Swim in Portland’s Public Outdoor Pools

When I was a kid, I spent the whole summer in my swimsuit, going from pool to lawn to pool to lake to pool, usually on my bike. While I’m glad I’ve grown up enough now to remove damp lycra before bed, I still love the feeling of jumping into cool water on a hot day (because I am a human). Amazingly, this is something that we all can actually do in Portland, even if, like me, you can’t afford to join a country club or even a fancy athletic center or pay admission to a hotel once a day.

That’s because the City of Portland maintains a bunch of outdoor pools. Sure these are probably mainly meant to keep kids occupied all summer via swim lessons and as lifeguards, while their parents stare at screens in office buildings, but childless adults can enjoy these pools too! Mostly they cost a measly $4.25 for adults and if you want to swim at least 10 times this summer, you can buy a 10-visit pass that works at most pools (see exceptions) for $38.25 for residents, a 20-visit pass for $72.25 or a season pass for $85, which will go down to a $68 on July 1.

To rank these pools, I jumped into every single one of them and swam at least 50 yards, all over the space of three days. Here’s how they rank up:

1. Sellwood Outdoor Pool

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Sellwood Pool is the most whimsical building the City of Portland controls. Its buildings look like a Bavarian village out of a fairytale and the pool itself is oval-shaped with a shallow end that starts at zero feet deep, making lap swimming an imperfect process. But who wants to lap swim here, in this adorable oasis? Of all the pools I jumped into while researching this story, this was the coolest temperature-wise and while the pH seemed good in all of the pools, this one somehow felt the best on my skin. The employees were friendly, the kids were happy and there were plenty of places to hang out in the shade. Also, there was a snow cone cart right outside the front gate, which I personally think is the marker of a great summer pool.

Outdoor oval-shaped pool heated to 84 degrees. Water depth ranges from zero depth entry to 7 feet. Also has a drop slide, and spray features.

7951 SE 7th, 823-3679. Mon – Fri 7:30am to 8:50pm Sat 1:00 to 5:00pm Sun 11:30am to 5:00pm. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/61026. $4.25 for adults.

2. Creston Outdoor Pool

Creston is a sweet little pool off Southeast Powell Boulevard that looks like it could figure into a Beverly Cleary book. It’s tucked into Creston Park, at the bottom of a gully. In fact the hardest part of this pool is getting to it—there is plenty of parking but you’re going to have to walk through a good bit of park to get to the pool. The pool itself is just what you want in a community pool: serviceable locker rooms, efficient and friendly staff and grassy patches of lawn with umbrellas. This is a pool where you could hang out all day, or at least as long as the lifeguards let you.

Outdoor 25-yard shallow pool and 25-yard deep pool heated to 84 degrees. Water depths range from 2 feet to 8 feet. Also has a drop slide and a kiddie slide.

4454 SE Powell Blvd., 823-3672. Mon-Fri 8:00 am – 8:45 pm Sat-Sun 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/61022. $4.25 for adults.

3. Wilson Outdoor Pool

Behind Wilson High, up in the forested hills of Portland, through a parking lot, next to a beautiful new track and a good bit of construction, sits the pool where the future kings and queens of the city take in morning swim team practice. This pool is really two pools: a lap pool/deep pool with a diving board and a kids’ pool with water features, a lazy river and a real-deal water slide. The locker rooms are cavernous, though the showers leave a lot to be desired. And you pay for the privilege of getting wet here, a whole dollar and a quarter more than the rest of the city pools ($5.50 and they do not accept the pool pass that you can buy at other locations). If you have kids or want the swankiest possible pool experience, this place is worth the trek. For lap swim in the morning, though, only one lane was open (so much swim team!) and by the end of my swim I was circle swimming with two other people. Not horrible, but definitely not worth the extra cost for entry and gas to get me up that hill.

6-lane lap pool with diving board and family leisure pool with 170 foot long current channel with vortex, frog tot slide, zero-depth water play structure and 114 foot long water slide.

1151 SW Vermont, 823-3680. Mon – Fri 8:00 am to 8:20 pm Sat & Sun 12:00 to 6:00 pm. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/61027. $5.50 for adults.

4. Grant Outdoor Pool

This is the pool where I swim most frequently. It’s tucked inside Grant Park. It isn’t big but somehow the lanes are usually pretty open in the afternoon and there’s never a problem finding a locker. The water is clean, though sometimes a bit warm for my liking. Grant is not as great for sunbathing and just regular hanging out as some other places due to its high brick walls and minimal seating area. But the sun does manage to hit the water, which is really why you’re there anyway. There are a lot of kids taking swimming lessons, so it can be a bit of a pain to grab a shower after your swim. Bonus: there’s frequently a snow cone cart parked just outside the pool on week day afternoons.

Outdoor 25-yard shallow pool and 25-yard deep pool heated to 84 degrees. Water depths range from 2 to 8 feet. Also has a kiddie slide.

2300 NE 33rd, 823-3674. Mon-Fri 6:00 am – 9:00 pm Sat-Sun 12:00 noon – 6:00 pm. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/61021. $4.25 for adults.

5. Peninsula Outdoor Pool

Of all the pools I visited, Peninsula Pool feels the most like a real city pool of yesteryear—it opens up onto Rosa Parks and its locker rooms are inside an old Spanish-style building. It seems like a place where you’d knock your teeth out on those hard, tall sides, painted white, that necessitate a ladder unless you are super strong. And then you’d keep swimming. There isn’t much deck space here and mostly it’s just parents crowding around the edges of the pool. The locker rooms are also another drawback, at least the women’s, which is tiny. However, this pool is fun and friendly and the water is cool and clean. If you want to jump in but don’t need to stick around all day, this is a good pool that is very bikeable for all you city kids.

Outdoor oval shaped 33-yard pool heated to 84 degrees. Water depths range from 2 feet to 8 feet.

700 N Rosa Parks Way, 823-3677. Mon – Fri 12:00 – 8:30 pm Sat 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/61025. $4.25 for adults.

6. Montavilla Outdoor Pool

Montavilla Pool is a scrappy, blue collar city pool with a lot to recommend it: the open sunny lane, an actual parking lot, the reclined lawn chairs for parents and sunbathers. This seems like a great pool for sunbathing: There aren’t any huge walls blocking the deck, and there’s a lot of deck. The water was clean and cool, with maybe an errant leaf or two floating around. I had my own lane and there were at least three or four available, each one definitely big enough for easy sharing or circle swimming. One weird drawback? No lockers. One great bonus? The Taco Time right down the street.

Outdoor 25-yard shallow pool and 25-yard deep pool heated to 84 degrees. Water depths range from 2 feet to 8 feet. Also has a drop slide and a kiddie slide.

8219 NE Glisan, 823-3675. Mon-Fri 8:00 am – 8:40 pm Sat 1:00 – 5:00 pm. http://www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/61023. $4.25 for adults.

7. Pier Outdoor Pool

Oh, St. Johns. You have so much to offer! You’re like a little escape, a small town within a big city. But sadly, your pool comes up short. The location is great; it’s basically nestled among pines and the whole place smells woodsy and fresh. But there are no lockers in the locker room and even in June the pool is covered in leaves for no apparent reason. Also, though it was lap swim time according to the schedule and the lifeguards, there were no lanes set up. Instead, there was an aerobics class listening to what sounded like a wordless “Get Lucky” remix on repeat. That said, the locker room did have a bunch of changing rooms and there were plenty of recliner lawn chairs so it seemed like an okay place to hang out on a hot day. If this is your local pool, sure, go. Otherwise, find something closer.

Outdoor 25-yard shallow pool and 25-yard deep pool heated to 84 degrees. Water depths range from 2 feet to 8 feet. Also has a kiddie slide.

9341 N. St. Johns., 823-3678. Mon/Wed/Fri 11:30 am – 8:15 pm Tue/Thur 11:30 am – 8:00 pm Sat/Sun 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm. $4.25 for adults.

Bonus Pool: McMenamin’s Soaking Pool

If you don’t want to lap swim but want to feel some water on your body, and you also wouldn’t mind a drink in your hand while doing it, the chlorinated saltwater soaking pool at McMenamin’s Kennedy School is a year-round option. You don’t have to be staying at the hotel to enjoy the pool, which is never too crowded due to capacity restrictions that are seriously enforced. Special secret bonus of the bonus pool? If you live in the neighborhood, they let you in for free.

5736 NE 33rd Ave., 249-3983. General public over age 18: Daily 10 am–8 pm. Closed Tuesdays. http://www.mcmenamins.com/166-kennedy-school-soaking-pool. $5.

The Good, the Bad and the Awful

We have opened with the warning above since 1977, when we first published our Good, Bad & Awful survey—an unvarnished view of the metro-area legislators who help write Oregon’s laws and shape the state’s two-year budget, now at $19 billion.

As of this writing, the end of the legislative session may still be weeks away and many hotly contested bills—most notably a proposed gas tax increase—hang in the balance. Yet it’s not too early to offer up a report card on the Legislature, one of the few in the nation that saw Democrats increase their numbers in 2014.

Among Democrats’ early-session victories: a voter registration bill that could add 300,000 new voters, and a law that will align Oregon with other states in retaining unclaimed class action lawsuit proceeds. The successes also include environmentalists’ top priority, an extension of the low-carbon fuel standard.

Of course, 2015 was a historic legislative session because former Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned abruptly Feb. 18.

After his replacement, Gov. Kate Brown, took over, Democrats finally passed a gun-control bill they’ve wanted for years and proceeded toward the implementation of legal marijuana, a process still taking shape as the July 1 date for legalization looms.

In the wake of the Kitzhaber resignation, Brown and lawmakers made lots of noise about ethics reforms but little progress. And Brown is now working to repeal the low-carbon fuel standard she recently signed into law, in exchange for a transportation funding package that includes increased gas taxes and motor vehicle fees.

Some lawmakers are gliding through the 2015 session like jewel thieves, leaving barely a fingerprint on this state; others are workhorses, worth multiples of the $22,260 annual salary (not counting per diem payments) legislators pull down. 

