Tag Archives: rent increase

The Bloom Is Off the Rose City

Since Alice and I arrived as mid-Atlantic transplants to the Left Coast almost three years ago, driving around, through and beyond Portland has revealed a downside of the Rose City.  Over 600,000 of the city’s residents – over 2.3 million are cramped inside a flexible, but meticulously zoned, metro area – populate this formerly pristine forested area. Many locals reveal a thoughtlessness attendant to litterbugs who discard fast-food trash and cigarette butts carelessly.  Franchised McDonald’s and Burger Kings are high-stakes fixtures to some of the worst body shapes we’ve seen in America.

Our patio reflects Alice’s care and love of gardening. But what’s next door?
Next door, garbage is piled outside, attracting vermin and flies, and dog waste accumulates in the backyard. The apartment’s residents use the patio as a smoking area — yech!  And complaints go unheeded.

“Portland is the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country,” say a myriad of surveys comparing growth here with the rest of the country.  City administrators wring their hands about a town that grew into a city and now create “zero-death” goals, because driver impatience or carelessness no longer resolutely yields to pedestrians and bicyclists.  Freeways have become obsolete, because of bumper-to-bumper traffic on all roads leading into and out of downtown.  City fathers and mothers speak openly about charging everyone a mileage toll for driving on city streets, enforced by mandatory GPS counters.

Homeless beggars jockey for freeway exits to display their homemade signs pleading for money.  Buildings sprout upward at an astonishing rate, with new construction closing lanes around almost every block.  Artists and people on fixed income complain about being priced out by the workers from high-tech industries, the two largest being Intel Corp. and Nike.

Most bridges across the Willamette River that bind the East and West sides together are always under construction in one form or another, as a nonstop crush of trucks, cars and buses steadily pound the newly added improvements into submission.  Portland’s traffic ranking is worse than Philadelphia.

Driveways inside apartment complexes as well as residential streets are pocked with speed bumps, serving as automated enforcement of sensible speed limits.  Portland police do not have the manpower to enforce restricted lane-changing.  The turn lanes of downtown roads onto stop-and-go freeways outgrew their capacity years ago, and there is no room to add new infrastructure to accommodate exasperated recent arrivals.

The TV series “Portlandia” reflects the Chamber of Commerce image of the area; it serves as “Fake News.”

I have seen the urban side of the Great Northwest here, and the future doesn’t portend well.  As an Uber driver over two years, I shared Betsy, our 2010 Ford Escape, with almost 3,000 riders and now realize this West Coast enclave has capitulated to the millennial nerd rush from Silicon Valley, California.  With matching prices to boot, greed rules the mindset of today’s landlords and homeowners in the Rose City area.  Alice and I are struggling to keep up with rising rents in our complex adjacent to a busy freeway.  And visitors from Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco say it’s even worse there.

Here’s the good news: We found a place that would accommodate us nicely and not flaunt our presence.  Two weeks ago, we made an offer to buy a two-story townhouse (listed as a condominium) in a quiet neighborhood 40 miles from Portland, where the unfettered sound of freeway traffic, police and ambulance sirens will become an unpleasant memory.  I will not elaborate more yet, because we await word from the Veterans Administration to see if we qualify for a mortgage with no money down.

We do not wish to jinx our prospects, because the universe is working on our behalf.

Now it’s time to savor our reclining years.  It’s also time to get off my duff and write a book in earnest about my life.  Because Betsy’s air conditioning system is scheduled for repair on July 17, I will have time, albeit involuntary, to reinvigorate my creative juices.  Alice will also feel more independent with the car at her disposal.

Wish us godspeed.

We Are Moving

A funny thing happened to Alice and me while preparing a post about pinot noir wines in the Portland vicinity.

The roof caved in.

Tandem Property Management, our landlord, formally announced plans to raise our rent more than 50 percent – from $1,050 to $1,600.  Before last weekend began, though, the property manager onsite promised we could lower the increase by $200 if we agree to move to a next-door remodeled apartment when our lease expires.

We salivated at the bait thrown before us, but on Monday, July 20th, as we prepared to bite into the offer, we learned an additional sizable security deposit would be required.  As well, we must use professional movers to complete our end of the deal, and other contingencies were raised to destroy any hopes we might return to the apartment we dearly love.

