the association members.

The annual Buckman Picnic takes place Sunday August 14 from 4 to 8 pm at Col. Summers Park, SE 17th Ave. at Taylor St.. The picnic is a good opportunity to meet current association member and Buckman neighbors while and enjoy food and entertainment.

The original article can be found HERE at The Southern Examiner website

Are Solar Panels for you?

solar1Brett VandenHeuvel, the executive director of the nonprofit environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper, celebrated the Fourth of July by installing solar panels at his house in the Columbia Gorge and working to achieve, what he calls, energy independence. Here’s what he did to reduce his use of fossil fuel energy:

On Independence Day, my family turned on our new solar panels to power our home, taking steps to declare independence from fossil fuel energy. Along with being more efficient to use less energy, the solar panels will power nearly 100 percent of our home’s energy use.

Like most people, our family has a long ways to go to kick the fossil fuel habit. But I’m excited to choose solar over the coal-fired power plants and hydroelectric dams that currently power our home.

We are also replacing our old natural gas furnace with a high-efficiency electric heat pump, powered by the sun.

As someone who works to protect clean water and fights dirty fossil fuel projects, I can’t wait to shut off the gas and do my small part to reduce fracking, new pipelines and carbon pollution.

What took me so long?

I don’t know. Maybe I thought solar was too expensive and too complicated.

I’ve seen solar panels go up on dozens of homes and businesses in my small town, but never pulled the trigger. Too expensive? There are up-front costs, but after a few years, the 3-kilowatt system pays for itself.

We paid $12,228 up front, but the final system cost is just $2,560 after four years, factoring in the rebates and tax incentives. And I will save that much on my energy bill.

So after four years the system pays for itself, while increasing the value of my home. A 2015 U.S. Department of Energy survey found buyers are willing to pay more for homes with solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems.solar3

People have been telling me that solar pencils out for years—better late than never.

Is it complicated? No.

Nonprofit and government programs exist throughout our region to help people get started on solar. In the Columbia Gorge where I live, a nonprofit called Gorge Owned launched GO! Solar to make residential PV systems easier in Hood River, Wasco and Skamania counties by working with utilities, local government and nonprofit partners.

Gorge Owned and my contractor, Common Energy, did all the paperwork and worked with my utility to set up net-metering.

While residential solar is not feasible for everyone—you must own your home, have good solar access and be able to afford the up-front costs—it really pencils out for many people.

Other drawbacks are it requires research. But in my case, a nonprofit organization and the contractor did all of the research. They conducted the solar analysis (how much sun is available on our roof, considering the roof aspect and trees) and gave me a bid. It does not cost anything, or take much time, to get a bid.

I evaluated the bid and increased the size of the system slightly over what the contractor proposed. He suggested a system that would cover 90 percent of our power use, and I asked him to increase to 100 percent.

The contractor took it from there.

Just like any purchase, you could research it forever. But there are trained professionals who are there to help. This is especially true with solar because nonprofit organizations like Solar Oregon are promoting solar and have excellent resources.

Another hesitation may come from a homeowner who doesn’t like the look on the roof and doesn’t know the resale value if they sell. I can’t speak others, but I think it looks cool.

Our roof only had only one spot that worked but other homeowners will hear from the contractor where the panels could be positioned.

Last night, a neighbor down the street came over to introduce himself because he watched the solar installation and wanted to learn more. We don’t have a fancy car, but maybe our flashy solar panels will be the envy of the neighborhood.

My family’s simple rooftop solar is good for energy independence, good for our planet and good for our finances. That’s something to celebrate.

–Brett VandenHeuvel

Columbia Riverkeeper works to restore and protect the Columbia River.

The original article can be found HERE at Oregonlive.com

1031 Information every investor should know

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Text by Toija Beutler, Attorney/Owner, Beutler Exchange Group, LLC

1031 is an incentive program for the Investor who owns rental properties, commercial properties or investment land. When the Investor sells they can defer the payment of the capital gains tax … as long as they work with their real estate agent to find and buy a replacement property and comply with the 1031 rules.

1031 builds wealth

Because the Investor doesn’t have to pay tax on the gain, more cash is available for the purchase of the next bigger and better property.

The definition of “like kind” is the best feature of 1031. All real estate is like kind with all other real estate as long as what is being sold and bought is rental, commercial or land held for investment.

Example: The Investor can sell investment land (non-income producing) and buy a residential rental (income producing).

Example: The Investor can sell a residential rental and buy a commercial property.

Very popular example: The Investor can sell a residential rental and buy a residential rental that will become either a second home or a primary residence — after 24 months of seasoning as a rental.

This frees up the investor to purchase a property that better suits their personal or business goals. And, because 1031 is federal law, the Investor can sell in one state and purchase in a different state — thereby “moving” their investments around the country.