So how have your lawmakers fared amid the blizzard of bills and avalanche of advocacy?

We surveyed Capitol lobbyists, staffers and journalists, asking them to numerically rate legislators on a scale of zero to 10 in the categories of integrity, brains and effectiveness. We received 34 responses from across the political spectrum, and a legislator’s overall rating is an average of those replies.

As always, we grant respondents anonymity. Historically, some lawmakers and readers hate that practice, claiming respondents engage in score-settling or partisan attacks, and that the survey is anything but scientific.

We acknowledge the survey is unscientific. But the ideological range of respondents makes skewing the numbers difficult, even in the face of tactics such as the Senate Democrats’ plan to stuff the ballot box this year. (They didn’t end up doing so.)

Readers also say the ratings simply reflect WW‘s own views. Except we don’t get a say. It’s true our election endorsements often praise the legislators who end up at the top of the survey. But the survey also beats up on legislators we have praised. Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn), for example, usually ends up at or near the bottom of the ratings. (She just missed being rated “awful” this year.) Democrats knock Parrish because she’s a Republican, and Republicans dislike her because she’s pro-choice, pro-gay marriage and self-promotional. We think her independence makes her a fine legislator.

Despite these caveats, the Good Bad & Awful issue for nearly 40 years has provided one of the best assessments of how your legislators perform in Salem.

One finding in this year’s survey is stark: The House overall looks more effective in the eyes of the survey respondents, while the Senate is increasingly ossified and adrift. On average, the scores for the Senate are well below those of the House—the first time in memory that’s happened. And all the legislators rated “awful” are in the Senate.

WW intern Anthony Macuk contributed reporting and research for this story.

The Excellent

SEN. RICHARD DEVLIN

D-Tualatin

Overall rating: 8.67

Integrity: 8.13

Brains: 8.97 

Effectiveness: 8.90

The retired legal investigator with a snowy Abe Lincoln beard is Salem’€™s acknowledged numbers man. He’€™s co-chairman of the Joint Ways and Means Committee, widely respected and has been rated excellent in our survey for the past four sessions. This year marks the second survey in a row he’€™s logged the highest rating. €œ”Smart, savvy and a great guy,” says one business lobbyist. “No one knows budgets better,” says another lobbyist. Devlin, 62, a lawmaker since 1996, pushed through the earliest K-12 budget in decades. His rating reflects his studiousness, his Lilliputian ego, and his willingness to do the hard but vital work on Ways and Means. Devlin will probably run for secretary of state next year. Whether the humility that makes him Salem’€™s top team player works in an individual race remains to be seen.

REP. JENNIFER WILLIAMSON

D-Portland

Overall rating: 8.06

Integrity: 7.50

Brains: 8.44 

Effectiveness: 8.24

Williamson, 41, is a former lobbyist and recovering lawyer who has become a star in her second term. She scored a big victory early in the session when she provided much of the energy behind a bill to distribute the unclaimed proceeds of class action lawsuits. Until now, the malefactor got to keep damages that didn’€™t get paid out. She also sponsored a bill that will put body cameras on cops, but was less successful with another bill to make grand jury transcripts public. Lobbyists think she’€™s destined for bigger things. “Bright, hard-working, cheerful, diplomatic, dogged and effective,”€ says one respondent. “€œShe works circles around her colleagues.”

REP. TINA KOTEK

D-Portland

Overall rating: 7.97

Integrity: 7.13

Brains: 8.37 

Effectiveness: 8.41

Kotek, 48, is in her second term as House Speaker, and she’€™s learned to rein in her habit of overpromising, €”as in 2013, when she pledged to her public employee union allies she would limit PERS cuts to $800 million, and then watched then-Gov. John Kitzhaber ram through cuts worth $5 billion. “She learned a great deal last session and is far more effective this time around,”€ says an observer. Kotek impressed observers with the way she cajoled her fractious caucus into line on tough sells such as the low-carbon fuel standard and the expansion of gun background checks. “€œWicked smart and intensely strategic,”€ says another lobbyist. “€œI wouldn’t want to play Risk with her.”

REP. JEFF BARKER

D-Aloha

Overall rating: 7.67

Integrity: 8.27

Brains: 7.15 

Effectiveness: 7.58

A flinty retired Portland police detective serving in his seventh session, Barker, 72, is the quiet leader of his caucus’€™ moderate wing. “€œOne of the only legislators who actually understands the word compromise,” says a lobbyist. Barker nearly retired after the 2011 session, when the House was evenly split 30-30. But he hung in and, with House Democrats holding a wide majority, Barker spends much of his energy playing traffic cop as the leader of the House Judiciary Committee. “€œWise, kind and tough,”€ says one lobbyist.


The Good

 

SEN. MICHAEL DEMBROW 

D-Portland

Overall rating: 7.45

Integrity: 7.94

Brains: 7.63

Effectiveness: 6.78

Dembrow, 63, is a toothy film studies instructor at Portland Community College who is serving his rookie year in the Senate after three terms in the House. He’€™s not flashy but has continued to move up in the rankings. He chairs the Senate Workforce Committee and was a leader in the push for statewide sick leave. “€œThe nicest and maybe the smartest man in the building,”€ says one admirer. “Giving his calming influence, he must be a darn good teacher.”€ “€œMight be the gentlest soul in the legislature,”€ says one lobbyist. “€œHe’€™s incredibly effective.”

SEN. ELIZABETH STEINER HAYWARD

D-Portland

Overall rating: 7.07

Integrity: 7.18

Brains: 7.96

Effectiveness: 6.07

Nobody doubts this family doctor’s smarts or passion. “She’€™s willing to take on hard fights,”€ says one lobbyist. Co-chairwoman of the Joint Ways and Means subcommittee on general government, Steiner Hayward, 52, pushed hard but unsuccessfully for mandatory vaccinations. She did pass a bill that will give women access to a year’€™s worth of contraception. Several commenters noted Steiner Hayward’€™s smartest-person-in-the-room persona and her need to keep reminding people of her medical credentials. “€œYeah, yeah, you’€™re a family physician. We know,”€ says one lobbyist. Says another: “Please quit talking and listen.”

SEN. MARK HASS

D-Beaverton

Overall rating: 7.06

Integrity: 6.93

Brains: 7.46

Effectiveness: 6.79

Thanks to robust tax revenues, lawmakers finally funded a crucial K-12 mandate: full-day kindergarten. Hass, 58, now in his fourth Senate session after serving three in the House, has for years been that issue’€™s champion. Now the former TV newsman-turned-PR consultant can devote his full energy to his other passion: tax reform. So far he is tinkering around the edges: passing a complex bill revising the way computer server farms are taxed and pushing for tuition-free community college. Hass’€™ steady demeanor wears well in Salem. “Closest thing we have to a statesman in the Senate,”€ says one GOP lobbyist. Adds another: “Good lawmaker who picks excellent issues, though this dive into tax reform will test his considerable skill set.€”


Rookie of the Year

REP. ROB NOSSE

D-Portland

Integrity: 8.40

Brains: 7.15


Effectiveness: 6.73

Outside the Capitol, Nosse, 47, a former nurse’€™s union lobbyist, is known for wearing a lot of hats—€”mostly fedoras. As a new legislator, he showed an equal ability to wear a lot of metaphorical hats. Observers found him likable and a quick study. Nosse worked to pass a bill to ban €œconversion therapy€ that advocates claim turn gays straight. He showed a veteran’€™s understanding of how to work bills and communicate effectively. “Very strong first term,”€ says one lobbyist. Adds another, who’€™s been around many years: “€œWrites a handwritten note to everyone and I mean everyone he meets with.”


 

REP. JOHN DAVIS

R-Wilsonville

Overall rating: 7.41

Integrity: 7.46

Brains: 8.27

Effectiveness: 6.50

The metro area’s youngest member, Davis, 32, a business lawyer from Wilsonville, leaped into the No. 2 spot in his caucus in only his second session when Republicans dumped Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn). Davis earns high marks for collegiality. He voted with Democrats, for instance, to ban conversion therapy. Like most Republicans, Davis had little luck passing his own legislation. He is low-key, though not to everyone’€™s taste. “Smartest dude in the room, just ask him,”€ says one skeptic. “A very bright, straight arrow who hasn’€™t a clue how to lead his caucus of unherdable cats,”€ says an observer. “Clone this guy and bring back the Republican Party,”€ says a business lobbyist.

 

REP. JESSICA VEGA PEDERSON

D-East Portland

Overall rating: 7.41

Integrity: 7.65

Brains: 7.54

Effectiveness: 7.04

The low-key Vega Pederson, 40, is one of the few Hispanic lawmakers in Salem. In her second session, she’€™s shown an ability to punch above her weight. She’€™s energized Democrats’€™ successful push for expanding sick leave statewide and increasing the minimum wage to $13 an hour. “Predictably left, 100 percent of the time,” says one lobbyist. An East Portland resident, she’€™s rumored to be looking at the Multnomah County Commission seat Judy Shiprack must give up next year because of term limits. “€œUnderrated,” says one respondent. “€œVery smart, and her star is shining this session.”€ Another observer calls her “€œthoughtful and a political realist.”

 

REP. ALISSA KENY-GUYER 

(Ben Pritchard)

D-Portland

Overall rating: 7.19

Integrity: 8.12

Brains: 7.08

Effectiveness: 6.36 

For three sessions now, Keny-Guyer, 56, one of the most liberal members of her caucus, has patiently pushed legislation that would require the labeling of toxic compounds. “A bit of a rarity in Salem,”€ says one lobbyist. “Someone who will determinedly dig into an issue and really let the information gathered through good questions drive her to conclusions.”€ The toxics bill remains one of the Democratic priority bills whose passage is up in the air, despite Keny-Guyer’€™s party holding solid majorities. She moved up strongly in this year’€™s ratings. “More focused,”€ says one lobbyist. “€œKnows how the sausage is made.”

