Community-Based Learning - Portland Residential Infill Project

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Ronnie Smith

Portland State University

Intro Civic Engagement PA-311U

Fall 2020

Professor Erin Elliott

November 22th, 2020

Final Community Base Learning -RIP
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Abstract

Civil engagement promotes the creation of bonds in a community as well as introducing and maintaining legitimacy in the governing institutions. It ensures the undertaking of activities that supports the public decision-making process. There is a need to provide a combination of values, motivations, skills, and knowledge to make a difference in society through development. In this analysis, the focus will be on civic engagement and the infill development rules used in the Portland area to ensure that they are meeting the area’s present and future needs. The problem is happening in the Portland area. The stakeholders I am focusing on in this analysis are the City of Portland Council and the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS). They are motivated by various elements, such as the need to meet their civic duty, the need to transform the City of Portland by promoting inclusivity and fairness in housing, and the possibility of providing diverse housing options to match the diverse community of Portland, Oregon. The Residential Infill Project was introduced in 2015, and the council could reject or accept the project after undertaking a cost-benefit analysis. However, there is a likelihood of some problems arising after the implementation of this project. These challenges may include gentrification and displacement of people by making them lose a part of their lives. An influx of street families and mass loss of jobs and livelihoods by the displaced populations may be witnessed due to the Residential Infill Project implementation in the City of Portland.

 

i. Introduction

Civic engagement is a set of practices and attitudes directed towards the handling of political and social life, and they are meant to raise the level of the democratic situation in society. It supports the creation of bonds in a community, introduces governing institutions’ legitimacy. It ensures the undertaking of activities that supports the public decision-making process. There is a need to provide a combination of values, motivations, skills, and knowledge to make a difference in society (Uslaner & Brown, 2005). The move helps to promote the quality of life by following non-political and political means. In this analysis, the focus will be on civic engagement and the infill development rules used in the Portland area to ensure that they are meeting the area’s present and future needs (Ajaps & Obiagu, 2020).

The project is likely to cause various problems that include the gentrification and displacement of people. Therefore, there is a great need to ensure a balancing act between the occurrence of the issues and the desire to support the development, growth, and improvement of the Portland region’s quality of life (Putnam, 2000). The stakeholders I am focusing on in this analysis are the City of Portland Council and the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS). These stakeholders are the bodies responsible for City administrative duties, passing regulations, policies, laws, and leading in both urban design and planning programs and the climate action and sustainability efforts of the City of Portland.


They are motivated by various elements, such as the need to meet their civic duty, by offering practical administrative and policymaking efforts as well as sustainable planning for the City’s current and future generations. The Bureau of Planning and sustainability, for example, has the civic duty for the maintenance, development, stewardship of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Code, and the environmental action plans. These stakeholders’ civic duties are based on community involvement, especially by conducting open public hearings and discussing proposals and issues with the city dwellers (Putnam, 2000). They also develop and implement recommendations and plans with the sole aim of creating a more equitable, healthy, educated, and prosperous city.


These stakeholders are also motivated by the need for transforming the City in becoming a leader in inclusivity and fairness in housing through the Residential Infill Project. The project is set to undo the outdated exclusive zoning practices that notably promoted segregation and deprived community minorities such as people of color and Hispanics access to developed and exclusive neighborhoods (Pickerill, 2018). These long-codified discriminative and racist housing policies in Portland, which directly segregate and deny minority citizens the chance to live in well-designed zones with modern amenities and security, will be addressed through inclusive housing.