Yes, there are rules, many of which will be surprising to the Investor.

Deadlines

The Investor must close on the new property within 180 days of closing the sale of the old property. The worst feature of 1031 is that they only have the first 45 days of the 180 to identify the replacement property. Most Investors can only list three properties and they must buy from the list. 45 days is an exceedingly short time in which to find suitable property, especially with the current limited inventories.

Non-Qualified property

1031 is not for second homes, flips, new construction or land held by a builder or developer. These are personal use properties or inventory properties and not eligible for the tax deferral.

Reinvestment rules

To get the best result the Investor will apply the net cash from the sale toward the purchase of the new property and obtain a new loan that equals or exceeds the loan on the old property. This makes sense when you consider that the Investor, owning and selling a rental house, has $300,000 in the American economy. If they sell and pull that investment out of the American economy, they have to pay tax on the gain. If they don’t want to pay tax on the gain they have to drive $300,000 back into the American economy, whether using their own cash and/or financing.

Exchange Process

The exchange company prepares specialized documents for the Investor to sign in closing as they sign the deed to the Buyer. There will be similar documents at the closing of the new property. It is the exchange company’s paperwork in those closings that creates the exchange and tax deferral. The following spring the accountant reports the exchange on the tax return.

Supporting players

Consultation with the Investor’s accountant will confirm whether an exchange will benefit the Investor.

Consultation with an exchange company, sooner rather than later, is essential to understanding the rules and common pitfalls. Exchange companies do not charge for this consultation. Their fees are typically flat rate and charged at the time of closings.

Consultation with the Investor’s real estate agent is critical to understanding the market and options that will be available before and during the 45-day identification period.

Challenging scenarios that particularly require consultation:

  1. Wanting to buy from a related party.
  2. Breaking up or forming partnerships at the time of an exchange.
  3. Making improvements as part of the exchange.
  4. Closing on a new property before closing the sale of the old — a reverse exchange.
  5. An installment sale of the old property.

The best exchanges not only shelter tax but also achieve important business and personal goals.

 

The original article can be found HERE at All Things Real Estate Magazine’s website.

Rescued pianos on Portland streets

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“Cat” — by designer: Blaine Fontana

Rescued pianos are coming back to life on the streets of Portand, put back in public cirulation by Piano! Push! Play!, an organization that is on on a mission to “make pianos available to anyone who wants to play them.”

At Portland’s Salmon Street Springs Fountain, one of the recovered instruments (boldly labeled “PIANO” on its backside) had a steady stream of players late Tuesday afternoon.

Dani McGraw, 13, of Oregon City,  sat down confidently and began playing, though not without a few stumbles, which she played right through. Her mom, Laura, said Dani had been taking music lessons for six years and added, “She loves it.”

Fanny

“Fanny” — by designer: Nemo Design (Brian Nally)

Kristen Timmons, of Milwaukie, said her daughters, Kinsley, 3, and Teegan, 7, had to wait for their turn because it was so busy. While neither is taking music lessons yet, exposure to the piano and a neighboring guitar player might have sparked some interest, Timmons said.

Yoshi Christner, of Portland, pedaled up to the piano with his dog, Blueberry, who listened to a short recital from a front basket and after, a little applause from onlookers, off they they went.

To find out more about the Piano! Push! Play! project, click here.

The original article can be found HERE on The Oregonian’s website.

 

The history of the bungalow

lead_960 (1)All around the country, people in communities of many ages—from colonial Boston to postwar Minneapolis—tell similar, virtuous narratives about how their neighborhoods were built. These narratives, in turn, set powerful assumptions about what an affordable, friendly neighborhood can and should look like. Recently, a columnist in Seattle Magazine laid out his version of the story as he argued that housing just isn’t what it used to be. “In a rapidly growing city where the haves have more and the have-nots are being squeezed out, the bungalows offer a lesson we ought to relearn,” he wrote, adding that those early 20th century bungalows “reflect a lack of materialism, housing built not for profit, but for living in.” He wanted his city “to find a way to get back to those values.”

This represents what one might call the “immaculate-conception theory” of development. It holds that unlike the homes constructed today, older housing was built the right way—modestly and without an eye for profit. These older values, in turn, imply the faults of modern buildings: gaudy and wasteful, disruptive to existing communities, and motivated only by money.

The problem with the immaculate-conception theory is that, like parents swearing that they would never have behaved the way their kids do, it is conveniently forgetful about what actually happened in the past. Taking, just as an example, the kind of housing that this theory romanticizes—the early 20th century bungalow boom—a closer look reveals that it was defined not by mass affordability, efficiency, and respect for traditional communities, but something very nearly the opposite.

