An article on “grist” makes the case that the transition from neighborhood-based retail to big boxes is one of the contributors to increasing per-capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and makes the case for a return to neighborhood retail as a way to combat global warming.
65 responses to “One of the Secrets to Lower VMT: Neighborhood Retail”
I don’t know if the experience of Oregonians would provide any clue as to how well this will work.
Oregon, at least in my lifetime, has been one of THE hardest hit states, employment wise, in the whole country. Enlightened place to live–yes, but economically viable…no. Therefore I think more and more Oregonians have become bargain conscious—and that means driving somewhere and loading up the bargains. It might be interesting to note that the chain, Dollar Tree, has emerged as a top US corporation. As of November 1, 2008, Dollar Tree operates 3,591 stores in the 48 contiguous states.It’s a sign of the times.
And all across the US more and more people—caught between rising costs that they have no control over– have resorted to shopping for bargains at the consumer level.
Maybe Dollar Tree, CostCo, Big Lots, Bi-Mart, Home Depot, Rite Aid, Wahlgreens, etc. should start a delivery service?
If indeed global warming is a serious issue, (and not just a fact of more of the world’s ice than the current 90 per cent ending up in Antarctica) then electric vehicles would probably be a good choice, Supposedly an all electric vehicle is far easier to maintain and service and should be a lot cheaper to produce. I continue to support the idea of double decker electric powered buses–plus the idea of double decker buses as regional service options. The technology is already in place for feasible electric service and the battery systems will improve. The Bush administration developed a stainless steel electric low floor design.
But if neighborhood retailers can compete against the big discounters why not?
But if neighborhood retailers can compete against the big discounters why not?
I think the bigger problem so far is that rather than work with retailers like those to open central locations within walking distance of people (or better yet, in mixed use buildings) Portland has done a lot to push those types of businesses out of the city.
Home Depot was looking at being the anchor of the Burnside Bridgehead project for example, as part of a mixed use development. Portland as I understand it didn’t want a retailer like Home Depot involved, and without Home Depot’s commitment private developers installed backed out as well.
I know that I’ve seen Rite Aid, WalGreens, and Dollar Trees all as retail ground floor in other areas, but Portland’s small block sizes would probably prevent that from working for Home Depot, WalMart or CostCo. It does seem it might be a good idea to work with companies like those rather than push them to the suburbs.
Chris Smith: An article on “grist” makes the case that the transition from neighborhood-based retail to big boxes is one of the contributors to increasing per-capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and makes the case for a return to neighborhood retail as a way to combat global warming.
JK: Just a few problems here (as one would expect from “Grist”.)
1. Keeping costs low requires large volumes which requires a lot of customers. A wide range of product choices also requires a lot of customers.
2. Neighborhood retail cannot compete because they do not have the many thousands of customers required within walking distance. But if you want real walkable, it isn’t just the number of customers required to support a Winco, it is also the number of customers required for a Winco, a Fred Meyer and a Wal-Mart all added together and within walking distance. If you do not have that many people, you will not get three or more stores and there will be no competetion to keep prices low.
3. Such a population density will require everyone live in condo towers like in B.C. Who wants to spend a Million or two dollars on a little thousand sq ft home so you can save a little energy?
4. So what if we drive more? Driving allows us to trade off a few dollars worth of fuel for many more dollars of savings. That is one way we increase our standard of living – getting more for our money.
5. Wal-Mart (kinda like a bigger, lower priced Fred Meyer, without the phony club card), unlike most other big box stores lets us get oil, tires, paint, cell phones, cameras, bikes, guns, garden supplies & equipment, TV sets, clothes and food all in one stop. That reduces VMT.
6. OF course there is no real reason to reduce VMT, since we can accomplish the stated goals of energy (and thus CO2) reduction with more efficient cars. Like Europe. Much cheaper and more likely to succeed than forcing people to change their life styles. (Of course this may not accomplish any hidden goals the promoters of reduced V MT may have.)
Portland has made determined efforts to keep big box stores out of downtown – how is that working for you? Can you get discount groceries, any hardware, etc. in downtown Portland or the Pearl? Didn’t think so. Simply eliminating big box stores MAKES people drive further, as the old time small business type hardware stores are a thing of the past anywhere. Wishing won’t make them reappear.
