As I am writing this article, outside my window is a perfect scenic view of the Portland skyline. If I look straight ahead, the tallest building I see is the Wells Fargo Center. Far away to my right, I can see a growing skyline at the South Waterfront.
As I am writing this article, outside my window is a perfect scenic view of the Portland skyline. If I look straight ahead, the tallest building I see is the Wells Fargo Center. Far away to my right, I can see a growing skyline at the South Waterfront. To my left is something less appealing to me—lots of McMansions in the West Hills, mostly empty due to foreclosures. But this article is not about estate sales, and it is not about the beautiful Pacific Northwestern skyline. It’s about the on-campus housing building that is in the works at Portland State.
An article published by the Vanguard [“More university housing for fall 2012,” Oct. 15] stated that this building “to be named College Station, will likely be located at Southwest Sixth Avenue and College Street and house approximately 950 students. Housing officials estimate that the facility will open in the fall of 2012.”
Now, I do not have any problem with more student housing. In fact, I think we should build enough student housing to complement the increase of students at PSU, and I agree completely with the University Housing initiative to collaborate with ASPSU on the development of more family housing, as well as the possibility of graduate student housing.
However, I do disagree on one point. Why on earth are we not building a larger building? You would think a need for more student housing would be less of a problem, since a taller building could hold more students. It would be more practical to have more rooms to accommodate more students and less land will be used.
According to the article, “Like Broadway, the new facility will also incorporate eco-friendly amenities and bicycle storage space. It will also be mixed-use, with retail space and offices on the lower levels and badge-access-only housing on the higher floors.”
None of this is bad. In fact, Portland is one of the healthiest and most sustainable cities in the nation. But unfortunately, with the rapid increase in population from our favorite Californians—and others, of course—we don’t have all the land in the world.
Portland, like all cities, is required to have a 20-year supply of land. According to ORS, 197.296, Oregon law requires fast-growing cities—cities with populations over 25,000—and metropolitan service districts to include enough build able land for the next 20 years of residential growth within their urban growth boundaries. Yet another reason why taller buildings would make more sense.
And just how fast is Portland growing anyways?
The population inside the urban growth boundary grew 22 percent in the 1990s to 1.2 million. In the first 16 years of the growth boundary, Portland added 3,000 acres to its urbanized area. In just the past three years, Portland has loosened its belt again to add 4,000 more. The area within the growth boundary now comprises 236,313 acres.
I understand the need for suburban families to have enough space for raising children, but I am not talking about that. I am talking about PSU building affordable housing for students. I am not saying we should build skyscrapers to house students. I just hope that people would come to a realization that property needs to be used differently nowadays. We may have extra rooms now due to students staying at home to cut the costs of living expenses, but we need to look at this in the long run. A 950-room building can go an extra mile and house a few more.