In Mayor Charlie Hales' State of the City speech, he said Portland was in danger of becoming "a city where only 10 percent of homes are affordable by the middle class." Who's going to live in those homes, then? Are all Portlanders rich except me?
Hales' comment was part of a rhetorical flourish about how we don't want Portland to turn into San Francisco, where that 10 percent stat has already come true.
In the City by the Bay, they fill those unaffordable homes with unaffordable people: Everyone who lives in San Francisco is rich, and everyone else gets herded into shipping containers and sent to Taiwan to make iPhones. In-migration means Portland could go down the same road. What to do?
Housing pressure is like global warming: There's no single magic bullet to solve it, there are things we can do that each help a little bit, and everyone suspects all those things put together won't be enough and we're all gonna die.
This column cannot do justice to the many solutions local officials are throwing at this problem. However, there's one strategy they're powerless to deploy.
See, while San Francisco's housing crisis is driven by jobs, ours is driven by the attractiveness of our quality of life. The mayor can't say this, but we need to make Portland suck—or, at least, make it less appealing to the kind of person who can rent a $2,700 apartment without needing to find a job first.
So, the next time you see a guy with that haircut that's buzzed to nothing on the sides and slicked back super-straight on the top, go ahead and kick the living shit out of him.
I'm kidding! Don't do that. But if you want to go to the kind of restaurant that has "gravlax" and "syllabubs" on the menu and start offering to buy people's children, I won't argue.
Meanwhile, we can move that favela on North Greeley Avenue to the Pearl District, and then talk to the Bureau of Environmental Services about getting those human feces back in the river. Together, we can Make Portland Shitty Again!
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