When we were ready to buy, The Spouse worked 2 doors down and I was teaching all of 4 blocks away from our rental house. Obviously we didn't want to move far, but as we quickly learned, a house that would hold all of us in a condition the banks would accept couldn't easily be found nearby. Portland is a city full of groovy, cool, and very hip neighborhoods and it quickly became clear that we wouldn't be living in any of them. We made the very un-cool choice of looking to the east. We learned that home prices dropped $20-30,000 just east of the I-205 freeway and that there were in fact lovely homes to be had in Parkrose. Our neighborhood is far from hip but it turned out to be one of the few places relatively close to our places of work where we could get a decent-sized house. And a lovely home it is.
But--there's almost nothing here. A great fabric store, a wonderful hardware store, and a good-sized Vietnamese market but no regular grocery, no restaurants I'd eat in and, saddest of all, not one decent coffee shop. There's a little coffee place attached to a huge church/motel complex down the road but I haven't visited because I just don't need Jesus with my coffee, thanks.
Our neighborhood is poorly lit with no sidewalks. People drive their kids just a few blocks to school because parents understandably don't want them killed walking on the streets. No bike paths, almost no parks, really very little that would cause you to get out of your car and meet your neighbors. The only reason I know anyone around here is due to conversations about my wandering cat.
But, ever so slowly, it seems that things are starting to happen. Graduate students from Portland State University's urban planning department began a conversation on neighborhood improvement here a couple of years ago though, honestly, I'm not sure where that's gone. Last spring a farmers market opened up, operating every Saturday May through October in the high school parking lot. This isn't your typical Portland market brimming with organic produce, fine coffee, and artisan breads and cheeses. In fact, the coffee is truly awful but since the concession belongs to the family that worked so hard to get the market up and running, I say let them have it (even though I just can't drink the stuff). The produce is local if not organic, and it's lovely to see my neighbors out in full force on market day.
And now it seems that perhaps City Hall is finally willing to concede that we are, in fact, part of the city. Not only a part, but possibly the most diverse and dynamic part, according to a recent Oregonian article which claims:
The article further details the Portland City Council's newly adopted East Portland Action Plan which addresses details relating to development including:
The area, with a population of more than 125,000, is growing twice as fast as the city in general. In the last decade, nearly half of all single-family housing and one-third of the apartment units built in the city have gone up here. And residents have complained about the low quality of much of the development.The area also is becoming more racially diverse at a faster rate than the city as a whole, and low-income families are swelling the schools.
parks, public safety and transportation in eastside neighborhoods. It calls for more sidewalks, street lighting and storefront improvements, for example.Sidewalks, which most of Portland takes for granted, would be a huge improvement. Maybe then I'd meet more of my neighbors on my morning walks, rather than watch them drive by in their cars.