REP. KEN HELM

D-Beaverton

Overall rating: 7.10

Integrity: 7.48

Brains: 7.78

Effectiveness: 6.05

Helm is a rookie whose experience as a land-use lawyer prepared him well for the fractious atmosphere of the Capitol. “€œKnows his issues,”€ says one lobbyist. Helm, 50, helped pass a bill aimed at moving road-hog drivers out of the left lane. He struggled to find support for a proposed fracking ban dear to the hearts of the enviros who recruited him for office. His precise manner also rubbed some people the wrong way. “He knows more than you do about what’€™s good for your client,”€ wrote one lobbyist.

REP. MITCH GREENLICK

D-Portland

Overall rating: 7.09

Integrity: 7.14

Brains: 7.69

Effectiveness: 6.43

The Legislature’s oldest member is a medical marvel: Greenlick powered through two hip replacements and a battle with a rare and pernicious cancer. He brings a mixture of toughness and 30 years as a medical researcher to his chairmanship of the House Health Care Committee, which is continuing to wrestle with the implications of the massive expansion of the Oregon Health Plan, the creation of coordinated care organizations and cleanup after the collapse of Cover Oregon. “€œAt the age of 80, the sharpest, most insightful mind on the whole committee,” says one lobbyist. “€œHow refreshing to see political courage to vote one’€™s true beliefs without concern for political reprisal.”€ Greenlick is often irascible but never in doubt. “€œOne of the most ferocious chairmen,”€ says one observer. “€œDoes not suffer fools.”


Average

 

SEN. GINNY BURDICK

D-Portland

Overall rating: 6.77

Integrity: 7.07

Brains: 6.60 

Effectiveness: 6.66

In her 18 years in the Senate, Burdick, 67, a public relations consultant, has been ranked €œ”bad”€ for the past two sessions and “€œawful”€ before that. Her dramatic improvement this session is almost certainly because her careerlong campaign for gun control finally delivered. She pushed through a bill that expands background checks for private gun transactions. Burdick also scored the high-profile assignment of co-chairing the House-Senate committee on marijuana. “€œBeen fun watching her corral the pot crazies,”€ says an observer. “€œOccasional flashes of courage,”€ says another.

SEN. CHUCK THOMSEN

R-Hood River

Overall rating: 6.22

Integrity: 7.58

Brains: 5.85

Effectiveness: 5.23

This laconic pear grower in his third session plays the part of the country hayseed well, but many in Salem think he’€™s playing possum. “€œFolksy but actually smart,”€ says one. Thomsen, 58, worked hard (and unsuccessfully) to block the low carbon fuel standard and paid sick leave, always with a smile on his face. “€œHe’€™s either Zen or on Quaaludes,”€ says one close watcher. “€œOr knows that being in the minority isn’€™t worth being all stressed out.”

REP. BARBARA SMITH WARNER

D-Portland

Overall rating: 6.96

Integrity: 7.33

Brains: 7.08

Effectiveness: 6.48

A longtime political insider, Smith Warner, 48, hit the ground running in Salem after being appointed to fill a vacancy in 2013 and elected in her own right last fall. She sponsored House Bill 2600, which continues insurance coverage when a worker takes family leave. “€œSmart, energetic and relatable,”€ says one observer. “€œKnows the tricks, where the dead bodies are buried and generally who buried them,”€ says a lobbyist. “€œHard to get much past her.”

REP. SHEMIA FAGAN

D-Clackamas

Overall rating: 6.92

Integrity: 6.71

Brains: 7.62

Effectiveness: 6.43

Fagan, 33, a business lawyer with big political ambitions, is a polarizing and sometimes fierce figure. “€œWouldn’€™t surprise me if she’€™s a cage fighter on the side,”€ says one female lobbyist. “€œShe’€™s just downright intense and scary.”€ Fagan now chairs the Consumer Protection and Government Effectiveness Committee. She’€™s worked hard to fund sidewalks in East Multnomah County and passed a bill that allows people to block robocalls. Many have expected more from her. “€œCrafty, smart and politically skilled,”€ says one lobbyist. “Has taken a hard left in second term,”€ says another. 

REP. TOBIAS READ

D-Beaverton

Overall rating: 6.76

Integrity: 6.43

Brains: 7.33

Effectiveness: 6.53

Read, 39, is tall, ambitious and wonky. This session, he co-sponsored a successful class action lawsuit reform bill and helped push through a retirement security bill. Read’€™s known for tilting at windmills, €”and this session, he aggressively advocated keeping the tax €œkicker€ payments to be credited back to taxpayers. He never had a prayer. He’€™s spent this session gearing up to run for state treasurer. “€œHe really wants to be popular. Really. Which is why he has been either unwilling or unable to lead on any significant issue,”€ says one lobbyist. Adds another, “€œZzz.”€

 

REP. MARGARET DOHERTY

D-Tigard

Overall rating: 6.62

Integrity: 7.05

Brains: 6.32

Effectiveness: 6.48

The former high-school teacher and Oregon Education Association staffer is now in her fourth term, and this session Doherty, 64, won a victory for low-income students, getting the state to cover the full cost of their reduced-price meals. Doherty will never surprise anybody with her position on any issue: It’€™s always unions first. She made sure the OEA won one of its top priorities, a bill that stops school districts from using standardized test results to assess teachers. “Too ideological for her own good,”€ says a business lobbyist. A left-leaning advocate disagrees: “€œIt’€™s nice to have someone not ashamed to be a labor goon.”

REP. CARLA PILUSO

D-Gresham

Overall rating: 6.57

Integrity: 7.75

Brains: 6.60

Effectiveness: 5.35

The former Gresham police chief, 59, traded one combat zone for another when she replaced former Rep. Greg Matthews. Respondents’€™ comments suggest Salem expects her to play a bigger role in the future. “€œRefreshing and honest approach,” says one lobbyist. “€œBig improvement for Gresham.” Piluso used her law enforcement know-how to help pass a bill to take guns away from domestic abusers. “€œHer career experience is showing well,”€ says one lobbyist. “She is open to input and quietly exerts her influence rather than pounding podiums.”

REP. SUSAN MCLAIN

D-Hillsboro

Overall rating: 6.35

Integrity: 7.09

Brains: 6.43

Effectiveness: 5.52

McLain, 66, a former teacher, also served four terms on the Metro Council before effectively being handed her House seat by former Rep. Ben Unger, so she ought to know how politics works. But this rookie went all but unnoticed. “€œDoesn’€™t seem to have a single creative idea in her head,”€ says one observer. Adds another, “€œHillsboro is a thriving successful community with Ph.D.s and entrepreneurs. And they send us McLain?”

Most Improved

REP. BRENT BARTON

Gladstone and Oregon City
Integrity: 6.75
Brains: 8.04
Effectiveness: 6.13

Still baby-faced at 35, this Harvard-educated lawyer crossed caucus leadership in 2014, voting against a bill Democrats supported that would have rewritten the ballot title for a measure aimed at helping undocumented immigrants obtain driver’s licenses. That cost him a committee chairmanship and the clout that goes with it. But his work this year has earned him the biggest improvement among all the legislators in this survey. He’s worked to secure funding for the redevelopment of a bankrupt paper mill at Willamette Falls and insurance reform that provides greater coverage for injured motorists. “Seems to like being in the Legislature more this session,” says one lobbyist. “Unbelievably bright, a bit of a wasted talent,” says another.

REP. MARK JOHNSON 

R-Hood River

Overall rating: 6.34

Integrity: 6.05

Brains: 6.61

Effectiveness: 6.35

A residential contractor and Hood River School Board member, whose mustache and jeans remind some people of a certain former governor, Johnson, 58, brings a useful set of tools to a building short of effective Republicans. “One of a sadly very few bright, genuinely moderate legislators,” says one lobbyist. Johnson worked across the aisle to help pass a couple of bills: one that beefs up charter school standards, and another aimed at providing lower cost college degrees. “€œBeing in the minority sucks,”€ says one respondent, “€œand he doesn’€™t hide that. “

 

REP. BILL KENNEMER

R-Oregon City

Overall rating: 6.25

Integrity: 6.46

Brains: 6.54

Effectiveness: 5.75

Kennemer, 68, is serving his fourth term after a dozen years on the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners and time in the Senate before that. He was the only Republican chief sponsor of a new law that prohibits the sale of vaping devices to minors. The retired psychologist also co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to straighten out the mess around the annexation of Damascus. “€œThe most moderate Republican,”€ says one lobbyist. “Absolutely ineffective now,”€ says another.

REP. ANN LININGER

D-Lake Oswego

Overall rating: 6.20

Integrity: 6.22

Brains: 6.93

Effectiveness: 5.46

Lininger, 47, a lawyer and former Clackamas County commissioner, came to Salem as a bright prospect and a got a big assignment for a rookie: €”She co-chairs the joint committee charged with implementing marijuana legalization. The consensus is, she’€™s greener than expected. “€œCould use a little more polish if she wants to be taken seriously,”€ says one observer. “€œClaimed to be a moderate pragmatist prior to session,”€ says a business lobbyist, “€œbut she is easily one of the two or three most liberal members of her caucus.”€ Adds another observer, “€œIn a hurry to be somebody.”

REP. LEW FREDERICK

D-Portland

Overall rating: 6.13

Integrity: 7.22

Brains: 6.22

Effectiveness: 4.96

As the only African-American in the House, Frederick, 63, a former Portland Public Schools spokesman and TV reporter, carries a heavy burden, and insiders say he’€™s doing better than in past years. “€œStarting to wake up,”€ says a lobbyist. In his fourth session, he’€™s pushed for an anti-profiling bill and legislation to expunge marijuana convictions, which disproportionately affect African-Americans. “€œWould accomplish more if he wasn’€™t obsessed with self-promotion,” says one observer.

