News Jul 14, 2011 at 4:00 am


If you like privately owned land that has been maintained, at a cost to the owner, as park space, get your "collective" asses together an buy it.
try a kickstarter campaign. could work.
Yep, put up or shut up I say. No offense but c'mon people.
@BokChoy, thank you. It's a privately owned garden space. The owners pay to maintain it, and don't kick people off even though most of the people who hang out there are technically trespassing. If you want to see it branded as a community green space, put up the money to buy it before claiming it as your own.
If you're too lazy to try and purchase the land from the lawful owner, try and talk to the city into acquiring it through eminant domain. PROTIP: Never gonna happen.
@Graham - and if the city DID own the property, they'd find someone who could squeeze in 40 units.
I just can't believe the fucking NERVE of these "Mississippi House" idiots.
A campaign should be started calling these pompous asses at their home phones, etc.
And each bitch-slapped to knock some sense in 'em.
I understand that they want to save "their space," but, it does not belong to them.
Some neighborhood planning is in order. We need more park space, the County has the money to buy it. There are plenty of large parcels in the neighborhood to develop that size structure, or a park, and both would be great!

(Also Kurisu is a genius landscape designer)

But I can't help but observe that the value of the anarchists house is greatly improved by having the park next to it (and a vacant lot on the other side) while their house is assessed at 62,000 for tax purposes, a fraction of its value. Free lunch, and dinner?
I'll say, Jake.

I do believe the land in question belonged to the Native Aboriginal Americans in the first place. Before white, disease-ridden, illegal aliens from Europe invaded and gentrified the continent.
Yeah, the worlds problems all stem from White Men DamosA.
You know, if I were to make similar comments about blacks I'd be called racist.
Well most rich white men are the true embodiment of evil.
"I've got mine, Fuck you!"
@ frankieb,

Well it WOULD be racist b/c it wouldn't be true. What part of what i said was NOT true/historical fact???
Somebody's not giving the full story here. A 5,000 square foot area is 50 ft. X 100 ft.... Hardly big enough to build a decent house, let alone a 35 unit apartment complex with parking. This must be the last piece of a larger parcel of land. A piece this small would never be manageable as a park anyway.
If the cost of gentrification is pricing whiny, entitled dickholes like the Mississippi House bunch out of the neighborhood, I say bring on the fucking bulldozers.
Ok, NOW I'm all pissed about the "Gentrification is Racism" sign.

Gentrification is a CLASS issue, not a race issue. The "problem" is that the neighborhood is becoming trendier and that pushes up rents and pushes out lower class people who might have lived there a long time. Their race doesn't enter into it. For example, blacks, whites (or ANYONE else) who has enough money or owns their own home are NOT being priced out.

In fact, assuming that all the people pushed out for not having enough money are non-white, while all the people moving in must be white, IS FUCKING RACIST.
I like to visit the area just to get a good laugh at the male hipsters. The way they dress cracks me up. My sister took a long time to get dressed, but these hipsters have her beat. Now they are going to whine about a park they can no longer squat on when they just spent 2 hours at Fresh Pot trying to look cool. LMAO.

what the Light Bulb Lady said.
You seem very passionate about nativism DamosA yet you wear clothes, eat food, and I am willing to bet use some form of transportation that is a direct result of what you apparently dislike so much. Just sayin
you know there is nothing like adding more housing to an area to drive up the price of the other housing near it... Ummm that isn't really how real estate works, adding 35 units to a block is not going to make the rest of the block more expensive to live on, if anything it might drive down the price of living on that block. As for parking people who live on a street DO NOT OWN THE PARKING PLACES! If you want a car then provide your own off street parking I am tired of not being able to get enough density going for decent transit service because people are so married to having 2-3 on street parking places per unit subsidized by the city!
Also it is people like this that cause private landowners to build big ugly fences around unused property so no one can use it before construction begins because they don't want to deal with the fall out later on when they do build on their land.
Colin, that's a huge simplification about gentrification. Gentrifyin' certainly does hurt all lower-income folks in an area, but it's still absolutely a "racial" issue. Racism almost always plays a huge role in the process of gentrifying an area, and Mississippi St for sure. Google 'Bleeding Albina' by Karen Gibson for a little background info.
Gentrification = racial genocide on a sub-prime level.
@ Sisya, Please explain how "racism almost always plays a huge role in the process of gentrifying an area."
So, "Gentrification" is now somehow mixed into this debate about these dummies wanting to keep a parcel of land they don't own for themselves?

