We love our city. We want a Portland where all are welcome and everyone’s interests matter, regardless of background, income, or age, whether renter or homeowner, lifelong resident or new arrival. The greatest asset of our city is its people, and our city is at its best when it facilitates connections among those people: cultural, economic, and social. The policies we lay out below are based on our beliefs for how Portland can achieve these goals.
LAND USE, HOUSING, AND AFFORDABILITY
Portland is a popular place. Over a thousand people move here every month from across Oregon, the country, and the world. Some move here for Portland’s culture, some for family, some for educational opportunity, some for our vibrant economy, some to escape danger, and some for the natural beauty that surrounds us. Whatever the reason people want to make Portland their home, we believe Portland should provide for abundant, diverse, and affordable housing to meet the needs of all family sizes in every neighborhood – from smaller apartment buildings and accessory dwelling units in established neighborhoods to downtown skyscrapers to single-family housing.
There will always be a need to provide for those priced out of even the most affordable market rate housing. Public subsidy should focus on those most in need, creating additional affordable housing and using innovative programs to address homelessness. We support local funding sources and regulations for affordable housing that are broad, deep and progressive. This includes but is not limited to: bonds or levies, linkage fees, inclusionary zoning, and dedicated affordable housing resources from tax increment districts.
‘MISSING MIDDLE HOUSING’ AND ZONING REFORM
It makes no sense when a standard 50’ x 100’ lot within easy walking distance of downtown can’t be used for anything more than a single-family house. Before World War II, most of Portland was zoned for multi-dwelling development, which is why our beloved older neighborhoods enjoy a wonderful variety of compact and affordable housing types such as duplexes, triplexes, quads, courtyard apartments and interior conversions of older homes. In 1959, the city council removed many of those options by sweeping new single-dwelling zones across most of the city. This steered builders to construct larger and larger homes, while leaving few places for this “missing middle” housing to be built. Portland for Everyone supports re-legalizing multi-home buildings near commercial centers, corridors and urban parks, to ensure that all neighborhoods contain a sprinkling of smaller and more affordable housing choices. We support allowing accessory dwelling units, duplexes, triplexes, and density bonuses for smaller homes, to add discreetly to the housing supply without changing the feel of single-dwelling zones. We also support incentives for preserving existing older homes and for providing affordable homes.
Portlanders place a high value on the economic and ethnic diversity of our neighborhoods. Economic forces threaten that diversity by displacing many. People of color face higher barriers to finding housing and employment, and are particularly vulnerable to displacement. Improvements to Portland’s parks and transportation infrastructure and the growth and enhancements to commercial areas, while needed and desirable, are making many neighborhoods more attractive to developers, investors and home buyers, thereby driving up prices and exacerbating displacement.
Portland for Everyone believes that improvements should benefit existing residents and encourage them to remain in their neighborhoods as we also welcome and make room for new residents, including people of color, working families, and lower-income people in need of affordable housing. Toward those ends we will promote, support, advocate for, participate in and join with other groups in efforts to advance the following:
- Build more permanently affordable housing in all parts of the city.
- Advocate for smaller housing options in all neighborhoods to help prevent the displacement of elders and support residents who want to age in community.
- Encourage accessory dwelling units, small house “pocket neighborhoods,” and other strategies for affordable, market-rate, infill housing.
- Allow a mix of housing types and encourage permanently affordable housing in areas with good access to transit and other services.
- Support the efforts of other groups to protect renters, stabilize homeowners at risk of losing their homes, and provide for homeownership opportunities for lower income residents.
SAFETY FOR ALL – Vision Zero
All Portlanders should have safe streets for walking, bicycling, driving, and transit for all ages and physical abilities. Portland should design safer street, sidewalk, and bicycling networks that move us closer to achieving zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries.. Toward this end, Portland for Everyone supports the work of other organizations to achieve traffic-calming measures and urban design that preserve auto mobility while significantly reducing the dangers associated with unsafe driving. This improves city streets for everyone, enabling prosperity in our neighborhoods and removing the unjust toll of traffic collisions on the most disadvantaged Portlanders.