I find the examples in the article laughable. Yes, you can get a tea shop and a restaurant to move in (and often fail after a year or two), and a small convenience store that sells fresh produce. But I can brew my own tea and make sandwiches at home. What I need is place to pick up picture hangers, printer cartridges, stock up on food for the freezer to reduce trips, etc.
I think those planning an urban environment need to realize that they can’t simply zone out any large grocery store or big box store and still have a full range of products for the residents.
I toured the Street of Dreams last week in the Pearl. My thoughts were that living at the north end of the Pearl meant living in a retail desert as sparse as any suburb. Living closer to Powell’s Books meant more restaurants and entertainment options, but still is pretty much a desert for many of the things you need to buy a few times a month. And if you can get them, it is at a store that has NO COMPETITION. Competition and large volume is what keeps prices low.
Portland has effectively created an urban environment where you MUST drive/take multiple buses to buy stuff, or shop at a place with very high prices and no competition.
What is the fuel cost of having to mail order everything you need vs. driving 10 miles to a big box store?
There are low price, limited stock, small store business models out there which can and do work in local markets.
The prime example I can think of is ALDI, a European grocer which has 1,000 plus stores in the US. Unlike 7-11, the stores carry fresh meat and produce – just not a Fred Meyer or Safeway like selection. Like WalMart, the chain is hyper-vigilant about keeping costs down. The bottom line is that customers who live near the stores can meet their daily needs at reasonable prices, but have to shop elsewhere for something special.
Delivery services should, in theory, be more efficient than individuals driving several miles for a print cartridge. The problem is that consumers often buy on impulse or don’t plan ahead. So 7-11 thrives, Amazon makes a bundle on premium shipping, and Albertsons makes the real money from end-of-aisle displays and by keeping milk as far away from entry doors as possible.
My wife and I toured the Street last week, too, and had similar thoughts as WB. I was appalled at the shallowness of the über expensive refrigerators and the current vogue for putting ovens on the floor. The point is that these places were neither designed nor located for people that actually cook food.
The bottom line is that walkable/bikeable, mostly self-contained neighborhoods can work, but need to come about organically. Government planning can provide the seed, but residents and businesses need to tend the garden.
living at the north end of the Pearl meant living in a retail desert as sparse as any suburb. Living closer to Powell’s Books meant more restaurants and entertainment options, but still is pretty much a desert for many of the things you need to buy a few times a month.
Let’s see: Groceries: short walk to Safeway at 13th and Lovejoy, longer walk to Whole Foods at 12th and Couch, long walk or short bike ride to Trader Joe’s at 21st and Glisan; a bit further to Zupans at 23rd and Burnside, Freddy’s at 20th and Burnside, and Food Front at 23rd and Thurman.
Farmer’s Market: Thirsday afternoon at Eco-trust. Free streetcar ride to Park Blocks Farmers Markets on Wednesday and Saturday.
Hardware: Ace Hardware at 16th and Glisan
Office Supplies: OfficeMax at 14th and Lovejoy
Post Office: 8th and Hoyt (of course, you need to go all the way to 23rd and Lovejoy for FedEx.)
Bookstore: Powell’s (obviously)
Music: Everyday Music at 13th and Burnside
Video Store: Videorama at 12th and Lovejoy.
Library: Fareless Streetcar ride from 11th and Glisan.
Movie Theaters: Mission at 17th and Glisan, Cinema 21 on 21st and Irving — and if you hop on the streetcar, it gets you to Living Room Theaters at 10th and Stark, Fox Tower Cinemas at Park and Taylor, Pioneer Place cinemas, and Broadway Metroplex.
Barbers and Hair stylists: all over the place
Restaurants, taverns and coffee shops: all over the place
Seems like a pretty lively “desert” to me. Not sure what I’d need on a regular basis that I couldn’t walk ten minutes to buy. In fact, I can’t think of many suburbs with that many shopping and entertainment options within a walkable twelve block radius or a short (five to six minute) transit ride.
But Doug–there’s no Wal-Mart in the Pearl. :)
When did a Safeway open in the Pearl? Dang, that must be brand-new construction; it hasn’t been that long since I drove through that immediate area and I didn’t see a thing that looked like Safeway.
Douglas K: Thanks for the list, that makes me feel better for those living there. But unless there is competition, keeping prices low can be a problem.
