Pics: How Light Rail Changes a Neighborhood

A website called Debunkingportland.com has collected a series of photographs showing people what Light Rail/Smart Growth looks like in your neighborhood. See photo index page here.

One of the scenes captured is the rise of super high density dull looking apartment buildings — which looks a lot like the old beaucratic public housing projects of the sixties with a new makeover to make it look good.

Another example of ugly high density crammed housing…

Here are some photos of how Light rail interferes with the natural pedestrain flows of a neighborhood, and does so in a very unsightly way with miles of gates, chains, blocked traffic, and NO WALK signs.


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Posted by at 08:20 | Posted in Measure 37 | 26 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • NME

    Those homes just look so impersonal. It reflects the impersonality of such policies.

  • Jane

    My neice’s cute home, jumped in value after a light rail station opened a couple of blocks from it. She can walk to her grocery store, take light rail to her job down town, return to her large lot with flowers and trees. Selective photos to illustrate what? Go to Hillsboro and take photos of the great housing near that light rail hub..well designed with a beautiful town commons.

    • Richard

      Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. I guess your neice lives in one the older homes one with the nice yard, and lots of privacy. She can walk to grocery store great which one! Natures Northwest, What if she lie me need to what the budget and have to shop at Winco or what if see needs to buy a bottle of fish sauce, Tonkatsu sauce. Most of the item you average grocery store does not not carry it. You need to go to Uwajimaya in Beaverton, (Light rail to Beaverton then Bus 54 or walk), In addition ion have tired to carry four bags of grocery for the story to home, or using the bus. I can tell you from my experiences (1992 to 2001) is hectic and many time I have to do without because of the weight.

      Lets’ talk about jobs. You niece can commute to work, is it down town Hillsboro or Portland. What happens if se loses her job and has to work for High tech. Intel may be tolerable but many tech job I work are in Tigard or Hillsboro. Many areas are not served by Light rail. My commute from Rock creek to job in Lake Oswego took 1.5 hours to work and 2 to 3 hour back home. Finally I cracked, and learned how to drive and got my first drivers license at the age of 40 and bought a old Bronco, after that the commute takes no longer than 45 minutes.

      No let talk about Hosing, I been though those of Hillsboro, The new housing has no privacy , No yards noting but a concrete jungle, not to mention Condos do not keep there value and the HOA effectively cancels out any benefit of ownership. The kicker is the cost for the privilege of living in a concrete ghetto that something out of soviet era block hosing weigh better landscaping. There some ranging Around 145,000 Bethany ghetto condominiums, what 100,000 for a studio and any house with a decent yard or not start around 200,000 to 350,000. If I want to find anything affordable, I have to go out to Vernonia or perhaps I can luck out in Buxton.

      In the end what you cal beautiful is more of a nightmare for me.

      • Richard

        Sorry for the misspellings, It is a rush job. It is teh what I can do with my seven minutes of break time.

    • Ted Kennedy’s Liver

      Paulie/Jane – I have the feeling your neice is about as real as the name you posted under.

    • jim karlock

      *Jane:* My neice’s cute home, jumped in value
      *JK:* I’m sure she will be glad to see her property taxes increase!

      *Jane:* after a light rail station opened a couple of blocks from it. She can walk to her grocery store, take light rail to her job down town, return to her large lot
      *JK:* Of course you don’t really get the genuine light rail experience unless you live in a 4 story condo at the station with no yard except a little gang riddled commons area.

      *Jane:* with flowers and trees.
      *JK:* How do you carry trees on the toy train (toys cost too much and do too little)

      *Jane:* Go to Hillsboro and take photos of the great housing near that light rail hub.
      *JK:* I did. They are giant ugly apartments as far as the eye can see. Is there something there that you like?

      *Jane:* …well designed with a beautiful town commons.
      *JK:* Glad to hear they have a commons – is it crime free? What about private spaces, like back yards – big enough to enjoy? Or is privacy forbidden in the new Portland? How does the runoff per home there compare to, say, a typical 1 acre lot’s runoff? Same for impervious surface?

      BTW, which government agency or developer do you work for?

      Thanks
      JK

  • NME

    Look at those houses. No backyard, no porch, no place to put outside flowers, no place to put a tiny MR. pool for the kids. It is sterile, cramped and without life. The windows look out five feet to the neighbors windows. Yuck!

  • CRAWDUDE

    Unfortunately every criminal in town can make the same trips with less honorable intentions than taking pictures.