With one hand, they offered salvation; then applying the other, Tandem took hope away.

Emotions on display

Alice was distraught.  I watched as her voice broke – almost going into tears – after she realized how empty Tandem’s offer really was.  We both tried to explain the difficulty this rent increase posed to Alice’s medical recovery, but the property manager didn’t bat an eye.

The land barons of Hillsboro, who affectionately call this area the Silicon Forest because of Intel’s corporate presence, are doubling down on their perception that well-heeled geeks will flood the area.  And somehow, we’re being punished for touting the Portland area on this website.

Consequently, we advise anyone attracted to move here, “Caveat emptor.”  Let the buyer beware.

On Monday afternoon, we made a good-faith deposit on a different apartment just outside Hillsboro but closer to Portland.  It is far away from the KinderCare location where Alice forged a bond with its toddlers and babies.

Everyone will miss one another.  But we cannot stay and be tempted any longer by the mirage that an affordable apartment exists here for us and Millie, the cat.

We will have to pony up a larger security deposit than ever before to make this move.  Somehow, we’ll do it, keeping in mind the following: We are merely pawns in the real estate appreciation game being played in Portland.

Plaudits to dependable friends

Some good friends stepped up and are helping Alice and me survive this change in environs.  Their names: Pauletta and Terry Hoffman, and Diane and Scott Chill.  The Hoffmans are inspirational cheerleaders, and the Chills led us to a suitable apartment complex where we will make our future home.

Unconscionable increases in rent are turning Portland into an unenviable place, and websites are springing up warning prospective new residents about the pitfalls here.  A Google search turns up some interesting links when you key in the following phrase: “Should I move to Portland”.

You’ll see some of the bad, as well as some of the good.  And for something more personal, this blog should do.

In the photo on top, I’m waving goodbye to the first-floor apartment that Alice turned into a showplace.  The attractive landscaping is performed regularly by Mexican-American helpers who obey Tandem’s instructions as best they can.

In less than a month, all our possessions will be moved from the inside, and any subtle reminders denoting we lived here – including our homespun welcome mat – will be gone forever.

Here’s the good news: At our new location, we can barbecue outside on a charcoal grill.

The flaming barbecue in Doylestown will soon become part of our Portland apartment life.
The flaming barbecue in Doylestown will soon become part of Portland apartment living.

Raising the Rent

Do you know the meaning of the word, “unconscionable?”

That sort of thing can happen to you no matter where you live, whether it be in the money-desperate East Coast, or the fascinating ambience reputed to be exuded in Portland.

What is happening to us already is taking place in downtown Portland.

We thought we were safe, but the fast-growth city of Hillsboro, now above 95,000, appears to be vulnerable, due to our proximity to Intel Corp.  The demon appeared to us surrounded by Gummi Bears that have the same false flavor as the handmade card above them.

The card read “We can’t bear to see you leave. Please stay for another year” (accompanied by an image of a teddybear).

The card and Gummi Bears, all hung by a piece of blue tape quietly placed upon our apartment’s front door prior to the Independence Day weekend, were accompanied by a faded letter that detailed a new rental price structure.

You can see those prices on our landlord’s website here.

Our floor plan matches that of the Devonshire.  So the real message we received says: Alice and I have until August 25 to decide whether we can continue to stay in our apartment.

If we do, we’ll pay an additional $550 to our current $1,050 monthly rent, more than a 50 percent increase.  And we must execute a 9-12-month lease to lock in that rate.

If we don’t agree to renewing our lease, we will be charged an additional $750 on top of our $1,050 – a total of $1,800 – on a month-to-month basis, effective September 1.

No wonder I was asked recently how Alice is coming along after her stroke.  I expressed optimism in response, but I’m the one who is worked up into a lather.

And that’s how we got to this point.  Doesn’t Tandem Property Management worry what kind of image this stroke of greed exudes while we try to pay off our medical bills?

That’s the definition of “unconscionable.”

Consequently, we are looking for a new place where Alice’s vision can take root and allow us to contribute to a city called Portland.

If you know a suitable place where the two of us can be comfortable, a cat can roam happily, and that contains congenial neighbors of different generations, drop me a line at [email protected]

We pull our fair share wherever we go, and will continue to do so. But the vibes here reek of greed.