Most of the options other than for services (restaurants, hair dressers, entertainment, etc.) are chain stores, which is what helps them keep prices low. Some may still price at a premium for their location.
RA Fontes: I am looking forward to ALDI making inroads into US urban areas. The Clark Howard consumer advice radio show has been touting it and others on that model.
As a farm-area gal, I really couldn’t adjust to living in an uber-dense environment. I am currently in a new development in Vancouver, so the lots are small but it is still single-family non-attached housing. Within 1.5 mile I have WinCo for super cheap groceries, Safeway for slightly more upscale, OfficeMax, Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Harbor Freight hardware, a discount movie theater, and all of Westfield Shoppingtown complex, which includes Sears for major appliances and parts, and a variety of clothing stores (but I go there maybe once a year). I have to walk .4 miles to a bus stop if I want to ride part of the way, but that’s little different from the walk folks living in some parts of the Pearl would need to make.
The tradeoff: you can easily buy a large house for $200K, and a small one for less, vs. $400K and up (plus monthly HOA fees) for a condo in the Pearl.
We have been eating out far less, cooking more with the veggies I get from my CSA subscription inspiring me. Restaurant and processed foods cost so much more that, in our case, not eating out saves hundreds of dollars a month, easily enough to support the cost of a vehicle.
But if everyone cooked at home from simple products rather than reheating processed meals, it would cost the economy billions in lost jobs (and weight loss services/products).
Portland is full of our very own big box store: Fred Meyer (now owned by Koger).
Washington Square killed the very diverse retail that once prospered in Multnomah Village; while again doing well, it remains skewed in the not so useful direction that characterizes many older but revitalized commercial districts.
I think it would be fun to live in the Pearl and walk to the places you talk about. In fact I did live close in on the Westside at one point. But that was paying cheap rent in a rooming house…….shared with cockroaches. I recently did find a condo for sale on Front Ave and the price came down to $175,000…but it was only about 600 square feet. Yet this was not representative of typical Pearl prices. Add in the monthly HOA dues ($200-300) and the property taxes and insurance, too, and it starts getting spendy for small digs. On top of that I am a do-it-yourselfer, not having the disposable income to pay for spendy gadgets, so I presently utilize a garage space that is larger than some NW condos. And I have the driveway if I need it. I suppose heating bills would be substantially lower, though. Most Pearl District residents have expensive cars so I would not want to feel out of place. At some point in a person’s life they should feel like they belong in a neighborhood, right?
“In fact, I can’t think of many suburbs with that many shopping and entertainment options within a walkable twelve block radius or a short (five to six minute) transit ride.”
>>>> Beaverton, between MAX and Cedar Hills Blvd. In fact, I take the bus/MAX out there quite often (I live in NW District).
“Home Depot was looking at being the anchor of the Burnside Bridgehead project for example, as part of a mixed use development. Portland as I understand it didn’t want a retailer like Home Depot involved, and without Home Depot’s commitment private developers installed backed out as well.”
>>>> VERY BAD location for ANY big box, and I like big box stores.
Sam Adams once said that he was not opposed to big box stores, but said something to the effect that they have to be in appropriate locations.
JK:“Wal-Mart (kinda like a bigger, lower priced Fred Meyer, without the phony club card), unlike most other big box stores lets us get oil, tires, paint, cell phones, cameras, bikes, guns, garden supplies & equipment, TV sets, clothes and food all in one stop. That reduces VMT.”
ws:Most Wal-Marts locate their stores in “rural-ish” areas. You’re right, you can save money at Wal-Mart, but then you look at your receipt and realize you just saved enough money to cover your gas costs.
How is Wal-Mart one stop shopping? What if I want a gun and and a DVD of Brokeback Mountain? They don’t even carry that title there!
At least with Freddie’s people can walk to the one in NW. A walkable Wal-Mart? Get real.
“Washington Square killed the very diverse retail that once prospered in Multnomah Village; while again doing well, it remains skewed in the not so useful direction that characterizes many older but revitalized commercial districts.”
>>>> Like NW 23rd Avenue. As a resident of the NW District, I am not sorry at all to see the fou fou shops bite the dust. They don’t serve the neighborhood residents well. As one friend said, they are “good times shops.”
wb:“I find the examples in the article laughable. Yes, you can get a tea shop and a restaurant to move in (and often fail after a year or two), and a small convenience store that sells fresh produce. But I can brew my own tea and make sandwiches at home. What I need is place to pick up picture hangers, printer cartridges, stock up on food for the freezer to reduce trips, etc.”
ws:Let me guess, the first time you have ever been to Portland (the actual city) was when you went to the Street of Dreams and you are basing your opinions off of preconceived bias?
