1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Career/Pro <cpro@igc.apc.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 1998 13:28:06 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: Portland, Oregon Showcase Community Comments
>> From: Willamette Riverkeeper <wrkeeper@teleport.com>
>> Here we go again. The efforts to redevelop Portland's brownfields look more
>> like tools of genetrification that will displace (via skyrocketing housing
>> costs) the very people that the money is supposed to help.
>> Subject:     Re: Could you please elaborate?
>> Date:        Fri, 20 Mar 1998 11:59:39 -0800 (PST)
>> From:       Willamette Riverkeeper <wrkeeper@teleport.com>
>> To:            CAREER/PRO <cpro@igc.apc.org>
>From the beginning Portland's brownfields grant applications have been
written as projects that would target and benefit low income and/or
communities of color. Yet, most everytime the city holds a news confrence,
such as accepting the check from EPA, the neighborhood that is chosen is NOT
in these neighborhoods.

I suspect that the bottom line is that Portland's officials think that
success looks like pretty tree-lined streets with lots of shops and
pedestrian traffic. This image is great (I suppose), except that in Portland
the neighborhoods that look like are or are becoming mini-malls composed
largely of local and national chains, e.g. Starbucks, Coffee People, GAP,
etc. The rents have gone through the roof for retail, commercial and
housing. I grew up in whjat is now Portland's most getrified neighborhood,
Northwest. Yes, the biker bars are gone, but so to are the true artists, the
senior citizens, the locally owned shops, and the types of stores that
serviced the community -- hardware, drug stores, shoe repair -- all replaced
by chic cafes, etc.

So, I think this is what City officials think success looks like. I don't. I
was told that the city highlighted used a NE brownfield (old Texeco station)
on the corner of 15th and Fremont as an example of the type of property that
will be helped through the showcase project. Granted, this example is closer
to the poor side of town. The problem is that the store that is developing
the area is an out of state chain that is constructing a large organic foods
super market. This doesn't help the local small business owners. It does say
"white safe," as does Portland's Kennedy School brew pub (which I understand
has driven up nearby retail rents and spawned a development effort that will
displace the local Black owned BBQ stand that has been there for decades).

In the final analysis, I think these types of projects largely benefit the
bigger developers at the exclusion & cost of existing neighborhood
businesses. They also spawn huge increases in housing costs (my house cost
$75,000 two years ago and is worth $115,000 today --- and going up rapidly).
I think this is wrong...especially when the money is aquired for the stated
purpose of helping the poor.

Portland has some different challenges than most other communities. True
help for inner-N/NE Portland would be job training for good jobs,
information and assistance for home purchases by people from these
neighborhoods, land trusts (which some call urban share cropping), support
and training and economic assistance for existing and new small business
owners from the neighborhoods etc. Frankly, I think that the neighborhood
associations need to approach the chains and ask them to kindly stay out.
Once Starbucks anchors...well there goes the complexion and diversity of the

I will stop here, but I think the city has the wrong final product vision.
Unless this changes, Portland's poor, African-American and others will be
economically exiled from their solid older homes to cracker box apartments
in the fringes of the suburbs.

408 SW Second Avenue Suite 210
Portland, Oregon 97204 
1-888-4-4-WILLY (outside Portland)

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