To begin with, many of the arbiters of taste of the bungalow era believed those new bungalow neighborhoods “ruined” the character of the places they were built, just as new apartment buildings are maligned today. They even had a snappy put-down for it: “bungalow disease.” “Tradition has broken down,” wrote the British planner Thomas Sharp, describing a proliferation of bungalows on both sides of the Atlantic, and “taste is utterly debased … The old trees and hedgerows … have given place to concrete posts and avenues of telegraph poles, to hoardings and enamel advertising signs.” Architectural Record reviewed Seattle’s building boom in 1912 and, in an otherwise positive article, pronounced the quality of its new homes “disappointing.”

Critics accused the new bungalow neighborhoods not just of being ugly, but of ripping apart the social fabric of the city. One writer argued that in new neighborhoods full of many separate houses, “each building is treated in isolation, nothing binds it to the next one,” and as a result they lacked an “essential” “togetherness.” Another pointed out that the rise of bungalow neighborhoods coincided with the rise of decentralized business districts, as these sprawling areas—bungalows took up much more space per person than either the more modest single-family homes or apartment buildings that had come before—encouraged outlying commercial development and car ownership.

Far from being based on an ethic of efficiency and conservation, early-1900s bungalows represented a dramatic leap to neighborhoods that required higher energy consumption than ever before. This was true, first of all, because bungalows tended to be much larger than existing homes. While Seattle Magazinemarvels that one 1910 bungalow was just 1,600 square feet, the average home size at the time was closer to 1,000 square feet—making the 60-percent-larger home look like a McMansion. In addition, many of these new single-family-home neighborhoods, which were built much further from job centers and at much lower densities than older communities, were enabled by the boom in energy-consuming automobiles, and encouraged their use. By the 1920s, one in every two American families had a car—a figure that was much higher in bungalow neighborhoods—and public transit began losing many of its customers to driving. In the same decade, suburban population growth outpaced that of cities for the first time ever.

Finally, the idea that bungalows represented a housing type that was affordable and open to all—and an ethic that valued community instead of money—simply doesn’t describe actual American cities in the 1910s or ‘20s. Home prices in the 1920s were rising rapidly, leading many people to talk about a housing crisis in terms not so terribly different from today’s. But as Gail Radford describes in her book Modern Housing for America, bungalows weren’t holding the line on cheap homes: In many cases, they represented the luxury housing of their day. Bungalows were so much more expensive than the more modest homes that had preceded them that while the overall cost of living increased by about a factor of two between the 1890s and 1920s, the cost of an entry-level home had increased by a factor of five and a half. Even before the economic crash of 1929, there was a growing foreclosure crisis, strongly suggesting that “housing costs were simply too high in relation to incomes for many families.”

Moreover, the bungalow era coincided with the development of zoning codes—codes that were essential, in fact, to preserving many bungalow neighborhoods’ all-single-family character. The people who advocated for these zoning codes did so by explicitly arguing that they were needed to protect the property values of homeowners and other landowners. In other words, the denizens of the early 20th century cared so much about their houses as a financial investments that they invented an entire new regulatory infrastructure to ensure that they wouldn’t lose their value.

And of course, “not losing their value” was very closely tied to excluding any kinds of people who might threaten the neighborhood’s desirability. It’s impossible to talk about the development of urban American neighborhoods in the early 20th century without acknowledging that this was the period in which modern residential racial segregation emerged—a system of exclusion enforced by covenants, zoning, and violence carried out by the residents of all kinds of neighborhoods. This isn’t some separate issue from how those who were excluding, rather than excluded, built their homes and communities: It’s an integral part of the story, without which those bungalow neighborhoods may have looked quite different.

Why have we forgotten all of this? Partly because all the people in these stories are gone. We can’t see the developers laying roads and streetcar tracks to open up huge new areas for subdivisions; we can’t see the disproportionately wealthy people who were able to buy homes when required down payments routinely hit 50 percent. We can’t talk to the people who remember, and miss, what existed in these places before bungalows. All that’s left are the buildings, which over the years have lost their sheen of newness, often becoming more affordable in the process, and allowing us to imagine our own stories about where they came from.

The point here is not that bungalows are bad. Given what has happened in the intervening century, a return to bungalow-scale living would be a huge win for sustainability and efficient living in the many postwar suburbs and neighborhoods where homes have ballooned to much larger sizes, and development has become much more sprawling. In many urban communities, bungalows today represent a prized architectural tradition, and a form of single-family home that fits neatly into the kind of mixed urban neighborhood—along with small apartment buildings and local shopping districts—that has long since been made illegal.

But there are important lessons to be learned by looking at what the bungalow era actually looked like, rather than our romantic imagination of it.

One is that everything old was once new, and new things often provoke a backlash. We ought to be humble in believing that our opinions represent some timeless, objective truth, looking backwards or forwards. The same bungalows that seem to us quaint and charming were tacky and soulless to many of the people watching them be built; it seems more than possible that the new apartment buildings we vilify today will be thought of sentimentally by future generations who know them only as an important part of their city since they were born.