Inclusivity in housing will be achieved by allowing the construction of big and small energy-efficient housing units to allow more people from all walks of life to live freely in the Portland city and suburbs (Pickerill, 2018). In addition, both Portland’s City Council and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability are driven by the need to unite and bring their area residents together through housing and bring to an end the long-lived division that was necessitated by the City’s discriminative zoning practices. They are motivated by the possibility of providing diverse housing options for different economic classes to match the diverse and ever-growing community in Portland City.


ii. Issue Statement

There are proposals to engage in civic engagement processes that will ensure that the Portland area is developed in the right way, and this is a move that will help raise the quality of life for the people in this region. However, there is the likelihood of some problems arising that may include displacement of people, making them lose a part of their lives. Additionally, there is a possibility of gentrification happening, and it is a move that also makes people feel that they have lost a given element of their lives. When changes occur in a community, there are items eliminated (stores, homes, etc.), and considering that they form part of the residents’ daily life, their elimination from society makes people feel that they have lost a significant component of their wellbeing (Metzger et al., 2019).


Unlike local homeowners who will enjoy and reap some benefits with the rising property values, low-income renters in the Residential Infill Project zones will be adversely affected by the sudden increase in property values in their neighborhoods. Rising land values in these zones will result in increased rents, forcing low-income families who cannot afford these high rent fees to leave and seek housing in less developed areas (Elliott-Cooper et al., 2020). When these working-class zones become unaffordable for the prevailing low-income renters, they will be required to vacate even further from modern city amenities and services, as well as their daily livelihoods and jobs. Moving further from the City for the displaced low-income renters in the City will result in additional burdens of money and time, and they will no longer take part in their old communities. Long-time laundromats, local and affordable eateries, among other low-income neighborhood businesses, will be replaced by expensive offices and stores that existing residents can neither land employment with nor afford (Elliott-Cooper et al., 2020).


The problem is happening in the Portland area, and the persons responsible for this activity are the City of Portland Council and the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS). The BPS team has been involved in conducting public surveys, mainly involving the public’s views, in ensuring that the problems arising from the project are managed in the right way. The public is the institution that is highly likely to suffer from these issues, and there is a need to ensure that they are playing a significant role in the decisions made in an entity (Prasetiyo et al., 2019). The organization wants to ensure that the adopted proposals are having the right effect on the surrounding community. The City Council was involved in voting for the project and the determination of the changes that should be undertaken to ensure there are optimal solutions to the prevailing problems.

All the stakeholders in a society have a duty to help in fixing the prevailing problems. When there are issues in society, it is the people that are adversely affected, and they must make sure that all activities are running in the right way. The government has a duty to its people to ensure that the problems affecting them are fixed and to ensure public participation in the entire process.


iii. Story 1

One of the highlighted bodies involved in handling the project and ensuring that the arising problems were managed in the right way was the City of Portland Council. The organization works for Portland’s people, and the entity is involved in adopting the budget of the City and passing legislation that is expected to help people coherently run their affairs.

This council approves the policies instituted for the running of the Portland city affairs. Part of the council’s history states that it was issued with a territorial charter in 1851, and it consisted of 2.1 square miles that were made of forests, houses, and stumps. In 1913 a commission form of government was approved by voters, and the structure adopted at that time is still operational to date. The council has six elected officials; the auditor, four commissioners, and the Mayor, and its members are provided with quasi-judicial, administrative, and legislative powers.


The desire to meet community needs motivates the council to work on the project and manage any possible occurrence. Additionally, the institution was formed to handle the Portland region’s affairs, meaning that the officers running the institution have a moral obligation to take the affairs arising in the City to improve the resident’s quality of life (Moore et al., 2016).


The Residential Infill Project was introduced in 2015, starting with the concept development that included stakeholders (Portland, 6). The council could reject or accept the project after undertaking the cost-benefits analysis procedure. The institution was offering leadership and was required to determine if the project will have a positive effect on society and the problem that it was likely to cause (Riedel et al., 2017). The project idea has been in existence for over five years, and it has evolved from a mitigation plan to an independent project. The Residential Infill Project started as a response strategy to the growing demolitions of single-family houses and developed into a more comprehensive model that could solve the long-lived discriminatory zoning policies in the City of Portland.