REP. JOE GALLEGOS

D-Hillsboro

Overall rating: 6.10

Integrity: 7.45

Brains: 6.10

Effectiveness: 4.74

If the Legislature put up missing persons posters, Gallegos’€™ face would be everywhere. As it is, this grandfatherly retired college professor is coasting through his second term and is all but invisible. He moved legislation on English language learners that prevents ELL funds from being spent on unrelated programs. “€œOther than having a pulse and a D by his name, how on earth did this guy become a legislator?”€ asks one lobbyist. “€œI’€™ve met more engaging, and engaged, potted plants.”€


Bad

 

SEN. LAURIE MONNES ANDERSON 

D-Gresham

Overall rating: 5.80

Integrity: 6.74

Brains: 5.00 

Effectiveness: 5.67

Monnes Anderson, 69, is a pleasant, if often puzzled, former nurse who long ago hit the low ceiling of her legislative abilities. She’€™s serving her sixth session in the Senate after two in the House. “€œNice lady, an embarrassment as a senator,” one observer writes. Although Monnes Anderson is the longtime chair of the Senate Committee on Health Care, she hasn’€™t gained respect for her grasp of the topic. “€œTotally clueless even on the issues she champions,”€ one respondent says. “€œEast County needs a strong voice,”€ another says, “€œand she ain’€™t it.”

SEN. CHIP SHIELDS 

D-Portland

Overall rating: 5.73

Integrity: 5.16

Brains: 6.65 

Effectiveness: 5.39

A veteran of three House sessions and now in his fourth as a senator, Shields, 47, is known for a couple of pet issues—€”advocating for prison inmates and against insurance companies. His session, however, was marked by his loss of the chairmanship of the Senate general government committee that he held in 2014. Shields was further marred by the exposure of an ethical oil slick. After taking a job with his family’€™s lubricant-manufacturing business, Shields had state Rep. Lew Frederick (D-Portland) introduce a bill that would require the state to use products such as those sold by the Shields family company. Although the Senate Special Committee on Conduct cleared Shields of ethical wrongdoing, it will take a while to sop up the mess to his reputation. “Should bring his dog to work,”€ says one observer, “€œso he has a friend in the building.”

SEN. ROD MONROE 

D-East Portland 

Overall rating: 5.71

Integrity: 6.96

Brains: 5.38 

Effectiveness: 4.79

Monroe, 72, first won elected office in 1976, when there were more beavers than people in Oregon. The former teacher has served a total of 16 years in the Legislature in addition to time on the David Douglas School Board, the Mt. Hood Community College board and three terms on the Metro Council. For at least a decade, observers have commented that Monroe was way past his sell-by date. This session, Monroe worked on legislation to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of minors, but many observers wish Monroe, a fitness buff and lay minister, had not run for re-election in 2014. “€œPast his prime,”€ a typical commenter says. “€œTime to retire.”

 


Biggest Decline

SEN. DIANE ROSENBAUM

D-Portland/Milwaukie

Overall rating: 5.98

Integrity: 6.13

Brains: 6.26 


Effectiveness: 5.55

Rosenbaum, 65, a retired communications workers union official in her fourth Senate session after five in the House, has struggled to make herself heard in a caucus led by voluble Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem). “Courtney smothers her,”€ one respondent says. She’€™s hurt by an inability to lead on issues that are squarely in her wheelhouse, such as statewide sick leave and raising the minimum wage. “€œEven the unions are embarrassed by her leadership,”€ a business lobbyist says. Rosenbaum is one of several legislators eyeing a run at secretary of state in 2016 and worked hard to pass the “€œmotor voter”€ bill, a longtime priority of Gov. Kate Brown that could add 300,000 voters to the rolls. Not many are impressed. “So much to get done and so little energy to do it,”€ says a lobbyist. Another calls her a “lettuce sandwich.” 


 

REP. JEFF REARDON 

D-Happy Valley

Overall rating: 5.67

Integrity: 6.79

Brains: 5.54 

Effectiveness: 4.67

In his second term, this 68-year-old retired shop teacher struggled to distinguish himself from a piece of lumber like those on which his students used to hammer. “€œKind and good-hearted,”€ says one business lobbyist. “€œNot loud enough for anyone to hear.”

REP. KATHLEEN TAYLOR 

D-Southeast Portland/Milwaukie

Overall rating: 5.56

Integrity: 6.63

Brains: 5.84 

Effectiveness: 4.21

A rookie lawmaker, Taylor, 48, looked promising on paper: She’€™s a former government auditor and court-appointed special advocate. As an elected official, however, she seemed lost and focused on a narrow agenda—€”keeping e-cigs out of the hands of children. Many respondents didn’€™t bother commenting on her at all. Those who did were dismissive. “€œWhat a disappointment,”€ says one observer. “Batshit,”€ says another.

REP. CHRIS GORSEK 

 

D-Troutdale

Overall rating: 5.47

Integrity: 6.41

Brains: 5.32 

Effectiveness: 4.68

Gorsek, a second-termer, teaches geography at Mt. Hood Community College but couldn’t find relevance in Salem with a map. “€œThere’s no there there,”€ says one lobbyist. The stocky former Portland cop passed a bill that will shift economic development subsidies more toward east Multnomah County and rural areas, but survey respondents say he’€™s mostly taking up space. Says one lobbyist, “€œSquirrels on water skis have more of an impact on the state of Oregon than this guy.”€

REP. JULIE PARRISH 

R-West Linn

Overall rating: 5.35

Integrity: 5.26

Brains: 6.15 

Effectiveness: 4.65

There are few more polarizing or consistently misunderstood figures in Salem than Parrish. A third-termer, Parrish, 41, is a pro-choice Republican who wins in a Democratic majority district. She in effect runs a printing press in her office: Parrish was the chief sponsor on 80 bills this session, which her caucus says is the most in the building. Many addressed ethics and campaign finance and promptly got recycled. Parrish got kicked out of caucus leadership because of her independence and her attention-getting efforts. “€œHer endless quest for self-promotion limits her ability to be effective,”€ writes a lobbyist. “€œAlways accessible,”€ adds another, “€œbecause no one wants to talk to her.”


Awful

 

SEN. ALAN OLSEN 

R-Canby

Overall rating: 4.63

Integrity: 5.57

Brains: 4.43 

Effectiveness: 3.89

A genial contractor, Olsen is a consistent laggard in this survey,€” but he gives a consistent floor speech. “€œHis Tuesday jobs spiel is just legendary at this point,”€ says one lobbyist. Notably, Olsen, 62, cast the key vote against a bill that would have allowed development of the Langdon Farms Golf Club in Aurora into a massive warehousing and distribution facility. That project, on the drawing board for more than a decade, enjoys hefty financial support and backing from Olsen’€™s fellow Republicans. It turns out Olsen opposed the bill because he says he wants to stop industrial development from creeping south of the Willamette. “€œNot well-suited for the minority,”€ says one observer. “€œI worry this session has taken a toll on his blood pressure.” Observers appreciate Olsen’s diligence, which outstrips his effectiveness. Says one GOP observer: “€œCertainly reads every word of every report he gets, €”and is still clueless.”

SEN. KIM THATCHER 

R-Keizer

Overall rating: 4.20

Integrity: 5.80

Brains: 3.53 

Effectiveness: 3.27

The retirement of Larry George, a savvy Republican hazelnut processor from Newberg, created an opening for Thatcher, 50, the co-owner of a road contracting company who served five terms in the House. This session, she pushed for less regulation for business and reciprocity for concealed handgun licensees from other states. But as she did as a representative, Thatcher focused mostly on transportation minutiae. “€œIf it doesn’€™t involve traffic cones and flags, she’€™s probably not interested,”€ says an observer. “€œMoving her up to the Senate was a sage way for the House to get rid of an incompetent train wreck,”€ says another respondent.

SEN. CHUCK RILEY 

D-Hillsboro

Overall rating: 4.08

Integrity: 5.46

Brains: 3.75 

Effectiveness: 3.04

Last year, the Democratic Party machine convinced Washington County voters they should throw out respected incumbent Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro) in favor of Riley. “€œI think he is even a little shocked he won,”€ says one Democratic lobbyist. A retired IT consultant, Riley, 76, previously served three terms in the House and routinely finished in the basement of this survey. He’€™s back, and in his first Senate session earned notice only for the recall attempt against him launched by gun owners because he voted for background checks for private gun purchases.  “€œHow do you light up Riley’s eyes?” asks one veteran lobbyist. “€œShine a flashlight in his ear.”

Summer Guide 2015

 

Portland summers are hot now. It’s amazing—and sort of frightening.

Last year’s was the hottest on record, and this June we’re flirting daily with 90 degrees. Outdoor pools in outer Powell are full on weekdays, a week before summer has officially begun. Soon, the many unsung islands of the Willamette will fill with weekend kayakers and teenagers who’ve been given the keys to their mom’s Bayliner, while America’s first and largest collection of municipal skateparks are packing in with fresh-faced kids and skinned-knee lifers. Is it eerily beautiful fallout from climate change? Dumb luck that will be corrected next year by three consecutive months of sweaty mist?

Dear Lord, it has never been harder to work in an office all day, as the sun makes life indoors seem grimly irrelevant. Of course, you can escape to take a high dive into a chilly stream over the weekend. But in part, we’ve devoted this 2015 Summer Guide to the notion that you can find summer in Portland anywhere. You can pop out after work for a 3-mile hike in the woods without ever leaving the city limits, and then grab a beer afterward. Or if you’d rather sit in the park and drink sessionable grapefruit radlers all day, we offer some advice on where to do that without getting hassled by the authorities. For every single day of summer from now until Labor Day, we offer an awesome thing you can do, whether making s’mores at a colony of tiny houses or a bike ride across Portland’s newest bridge before any of your friends.

It looks like it’s gonna be a long, hot summer in the city. Make the most of it.

Twelve Radlers and Shandies, Ranked Cliff Jumps and High Dives Near Portland 

Do Something Awesome Every Day Until Labor Day | Best Hot Dogs in Portland

Six Urban Hikes (and Bars for After) Drink, Smoke in the Park 

Explore the Islands of the WillametteDiscover Your Favorite Skatepark 

Are There Any Real Lumberjacks Left in Oregon?