There’s and Office Max in the Pearl, Office Depot in downtown, two Safeways one in the Pearl and one in downtwn, a Walgreens in NW, and a dollar tree in NW, a Rite-Aid downtown, a local “Pearl Market”, etc., etc., etc.
What are you basing your opinions off of? Clearly it’s not reality.
I would also argue that many of these “big box” trips would not even need a car. Maybe Freddie’s – which has parking available.
One problem with big box retail coexisting in an urban environment, is that such establishments are often geared towards large, infrequent shopping trips–which generally requires a car to haul the stuff home, even if within walking distance. Part of the economies of scale that makes such places work isn’t just volume discounts with suppliers; it’s lowering transaction cost with consumers–which means encouraging the purchase of lotsa stuff in one trip. And of course, many things bought at Costco can’t be taken on a bus in any case.
Here’s a thought: Many grocery stores now give customers a discount for bringing in their own bags. How about discounts for bringing in your own shopping cart? Personal shopping carts are available for purchase (you can get one at Wal-Mart for $28); encouraging their use would help expand the number of potential trips which are walkable or transit-friendly.
When did a Safeway open in the Pearl?
VERY BAD location for ANY big box, and I like big box stores.
I have to wonder why this would be a bad location for a Home Depot? It’s convenient to the CEID, much closer to the NW Industrial neighborhood than the Jantzen Beach location I used when I was working in that neighborhood, and a fairly convenient location for those close-in on the east side.
The biggest downside I can see is there are some smaller competitors that would likely lose a little business, but a lot of those seem to be more specialized than a Home Depot.
What if I want a gun and and a DVD of Brokeback Mountain? They don’t even carry that title there!
At least with Freddie’s people can walk to the one in NW. A walkable Wal-Mart? Get real.
Just quickly checked WalMart.com, and you can order it from them, but it may not be in all stores. They do offer store-to-store transfer, but that would require planning ahead.
As far as a walkable WalMart, I can think of one that surprised me by it’s location. If you check out the address (1200 Highland Avenue National City, CA 91950), it was close enough to be walking distance to a fairly large Naval base, a single bus transfer from San Diego’s LRT, and basically located in a dense part of one of the older communities of San Diego. There’s another at 5500 Grossmont Center Drive La Mesa, CA 91942, part of a mall across from a LRT stop.
For San Diego, which isn’t known for its walkability, WalMart has done pretty well for locating near LRT when available. They have several locations you’d never use without a car as well, but they seem to be willing to locate to areas people can walk or take a train to.
(And for the record, I haven’t gone to a WalMart I can recall in about 6 years, and that was because I needed a car battery at 10 pm.)
There’s no way the ultra-big box retailers can be located within the urban downtown with their usual footprints like the Costcos, Wal-Marts, and Ikeas.
They should simply be planned to be in an “auto-dependent” zones of cities preferably off of highways and away from other uses, IMO.
There’s no reason why grocery stores, office supply stores, retailers or medium sized convenience stores can’t be in an urban locations, however.
“Most Pearl District residents have expensive cars so I would not want to feel out of place.”
>>>> I once saw on some real estate broker’s site that 34% of the households in the Pearl DID NOT have a car.
“At some point in a person’s life they should feel like they belong in a neighborhood, right?”
>>>> That’s what happened to moderate/middle income people who had rent controlled apts. in Manhattan. They could still brag about their cheap digs, but in fact the neighborhood had ‘moved away’ from them.
Personal shopping carts are available for purchase (you can get one at Wal-Mart for $28); encouraging their use would help expand the number of potential trips which are walkable or transit-friendly.
There is already a group of individuals who frequently travel with their personal shopping carts in tow. They are called hobos.
JTB–what, precisely, is your point? Are you suggesting that urban residents might not want their own cart for grocery trips, on the grounds that they might be mistaken for a homeless person?
Most models of personal cart available for sale are considerably smaller than the models grocery stores make available for patrons (and stolen by homeless persons to ferry round their possessions), and are of suitable size to fit on transit vehicles, in elevators, and through narrow apartment corridors. Granted, you probably won’t be able to fit a week’s worth of groceries for a family of five in one, but you’ll be able to carry much more stuff than you would if simply carrying bags by hand.