During its evolution from a response plan into a comprehensive approach, an alliance between homebuilders, environmentalists, housing advocates, climate activists, among other stakeholders, was formed. The coalition’s primary goal that brought together major players in the City and climate advocates’ housing sector was to intensify low and middle housing across the City of Portland. Together, the stakeholders joined forces to ensure the development of simplexes and fourplexes that would attract affordable housing developers. If the benefits exceed the adverse issues, then the council was supposed to adopt it, and this is what happened with the Residential Infill Project on August 12th, 2020 (Portland, 2020). Therefore, the council is doing to initiate change and adopt assertions raised in this project. The move will raise the living standards in the Portland area and the growth of social capital amid increasing demand for resources.


Additionally, the Residential Infill Project will raise the possibilities for affordable housing standards in residential zones, allowing more residents from different economic classes to access improved housing at friendly and cost-effective fees. The policy change that will arise from the Residential Infill Project’s adoption will create and allow more residents to acquire opportunities and jobs in the City and help in the addition of housing options in the different residential neighborhoods across the City of Portland over time (Portland, 2020). Its implementation will also end the old discriminative zoning practices that were initially designed to deny non-white Portlander’s the chance of accessing housing in more developed and modern inhabited neighborhoods.


iv. Story 2

The other team involved in this project is the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), working for the people of Portland to gather data that is helping in the decision-making process. The institution has been involved in developing practical solutions expected to enhance the livability of the area plan for the existence of a resilient future as part of making a change in the region. Additionally, it is working on handling the possible adverse problems that can arise, including the gentrification and displacement of people, and ensuring that it supports equity.


The Comprehensive Plan policies 5.15 and 5.16 require plans to evaluate the risk of displacement and consider measures to mitigate impacts. Across the City, BPS projected a 28 percent reduction in the displacement of low-income renters living in single dwelling structures (Tracy, 2020). The Residential Infill Project is expected to decline the displacement of vulnerable, low-income, and minority communities such as people of color and Hispanics. The displacement is expected to reduce since the project is a city-wide rezoning program aimed at eliminating single-family house areas and promote redesigning and redevelopment with the construction of quadplex apartments to accommodate the growing population in the City of Portland. Despite its projected decrease in displacement, low-income renters in Residential Infill Project Zones, who live in single-family structures, are the most at risk of displacement, paving the way for simplex construction and fourplex house. Families who live in low-income, single-family structures will be ‘indirectly displaced’, when the houses they rent are redesigned or redeveloped. The newly redeveloped housing structures will be too small and expensive, especially for low- and middle-income residents, who will be forced out or displaced (Elliott-Cooper et al., 2020). Contrastingly, the Residential Infill Project may not significantly affect residents from high-income residential zones, and displacement in these neighborhoods may be lower than in low-income areas. The difference in displacement between these economically different neighborhoods will be witnessed as the project shifts redevelopment activities away from high land value zones and direct them to Portland neighborhoods with low land values.


The team may need additional resources to manage the problems arising from the implementation of the project. More low-income renters will be forced to leave since their former affordable homes will be redeveloped, leading to higher property values, which will increase their monthly rent fees (Elliott-Cooper et al., 2020). The Residential Infill Project may also result in an influx of street families, as there is no guarantee that the displaced low-income renters will find accessible areas away from their former neighborhoods. Jobs and livelihoods will also be lost by the populations that will be forced to leave and move far away from the City of Portland, creating another unemployment problem in the region.


v. Conclusion

In conclusion, this proposal for the Portland region was adopted, and several institutions were involved in determining the program’s viability. The BPS and the City Council are on the front line as they seek to find a way to protect the livability of Portland. There is a possibility of gentrification and displacement of people happening, which will have a detrimental effect on their lives despite the existence of the infill project. Low-income residents will be significantly affected by the project, as it only focuses on the redevelopment of zones with more moderate land values, and displacement among higher-income areas will be minimal. If not properly implemented, the Portland Residential Infill Project may create other unprecedented challenges. Due to the high displacement of low-income families, the project may add to street families’ already existing problem and unemployment.