    Try riding the MAX after dark and let me know what you see……it won’t be a lot of great scenery that’s for sure.

    Meanwhile our roads crumble due to the money being put into light rail.

  • Jerry

    All you light rail crazies have to admit one thing – the vehicular traffic on every road in Oregon has actually increased as soon as the light rail lines open.
    Great idea….wonderful solution…how proud I am.

    • Anonymous

      Jerry-

      If you look at the studies of light rail and traffic congestion projections- Traffic congestion is increasing because the population is increasing and freight transport is increasing.

      Light rail and mass transit ease congestion, but until we have a comprehensive network of light rail, buses and street cars that can take people quickly anywhere they need to go in a reliable manner, it will continue to be under-utilized (ie. won’t ease congestion as much as it will when people feel they can rely on the system to get where they need to go).

      There is great potential for expanding mass transit as a means of easing traffic congestion (of course doesn’t help freight mobility). Your assessment that mass transit actuallly makes traffic congestion worse is not logical and makes me laugh. Show me the study.

      • Brad Rydman

        Anonymous-
        Evidently you didn’t click on the first link in the story, otherwise you would have read the studies that contradict your assertions that mass transit eases congestion. It most certainly does not. The CATO Institute recently released a policy analysis by Randall O’Toole that deals specifically with the problems with Portland’s integrated land-use and transportation plans. Look it up……

      • jim karlock

        *Anonymous:* If you look at the studies of light rail and traffic congestion projections- Traffic congestion is increasing because the population is increasing and freight transport is increasing.
        *JK:* And the government REFUSES to increase road capacity, although they increase water and sewer capacity and private companies increase electric and phone capacity. Therefore the government is causing the congestion by refusing to increase road capacity.

        *Anonymous:* Light rail and mass transit ease congestion
        *JK:* Where did you hear that? MAX reduces congestion by about 1/3 of one lane of a freeway for several times the cost of a lane of freeway. See DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/RailAttractsDrivers2.htm

        *Anonymous:* but until we have a comprehensive network of light rail, buses and street cars that can take people quickly anywhere they need to go in a reliable manner
        *JK:* A transport mode that stops every block or two for a minute or so simply cannot ever take people anywhere quickly. People forget that when Portland had the most comprehensive network of transit that it ever had, people left it in droves for something better: the car. That was about 80 years ago. Cars won – transit lost. Freedom won – socialism lost. Get over it.

        *Anonymous:* There is great potential for expanding mass transit as a means of easing traffic congestion (of course doesn’t help freight mobility). Your assessment that mass transit actuallly makes traffic congestion worse is not logical and makes me laugh. Show me the study.
        *JK:* Why don’t you show us the study that mass transit reduces congestion in circumstances similar to Portland, not Hong Kong, Paris, London or NYC.

        Thanks
        JK

  • Dave A.

    I can hardly wait until I retire in another 32 months and be long gone from the Portland area. Just about everything I found desireable about this area 19 years ago is long gone.
    The roads are a sorry joke – especially if you travel and see what other major metro areas are like.
    I almost NEVER use public transit. As a long time small business owner, TriMet does not serve me well. Why take two busses and kill 85-95 minutes each way to work when I can do the same trip in a car in 25-35 minutes most days? I won’t even mention that if I work late, the trip becomes even longer to complete due to reduced service after 6:00 P.M.
    We are fortunate to live in a nice home in a great area where the lots average 10-12,000 square feet. None of those crappy crackerbox row houses are anywhere near us.
    Did any one ever notice that most of these dumps have little or no public parking? Or that most only have a single car garage and no yard to speak of? What a horrid place to raise kids. No wonder so many families are moving to Vancouver,WA where the schools aren’t always in “crisis” mode and the homes are on decent size lots.

  • Rich

    Want more mass transit, spend the money on buses. Buses are versatile. If something happens that closes a street on a buses route, it can re-route, not so for rail. Buses are also far far more cost effective, and less invasive to the over all traffic flow. This isn’t New York, and I for one don’t want it to be. Like N.Y. that lifestyle appealing to you? Move there, if you can afford it, don’t bring it here.

    • Problem with the BUS

      The problem with the bus is efficiency is inverse proportional to number of riders. I remember many times from 1997 to 2001 taking bus 51 from Beaverton to 185th and Rock Creek after 9:00pm I was the only passenger on the bus once the bus left 160th and Farmington to Rock Creek. A trip around 7 miles. latter I seen the bus pass with no passengers.

