For those who went through Occupy in Downtown Portland in 2011 it was hard to imagine things could get any worse. Just the smell in Chapman/Lonsdale Square and surrounds was enough to make you vomit. Then came the one two punch of Antifa and and the pandemic. The homelessness, crime, and destruction have now reached unlivable never mind undesirable conditions. Is it possible for City of Roses to recover? I think it’s possible.
Newt Gingrich had a film maker on his podcast that thinks it’s possible for New York. (https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/newts-world/id1452065072?i=1000524285668 ). So if New York why not Portland? In the case of New York, Director Matthew Taylor is Newt’s guest. He is producing a new documentary series called “This Is New York,” which through guest interviews analyzes the possibilities.
Both Taylor and Gingrich point out that New York was unlivable in the 1970s but recovered in a couple years under Mayor Rudi Giuliani. Could the same happen for Portland? I’m skeptical.
These are some of the things I think Portland has going for it.
– Oregon’s unemployment rate has dropped to 6.6% from a staggering 15% during the height of the pandemic, this chart screen shot from ycharts.com. I think this could be improved on even more but cutting unemployment now that things are booming again.
– A housing market which didn’t flinch in the face of Covid. According to Redfin.com the price of a median home was $550K as of last month. That’s up from 460K a year ago, a tidy 21% equity increase for families.
⁃ Great tourist attractions such as Pittock Mansion, The Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, OMSI, etc.
⁃ Great outdoor attractions such as Washington Park, Forrest Park, the Waterfront, etc.
⁃ A foodie scene that was rivaled by none and will surely rebound.
⁃ Good hotels including two Marriotts, the Hilton along with other perennial local favorites.
⁃ Great Interstate accessibility and an award winning, well run airport
⁃ Great 4 season weather living experience without atrocious extremes.
⁃ High walkability ratings.
Imagine Portland without the Liberals. It would be nirvana. But now let’s look at the bad side.
⁃ An unfriendly business environment rife with red tape and fees.
⁃ Precipitous tax rates at all levels plus a City Arts Tax.
⁃ In the New York series Taylor quotes Fred Siegel as saying: “New York needs to show itself as as a city that can be governed.” Before Portland can recover Portland needs to show itself to be a city which can be governed. Currently we have lawlessness in a situation where law abiding citizens are afraid to defend themselves. Witness Michael Strickland and Andy Gno, Citizen Journalists who have both been assaulted by the Antifa. In the case of Strickland, he the victim was cast as the perpetrator while he was merely defending himself against a preplanned Antifa attack.
The root of this problem is District Attorney Mike Schmidt, who has turned the Justice Center into a revolving door for the Antifa while prosecuting police officers for doing their jobs. This past Thursday, as reported by Brock Simmons in the Gateway Pundit the entire riot squad quit. (https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2021/06/entire-portland-police-riot-squad-quits-en-masse-da-beings-criminal-investigations-officers-conduct/). This after “Tuesday, a member of the team was charged with assault for actions during an August 18, 2020 riot in Southeast Portland.”
⁃ Homelessness is at an all time high. Do I know this from empirical data? No. But check out the videos at Laughing at Liberals. The homeless situation appears to be an order of magnitude worse than when I was living there in 2015. However at least one Federal study showed homelessness in *decline* just prior to the pandemic. (https://www.opb.org/article/2021/03/19/federal-analysis-shows-oregons-homeless-population-in-decline-prior-to-pandemic/?outputType=amp).
⁃ Government at all levels that has lost touch with the average working citizen and small business owner. Take the case of Mayor Ted Wheeler who for years defended the Antifa and refused to listen to the Right in their advice to arrest and lock these people up. Finally the light has dawned on Mayor Wheeler. Perhaps too much to little too late. Or take the case of Governor Kate Brown who has refused to listen the small business owner who has pleaded her to reverse her draconian Covid measures, driving many into bankruptcy.
⁃ What about commercial real estate prices? According to Kidder Mathews, the largest independent commercial real estate firm on the West Coast. “OFFICE AVAILABILITY in the Portland metro area rose 45% YOY, reporting a current rate of 15.0% for all class types. In particular, sublease availability increased to 1.5% by the end of 1Q 2021, up from 0.7% a year prior.” Also …ASKING LEASE RATES declined slightly to $28.09/SF full service, compared to $28.38/SF full service from a year ago.” So it appears that there is over supply, coincidental with real estate offices asking more, in an environment of increasing supply. This spells trouble.
⁃ Sadly schools in Portland, along with Oregon in general have become some of the worst in the nation. Compared to the 50 states and Washington DC, Oregon came in 44th. It ranked just as low in quality and safety. Oregon has one of the top three drop out rates in the country. This according to KDRV.COM. Oregon does seem to have an aggressive school choice system but it just doesn’t seem to be working.
Thats quite a list of challenges. But for those who used to enjoy Tom McCall Waterfront Park before it became a homeless camp, the possibility remains all too tantalizing. I used to run there before it became too dangerous. McCall remember was the *Republican* Governor of Oregon from 1967 to 1975. He created the Harbor Drive Task Force in 1968 in order to study proposals for creating a public open space there. What a difference a half decade can make.
And witness also The Hatfield Federal Courthouse. That building sieged, attacked and burned on a nightly basis by The Antifa was named after McCall’s predecessor who was a Republican Senator for Oregon for over 30 years! With this role, he was able to direct funding to Oregon and research-related projects. Numerous Oregon institutions, buildings and facilities are named in his honor, including the aforementioned courthouse and the Mark O. Hatfield Library at Willamette University. While Governor Hatfield was well before my time, one can’t help but wax nostalgically about a time when Portland was a livable and perhaps even fun and intellectually stimulating place to live.
If you look hard enough you might even be able to see a turn around. On Saturday LawOfficer.com reported: “BLM rioter receives prison sentence for arson attack on Portland Police Bureau.” ( https://www.lawofficer.com/blm-rioter-receives-prison-sentence-for-arson-attack-on-portland-police-bureau/ ). Unbelievable! They not only arrested an Antifa but they put him in prison! Perhaps things have gotten so bad even Liberals have accepted the mess they have made of the place. Hope reigns eternal.