I’ve been in Portland a long time, and the fake lumberjack style (beard, flannel, work boots, knit cap, etc.) has gotten a little overwhelming. And anyway, with advances in logging automation, are there even any real lumberjacks left in Oregon?
—Carlos C.

I’ve nothing in particular against the fake lumberjack look. I’ve even considered embracing it myself—especially the beard, which I can’t help noticing would perfectly obscure my increasingly Hitchcockian chin-plex.

Furthermore, I don’t see why this idea of dressing up for a job you don’t actually do shouldn’t spread to other occupations. It would hardly be a stretch to see Portlanders embracing the World War I aviator look, with jodhpurs and a leather helmet. From there, it’s just a short step to $400 diving helmets at Urban Outfitters and articles in Details about “beekeeper chic.”

In the meantime, if any flannel-clad millennials are interested in putting their money where their mustaches are, jobs for lumberjacks aren’t as hard to come by as you might suppose.

While it’s axiomatic that timber industry jobs in Oregon are scarcer than they were 50 years ago, the workers who really got creamed by automation were those in the mills and wood-products factories. If you want to be the guy actually cutting down trees, that job is often available—partly because, increasingly, no one wants to do it.

Logging is America’s deadliest job, and physically demanding to boot. Perhaps it’s no surprise that those of us whose idea of hardship is a fridge without a built-in icemaker aren’t flocking to it. As current loggers age out of the workforce, the industry is openly wondering where the next generation of loggers is going to come from.

Outreach publications promise a rosy future to high-school grads who come aboard. Or, they could just send a press gang to the Stumptown on Southwest 3rd—by the time the conscripts realize it’s not a Portland Timbers photo shoot, they’ll be halfway to Idaho.

QUESTIONS? Send them to dr.know@wweek.com

Radlers, Ranked

Is there any summer beer better than the Stiegl Radler?

One sunny day last week, we tried to find one by holding a blind tasting of a dozen different radlers and shandies—all fruited beers, non-Belgian, under 5 percent alcohol. In the end, nothing could beat the Austrian-made blend of lager and grapefruit soda.

This super-light brew—2 percent ABV and only 112 calories per bottle, just a little heavier than flavor-free suds like Bud Light (110 calories) and Miller Lite (96 calories)—made with the Salzburg brewery’s mild and slightly herbal Goldbräu, outscored everything we threw at it. Given that it’s the summer of legal weed in Oregon, a highly sessionable low-alcohol beer is especially welcome on the back deck. Oh, and it comes in river-ready cans, too.

Related: Every Mexican Beer We Could Find in Portland, Ranked.

Here’s where the field of radlers (which use citrus soda) and shandies (they still use fruit juice) finished, including tasting notes from our panel.

1. Stiegl Grapefruit Radler

Points out of 100: 93

2% ABV, bottles and cans widely available.

Salzburg, Austria, sits just over the border from Germany. That means it’s influenced by the famous Bavarian purity law—the base Goldbräu actually follows it, using only hops, barley, water and yeast—but they don’t have to if they don’t want to. And, thus, radler in a can.

Selected comments: “I would give this to a child—it’s like a sunny birthday party.”

“Tastes like grapefruit Izze. They must’ve put the lightest lager they could find in this and then spiked it with grapefruit.”

2. Leinenkugel’s Grapefruit Shandy

P1010473

Points: 91

4.2% ABV, bottles and cans available this summer.

When it comes to shandies and radlers, you want the nearly but not actually German. So Wisconsin is a good place to look. Leinies, now owned by Miller, just introduced this beer this year, with typical corporatese: “This refreshing new beer takes advantage of a grapefruit beer market that grew triple digits in 2014,” said Miller’s CEO. Well, it’s damned tasty. When it comes to widely available domestic Stiegl clones, this is a good ‘un.

Comments: “Best nose of the day—the flavor is also good, but it can’t live up to that nose.”

“Would be perfect for drop shots.”

“This is a terrific blending of beer and grapefruit—brightly citric but a terrific blending of beer and flavor.”

3. Schofferhofer Grapefruit

P1010472

Points: 86

2.5% ABV, bottles and cans available year round.

Frankfurt’s Schofferhofer is well-known for making the world’s first hefeweizen. So they split the can with grapefruit juice and rolled out a new brew. It trailed our leaders by a few points, but bested the rest of the field by 14 points.

Comments: “Sweet and lovely.”

“This is sweet, subtle and delicious. I could drink this all day.”

4. Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy

Points: 67

4.2% ABV, bottles seasonally.

 hen you’ve got it, you’ve got it. Leinies’ weisse beer with lemonade isn’t a match for its grapefruit version, but it’s still worth drinking.

Comments: “It’s all fizz, which I’m cool with.”

“Tastes like seltzer water.”

5. Shiner Prickly Pear 

P1010475

Points: 62

4.9% ABV, bottles seasonally.

This one, from Spoetzl Brewery, sister to Portland Brewing Company, was an outlier, a shandy made with prickly pear cactus fruit instead of grapefruit or lemon. Tasters liked the grapy flavor of the purple prickly pears.

Comments: “It’s grape soda beer. Nothing I would ever buy, but I wouldn’t complain if offered it.”

“It’s like a blend of a margarita and boxed wine.”

6. Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat

P1010479

Points: 58

5.5% ABV, bottles available
year round.

We bent the rules a little for this beer from Lost Coast just because they’ve never made an appearance in one of our many taste-offs. The tangerine wheat was pleasantly forgettable and has a little more booziness than the others here.

Comments: “Middling.”

“Tastes like the watered-down apple juice they give preschoolers.”

7. Widmer Hefe Shandy

P1010474

Points: 53

4.2% ABV, bottled available seasonally.

This is the beer that got us excited about local juice brews when it arrived at our office a few weeks ago, and we still found it to be the best local version in a blind taste-off. It’s the original “American Hefeweizen” with a little lemon juice, and we like it even better than regular Widmer Hefe. Next year, why not try grapefruit?

Comments: “Don’t put hoppy beer with fruit.”

“Soapy and kinda tastes like spit.”

“This tastes like the moss growing on a lemon tree instead of the lemons.”

8. Omnipollo 42

Points: 51

4.5% ABV, available in bottles.

The most expensive bottle in our tasting was $7 at Belmont Station. Totally not worth it. Omnipollo comes from Sweden (it loosely translates as “all the chickens”?) and is a witbier brewed with passionfruit and key lime juice. Do not buy.

Comments: “Smells like a popsicle from my youth.”

“Smells like pee.”

9. 10 Barrel Swill

P1010478

Points: 44

4.5% ABV, available in bottles seasonally.

Two years ago we named this one of our favorite beers in Oregon. Then last year’s bottles blew up after getting infected with a bad bug that caused rapid secondary fermentation in the bottle. Then the brewery got bought by Budweiser. Now, in a blind taste test, we do not like this beer anymore.

Comments: “It’s like they got some of the zest and seeds in with the lemon.”

“It’s like lemon-flavored cough drops, grossly medicinal.”

10. Narragansett Presents Del’s Shandy

P1010470

Points: 41

4.7% ABV, available in cans.

Narragansett is Rhodyspeak for beer. It’s not good, but don’t tell the guy in the Red Sox hat unless you’re willing to scrap with him about it.

Comments: “There’s so much pine and lemon. I’ve had some IPAs that are a little like this.”

“I’d rather drink Pine-Sol.”

11. Hopworks Totally Radler

P1010471

Points: 31

2.6% ABV, available seasonally in cans.

Hopworks Lager is good. Organic lemon juice is good. Mixing them 50-50 is good. What went wrong? (Note: One taster, me, liked it except for the fact that it was too sweet.)

Comments: “Tastes like puking in your mouth.”

“Did they put corn syrup in this?”

12. Gilgamesh Radtke Radler

P1010469

Points: 13

4% ABV, available seasonally in cans.

In my experience, Salem makes a lot of bad beer. Gilgamesh also makes its fair share of bad beer. Our experience with this specific beer in a blind tasting reinforced that notion. I don’t like that fact any more than you do. Sorry, Salem.

Comments: “Pretty color, OK smell, nothing resembling a desirable flavor compound in the actual liquid.”

“If grapefruit tasted like piss.”

“This actually made me want to puke.”

“It’s like they somehow got only the bad parts of the grapefruit.”

Twelve Radlers and Shandies, Ranked | Cliff Jumps and High Dives Near Portland

Do Something Awesome Every Day Until Labor Day Best Hot Dogs in Portland

Six Urban Hikes (and Bars for After) Drink, Smoke in the Park

Explore the Islands of the Willamette | Discover Your Favorite Skatepark

Omni Skate

From the early pioneers who went renegade, installing ramps and bowls under the Burnside Bridge by using leftover concrete from their day jobs, to the current crop of officials, shop owners and skateboarders who are constantly raising funds and getting new parks built, it’s no secret that Portland is a mecca for skateboarding. In 2007, Portland became the first U.S. city to roll out a comprehensive plan that included 19 skateparks, and while it will be years before it’s complete, there are already plenty of parks within city limits—some for serious skaters, others for kiddos.

Khunamokwst Park

Northeast 52nd Avenue between Alberta and Wygant streets.

Gnar level: 4 (out of 10)

The most recent addition to the Portland park lineup is the “skate dot” inside a newly redeveloped park in the Cully neighborhood. Though the city aimed to build a park for kids and beginners, Evergreen Skateparks packed a lot of transitions into the bowl-style park. Best described as “the most tricks you will ever do going slowly,” the micro-quarterpipes and bowls that fill the space require loose legs and quick feet, but it’s a real hoot once you get a feel for it. The design is not ideal for large crowds, so skip it on weekends, when scooters and small children tend to take over.

Gabriel Park

Southwest Vermont Street and 45th Avenue.

Gnar level: 4

Gabriel is a mellow park mostly made up of rolling banks that don’t even require you to drop in to skate. There’s a perfect 3-foot quarterpipe, a couple boxes, and walls with tight transitions. It has the mellowest scene of any park in Portland. Between hippies Hula-Hooping on the hill and the inevitable kid with no shoes absolutely destroying the park, people here are welcoming and friendly. Skaters of all ages and abilities can feel comfortable and find something to skate, whether it’s learning to push in the parking lot, or airing out of the deep end.