MORE AND BETTER TRANSPORTATION CHOICES
For a century Portland has prioritized, more than any other transportation goal, the movement and storage of cars. The annual cost of owning and operating a car in the US is approximately $10,000. In the future, car ownership will become even more expensive, more impractical, and less necessary. Portland’s transportation systems must offer safe and convenient options including walking, bicycling and public transit. Continuing to prioritize driving over other means of mobility is not an option. We support designing Portland neighborhoods so people do not always need to use a car, or could own one less car – leaving a lot of money in the household budget for housing, health care, education, and more. Whether in a wheelchair, a stroller or on foot, everyone deserves a safe and economical way to get around. This means:
- All neighborhoods should be safely walkable, including safe pedestrian crossings, as well as shopping, services, and parks within easy reach of home.
- Portland must recommit and invest in making bicycling safe and comfortable, with protected routes the norm, not the exception – so bicycling can be for everyone. Portlanders should have affordable, accessible, convenient public transit that serves all types of commuters and jobs and makes it easier to choose transit for non-work trips. Denser housing, including housing reserved for those of lower incomes and for older persons, must be provided for near transit stops, and more frequent bus and train service must be established throughout the city.
END STEALTH PARKING SUBSIDIES
Portland for Everyone prioritizes housing for humans over housing for cars.
Requirements for off-street parking drive up the cost of housing and make all city residents and businesses bear one of the major expenses of automobiles: the space to park them. These requirements subsidize driving and tilt the scales toward automobile usage and away from the forms of transportation that work better in cities.
Every surplus parking spot takes up space that could be better utilized, either for housing or for green space. Off-street parking requirements should be reduced or eliminated citywide, allowing homeowners and business owners to decide the right levels of parking for their own needs.
In the handful of neighborhoods where economic success is making street parking scarce, the best solution is to use permits and meters to set a fair price for public parking. This ensures that people who must drive will always be able to find a space. A share of the revenue from such programs should go toward improving non-auto transportation in the immediate area, gradually freeing our business districts from dependence on parking space.
Portland was the first major US city to adopt a climate action plan, and should continue to lead the way on local responses to climate change. Energy-efficient housing and transportation will be essential if our city and state are to escape dependence on destructive fossil fuels. We support compact urban neighborhoods to reduce carbon emissions from driving. Affordable housing options are especially important in high transit neighborhoods so that low-income Portlanders are not forced to drive extra miles for work, shopping and services. This will continue to reduce Portland’s overall carbon footprint even as the local population increases.
ACCESS TO NATURE
Portlanders celebrate wildness and nature within our city, with a top-notch system of neighborhood parks and a goal of expansion until there is a park within an easy stroll of every front door. Portland for Everyone believes that as we welcome new Portlanders, we can protect and expand the urban tree canopy to cool our city, mitigate stormwater runoff, and provide beauty. Portland should safeguard habitat within our city for indigenous flora and fauna, and lead the region in combating sprawl so that farm, nursery and forestlands remain within easy reach.
Our city can be a vehicle for economic prosperity. People move to Portland to find good jobs and improve their lives. When people move here, their talents, resources, and connections enrich us all. Every new Portlander is a new potential employee to attract employers, a new customer for businesses, and a new collaborator to spark start-ups. Abundant, diverse, and affordable housing will allow more people to participate, benefiting the city as a whole.
Portland is fertile ground for new ideas. Family-friendly brew pubs and coffee shops, accessory dwelling units and other innovative housing types, Pedalpalooza and Sunday Parkways … not every idea turns out to be a winner, but we know that it’s often better to try something new than to wait around for another city to try it first.
Portland has more fresh ideas ahead of it. Portland should focus on ways to ensure longtime Portlanders and those newly arrived, of all economic and ethnic backgrounds, can benefit from – and support – our city.
While we recognize that Portland has a reputation for testing new ideas, we shouldn’t let our civic pride turn into complacent self-satisfaction. There is much to learn from other parts of the country and the world, and we should aggressively seek out good ideas from other communities that would work well here. New Portlanders will bring fresh ideas with them that enhance our community.