A second lesson is that American cities have an impressive history of growing to accommodate new arrivals. What’s frequently left out of immaculate-conception stories is that the bungalow era was also the fastest period of urbanization in American history: Between 1900 and 1930, Seattle’s population grew more than fourfold, from 80,000 to over 360,000—a rate of growth approached or exceeded by many other American cities at the time. In the process, millions of rural Americans and immigrants were given the opportunity to live in newly industrializing cities where wages and quality of life were dramatically higher. Today, most of our cities have shut the door on that kind of growth. (Seattle’s growth rate today, while much higher than many other central cities, pales in comparison to the bungalow era many yearn to return to.) As a result, our doors are no longer open to as many people, from this country and others, who would like to make better lives by moving to places where job openings and quality of life are high.

Finally, the bungalow era suggests that building new market-rate housing that’s affordable to working-class and low-income people in urban areas is hard, especially if that housing takes the form of single-family homes. And it’s worse today: While the bungalow builders had the advantage of lots of open land relatively close to center cities, today, that “frontier” has closed. And we’re well aware of the costs—environmental, social, and financial—of continuing to push all of our growth out further and further onto the fringe.

Rather, the deeply affordable and decent homes of the bungalow era were largely in multifamily buildings. It’s curious that, though more than four in 10 of the homes built in the 1920s were in apartment buildings, that kind of construction—and those kinds of people—are entirely absent from romantic musings about the time. But they were a crucial source of urban accommodations for people of modest incomes. As the Sightline Institute has pointed out, rooming houses and other small, multifamily homes made up a huge proportion of the affordable housing stock in cities around the country in the early 20th century. Unfortunately, a combination of regulations and market conditions has virtually eliminated that stock in most places. In order to return to something the 1910s and 20s got right, bringing back modestly-sized homes in multifamily buildings is a good place to start.

The past does have lessons—but we have to look at it as it really was, and not through rose-colored glasses, if we want to get them right.

The original article can be found HERE on The Atlantic’s website

Restaurants revitalize neighborhoods in PDX

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A look at any of Portland’s most vibrant neighborhoods will show that food has been central to their success. In fact, food-based businesses most often are first at the table when it comes to neighborhood development and revitalization, according to Mike Thelin.

Thelin, co-founder of Feast Portland, said there are striking similarities between the design community and the food community, and the creativity involved in both stems from the same inspiration. He noted that food has played an essential role in Portland’s reputation and has directly impacted its built environment.

“You can track the development of neighborhoods around certain gathering places where people came together over food,” he said. “It’s usually the food operators, the bar operators, and the cool coffee shops and cafes that are the first to the table. And if there is a good restaurant, people will want to live near it and work near it.”

Likening Portland’s food-and-design dynamic to that in Brooklyn, New York, Thelin pointed to Genoa as an early driver in the Belmont neighborhood and the more recent influence of food carts in downtown Portland and multicultural cuisine on Northeast Alberta Street. Each created a unique environment that attracted other retail and commercial businesses and increased property values for homeowners.

Clarklewis Restaurant is among the pioneers that put Portland’s Central Eastside on the map, paving the way for a thriving district that merges an industrial and manufacturing history with newer tech startups and creative companies, he added.00003543120757

With Pok Pok, Lauro Kitchen and Salt & Straw Ice Cream, among other big names, Southeast Division Street is yet another example of the synergistic relationship between food, design and economic success.

“This is a street that was kind of sleepy, sleepy for inner southeast Portland, and now you have five or six of the best restaurants in the city within a three or four-block stretch,” he said.

 

Read the rest of the story here on Pamplin Media Group’s website.

 

Design Week Portland presents Futurelandia

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Strap on your jetpack–let’s time travel to the Portland of tomorrow.

Since being incorporated in 1851, The Rose City has experienced a nearly constant state of change. Once again, it seems like everywhere you turn Portland is evolving before our eyes. Our city skyline transforming, historic neighborhoods gentrifying, and housing costs running sky-high as a steady influx of newcomers flock to capture a slice of the city’s unique potential. Yet amidst all these changes, we’re left to ponder what will our Portland of tomorrow look like?

The Futurelandia exhibit will display posters created by 20 of Portland’s most imaginative artists, graphic designers, and illustrators to visually express their vision for the future of the city. Featured artists will have the opportunity to share the inspiration of their work, while civic voices lead open discussions about our city’s future. We think art can spark a bigger conversation about the (distant) future of our beloved city. How about you?

For the whole story and for a list of featured artists, check out Design Week Portland’s website here.

 

Thursday, April 21

6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Union / Pine
525 SE Pine St.
Portland, Oregon 97214

Free entry!