Ed Benedict Park

SE 100th Avenue and Powell Boulevard.

Gnar level: 5

Ed Benedict is Portland’s only street-focused park, and accordingly, it is filled with kick-flipping teens pretty much all the time. There is a small transition section (a spot that goes from horizontal to vertical), but tweakers like to steal the pool edging, and the lack of decks makes it difficult to skate. If bowls are your pleasure, there are better options in the city. The skatepark is long and narrow with lots of banks, boxes and rails, but in true Portland fashion, everything is a bit weird. For skateboarders looking for the fun of street skating without the bust factor from police, Ed Benedict is your best bet. While anyone can find something to skate here—there’s plenty of flat and small features—the crowd tends toward the aggressive side, and they don’t take kindly to small children on scooters.

Commonwealth Skateboarding

1425 SE 20th Ave., 208-2080.

Gnar level: 6

Commonwealth is the only public indoor park within Portland city limits, and unlike many parks with decrepit wooden boxes, it’s 100 percent concrete. A horseshoe-shaped, 4-foot-tall bowl takes up the majority of space, but there’s also a small concrete mini ramp and a street course with flat bars, boxes and a bank. At 4,500 square feet, there’s not a lot of space, and the surface gets super-slick. But when it’s raining or 100 degrees outside, the roof makes up for the park’s shortcomings. A two-hour session is $7, or skate all day for $10. Commonwealth also hosts youth camps and has an onsite shop, making it one of Portland’s cheapest child care centers.

Glenhaven Park

8000 NE Tillamook St.

Gnar level: 7

Glenhaven is one of the biggest skateparks in Portland at nearly 11,000 square feet, and is divided into three sections—a pool, a square bowl, and a street course complete with pyramid, rails, faux brick banks and a fun little step-up. But it sits next to Madison High School, which makes for an interesting crowd. On your average day, expect to see some of the best skateboarders in the city ripping through the street course, BMXers congregating in the square bowl, and old dudes trying to slash pool coping, not to mention a couple of sketchy dudes who may or may not be trying to sell drugs. If you get there early and have the place to yourself, there are endless possibilities. But at prime time (after school, sunset), you’re lucky just to make it across the street course without running into someone.

Pier Park

10325 N Lombard St.

Gnar level: 7

Pier Park takes up a solid chunk of real estate in St. Johns, and a large section is dedicated to one of the few full pipes in the world. Bring your knee pads if you want to step to it—the deep end is 12 feet, making this the go-to spot for vert enthusiasts. For the less aggressive, there’s two smaller bowls and a street course. The mini bowl is a lot of fun, with a basic 3-foot section, two hips and a deeper cradle. The street section includes real marble ledges, stairs, a box and a steep bank. There are enough options to please a decent-sized crowd, making this a skatepark that will appeal to pretty much anyone.

Holly Farm Park

10819 SW Capitol Highway.

Gnar level: 8

The main attraction at Holly Farm is a 9-foot bowl that, for some reason, has a 4-foot spine in the middle. Why they put a spine in the middle of the bowl, I’m not sure, as there simply is not enough space to make it flow. Often the bowl will sit empty, as most people prefer to skate the brick banks and smaller snake-run sections. The good news is, Holly Farm is far enough out in Southwest and not good enough to be a destination park, so you’ll often have it to yourself.

Burnside Skatepark

Under the east side of the Burnside Bridge.

Gnar level: 10

There’s only one skatepark in Portland with its own level in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and it’s one that should be on every skater’s bucket list. While you can’t grind the rafters in real life, you’re very likely to see pros on tour here or talented locals who easily conquer the huge transitions. As you would expect at a former rogue skatepark under a bridge in the eastside industrial district, Burnside has an unfriendly reputation—there can be bums sleeping in the bowls and drunk skaters—but it depends on the day and time. In the morning, BMXers take the opportunity to ride while skate rats are nursing their hangovers, and if you bring beer anytime, everyone will love you. The park itself is not easy to skate, especially compared to the more modern parks—it’s rough, the transitions are inconsistent, and you need to go fast, really fast. A high-rise apartment building is being built nearby, so get there before the angry Californians who’ll be moving in start petitioning to shut down the park.

Twelve Radlers and Shandies, Ranked | Cliff Jumps and High Dives Near Portland

Do Something Awesome Every Day Until Labor Day Best Hot Dogs in Portland

Six Urban Hikes (and Bars for After) Drink, Smoke in the Park

Explore the Islands of the Willamette | Discover Your Favorite Skatepark

Brews Made for Walking

lede-summer_guide_badge_200x200

The Gorge gets all the glory. Mount Hood steals all the cover shots. It’s normal to covet what’s far away, so when summer hits, you hit the highway. But there are plenty of surprisingly beautiful nature settings within the Portland metro area—often accessible by bus, and not much hassle for people who would usually just spend their summer sucking down Montucky at White Owl. And when you’re done, you’re like four minutes from beer. Here are some great urban hikes that’ll make you forget you’re in the city at all, and then the spots to grab a pint afterward. Or before. Or both.

Sauvie Island, Warrior Rock: Beyond Nude Beaches

The hike: Easy, about 6 miles.

The trailhead: Collins Beach (38149-38155 NW Reeder Road)

To find the trailhead, drive to Collins Beach until you hit a dead-end gravel parking area. Ignore the trash bins overflowing with empty cans of light beer from city beach bums, and set out toward the sandy beach, where you’ll stand out not only for being sober but also fully clothed—this isn’t a clothing-optional area, but topless sunbathing isn’t rare here.

You’ll leave the beachgoers behind quickly. Shortly after spotting a giant bird nest on some pilings and the weathered remains of a boat, you’ll head inland to a trail that will take you to the lighthouse. Much of the hike is shaded, but you’ll find a few clearings and, in late summer, sections of the path nearly swallowed by thick, tall grass. The Warrior Rock lighthouse, Oregon’s smallest, is at the north end of Sauvie Island and serves as a great place to snack while sitting on some logs and watching river traffic. 

Post-trail ale: On the way back into town on Highway 30, head across the Fremont Bridge to Widmer Brothers Gasthaus Pub (929 N Russell St., 281-2437). The smell of grains from the nearby brewery will hit you from at least a block away. It’ll then be impossible to resist. Have two beers. You’ve earned it. This is the only hike on the list that takes a bit more than an hour. 

Sandy River Delta: One Big Dog Park

The hike: Easy, less than 3 miles.

The trailhead: Sandy River Delta Park, on Crown River Highway off I-84 Exit 18.

Every hike here’s dog-friendly, but the Sandy River Delta—at the confluence of the Sandy and Columbia rivers—is basically a 1,000-acre off-leash dog amusement park with wide swaths of mowed green grass lining most paths, and groves of trees in the distance.

There are several trails, so if you’d like some easy cardio in about an hour, take the Meadow Trail to a bird blind, which is the turnaround. Fair warning, though: This is not a hike pinnacle with a view unless you’re into mourning extinct birds. The trail leads up a sloped wooden bridge to a circular structure that’s beautifully crafted out of black locust wood; the bird blind, by Maya Lin, is inscribed with all the species Lewis and Clark saw on their journey, and whether the birds still exist. For a change of setting on the way back, take the Boundary Trail.

Post-trail ale: When in Troutdale, McMenamins Edgefield (2126 SW Halsey St., 669-8610) is basically a drunken little village of beer.

Macleay Trail to Audubon Society: Fly the Coop Without Leaving Town

The hike: Easy, with a few make-you-sweat switchbacks, about 2 miles.

The trailhead: Lower Macleay Park (2960 NW Upshur St.)

Macleay Trail offers an amazing opportunity to disappear into a forest while remaining within city limits. The trailhead is in Lower Macleay Park, and you’ll quickly find yourself walking along Balch Creek, named for a man who settled in the area and was publicly hanged for killing Mortimer Stump in 1859. For some reason, nobody named the creek after poor Mortimer Stump. 

Anyway, continue to follow the Mortimer Stump Memorial Creek upstream on a trail crisscrossed by fallen trees and nestled among moss-covered canyon walls and the occasional man nursing a malt 40. Places worth a pause include a small waterfall and an old stone cottage that used to be a working public restroom until the 1962 Columbus Day storm took out its water line. Soon the trail will gain elevation and you’ll find yourself drawn to the sight of the vibrant ravine below. 

Once the route reaches Upper Macleay Park, turn right to explore the Audubon Society, where behind the building you can visit rescued birds in outdoor cages, including Julio the Great Horned Owl, who silently suffered while everyone around her assumed she was male. (They considered renaming her Julia, but it didn’t stick.) Want a turnaround with a view? Continue about 2 miles on the Wildwood Trail to reach Pittock Mansion.

Post-trail ale: A 10-minute drive will get you to a brewery that’s one of the area’s oldest and also closest to Forest Park: Portland Brewing Company, formerly MacTarnahan’s (2730 NW 31st Ave., 228-5269), which boasts ample patio seating and is rarely crowded.

Marquam Trail to Council Crest: Skyline View Without Tipping Your Server

The hike: Moderate, about 3 miles.

The trailhead: Terwilliger Trailhead, 1 mile north of Capitol Highway on Southwest Terwilliger Boulevard. Or if you don’t drive, walk a mile of switchbacks down the woodsy Connor Trail from atop Pill Hill (follow the 4T trail signs from Oregon Health & Science University’s space-age tram station).

The best views in town usually come with a bill at the end of a meal. But the Marquam Trail will leave you feeling just a bit more satisfied having that beer at the end of the hike, since you put in the sweat to earn it. About a minute into the Marquam Shelter Trail ascent, you’ll feel like you’re on a hike far from the streets of downtown. Thick vegetation provides shade all the way up the switchbacks and carpets the deep ravines. However, the sudden, jarring sight of giant homes is a reminder that you haven’t left the city. It may feel as though you’re sneaking through the backyards of people who make a lot more money than you do. Don’t worry. You’re not actually trespassing. 