WS: I’ve lived in the Portland area since I was born, 50 years ago. Grew up in the rural area around Forest Grove, with weekly trips into North Portland to visit my grandparents. Graduated University of Portland. Worked on Pill Hill since 1981. Gone on volkssport walks around the Pearl and NW Portland approx. every 2 months since 1985.
Now, in all of that, I readily admit that I was never looking at the area from the standpoint of a resident. It’s true that I probably wouldn’t notice new stores that didn’t serve my immediate need for food or art. I am EXTREMELY happy to find out here that there is a Safeway at 13th and Lovejoy. I’ll put that on my mental map for my future walks.
I have been here longer than most and seen it go through all of its changes. Not as a resident, but as a walk-through. I am very happy to see it develop as a walker-friendly environment.
I think the chief advantage of the Pearl would be for those who work downtown or are retired who want lots of nightlife/entertainment options. I prefer waking and walking at early dawn to going out at night, so I’m happy in quiet near-suburbia. And as a plus, I can satisfy 95% of all oof my business and service needs within 1-2 miles of my house. Luckily, I only work 4.5 miles from home, and can take a direct bus there if I need/wish with a 0.4 mile walk to the bus stop. I love that sort of convenience and choice – not just for downtown, but for all neighborhoods.
I’m still not convinced that eliminating existing big box stores will lead to small shops with the same sorts of items returning to neighborhood locations.
Oh, and the Wal-Mart is about 2.5 miles away and I have yet to go there. I guess Vancouver is “rural.”
ws: Let me guess, the first time you have ever been to Portland (the actual city)
JK hate to break the news to you but the city of Portland stretches from just west of the hills to East of 162nd. from the Columbia to Milwauke.
(Let me guess, you have never been outside of the core area and think everyone should live like you do. )
Just a few related thoughts:
For the most part, small businesses can not compete with the big boys. In today’s economy, the price point of the items purchased matters the most and is far more important than where or from who the items are purchased. Whole Foods, Safeway and Farmers Markets on average are all more expensive than WinCo or WalMart. Moreover, at WinCo for example, shopping there is obviously a once a week trip for many families whom can be seen pushing completely full carts through the isles, sometimes two carts full, before checking out and filling their cars. A WinCo or the equivalent in every neighborhood should be the norm instead of taxpayer dollars being used to subsidize the higher priced boutique and specialty grocers in neighborhoods.
Transportation costs and VMTs related to the delivery of goods to small retailers are higher as compared to bigger box retailers.
On average, only about twenty percent of small business customers are walk in. Most small business people want a location where there is parking on the street near the front door, or attached off street parking on site. This was made clear early on in the Sandy Boulevard Study. Some small business even will locate on a high volume street for exposure. This can easily be substantiated in that every time there is a detour due to road or bridge construction (ie: in Sellwood and Oregon City) small businesses complain about a reduction in their trade.
Large one-stop shopping can actually reduce over all VMTs.
Having an extra child in the family has 20 times the carbon footprint/environment impact as does a person that drives daily.
The seat on the airplane for Mayor Adams’ round trip to China has approximately the same carbon footprint/environmental impact as 6 months worth or 5000 miles of driving a newer non-hybrid small car.
Producing the steel rails and digging up the streets to put them in for streetcars or light rail is less than eco friendly and harmful to the environment. It can take decades of operation to offset the negative effects – 166 years for Interstate Max. Additionally, the up front costs continue to be unrecoverable through the fare box thereby placing an undue burden on taxpayers.
I’d hesitate to draw any comparisons involving Manhattan, since the residential density there makes possible many things that aren’t possible elsewhere — but there is a Home Depot in Midtown on 23rd between 5th and 6th; a Best Buy at 5th Avenue off 44th; a Bed Bath and Beyond on 6th Avenue at 18th; and a Staples on 57th near 5th.
Point being, nearly any “big box” or “superstore” can set up in even a super-dense urban area if they have the customers. I don’t think there’s any particular virtue to having one, as long as you can shop for the things you need somewhere close by. If you’re in or near downtown Portland, you have a Freddy’s, an Ace Hardware, a Rite-Aid pharmacy (which I forget to mention on my “conveniences of the Pearl” list), and a variety of places to buy clothes … what need for a Wal-Mart?
