Wednesday, February 05, 2014

No Jobs, No Fresh Vegetables, Just A Vacant Lot

Trader Joe's was chased out of a Portland neighborhood, why--because it wasn't black enough, or something?
Trader Joe’s wanted to build a new store in Portland, Oregon. Instead of heading to a tony neighborhood downtown or towards the suburbs, the popular West Coast grocer chose a struggling area of Northeast Portland.

The company selected two acres along Martin Luther King Blvd. that had been vacant for decades. It seemed like the perfect place to create jobs, improve customer options and beautify the neighborhood. City officials, the business community, and residents all seemed thrilled with the plan. Then some community organizers caught wind of it.

The fact that most members of the Portland African-American Leadership Forum didn’t live in the neighborhood was beside the point. “This is a people’s movement for African-Americans and other communities, for self-determination,” member Avel Gordly said in a press conference. Even the NAACP piled on, railing against the project as a “case study in gentrification.” (The area is about 25 percent African-American.)

After a few months of racially tinged accusations and angry demands, Trader Joe’s decided it wasn’t worth the hassle...

Hours after Trader Joe’s pulled out, PAALF leaders arrived at a previously scheduled press conference trying to process what just happened. The group re-issued demands that the now-cancelled development include affordable housing, mandated jobs based on race, and a small-business slush fund. Instead, the only demand being met is two fallow acres and a lot of anger from the people who actually live nearby.
I'm reminded of a quote on my Favorite Quotes list, and it applies to PAALF and their ilk:
The urge to save humanity is almost always a false-front for the urge to rule it.”
--H. L. Mencken
I'm sure the PAALF folks will tell you they've done a great, selfless service for the community in question.


maxutils said...

How ridiculous ... first, that Portland, food truck capitol of the nation, would reject a Trader Joe's ... it's perfect for the city. I've visited the city several times, and the NE quadrant is definitely the most depressed one would think that would be a great place to put their store ...especially since another complaint regularly raised by community activists in neighborhoods like these is that there is commonly no easy access to nutritious, fresh food. Add to that, the jobs created, and the fact that TJ's mission statement, from the owner was that he "wanted teachers [and presumably others with similar salaries] to be able to eat well. They are a good organization. As to affordable housing? This falls in to my pet peeve category. ALL housing is affordable, because if it isn't, it stays vacant ... until the seller/leaser decides that's no good and lowers the price until it's affordable to someone. It's really a euphemism for 'subsidized' housing, as someone is taking a hit .

allen (in Michigan) said...

I wouldn't use the word "ridiculous" to describe the situation. "Tragedy" seems more appropriate but the situation does support my contention, and broad generality, that every increase in government power is accompanied by increases in abuses of that power.

The obvious take-away is that government should always be kept on a short leash, since abuses will inevitably result from any loosening of that restraint. When necessity demands an increase in government power that increase must be carefully defined and taken away immediately after the necessity passes. Even under those circumstance the abuses will still occur but they'll be constrained by the duration of those temporary expansions of power.

This being an education-oriented blog the most obvious candidate for attention as an unwarranted expansion of government power is the public education system. Fortunately the error made in the establishment of a public education system seems to be in the process of being rescinded. However, those who favor endless expansion of government power do seem to have a significant head start but I'm an optimist and believe the essentially childish belief that government can be a substitute for mom and dad is in the process of losing its grip on the electorate.

pseudotsuga said...

My mind is boggled by this. Could these PAALF people not see beyond the color of their own noses to see how they shot themselves in their own feet? Well done, useful idiots...

allen (in Michigan) said...

ALL housing is affordable, because if it isn't, it stays vacant

With the exception of housing in areas ruled by rent-control policies. There the housing isn't affordable by the builders of rental housing so the supply of housing doesn't expand and landlords are incentivized to let their holdings deteriorate because the only way, in many cases, to get any profits out of their holdings is to skimp on maintenance. As the buildings deteriorate the renters who can afford better do so leaving people who are willing to accept rotting housing.

The damaging effects of rent control spread to surrounding businesses since the income of tenants is on a downward slope which makes the area even less livable.

Santa Monica, CA, from what I understand, is a bit of a "poster child" for the damaging effects of rent control.

maxutils said...

allen ... two brief points: in this case it was not the government imposing on TJ's, but rather TJ's not wanting to need battle the community activists...we had a similar battle in Sacramento where NIMBY protestors, were concerned about traffic flow and parking ...but in this case, TJ's was able to find a different location, nearby. Why these community protestors would be against having a really good grocery store that baffles me though.

As to my comment about affordable housing? You're right, and I don't favor rent control laws ... but if new housing is created, the rent can be whatever the market will bear, and only then is controlled. Same is true anytime someone moves out... and there are options for the landlord, such as going condo. I definitely provides a disincentive for the landlord, to properly maintain the buildings, though.