Summary

As society experience growth, change is inevitable, and with it, social, political, and economic effects are felt either positively or negatively. The Portland region is one City in the process of experiencing the inevitables of change as the government seeks to refurbish the town, making it inclusive and modern. Although the renovation is highly essential, the City of Portland Council and City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability are experiencing hard times. They are expected to serve people and government and interest; however, they are often torn on who to support. With the help of department policies and guidelines, they serve their stakeholders in just and fairness. For example, though the infill development project in the Portland area is meant to bring growth in the area, it is highly likely to displace people and cause gentrification. Therefore, the council is faced with a dilemma as it seeks to serve the set goal of development and growth and preserve the people’s right of residence.

The council in charge is expected to review set guidelines and policies and use civic engagements to ensure that the Portland area is developed correctly, raising the people’s quality of life in this region. The council needs to identify the impacts Infill Project is likely to cause to a different class of people and the magnitude of the effects for each category. After determining the extent of the effect, it is the role of the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) to design sustainable measures that address the needs of all residents, ensuring all problems arising are well managed. The government also has a duty to its people to ensure that the issues affecting them are fixed and to ensure public participation in the entire process.

For the Portland Residential Infill Project to remain viable and positively impactful, all involved parties must be willing to work harmoniously and be ready to make fair compromises without coercion for the project to stay viable and with minimal effects and more befits to the community.

 

References

Ajaps, S. O., & Obiagu, A. N. (2020). Increasing Civic Engagement Through Civic Education: A Critical Consciousness Theory Perspective. Journal of Culture and Values in Education.

https://doi.org/10.46303/jcve.2020.2


Elliott-Cooper, A., Hubbard, P., & Lees, L. (2020). Moving beyond Marcuse: Gentrification, displacement and the violence of un-homing. Progress in Human Geography, 44(3), 492-509.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0309132519830511


Metzger, A., Ferris, K. A., & Oosterhoff, B. (2019). Adolescents’ civic engagement: Concordant and longitudinal associations among civic beliefs and civic involvement. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 29(4), 879-896. https://doi.org/10.1111/jora.12423


Moore, S. S., Hope, E. C., Eisman, A. B., & Zimmerman, M. A. (2016). Predictors of civic engagement among highly involved young adults: Exploring the relationship between agency and systems worldview. Journal of Community Psychology, 44(7), 888-903. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.21815


Pickerill, J. (2018). Building Eco-Homes for All: Inclusivity, justice and affordability. In Architecture and Resilience (pp. 76-87). Routledge.

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ke_Li83/publication/299510520


Prasetiyo, W. H., Kamarudin, K. R., & Dewantara, J. A. (2019). Surabaya green and clean: Protecting the urban environment through the civic engagement community. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 29(8), 997-1014. https://doi.org/10.1080/10911359.2019.1642821


Portland, C. (2020, August 12th). Residential Infill Project An Update to Portland’s Single-Dwelling Zoning Rules https://www.portland.gov/sites/default/files/202008/exhibit_b_volume_1_staff_report_adopted1.pdf


Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: America’s declining social capital. In Culture and politics (pp. 223-234). Journal of Democracy. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. http://128.220.50.88/demo/journal_of_democracy/v006/putnam.html


Riedel, N., Van Kamp, I., Köckler, H., Scheiner, J., Loerbroks, A., Claßen, T., & Bolte, G. (2017). Cognitive-motivational determinants of residents’ civic engagement and health (inequities) in the context of noise action planning: A conceptual model. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(6), 578.


Tracy, M. (2020, November 5th). PSU Student - Residential Infill Project [E-mail to the author]. Morgan Tracy is a certified AICP project manager for the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.


Uslaner, E. M., & Brown, M. (2005). Inequality, trust, and civic engagement. American politics research, 33(6), 868-894. https://doi:10.1177/1532673X04271903


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