A coalition of concerned citizens will gather this Sunday to protest a decision made by the Portland Development Commission (PDC) that will further exacerbate gentrification in the neighborhoods of North and Northeast Portland.
Date: Sunday, November 17
Time: 11am – 1pm
Location: Northwest corner of MLK and Alberta
The PDC has voted to give away $2.4 million in taxpayer dollars to a billionaire family for the development of the national grocery chain on Northeast Martin Luther King Boulevard and Alberta. In this age of service reductions, school closures, layoffs and budget cuts, the PDC hopes this subsidy for billionaires – which includes the co-owner of LA Lakers who is pursuing acquisition of his 3rd professional sports team – will trickle down to benefit the “under-served community.”
This development will occur in one of the fastest gentrifying zip codes in the nation (where rental vacancy times have recently dropped to a stunning eight days). Over the past decades, the PDC has contributed to the rapid displacement of traditionally African American and low-income residents living in North and Northeast Portland. This abuse of taxpayers dollars will continue to fuel a massive amount of new private investments – micro-apartments, skyrocketing rents, real estate speculation, that will continue to transform this community into an unlivable red-line for low-income residents.
There are obvious concerns about whether the PDC should subsidize Majestic Realty Company when there are 4 grocery stores that offer commercial and organic choices within a mile and a half of the site. There are true food deserts in our city, mostly in East Portland, that continue to be overlooked for equitable public resources.
In addition, this deal constructed by the Portland Development Commission was far from transparent. The recommendation for a grocery store project was developed by a committee over a decade ago. No public forum has been provided to re-evaluate this recommendation in over 5 years. The general public was not informed of the ‘mystery grocery store’ until days before the PDC Board brought their secret agreement to a vote.
Despite a long history of unfulfilled promises for remedies, the city bureaucracy has failed to see this property as an opportunity to bring together neighbors and community members affected by gentrification about what our vision is, for our public land.
We must try harder to hold the PDC to higher standards – more accountability, more transparency, and stronger focus on equity.