  • Chief Wahoo

    Many thanks are due to Jim Karlock at Debunkingportland.ocm for his dedicated and tireless work documenting issues like this that the urban myths surrounding Portland’s much daunted Loot Rail system always fail to mention.

    If you liked this, go and read about some of the other extensive studies Jim has conducted at his site about loot rail, Portland’s Streetcar, the Columbia Crossing Project, and more.

    Well done Jim!

  • Jerry

    Thanks Brad. These people are so sold on the idiotic idea of light rail that they can not possibly even admit that there might be problems. Ask anyone who actually lives near a light rail line if they have noticed any improvements in their lives. Just ask them.
    If you drew a crime map and push pinned each incident there would be pins all along the light rail lines in Portland. Where else can a criminal get a free ride back home??
    I feel sorry for fools who are so completely clueless about this stuff that they can not even admit that all is not well. Those rose-colored prescription glasses must be nice…

    • Brad Rydman

      Jerry-
      Don’t mention it. What none of these pro-mass transit folks seem to understand is that the powers-that-be behind the integrated land-use and transportation plans have intentionally increased traffic congestion specifically to be able to sell the idea of mass transit to the general public and to justify the massive amounts of tax monies they’ve wasted on pet projects like light rail. Of course it has the potential to ease the increased congestion. But just think where we would all be if they hadn’t increased it to begin with, and had instead spent that money the way it was supposed to be spent- improving the roads and highways. Another fine example of our tax dollars at work…….

  • r huse

    Light Rail, given the costs per mile will never make more sense than buses. The problem is, buses are unglamorous and solve the problem, there is nothing to tinker with, no experts to be called and no ridiculously overpaid Davis Bacon act union jobs provided.

    That said, it readily becomes apparent why the housing in the area is straight out of Architectural Digest, North Korean edition.

  • Captain_Anon

    that website that is sited obviously has an ax to grind and can’t be taken seriously. it only shows the ‘truth’ it wants to project. it ignores studies to the contrary and alters facts to fit its objective.

    but let’s be reasonable people and look at what was posted. those photographs, so what? you can find the same ugly development ALL OVER Hillsboro, Beaverton, Gresham, Tigard etc. that’s the free market for you: developers putting in the absolute minimum to achieve maximum profit. that’s not the fault of light rail. there are MANY great projects around light rail stations that the developers put care into the aesthetics of it and came out with a good project. there are other projects where the local cities had regulations that required decent design and would not allow the crap that most developers build. want boxy crap like housing? go all over the suburbs. most of the housing is crap. decent house design died in the 1950’s except for the very high end market.

    people who live along interstate ave enjoy the vitality the light rail brought. Lents is seeing revitalization as an outcome of the light rail being built along 205. Downtown hillsboro has seen it’s downtown revitalize. mississippi avenue has come alive as a result of its proximity to the interstate line.

    Property values jumped in value along interstate. higher property taxes? oh no! so what? they have so much more equity in thier home it will more than cover any increase in property values. many of the property taxes are frozen anyway. also state law limits the amount property taxes can increase. do i don’t see that as a burden at all. especially when they sell thier home they will realize a 50-100% increase in ther vaule of thier home not too shabby. how can that possibly be seen as a negative? increased net value? oh no!

    what humors me about many of the comments for this article are the condemnation of architecture and style of new buildings. yet, the same crowd will undoubtedly support giving local government controls to require decent design standards. so you condemn the product, but refuse to fix the problem. good job guys.

    and we can talk about road construction and congestion too. why is it so congested? because developers are platting huge subdivisions and refusing to pay for the infrastructure needed to handle it. if all those subdivisions in hillsboro and beaverton were required to also shoulder the cost of the car trips being put into the existing system, you’d see better roads, less congestion etc. but developers refuse. and the home builders association fights any attempt to require developers to pay thier fair share of the cost. in fact, the HBA and the developers lobby local government to pay for the infrastructure – such as in pleasant valley where the city agreed to pay 26 million for infrastructure improvements do developers can put in an additional 400 to 500 homes. why should the city of gresham pay for the impact those developers and homeowners will put on the system? and even at that, thier true cost – such as congestion further down the line in the existing system – can’t be recouped under current oregon law.

    furthermore, the cost to add right of way and roads and the time it takes to build is much longer than building light rail – where most of the ROW is already owned and doesn’t need to be obtained. with current land prices, the price to condemn land for new lanes is astronomical – but rarely gets federal matching funds like light rail does. banks like stability. and knowing where the light rail line is going to be brings in investment dollars – something that is harder to grab with buses. stability and predictability invigorate investment.