I bet all those white kids in the picture above are discussing how to combat "Gentrification".
Bleeding Albina is a very thorough dissection of the G word process. We read it in school. You should check it out, Colin. I know bank redlining was a core tool of racial discrimination.

In Oakland back in the day I volunteered for an organization that helped recovering addicts find housing. Many were black. I'd call on apartments, show up to rental agency offices with my clients, they'd take one look at them and say how the apartment we just called about 10 minutes ago had been rented. Anectodotal, I know, but this was clearly a common practice.
I would never argue with anyone that racism exists, institutional racism has been practiced all over the place for the most of the 20th centery, and that fair housing violations still occur WAAY more often then people really understand.

With all that said, there is no concerted effort to push anyone out of anywhere, or keep anyone enclosed in one racial/ethnic ghetto.

All you have is a funky area becoming a trendy area. Rents rise, poor people have to move. It's shitty if you're poor, I'll totally agree with that. However that doesn't make anything about it racist, except for how that neighborhood came to exist in the first place.

I guess I'm wondering, what should happen otherwise? Should that neighborhood be declared a black-only enclave, with rents frozen forever into the future? Should ordinary, non-racist market factors be "counterbalanced" by what presumably would be public assistance in some form? If so, how and why?

I will read that Gibson thing, but only because I am a planning nerd and TSW told me to.
Just read "Bleeding Albina."* Some points:

1) As I said, I don't disagree that Albina was a black ghetto created by overtly racist government/cultural/economic forces. Make no mistake, it's beyond disgusting that this happened.

2) Gibson gets into big trouble on p.6: "There is evidence supporting the notion that housing market actors helped sections of the Albina District reach an advanced state of decay, making the area ripe for reinvestment." Gibson doesn't really have the evidence to support the causal link she's implying here, i.e. that market actors cheered on and abetted decay FOR THE PURPOSE of swooping in later and speculating. In truth, her statement only is true as far as it goes - a collective BUT NOT CONCERTED group of disparate housing market actors helped the neighborhood stay shitty, which had a partial byproduct of ongoing, deepening decay. Giving this shadowy "they" credit for cynically setting up a situation where they would profit gives them credit for a clairvoyance concerning the area's rebound that is obviously undeserved: In 1990, who ever would have predicted what we see in Albina in 2011?

3) At 20-21: "Of course, the flood of White homebuyers would not have occurred without the 1990s economic boom that raised home prices in all other quarters of the city. A booming economy, cheap mortgage money, bargain-basement property, and pent-up demand coincided to transform pockets of Albina from three or four years from very affordable to out of reach."

At no point does Bleeding Albina ever argue that blacks are still being kept in or out of Albina. While I'll agree there are probably spots of Fair Housing Violations in Alibina, Gibson's own data (p.20) show that Hispanics have displaced Blacks in Albina at the same rate as Whites have (btw, is anyone claiming the Hispanics are racist?).

4) At all points from the 1990's forward, Gibson cites the local government as a benign force for reclamation and transformation. In other words, it appears that city government hasn't been acting in a racist manner for decades now.

While racist government/cultural/market forces created Albina and helped hold it down for decades, it still seems clear to me that we've seen a nearly equal opportunity resurgence.** The victims of the transformed area are those who now can't afford to live there, be they White, Black, Hispanic, or anyone else.


** I say "nearly," because I wouldn't doubt that there has been a disparity in lending rates during transformation which probably has a racial component, though ordinary economic factors probably played the biggest role, i.e. it's safer to invest one's money in a community clearly on the economic rebound than in a gang-infested crackhole of government neglect.
since most of you probably moved here in the last couple of years, I'll remind everyone that, with the exception of a few small pockets, everything east of NW 23rd avenue used to be poor/working class neighborhoods.
- There are few parks in this area.
- The park probably adds value to all homes and homeowners in the area.
- Gentrification happens thousands of times a day on a micro-transaction level: welcome to your economy 101 class.

If they want to keep it their taxes should raise to cover it as a buyout from the city.
If they really want to show their love they should sacrifice two of their homes at fair market value to show their dedication to their neighborhood?

Otherwise, amazing that this is a pressing need in Portland to report on. How about covering the blight that is the East-side industrial district right on the waterfront? Portland pictures are always of Mt. Hood or the city, never of Mt St. Helens and the river's edge. Seems like we have a long-way to go to improve the way this city "looks"
"since most of you probably moved here in the last couple of years, I'll remind everyone that, with the exception of a few small pockets, everything east of NW 23rd avenue used to be poor/working class neighborhoods. "

And 40 years before that it was farmland.
And 90 years before that it was forested prairie.
And 200 years before that it was forested swampland.

