Last week, WW ran a story about Mayor Ted Wheeler's plan to spend public housing dollars on an 11-story, all-wood-framed high-rise. The building would be a boon for the state's timber industry but would be significantly more expensive than a traditional structure. Here's what readers had to say:
PDXBill, via wweek.com: "$651 per square foot: You have to be kidding me and other taxpayers! You can buy a remodeled house with a view in the West Hills for that kind of money. Portland has to be smarter than this if we want to seriously reduce the number of homeless."
Joe Cooney, via Twitter: "It's definitely a risk. Hopefully, [cross-laminated timber] becomes a viable alternative, especially for (a) jobs created and (b) avoiding the upcoming spike in concrete cost with sand scarcity."
Maddy, via wweek.com: "I'm not sure this building is the only alternative to under-constructed low-income housing. Wheeler needs to spend some time truly justifying this project. This doesn't pass the smell test."
Todd Merkel, via Facebook: "I like the design, but the city should be building bare-bones, inexpensive housing units to get people out of the cold and into secure, low-cost permanent housing."
Jack Scofield, via Facebook: "It's great vision and commendable but not appropriate for low-cost, affordable housing on the taxpayers' dime."
Nathan Oleson, via Facebook: "$650 per square foot is beyond ridiculous. Just proves Wheeler is more interested in angling for higher office and using Portland tax dollars as a springboard to achieve it than actually solving the underlying problem."
Timber and Climate Change
I've just finished reading your article about the CLT-constructed affordable housing building proposed for the Pearl. I'm a supporter of building affordable housing quickly, and I'm concerned by the high cost of this building.
More than that, I'm bothered by the lack of acknowledgement that the timber industry has overtaken transportation as Oregon's leading producer of greenhouse gas emissions. It may seem like a side issue, but given that we as individuals, Oregonians and Americans have chosen for decades not to take appropriate action to curb climate change, we now find ourselves at an important crossroads: acknowledge the climate impact of our daily lives and large projects such as the one mentioned above and act accordingly, or continue to trick ourselves into believing that switching from incandescent to LED bulbs is an adequate compromise.
Because we, as individuals and as a country, didn't take appropriate action in the preceding decades, we must now consider climate change with every major decision, as failing to do so is irresponsible and reckless. I am writing this letter to you, at WW, because I see it as our best shot in local written news to call on individuals to make the necessary and hard changes to our daily lives, and to hold our leaders accountable for making tough decisions that will benefit all of us in the long term.