    I looked over that website and it’s a joke. his stats don’t match, he uses biased group’s (such as home builders associations) studies etc. it doesn’t take much to debunk http://www.Debunkingportland.com.

    until you can look at both sides of the argument fairly, you’ll never have an effective or decent discussion.

    • Angry_Northwesterner

      Property values jumped in value along interstate. higher property taxes? oh no! so what? they have so much more equity in thier home it will more than cover any increase in property values. many of the property taxes are frozen anyway. also state law limits the amount property taxes can increase. do i don’t see that as a burden at all. especially when they sell thier home they will realize a 50-100% increase in ther vaule of thier home not too shabby. how can that possibly be seen as a negative? increased net value? oh no!

      What a pathetically typical liberl minded thing to say. Amazing, are you really that econmically challenged? What in the world does the equity in your home have to do with paying current month to month or bi-yearly expenses? People have an income, and that income is taxed. IF property taxes go up then you have to pay them. You don’t just go and dip into the equity of your home, even if it has gone up, just to pay month to month taxes! DUH! Oh wait, that would be what the class warfare minded liberals would like. Yet this attitude cuts off the very money source that liberals think they see!

      And what good does that do if you do have to re-fi? Now your probably just paying a larger mortgage as well! What a door knob. Yes, if their home values went up because of the light rail my advice would be something like a stock market investor, sell now when you can get that additional value and run like the wind from Portland.

      • Capt_Anon

        Angry NW – property value increases are capped. so the taxes aren’t going to jump. But even if they did, i wouldn’t feel bad for them. owning a home bring so many tax breaks its not even funny. it’s a good thing actually. the interest is deductible and so is the property taxes. so either way, the owner gets a big break – often having more overall deductions in taxible income than they normally would. so it’s a wash, if not a benefit. What the home owners get instead is a windfall for when they sell, OR, they can use thier leverage to build more wealth. even while interest rates have increased, they are still historically low. you could take the equity out and use it to purchase a rental property or put into anotehr high yield investment. there is plenty of opportunity out there to create wealth. the light rail is helping people do that as a matter of fact.

        richard – there are still plenty of single-family dwelilngs throughout the entire metro area. 5000 square foot lots, 7000 square foot lots. even larger. single-family homes are still being built along the max lines as well. remember this. this is a market driven economy. metro sets policy. cities make zoning codes with significant citizen imput. what your’e seeing here on this board is that people are angry they are in the minority. regardless, a developer doesn’t necessarily have to build high density housing. they could build low density development. however, the MARKET and profits are driving high denisty along the lines. people want to live there. people are creating a demand. if they weren’t, the units wouldn’t sell and banks would stop loaning on the projects. simple economics.

        Nastyman – wow, great line of arguments you used. way to understand economics, land use, the free market, and property taxes.

        Jerry – again you resort to insults without any coherent argument – well, not ANY argument actually. no debate from you, just name calling. and for the record. i have a yearly pass and use Max and street car often. pretty much whenever i go downtown or to NW which is fairly often. not that its your business anyway.

        like i said. until people start to engage in the facts, start to hold honest debate, your cause will go no where. screaming how you hate metro, hate government etc will not help. the comments thrown out by most on the forum aren’t based on ANY facts, don’t use any critical thinking, and really boil down to hate. it’s very interesting. Steve plunk and sometimes crawdude are two of the few who will actually engage in intelligent debate. so, kudos to them even though i disagree with much of what they say.

    • Richard

      Have it occurred to you the problem is due to Metro zoning only high density developments When was last ttime the developers we allow to build a sing density home with a two car garage and a big front and back yard. It is metro pushing a high number of residents per acer without building the rods to support the developments in order to foce more mass transit ridership.

    • jim karlock

      *Captain_Anon* that website that is sited obviously has an ax to grind and can’t be taken seriously. it only shows the ‘truth’ it wants to project. it ignores studies to the contrary and alters facts to fit its objective.
      *JK* That is what the city planners do. As to that web site – got any credible evidence against any claim there? Show it. Sierra Club and other multinational environmental corporations don’t count. Neither does that guy in Victoria.

      *Captain_Anon* but let’s be reasonable people and look at what was posted. those photographs, so what? you can find the same ugly development ALL OVER Hillsboro, Beaverton, Gresham, Tigard etc.
      *JK* But, below you say that crap wouldn’t get built without the toy train. So we can conclude that this crap would not be built here with out the toy train. No train, no crappy development.