Your point?
We read the Gibson piece in Sociology grad school. It's been a few years, nevertheless I recall we all concluded gentrification is class-based, with serious racial undertones. I think we all agree here.

As for your point #2, speculators/developers always envision capital improvements. I'm sure they'd have foreseen Albina's present state, at least in some vague form. I have a brain full of dust mites and scar tissue and I pictured quite clearly what Mississippi would become when I moved there 9 years ago.
@TSW I can't believe that people didn't want to rent to a junky who couldn't manage to look at an apartment without the help of a caseworker... Recovering addicts have a bad habit of relapsing and turning into an unbelievable clusterf#$!, I know from experience.
Go to the park, people! Portland has no shortage of grass. I know. I used to live there. We need more apartments. An article in the LA Times recently stated that we need more apartment buildings for all those people who had to go into foreclosure. They can't buy, and they need to live somewhere, so more apartment buildings are needed! It is private land. If the owners want to sell and there is a buyer, that is the American way. Get a grip!
As a member of the local landed gentry I must concur with Commenty Colin's crisp, mathematical demonstration: In a contest of who has the means to smother a place in trendiness, the smug wonderbread always wins.
Their campaign should be titled "Creat a Park on N. Mississippi". I have no problem with keeping it as open space, but it is privately owned land. The protest, up to this point, seems to be misguided focusing more on the proposed development and the evils of capitalisim and "being in it for the money" (I guess some people forget that develpers make their money by developing). It is ridiculous to whine about something developed based on the zoning that was there before the Mississippi house residents moved in. Instead of complaining about development, raise some money to buy the land. Otherwise, what right do the Mississippi house residents think they have to prohibit an owner from getting some economic return on a site that wasn't purchased for public use in the first place? I wouldn't show up and demand the opponents of this project essentially waste an asset of theirs (house, car, savings etc.) but somehow they feel the right to demand that a private property owner maintain a "park" for them. People like this annoy me because they spend too much time fighting and arguing against "the man" and not enough time solving their problems with something more proactive.
Wait, wait, wait...those white kids in the park? The ones who pay out the ass to live in shared housing in the hip neighborhood of Mississippi? The ones who pay $9 for a fancy drink at a fancy Mississippi bar? The ones who sit outside Fresh Pot trying to look as if they are trying not to be seen but deep down inside are really desperate to be seen? They are the ones who these developers know will fill the apartments and patronize the businesses in the new retail spaces. Newsflash, there exist a crap ton of neighborhoods with affordable housing, parks (huge ones!), and a mix of income levels and races within Portland city limits. Amazing I know. Oh, shit...but you wont be seen and you have to move away from the cool place to be. Damn.
I should have clarified. Clients were accepted by the organization only after a period of sobriety. Also, they assisted not just recovering addicts but those with HIV. The clients had housing vouchers. Despite the aformentioned barriers, people were able to find housing specifically because rental agencies trusted our organization's clients' reputation way more than they would an addict on their own.
Go to a Land Use public meeting in North Portland at the Historic Kenton Firehouse. There you might be able to get the City to buy the piece of land and designate it a true Portland City Park. If that interests you.
Hey everyone, this is John from the article. I live at the Mississippi Co-op. Sorry I didn't wade in earlier, I was working a lot.

So the article is better than the last time I saw the Merc cover issues like this. In the past the gist was that people who oppose developments like these are ignorant NIMBYs (who don't care about the environment. Now we're portrayed as possibly having a point but that we'll lose because we can't afford to buy the land. (Which I think is a bad goal.)

So we've heard the 'argument' that Portland Collective Housing should just buy the land or shut up. First let's be clear that the people opposed to this development don't just live in my house although certainly some of the more active opponents (like me) do. Clearly no one we know has $700,000 (reasonable guess?) to buy a park. Even if PCH did have the money we wouldn't buy it because our goal is to take *existing* structures off the housing market. If we had it we could use that cash to leverage loans on several houses and turn them into dense, green, permanently affordable housing. Leaving aside the fact that no one (besides, possibly, the city) has the money to buy it this is a bad strategy. It's bad because it just preserves the status quo: land use decisions determined by money rather than by the people affected by them. Suggesting that low income people just *get a bunch of money* and then we'll be able to affect land use decisions is both ridiculous and insulting.