The summit is Council Crest, where a group of ministers believed the area’s Native Americans must have held council. They didn’t, but there’s a nice view from the stone circle near the middle of the park. Signs direct your gaze toward four mountains, and the cityscape stretches out below. You can then look forward to the downhill return.

Post-trail ale: Walk to the Oregon Zoo MAX station and ride light rail downtown, where there are plenty of nearby breweries. Try one you’ve never been to, like maybe Fat Head’s (131 NW 13th Ave., 820-7721), which just opened last year. The Trailhead Pale Ale seems fitting if it’s on tap.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge: Urban Oddities Galore

The hike: Very easy, about 3 miles.

The trailhead: Sellwood Park, Southeast 7th Avenue and Miller Street.

Some Portland metro-area hikes allow you to feel as though you’ve abandoned civilization, at least temporarily. But Oaks Bottom offers constant reminders that this wildlife refuge is surrounded by city. The marshland was saved from development in 1969 when the city of Portland purchased it from a company that wanted a park of the industrial kind. It sits on an old construction landfill, but where else can you pass by a haven for dozens of species of birds; an old, eight-story mausoleum with a mural; and a Ferris wheel on a single outdoor excursion?

That massive structure with the bird mural on it is Wilhelm’s Portland Memorial Funeral Home, a historic building that houses seemingly endless rows of urns and even a grand tomb. At night, if you circle around to where the route meets the Springwater Trail on the Willamette River, you’re at the eerie confluence of a warehouse of human remains and a closed amusement park. 

Post-trail ale: Given the name of the refuge, Lompoc’s Oaks Bottom Public House (1621 SE Bybee Blvd., 232-1728) seems a natural fit. But if you haven’t tried 13 Virtues Brewing (6410 SE Milwaukie Ave., 239-8544), it’s worth a stop for its award-winning weizenbock.

Tryon Creek State Park: Suburban Sanctuary Stuffed With Nature Worshippers

The hike: Easy, with a few hills that’ll get you breathing, about 3 miles.

The trailhead: Tryon Creek State Park (11321 SW Terwilliger Blvd.)

There’s a stone wall at the park’s Nature Center that reminds hikers what can be gained during a visit: “You’ll always find something young—a leaf, a thought, a new life.” You’ll also always find plenty of company, since the location is a couple of miles off I-5, which means the trail can get as clogged as Northwest 23rd Avenue. Regardless, the more than 650 acres allow you to shed the city and slip into nature in an eye blink.

Multiple routes await inside this thick forest of rolling hills and ravines. Among 8 miles of hiking trails and 3.5 miles of horse trails, you could take a different path every visit. And there’s an abundance of wildlife,  from the tapping of woodpeckers to baby owls emerging from their trees. Try the Horse Loop—which takes you near the creek, across several bridges and through an obstacle course of horseshit—and the Old Main Trail, called the Old Man Trail by some because of the uphill slog toward the end of the route.

Post-trail ale: Sasquatch Brewing Company (6440 SW Capitol Highway, 402-1999) is a mere nine minutes away. And if the brewery’s namesake beast did live in Oregon, Tryon Creek wouldn’t be a bad place to call home.


Twelve Radlers and Shandies, Ranked | Cliff Jumps and High Dives Near Portland

Do Something Awesome Every Day Until Labor Day Best Hot Dogs in Portland

Six Urban Hikes (and Bars for After) Drink, Smoke in the Park

Explore the Islands of the Willamette | Discover Your Favorite Skatepark

Islands in the Stream

Islands are the kind of thing that Jay Z buys Beyoncé for her birthday. Why? Because they are the perfect thing to make people look at you longingly from a distance and softly mumble in jealousy. Whether you rented a boat (we recommend Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe) or you were romantic and foolish enough to buy one of your own, this is where it will shine. You can chuckle at shore-huggers from a quiet plot in the middle of the mighty Willamette River, which contains many obscure islands trodden upon only by the brave few.

Here is our guide to the great islands of the Willamette, from south to north.

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Goat Island (A)

The Willamette’s southernmost island before the falls is large and wooded, with empty Styrofoam teriyaki beef containers and a small, creepily hand-painted, children’s Christmas stocking near the fire pit in the center. It has rocky beaches, and it generally hurts to walk barefoot.

What it’s named after: Goats, which were not on it when we went there and it is not shaped like.

Wildlife: Home to 30 heron nests. Predators abound.

Appropriate activities: Bird watching, stone skipping on the rocky east beach, kidnapping.

Cedar Island (B)

A long, thin island with a lagoon, Cedar Island can be accessed from West Linn by a floating footbridge for a good portion of the year, which makes it a boring island because you have a boat and want to feel special. Here’s the thing—on its north side, it offers amazing views of the Cedaroak boat ramp, where one can sip Rolling Rock on the beach and laugh as embarrassed idiots attempt to back their boat trailers slowly into the water, only for things to go all wonky at the last second.

What it’s named after: Trees.

Wildlife: Adventurous normal people without boats, North American male egos, trees.

Appropriate activities: Anchor and fish in the small lagoon, lay on the beach, or watch incompetent people put in/take out boats from the river.

Oak/Hog Island (C)

Google Maps says Oak Island—labeled on a sign on the wooded island—is called “Hog Island” and I don’t know why. Then again, I have always called it “that place where Southwest Portland teens in Billabong shorts anchor Dad’s massive wakeboard boat and blast Lil Jon.” Who knows who is right at this point. The small island, located pretty far south of Portland, near Marylhurst University, is very rocky except for a tiny beach on the west side, where Daddy’s boats frequently block access.

What it’s named after: Also trees. Or, if you believe Google Maps, pink mammals with sad eyes.

Wildlife: Angsty teenage wakeboarders, squirrels.

Appropriate activities: Skipping rocks on the east side, shotgunning tallboys of Keystone with unambiguously underage boaters on the west side, sitting in a gently shaded clearing in the middle.

Elk Rock Island (D)

Apparently, East Burnside got a boat. The large dance hall from the early 1900s is gone, but Elk Rock Island proudly carries on its party traditions, despite the city’s wishes. The big island, equal parts trailed forest, rocky outcropping and sandy beach, raises the question, “Who doesn’t want to hang out by a fire pit near a tree spray-painted ‘4:20’ and surrounded by broken glass?”

What it’s named after: Native Americans allegedly used to run elk off of Elk Rock proper (across the river) and then retrieve them from the river to eat them. This island had rocks too, and was sort of near there. No elk, though.

Wildlife: Stoned urban teens with canoes, various export beer bottles and their shards, hardy trees and shrubbery.

Appropriate activities:Island stuff, partying.

East Island (E)

Private property.

What it’s named after:It’s east of Ross Island.

Wildlife: You’re only allowed to know about the trees and shrubs.

Appropriate activities:Trespassing.

Ross Island (F)

(including Hardtack and Toe islands)

Ah, Ross Island, home to the only lagoon in Portland where I can easily imagine the Terminator drowning. The beachy, post-industrial shell of an island—45 acres of which were donated to the city by local business magnate Robert B. Pamplin Jr. after Ross Island Sand & Gravel Company dug all the money out of the middle and then felt kind of bad about it—is where happy libertarians anchor their pirate ships and yell things about the government…while floating on a river the government owns.

What it’s named after: Oregon pioneer Sherry Ross, who raised dairy cows there before it was a money pit.

Wildlife: Radioactive ghost cows, industrial waste, 50 species of birds, including the bald eagle—intrepid symbol of American capitalism.

Appropriate activities:Anchoring for lunch, long walks on the beach, pretending things have always been this way.

Swan Island (G)

Despite the fact that pesky landlubbers can make it there easier than you can with your mildewy Boston Whaler, the industrial Swan peninsula is relatively nice. Home to a loggy and remarkably underutilized beachfront, the former home of the Swan Island Municipal Airport is itself pretty ugly to look at, so just turn your gaze northwest, where you can watch the Willamette roll by, along with the occasional beer can from upstream.

What it’s named after: It was once a beautiful island with trumpeter swans on it. Now it’s an industrial, manmade peninsula.

Wildlife: Forklifts, Teamsters and the occasional osprey.

Appropriate activities: Beach-blanket picnics, triumphant floating arrivals to pick up your significant other who lives in Northeast Portland, train watching.

Sauvie Island (H)

Portland’s largest island will have you thanking God you can get to famed, clothing-optional Collins Beach by sea, because our pumpkin-patch Manhattan otherwise offers 20,000-plus acres of painful commuting via automobile.

What it’s named after: French dairyman Laurent Sauvé, whose name we refuse to spell correctly, even though we totally know it.

Wildlife: Home to a 12,000-acre fish-and-game reserve, Sauvie Island hosts hundreds of species of natural Oregon wildlife—including old, wrinkly, naked people and other dangling berries.

Appropriate activities: Long (naked) walks on the beach, brief (naked) beach naps, relaxing (naked) picnics in the wild.

Twelve Radlers and Shandies, Ranked| Cliff Jumps and High Dives Near Portland

Do Something Awesome Every Day Until Labor DayBest Hot Dogs in Portland

Six Urban Hikes (and Bars for After) | Drink, Smoke in the Park

Explore the Islands of the Willamette | Discover Your Favorite Skatepark

The 5 Myths About Portland Apartments

The accusations ring out in bars. The gripes spill onto Internet comment threads. And the complaints echo like angry yodels down the newly built canyons of Southeast Division Street and North Williams Avenue. 
The backlash against Portland’s apartment boom runs deep, if not silent. And the myths people voice are as predictable as sneering hatred of Californians.
The case goes like this:
Fancy new apartments are making the city more expensive. Renters are being kicked out of cheap houses so greedy developers can smash them and build grotesquely oversized homes.
We need rent control to quell the skyrocketing prices.
We could keep working-class people in the city by forcing developers to build affordable housing. 
And then the heart of the argument: Portland would be less expensive—and better—if neighborhoods stopped changing.
It’s likely you believe a few—maybe all—of these things.
Here’s why you’re wrong.

