Title 21 lessons from Portland

IMG_0710I was lucky enough to be raised in beautiful homes full of character and humaness.  Cleveland, my birth alma matter, has some wonderful architecture, strong community centers, open spaces, and in general was designed for people not big box corporations. Anchorage, my home, lacks in both design and humaness, and Saskia and I are constantly on the look out for examples we could replicate here.  With the final passage of title 21 this week after ten years of political swagger and back door deals to water down the communities vision in Anchorage 2020, I thought I would share some projects in Portland from a trip a while back.  I’m sure I will write more in depth on each of these subjects, but for now I think they address two of Anchorage’s biggest challenges, infill and mixed use development and transitional housing for the homeless.IMG_0726

Have you ever met some one and thought, I want to be just like him when I grow up.  I look up to and admire many people, but Mark Lakeman is that guy IMG_0755for me. His work is visionary, impressive, and persistently good for all of us while he is just one of the commons.  I first heard of Mark years ago through, and I think he is most known for City Repair.  I, however, want to share a couple of projects he and/or his firm Communitecture participated in.

IMG_0705One of the last back door deals to pass with out public involvement in title 21, Anchorage’s land use code, was something I believe is a step forward.  A provision to allow non-attached mother-in-law apartments in most zoning districts.  Great!  Although I don’t think I could ever put my mother-in-law in an apartment on the back 40, I do think this is a great step forward towards more progressive land use and infill development.  The downside I see is on the implementation side, and more buildings and dwellings being built in this town with money as the only guide.  These are some pictures from two projects in Portland Sabin Green and Peninsula Park I think could offer some inspiration on infill development.


The other project I wanted to share is Dignity Village.  This place is amazing!  A self governed homeless camp where the residents have their own dwellings, a sense of community, and pay for their own rent and utilities.  The rules are simple, no drugs or alcohol on site, no violence, no disruptive behavior, and every one must contribute to the community.  The people I met who lived here were friendly and proud.  Some gardened for the community, some built bird houses to sell, in all they said they loved living there and worked hard to do so, but would leave to be on their own as soon as possible.  That’s just it, people don’t live in Dignity Village for ever like some conservative might pundit, they have a safe place to rebuild until they can move out on their own and allow room for the next person in need.IMG_0053

Although I’m just scratching the surface on these projects, I think they are appropriate for our town with our challenges and the newly adopted Title 21.


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