Letters: Infill project is for rich, future residents
In spite of what the Residential Infill Project promises, developers will build what sells. The RIP proposal allows duplexes on any lot. It allows triplexes on every corner. It is called the "housing opportunity overlay zone."
Historically, the 1995 "a" overlay encompassed 45,000 lots, allowing developers to build extra units in single-family zones. This zoning exercise only produced 221 additional units. That's 0.4 percent.
Currently, duplexes are allowed on every corner. Only 3.5 percent to 5 percent of these possible duplexes were ever constructed.
In 2016, 771 residential permits were issued, but only 25 duplexes were built. Subtract the 350 demolitions and 446 single-family homes were added to the supply. None affordable.
Developers now are lobbying for larger square footage than RIP allows so they can build bigger single-family houses. Not a single residence, duplex or triplex that gets built will be affordable to any family earning less than $75,000 a year. And as wages continue to stagnate and construction costs increase, that gap will widen.
As empty land disappears, demolitions will increase. Existing, small, affordable houses will still be the builder's target.
Remember, this new "housing opportunity overlay" is brought to you by the same planners who allow apartment buildings with no parking, out-of-scale city blocks with no relief for public space, trees or sunlight, and 400-foot-tall buildings on the east side of the river.
RIP is for the rich. RIP is for people who don't live here yet.
Downtown's deteriorating safety
This is in reply to the Portland Tribune's Dec. 7 "Sources Say" article: The article raises several questions in regard to comparing the Columbia Sportswear outlet with the Schumacher Fur store, and why a high pedestrian traffic zone was declared by the mayor. The comparison of Columbia Sportswear with Schumacher Furs and the reason for protesting in front of each store was for two entirely different issues, i.e. declaring a "no sit" zone in front of the Columbia Sportswear business and the killing of fur bearing animals sold by Schumacher Furs.
After reading in several local publications and hearing Tim Boyle explain his position on OPB, it becomes evident that he has a valid concern for the safety of his employees, especially females, who have been verbally and physically assaulted primarily by those of the homeless populace. They have been the recipients of death threats by the same contingent.
It is a daily ritual to have someone clean the human excrement from the entry to his business prior to opening for the day. This is not a normal experience for any employee to endure on a daily basis and certainly not something a business owner should expect his workers to deal with during the course of arriving and leaving the workplace.
One cannot blame Boyle for seeking increased security for his employees and customers in light of deteriorating safety issues downtown and for petitioning city leaders to recognize and deal with these issues. If they are not addressed, it will only be a matter of time before more businesses will follow Boyle's example and relocate to another area more conducive to conducting a safe and profitable enterprise thus leaving a much less vibrant downtown.
Regarding "Ken Cowdery, champion for ending homelessness" (Dec. 12 Tribune): Cowdery's statement on homelessness, "The problem is so big and complicated that everyone has to work together to solve it ..." frames homelessness and poverty as unfortunate social accidents like natural disasters.
In fact, homelessness and poverty are inextricably part of America's version of capitalism. Our version is like a game show in which the object is to see how wealthy some people can become. We forget that the obverse of extremely wealthy people is much less for everyone else with mass poverty, homelessness, psychological dysfunction and substance abuse problems characterizing the lower extreme.
Conceptually, homelessness and poverty are simple problems with a conceptually simple solution: Redistribute society's burdens and benefits much more equitably. That began to happen during the Great Depression and continued through 1970 when tax laws were fairer and there was comparatively stable economic growth.
Politically, however, poverty and homelessness are ineradicable because the wealthy use their financial power to prevent a fair distribution of income and wealth. Since 1980 they skewed the distribution even further. They have successfully framed poverty and its consequences like homelessness, lack of economic and educational opportunity, and lack of access to health care as resulting from the character faults of individuals. We know better.