🏘️ Why homeownership is so hard in Portland

🏘️ Why homeownership is so hard in Portland

P.S. The Grotto’s Christmas Festival of Lights is in full swing. Thanks to Enton Lok for the tag! #bridgeliner

What Portland is talking about

ICYMI, the Portland Tribune wrote a feature last week about Brunswick Commons, a new housing development in the Hazelwood neighborhood where three-bedroom townhouses are going for $255k.

Why does this matter? Well, the median home price in our city is $410,000, and housing experts estimate you have to make at least $80,000 a year to afford that.

For everyone else, homeownership is feeling more like a pipe dream, as even “starter homes” become less affordable.

So what’s the secret sauce at Brunswick Commons? Michael Andersen from the Sightline Institute says there are two big forces at work (other than the private donations and grants mentioned in the Tribune article.)

First, the housing market: For the first time in years, Portland is building new housing faster than people are moving here.

That construction boom is bringing housing supply and demand back into sync, which is why rents held steady this year and sale prices finally leveled off.

Brunswick Commons appears to be part of that trend. According to this Twitter thread, the townhomes there have been sitting vacant for months, so it’s no huge surprise that they’re now dropping in price.

The other big factor is land use: In Portland, about 77 percent of our city is zoned for single-family housing, aka one house per lot.

That policy makes it really hard to build affordable housing in those neighborhoods, because the cost of land (which is quite high in Portland) has to be baked into the price of a single home, rather than split up between, say, four townhomes.

That’s one reason why policy wonks like Michael Andersen support the residential infill plan that City Council will consider next month.

If it passes, it won’t solve the city’s housing affordability crisis overnight — and it won’t even lead to more developments like Brunswick Commons, which is bigger than the residential infill plan allows. (Update: We’ve learned that the four-unit buildings at Brunswick Commons actually would be allowed on some lots under residential infill, but not on most.)

But residential infill would allow duplexes, triplexes, and townhomes to start returning to Portland’s neighborhoods, and over time, pro-housing advocates say that could help make homeownership attainable again for our city’s middle class.

In other news… 

Poison’s Rainbow has reached the end of the road. The funky Portland bar closed abruptly last week, less than two years Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock made a big splash by opening it. Like Modest Mouse’s heyday, it was fun while it lasted. (OregonLive)

Mayor Wheeler is now calling for ODOT to complete a full environmental review for its highway expansion project in the Rose Quarter, joining other local leaders who are concerned, like we are, about the potential health impacts for students at Harriet Tubman MS, as well as the project’s effect on carbon emissions. (Willamette Week)

Portland cyclocross phenom Clara Honsinger got it done in Tacoma yesterday. The 21-year-old won the women’s elite race at the U.S. Cyclocross Championships, knocking off a 15-time champion to win her first title. Congrats, Clara! (BikePortland)

(📹: Andy Tran)

Did you see that?

ICYMI, our contributor Andy Tran just dropped the first installment of his “Young in Portland” video series, which our members helped make possible.

It’s called “A Leap of Faith,” and it’s a really cool look into the story and inspiration behind his clothing brand, Bonjo.

Check it out on Instagram or YouTube, and become a Bridgeliner member if you want to support Andy’s project and invest in our contributor network. 💖


🎭 See "A Charlie Brown Christmas" on stage - through Sunday (Downtown)

🙋 Play "The Office" trivia (SW Portland)

👮 Weigh in on Portland's police contract (SE Portland)


🌊 Learn about ocean plastics over beers (Central Eastside)

🚴 Take a class on bike maintenance (SE Portland)


🎽 Join a fun run and grab beers (North Portland)

🌠 Play "Star Wars" trivia at Von Ebert (NW Portland)

🏀 Cheer on the Blazers vs. Golden State (NE Portland)


⏰ Shop local at the last minute - through Dec. 24 (Downtown)

💸 Get paid to be a taste-tester (NW Portland)

🇺🇸 Watch the Democratic presidential debate (Central Eastside)


🍿 Watch "A Christmas Story" at Hollywood Theatre (NE Portland)

🍷 Drink wine and make a gingerbread house - through Saturday (SE Portland)

🍩 Celebrate the solstice with breakfast on a bridge (Multiple locations)


🎅 Dress up as Santa and go dancing (Downtown)

📽️ See "The Big Lebowski" on the big screen - through Dec. 26 (SE Portland)

🍸 Taste local holiday spirits - through Sunday (Downtown)

⛸️ Hit the ice with Santa - through Sunday (Beaverton)


👚 Swap large-sized femme clothing at a co-op (SE Portland)

🕎 Celebrate Hanukah with a menorah lighting (Downtown)

One more thing...

It’s only 9 days until Christmas, but Santa ain’t sweating it.

The big man was spotted joy-riding a jet ski on the Willamette this weekend, so we can only assume holiday toy production is well ahead of schedule.

OK, that’s all for today. We’ll see you tomorrow. ✌️

–  Bridgeliner

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