      *Captain_Anon* that’s the free market for you: developers putting in the absolute minimum to achieve maximum profit.
      *JK* No it’s not. The free market would offer more than tiny lots. Metro is forcing the tiny lots and forcing high land prices with its artificial land shortage.

      *Captain_Anon* people who live along interstate ave enjoy the vitality the light rail brought.
      *JK* What vitality? Oh you mean the vitality that comes when you shove money to developers to build garbage that no one except deluded city planners want? Any development that is occurring is due to the forgiveness of property taxes. It is a nice demostration of just how destructive taxes really are to our whole society. See: DebunkingPortland.com/Transit/LightRailDevelopment.htm

      *Captain_Anon* Lents is seeing revitalization as an outcome of the light rail being built along 205.
      *JK* That has been a urban renewal district for years. The fact that the toy train took money from local streets only hurt the neighborhood.

      *Captain_Anon* Downtown hillsboro has seen it’s downtown revitalize.
      *JK* Let me guess – its an urban renewal district.

      *Captain_Anon* mississippi avenue has come alive as a result of its proximity to the interstate line.
      *JK* What crap. That neighborhood has been coming up slowly for years. You must be a PDC PR person to believe such junk.

      *Captain_Anon* Property values jumped in value along interstate. higher property taxes? oh no! so what? they have so much more equity in thier home it will more than cover any increase in property values.
      …. also state law limits the amount property taxes can increase. do i don’t see that as a burden at all. especially when they sell thier home they will realize a 50-100% increase in ther vaule of thier home not too shabby. how can that possibly be seen as a negative? increased net value? oh no!
      *JK* Renters will be tossed out by higher rent. Why didn’t you mention that?

      *As to those lucky home owners – they will be forced to borrow or sell to pay the new higher taxes. Since they live in a low value neighborhood, they probably will not have enough from the sale (and two sets or commissions) to afford another home.*

      *Captain_Anon* many of the property taxes are frozen anyway.
      *JK* Where did you get that crap? The only thing frozen is the amount of tax money reaching basic services in an urban renewal district.

      *Captain_Anon* and we can talk about road construction and congestion too. why is it so congested?
      *JK* Because Metro spends 1 BILLION on a West Side toy train that carries about 1/3 of one freeway worth of people. Had that money been spent on roads, their would probably be no congestion problem.

      *Captain_Anon* why should the city of gresham pay for the impact those developers and homeowners will put on the system?
      *JK* Because nobody wants that crap except the city planners, so the city has to foot the bill to get it built. If the city didn’t foot the bill nothing would get built until the city allowed the building of what people really want: 1/4 acre lots, not skinny lots.

      *Captain_Anon* furthermore, the cost to add right of way and roads and the time it takes to build is much longer than building light rail – where most of the ROW is already owned and doesn’t need to be obtained. with current land prices, the price to condemn land for new lanes is astronomical – but rarely gets federal matching funds like light rail does.
      *JK* Another crappy argument that ignores the fact that one track actually carries 1/3 of one lane of freeway. Use that rail width’s worth of land to add a lane and you will get about 3 times as much transportation effect. Oh, and there is federal money available for roads, Metro just doesn’t want it.

      *Captain_Anon* banks like stability. and knowing where the light rail line is going to be brings in investment dollars – something that is harder to grab with buses. stability and predictability invigorate investment.
      *JK* Pure Planner BS. It is the free government money that causes the development, not the toy train.

      *Captain_Anon* I looked over that website and it’s a joke. his stats don’t match, he uses biased group’s (such as home builders associations) studies etc. it doesn’t take much to debunk http://www.Debunkingportland.com.
      *JK* Then why don’t you do it instead of spewing planner’s ad hominems.

      Thanks
      JK

  • Nasty Man

    Hey Captain Anon! Are you one of those jerks working for Metro or the PDC? You ceratinly could have fooled me. Thanks so much for passing the Metro/Planner dweeb Koolaid – You FRAUD!

  • Jerry

    Yeah, this anon guy is always taking the side of big, bloated government, unions, do-nothing politicos, left-wing wackos, etc. What he said above is no surprise.
    I wonder, anon, how often you ride light rail???
    Do you pay the fare?
    Enlighten us poor fools who have not the ability to see things so clearly. Just how many times in the last year? Are you willing to tell the truth on this?
    We all wait with eager anticipation to see just how wonderful you really think light rail is.
    What is your usage?

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