A big reason that this campaign is so exciting for me is that it really is a pure fight between public and private interests. It's certainly more difficult to oppose this proposed development given that we don't have a basis for a legal fight. At the same time it's forced us to make more connections in our neighborhood and raise the profile of these issues -- which is awesome. Confronting the sacred institution of private property is definitely a (fun) challenge. What keeps me going is the thought that the people who actually use the park and live in the community should be the ones to decide what happens to it -- not people like the Kurisu's and Chris Rogers whose only real relationship to the neighborhood is financial.

The other thing that I'm excited about is how the fight over what happens to this park has the potential to inform the much larger debate about land use in our city. Specifically we are using the example of what is planned for the park to attack the simplistic 'dense and green' mantra which has a stranglehold on land use politics in Portland. Just to get this out there: I think that we should be making things denser and greener. It's just that we need to know first that this is actually happening and second that the we are doing it without simultaneously displacing poor people and people of color.

I want to take a sec an unpack this density idea... So the basic idea is that building densely inside Portland will have the effect of preventing development on the outskirts of the Portland metro area. The problem is that the way this is being accomplished is by constructing buildings like the one that Chris Roger's wants to build on the park: very expensive albeit 'green'. This is a problem because it contributes to high prices throughout the neighborhood. For example the nearby 'green' development Tupelo Alley is gouging its residents to the tune of $1,375 a month for a 2 bedroom or $1,100 for a one bedroom! It's pretty clear that, with prices like these, low income people aren't welcome.

What I'm learning is that it's not even working on the level of density-- my neighborhood has lost significant population at the same time that several 'dense' developments were built here. (check out census tract 34.02 in 2000 vs. 2005-09) This seems important if we're being serious about making things more dense. My guess is that the loss of population can be accounted for by less dense uses of other buildings / houses because larger, low income households are being replaced by smaller more affluent ones. It turns out that poor people can do density better with out all the green washing, thanks.

So back to the issue at hand: our opponents have begun to fight dirty. Up until a few days ago this had taken the form of *someone* removing the "save the park" signs we've been putting up. Ironically they've all been removed from our property -- it seems the rights of private property only work some of the time... We've probably replaced the same sign 20 times. Mostly this is just annoying but I think it's worth mentioning.

Somewhat more ominous is the fact that someone complained about people living illegally in my house's basement. Of course aggressively enforcing city codes is a classic move that developers use to get rid of the people who stand in their way. Luckily this isn't going to work in our case because our basement room is legal.

@ Colin: So you understand how something can be about BOTH class and race at the same time, right? This is one of those times. Obviously low income whites have been displaced right along with low income blacks. It's just that, due to 400+ years of extreme racism black people are disproportionately more likely to be low income and even more likely to have very little wealth compared to whites. Because of that and because black people were corralled into this neighborhood (by redlining) they're disproportionately affected by the gentrification of this neighborhood. Not realizing that (and then doing something about it) is what is actually racist here. I think you're getting hung up on whether or not white people are being consciously and deliberately racist. I want to let you know that racism can be reproduced just because the racist context and racist power relationships that exist aren't identified and confronted.
@ johnspokes, blahblah. This isn't a race issue, it's a money issue. These people own the lot next to your building. They want to sell the lot to someone else who wants to build on it, because of a profit motive that has nothing to do with race. Just because you've enjoyed sitting in their vacant lot doesn't mean you've founded a fucking park. You can lament property rights all day, but they exist. You can lament that in the US, money talks, but that too, exists.

You probably imagine I'm twirling a mustache above a brandy snifter, but I'd be right there with you if you were going about this in an honest way, rather than wrapping yourselves in facile slogans and race-baiting. I can see WHY you're not being honest - honesty would dictate that you probably lose unless you successfully do a ton of work, so honesty isn't very convenient.

While you see this as a political cause against the evils of private property, most others seem to see it as some supremely entitled folks who decided that the generosity a property owner showed by not fencing a temporarily unused property should be repaid with this bullshit.

Very interesting! This is indeed a fantastic resource.
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To echo @CC 'blah blah blah'
You talk about fighting dirty and your own actions (calling this guy at home) are far more invasive and dirty.
The 'race' issue again.... hmmm, let me guess: you are a white dude, right? Then I would suggest you move out of the neighborhood.

"Confronting the sacred institution of private property is definitely a (fun) challenge."
Maybe you're right. I think we should start a movement to turn your home into a city park.
Most of the users of the green space can't afford their own space. The Owner has the right to do whatever he/she wants. This is America right? Not every piece of land needs to be donated esp. in a desire hood. Can't afford get out then. Get a job for God's sake. Buy your own piece of property so you know what it would feel like.

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