TRIBUNE PHOTO BY JONATHAN HOUSE - A house on Northeast 44th Avenue rwas torn down to make way for a larger one, something many Portlanders oppose.Keeping a promise to Portlanders concerned about the growing number of residential demolition and infill projects, Mayor Charlie Hales has appointed a 25-member Stakeholder Advisory Committee to help ensure that new or remodeled houses are more consistent with surrounding homes in their neighborhoods.

The committee is a response to one of several controversies about how Portland is changing to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people projected to move here in coming years. It was prompted by complaints about new homes being built to replace houses that are demolished. Lawn signs protesting demolitions and even the design of new buildings are popping up in neighborhoods around town.

Critics say the new homes frequently do not fit into their surroundings, because they are either skinnier or far larger than the ones they replace. Homebuilders, however, say they are responding to market demands, including city policies encouraging so-called skinny homes.

“There are many facets to the issue of preserving and enhancing Portland’s unique neighborhoods,” Hales said when he announced the committee last week. According to the announcement, the task force will focus on three primary topics: scale of houses, narrow lot development, and alternative housing options.

Member Sarah Cantine is hopeful the committee can help resolve conflicts over the design and scale of residential infill projects. She serves on the land-use committee of the Boise Neighborhood Association, which developed its own voluntary design guidelines to help mixed-use buildings fit into the neighborhood.

“Not every developer has followed them, but those who have say they appreciate knowing what the neighborhood wants. I think we can develop the same kind of guidelines for residential infill projects,” says Cantine, an architecture and planning professional at Scott Edwards Architecture.

Another task force member, Douglas McLeod, says he hopes the committee will address such issues as affordability. He says home prices are being pushed up by the lack of easily available building sites, and he worries new regulations could increase costs even more.

“Home prices have increased 41 percent in the past year and a half, and the city needs to be talking about that,” says McLeod, a real estate agent and member of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland.

Members of the committee will bring a wide range of viewpoints to the infill issue. The task force, for example, includes representatives of two organizations that are frequently at odds on land-use matters — the Home Builders Association and 1000 Friends of Oregon, the watchdog group formed to support the state’s land-use planning laws.

Other members were chosen from each Neighborhood District Coalition and two grassroots organizations concerned about the increasing number of demolition and infill projects, United Neighborhoods for Reform and Anti-Displacement PDX. Still others work in home design and the construction field (see sidebar).

“Due to the large number of applications we received, we could not appoint everyone. However, we had some stellar candidates — too many, in fact,” Hales said. “This is a good problem to have.”

Hales says the committee is only one part of the city’s response to concerns raised about the growing number of residential demolitions and infill projects.

“In addition to the Residential Infill Project, my neighborhoods initiative is addressing long-term citywide growth strategies through such efforts as the Comprehensive Plan Update, discouraging demolitions, and expanded affordable rental housing development to ensure Portland’s prized neighborhoods remain livable and affordable,” Hales said last week.

Infill input

The first meeting of the Residential Infill Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee will be 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15, in Room 2500A of the 1900 Building, 1900 S.W. Fourth Ave.

Following a brief introduction by Mayor Charlie Hales, committee members will meet the project staff and fellow stakeholders, then hear more about the project and residential infill issues.

The committee will continue to meet each month as necessary throughout the duration of the project.

More information is available on the project website at

Committee members include:

• Linda Bauer, East Portland Action Plan

• Sarah Cantine, Scott Edwards Architecture

• Alan DeLaTorre, Portland Commission on Disability

• Jim Gorter, Southwest Neighbors, Inc.

• John Hasenberg, Oregon Remodelers Association

• Marshall Johnson, Energy Trust of Oregon

• Emily Kemper, Manufactured Structures Board

• Douglas MacLeod, Homebuilders Association

• Mary Kyle McCurdy, 1000 Friends of Oregon

• Maggie McGann, Habitat for Humanity

• Rod Merrick, Merrick Architecture Planning

• Rick Michaelson, Neighbors West Northwest

• Michael Molinaro, Southeast Uplift

• Danell Norby, Anti-Displacement PDX

• Vic Remmers, Everett Homes

• Brandon Spencer-Hartle, Restore Oregon

• Eli Spevak, Orange Splot Construction

• Barbara Strunk, United Neighborhoods for Reform

• Teresa St. Martin, Planning and Sustainability Commission

• Young Sun, Immigrant and Refugee Committee Organization

• David Sweet, Central Northeast Neighbors

• Eric Thompson, Homebuilders Association

• Justin Wood, Fish Construction NW

• Garlynn Woodsong, Northeast Coalition of Neighbors

• Tatiana Xenelis-Mendoza, North Portland Neighborhood Services

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