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Myth 1: New apartments are raising the cost of rent.

Apartments don’t raise rents. People do. And like Buddhism warned us, they do it the same way that people ruin everything: with desire.

When you curse an apartment building like Burnside 26 for charging $1,336 a month for a studio, you’re confusing cause and effect: thinking the developers caused a pricey apartment building by constructing it.

That’s so wrong that when we called local economists to ask them about it, three of them laughed at us.

“Force them to remember the economics class they slept through freshman year,” says Portland economist Joe Cortright.

Pencils down: What causes the price of anything to go up isn’t a new supply, but the strength of demand for a product that’s in short supply. Long before developers broke ground on Burnside 26, Portland apartments became extremely hard to find.

Portland housing has been hot for a while. By 2011, this city’s rental market was the tightest in the nation.

Last year, the number of apartments available for rent at any given time hit a record low of 2.8 percent, says real-estate brokerage Marcus & Millichap.

With so few units available, tenants have no leverage—landlords can charge more.

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“It’s like musical chairs,” Cortright says. “If you don’t add more chairs to the game, people get squeezed out of the game.”

If it makes you feel better, you can still blame greedy developers for this
shortage. That’s because for most of the past decade, developers weren’t building apartments—they were building condos, and taking rental units off the market and selling them as condos.

When the mortgage bubble burst in 2008, people wanted apartments again. So did the newcomers flooding to a city hyped by every publication from The New York Times to Kinfolk magazine. But Portland didn’t have many apartments left, and nobody built any new ones during the recession.

Developers have finally started adding new apartments—increasing construction from 518 rental units in 2011 to 4,413 in 2014.

But the population continues to grow, and Portland added 30,500 jobs last year, nearing a 15-year high. So the supply of new apartments still hasn’t caught up to the demand of people who want them. (See chart above.)

Until the supply of new apartments jumps way ahead of demand, rents will keep rising.

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Myth 2: The rash of home teardowns is destroying affordable housing.

Few trends boil the blood of Portlanders like developers ripping down old homes and replacing them with monster houses.

If you and three roommates just moved your drum kit and yourselves from a beat-up party house so the owner could raze it and build a McMansion, you too might feel a convenient impulse toward historic preservation.

 

“On average, replacement houses are nearly twice the size of what existed before demolition,” wrote Denise Bartelt last August for preservation group Restore Oregon. “Most replacement housing contributes to rising home prices.”

But there’s one problem with the idea that teardowns are a force in making the city more costly. The numbers show it can’t be true.

In the past five years, developers tore down 929 single-family homes, according to the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

That’s just 0.6 percent of the city’s total number of single-family homes, not nearly enough homes to move the needle on rental rates. (See chart in Myth #1, above.)

Developers then built 2,002 new housing units on those cleared lots. Twice as many households now live on the same land.

Don’t forget: The battlegrounds over teardowns are some of the city’s richest neighborhoods.

“If you look at the median price of a house in Eastmoreland,” says Portland State University urban studies professor Ethan Seltzer, “and you claim that tearing one down is reducing affordability, that’s patently ridiculous.”

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Myth 3: Rent control is the answer.

When you get the notice from your landlord that he’s hiking your rent $50 a month, you might fire off an angry email to City Hall, demanding somebody make him stop.

You’re a private in the wild-eyed, tie-dyed army fighting for rent control.

Maybe you’ll win. (Probably not.) But rent control in other cities hasn’t changed the reality of rents rising everywhere else. Instead, it creates a bubble in which you can float around while ignoring a wider problem.

“Rent control is an Econ 101-level policy disaster,” says Jerry Johnson, who runs the Portland real-estate consulting firm Johnson Economics. “If you happen to get one of the rent-controlled units, good for you. But it’s basically a lottery of who wins and who loses.”

Sure, maybe you get to protect your lower rent, and the California refugees
fleeing the drought and pestilence of Silicon Valley pay more. But rent control is a trap. Now you have to stay.

Rent control means the only place in your neighborhood you can afford is the one you’re already in. That means problems when people change jobs, need to live near a hospital, or simply want to start over.

San Francisco—where the average apartment rents for $2,834 a month—has the nightmare scenario of rent control. Many landlords either evict tenants or keep apartments empty. Roughly one in 12 housing units in San Francisco sit vacant, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. (See chart above.)

“Has that really been effective at solving their problems?” asks Tim Duy, an economics professor at the University of Oregon. “No. You think you’re helping people, but you’€™re constraining the stock of affordable housing.”€ 

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Myth 4: We can solve the problem by making developers build affordable apartments.

OK, so you’re not a narcissist who wants to keep your rent cheap at the expense of everybody else.

But you also want Portland not to become a city only for people who can
afford Apple Watches and Teslas. So the question is, how can government get developers to build affordable housing?

One trendy idea: Force them.

“Development is a not a right, it’s a privilege,” says Jonathan Ostar, executive director of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon. “There are many reasons why folks are being priced out of the city. One reason is the inability of Portland to use a tool like inclusionary zoning.”

Inclusionary zoning is a policy that requires developers to make a certain percentage of any development affordable to poor and working-class people.

Oregon is one of two states—Texas is the other—that bans cities from mandating inclusionary zoning. State lawmakers are now trying to end that ban.

The policy could work in Portland. Because it ties affordable housing to the
market, it works best in a building boom, like the one we have now. But it’s no silver bullet.

In the roughly 500 cities that have tried inclusionary zoning, the policy has proven to be a powerful but complicated tool. Set the rules too lenient and developers wiggle out of building affordable units. Make it too strict and they don’t build at all.

“It costs you nothing as a politician,” Johnson says. “I can go to a ribbon-cutting and show you the units. But I’ve basically made everything cost more for the people who didn’t win the lottery.”

Often, there aren’t many units to show. In 2014, Seattle city officials conducted a survey to see how many affordable homes and apartments were built in the previous four years by similarly sized cities, including Portland.

Six of those cities had inclusionary zoning. Portland mostly used taxpayer
financing from urban renewal areas. (See chart above.) None of those
cities produced as many affordable housing units as Portland.

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Myth 5: Portland should just stay the same.

Portland was designed to grow up—literally.

The city has limits to how much it can expand—a border around the city that declares where homes must stop to protect farms and forests.

The urban growth boundary is what keeps Portland from sprawling into endless tracts of suburban houses, like Phoenix or Los Angeles.

It also means that when the city gets bigger, it must pack in new people within the existing land, by increasing housing density.

“If you don’t let developers build out, they’re going to build up,” Duy says. “And if you don’t let them build up or build out, then prices are going to rise fairly quickly.”

Portlanders are proud of the urban growth boundary—until its effects reach their neighborhoods.

In the mid-1980s, Lake Oswego developer Phil Morford bulldozed old houses in Northwest Portland and bulldozed them to erect more than 70 row-house units.

People hated Morford’s row houses for the same reason they now loathe fancy apartments: They blamed the new buildings for raising rents and ruining a neighborhood.

The developments also help stop sprawl.

Ted Reid, a planner for regional government Metro, predicts the Portland area will need 200,000 new housing units over the next 20 years. He says if just half those units are single-family houses, the urban growth boundary would need to balloon outward by 4,000 acres every six years. Each time, we’d be adding a city the size of Forest Grove.

Reid says any scenario where Portland doesn’t add new apartments would make the city’s central neighborhoods astronomically expensive.

“People would continue to move here,” he says. “People would continue to have children. You’d create a situation where the city would become unaffordable to all but the very wealthy.”

In fact, the policy decision that would most rapidly lower housing costs is changing Portland zoning code to allow more apartments to be constructed in neighborhoods where only single-family homes are allowed.

That’s something city planners are doing cautiously. But good luck to the Portland politician who must fight door to door with homeowners when the next neighborhoods start changing: St. Johns, Sellwood and even Lents.

It’ll be ugly—unless you learn to love the apartments that are so easy to hate. 

[For a testimonial from one of the residents of Burnside 26, click here.]

 

A Gallery of New Apartment Buildings in Portland

photos by Aaron Mesh

Grow Up, Portland

They pop up seemingly overnight, multiplying faster than food carts on every street corner in the city.

Just a whisper of them transforms normally mild-mannered Portlanders into fire-breathing Trotskyites. Politicians and economists can’t stomp them out. They make the rent too damn high.

No, we’re not talking about all these new apartment buildings.

We’re talking about the myths, misconceptions and misinformation too many people spread about all these new apartment buildings

No contemporary Portland phenomenon, except perhaps Carrie Brownstein, has been as regularly and unfairly slandered in the past year than the beige-and-cream bunkers landing like alien pods equipped with Little Big Burgers.

Related: We’ve Officially Determined When Old Portland Died

Witness, for example, the hot-as-hell anger over a Web commercial for a new building, Burnside 26, and the even more intense response two weeks ago when one writer, Tyler Hurst, on wweek.com defended his decision to live there.

And then there are those “truths” about all these new apartments—that they are ruining Portland.

WW wrote about the apartment crunch four years ago, and, at the time, experts said the market wasn’€™t yet ready for a building boom of new units (“€œRenter’s Hell,”€ WW, Dec. 7, 2011).

Developers built 4,413 rental units last year, says real-estate brokerage Marcus & Millichap—the most added here in more than a decade. They’re on pace to erect 6,100 units this year.

And it’s true that Portland faces a serious problem with the cost of housing. The average rent for an apartment in Portland jumped into the thousand-dollar-a-month club last year. It’s at $1,070 a month, a 7 percent jump in a year.

What is really going on here?

We invited Hurst to expand on his online post that lit a fuse with so many people outraged by the apartment boom, examining the uncomfortable truths behind all the anger.

And we peel back the myths about the boom itself and look at the well-meaning but nonetheless wrong ideas about housing. Our apartment buildings—for years low-slung and affordable—are growing up and, for many, out of reach.

Grow Up, Portland:  

Why My Apartment is Good for Portland  

The 5 Myths about Portland Apartments