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Commentary :: Social Welfare
25 Reasons Not to Build a 15-story Hotel
03 Nov 2016
Trust in the government and public spirit could be restored by investing in public housing.

by Marc Batko

1. Prior to the September 29, 2016 Portland Design Commission hearing at 1900 SW 4th Ave, the staff said design guidelines were not met regarding pedestrian experience, context and coherency, quality and permanence and integrating encroachments. The staff recommended denying the project based on areas of concern. The next hearing is November 11, 2016 at 1900 SW 4th Ave.
2. The NS and A-streetcars will be impacted by the construction with its massive noise and machinery.
3. A 6-story office building is being built at 12th and Alder and another at 12th and Washington. Constructing buildings adjacent to each other is unusual. The noise level could exceed tolerability limits.
4. Many first rate hotels have been built in downtown (e.g. 1st and Morrison) and on the eastside near Holliday Part, Lloyd’s center and the Max station.
5. Portland has a small city charm because we have not followed the SF-condo model.
6. Affordable housing is a pressing and neglected necessity. Housing prices have increased dramatically in Portland over the past year. The city has a responsibility to ensure the livability and friendliness of the housing market and cannot trust in a self-healing market or invisible hand making private vices into public virtues or corporate profit into the common good.
7. Reducing working hours, community centers, and cloud workers are pressing alternatives. The city may lose its character by accentuating tourism.
8. A livable, diverse community needs 3-story buildings. 15-story buildings are not synonymous with the modern age.
9. In selective perception, people often see what they want to see. Unpleasant realities like poverty and homelessness often fall by the wayside.
10. Neoliberalism blames the poor and unemployed for their misery and denies any systemic or structural failure. In truth, market failure and state failure, oligopoly and financialization, have fueled exploding inequality.
11. The state should represent the public interest although private and special interests are frequently in the driver’s seat in privatization, deregulation and speculation.
12. Businesses must serve the public welfare and cannot only be focused on profit-maximization. All personal and corporate success is based on state investments in roads, schools, hospitals, airwaves, food safety, water quality and community centers.
13. The SF-condo model is opposed by the Vancouver Canada-community center model. The 26-community centers in Vancouver, some with swimming pools that take your breath away, make all the difference and enable everyone to feel included and respected in the modern project. The community centers have a multiplier and cushioning effect, offer $3.50 casserole dinners, and enable working and non-working people to cope with their frustrations and disappointments.
14. In Vancouver B.C., a certain number of rundown hotels are revitalized every year. There are also many impressive subsidized senior developments; some have aviaries on the first floor.
15. SROs (single resident occupancy) are worlds better than warehouses or prisons and enable the poor and unemployed to live in a human environment, be supported by social services and be strengthened by their compatriots. Potluck in the Park has been providing free Sunday meals for 20 years and helps create public spirit and pride in Portland.
16. Waiting lists for subsidized SROs and studios extend from 1 year to 7 years. Reagan cut housing support 90% and changed subsidies to condominium assistance. In the 1960s, Michael Harrington wrote “The Other America.” The economist John Kenneth Galbraith deplored the public squalor alongside the private opulence. Trust in the government and public spirit could be restored by investing in public housing.
17. Nonprofit or cooperative housing should be a new foundation for housing. Private developers cannot or will not create affordable housing.
18. Low-interest long-term loans are available and are a necessary part of a housing solution. The federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program has built 2-3 million units nationwide.
19. Shriveling the financial sector and expanding the public sector are uncontestable lessons from the 2008 financial meltdown. Ignoring this is to encourage cynicism and nihilism. Albert Einstein said: “The one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.”
20. The financial sector expanded and made itself independent since Reagan’s deregulation and corporate tax favors in the 1980s. Banks control the government; the government doesn’t control the banks.
21. Only the well-to-do can afford a poor state. The majority and especially weaker citizens depend on state services. The impoverishment of the state is a consequence of manipulated public opinion and brainwashing.
22. Reuse cannot become a nonsense word. The United Way structure is an architecturally well-designed 3-story building that could be put to good use.
23. “Throw-away society” describes a society that hallucinates resources are unlimited. If life is “peaches and cream,” we are living an illusion.
24. Native Americans warn that lakes are more than antifreeze and mountains are more than landfill. Refusing to recognize limits and glorifying developers and high-rise projects are signs of megalomania or narcissism.
25. Justin Trudeau, the new Prime Minister of Canada, said: “When the state trusts citizens, citizens trust the state.” The future should be regional and decentralized, open and dynamic and not closed and static. When the US federal government is polarized and paralyzed and becomes “an errand boy for the banks” (Bill Moyers), local communities must be zealous in prioritizing affordable housing and the public welfare. Everyone should share in the prosperity of Portland.
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