On the other hand, I can see a benefit to attracting a few of the smaller “superstores” to downtown, just to create a richer and more diverse shopping environment. It would be nice to have a Best Buy/Circuit City/Fry’s kind of store for home electronics, and a Home Depot or Lowe’s. By and large, though, residents don’t need those kinds of places really close by for regular trips. How many big-screen TVs will you buy in a year? If you live downtown, you can drive to get the stuff that’s too big to carry on a bus, or find a merchant who delivers. (I think IKEA gives a delivery discount if you show up on MAX, and they’re an easy trip on the Red Line).
JK:“(Let me guess, you have never been outside of the core area and think everyone should live like you do. )”
ws:Not even close, actually.
wb:“I’m still not convinced that eliminating existing big box stores will lead to small shops with the same sorts of items returning to neighborhood locations.
Oh, and the Wal-Mart is about 2.5 miles away and I have yet to go there. I guess Vancouver is “rural.””
ws:I don’t know where you’re getting the idea that Portland is critical of big box stores or is trying to get rid of them – even knowing that typical big box “corporate” stores are all around the Pearl.
What do you mean by “eliminate”? I’m happy with an Office Max. Do I really need a custom, overprices paper store? I think most people fall under that sentiment.
Yes, Wal-Mart will always get a hard time no matter what and I agree that they get a huge brunt of the burden.
I could care less if a typical big box store opened up in downtown as long as its development was consistent with the rest of city. That doesn’t mean that the city is abrasive to big box developments, it’s that the typical big box store wants a million parking spots in front, curb cuts for its drive-thrus and what not and large, ugly and distracting signs.
I think the Dollar Store is a terrible place; I’ve never purchased something there that lasted more than 2 weeks to which my items have landed up in landfill. Nonetheless, I am elated they chose their NW location. Do I like the place? Hell no, but it developed in a very nice and sensible way that is consistent with the urban context and surrounding neighborhood.
Now compare the McDonalds directly across the street. It’s parking lot/drive through makes a downright dangerous pedestrian experience (I feel like I’m going to get hit on the sidewalk) not to mention the curb cut outs clog the traffic on Burnside and make a dangerous drive scenario too.
Put that same McDonalds w/o a huge, convection oven parking lot, a continuous (less branded) facade facing the street, street trees, landscaping etc. and you have a much better development.
Same store, but a completely different outcome. Knowing this, I simply do not think a Costco can operate in an urban environment considering the daily vehicle trips (and shear size) that place can generate, to which it would be best suited in an auto-dependent section of a city.
Wal-Marts tend to put their developments where land is cheap – along highways and further out suburban areas. It’s not the only place they go, however. That is what I meant by “rural-ish”.
PS: If you’re wondering why some people are hostile to Big Box stores, it’s because all they have seen from them are ugly developments. The worst part is, when a store of theirs goes out of business, it leaves its branded architectural carcass to infect the whole neighborhood, a la Circuit City, Wal Mart, etc.
Even if a Starbucks shuts down, it at least leaves behind a store that is suitable for another business – a dentist’s office, hair salon, novelty items, etc.
Terry Parker:“A WinCo or the equivalent in every neighborhood should be the norm instead of taxpayer dollars being used to subsidize the higher priced boutique and specialty grocers in neighborhoods.”
ws:The norm? I’d like to see smaller grocery stores where people can walk to them that provide sustenance.
Taxpayers subsidize big box stores all the time. A new big box store wants to come to town and the city government, too excited for new jobs and tax base growth, help fund road improvements, etc. for them:
1 Billion in subsidies to Wal-Mart:
Maybe we can agree that any subsidy is not right, but it’s not a one sided issue.
Terry Parker:“Producing the steel rails and digging up the streets to put them in for streetcars or light rail is less than eco friendly and harmful to the environment. It can take decades of operation to offset the negative effects – 166 years for Interstate Max. Additionally, the up front costs continue to be unrecoverable through the fare box thereby placing an undue burden on taxpayers”
ws:The Interstate Max used for construction/materials – according to the EIS – about 4 trillion BTUs. That’s about 40k new cars being manufactured @ 100 million BTUs a piece. Remember, that’s just the energy need to make the cars, not run them, operate them or maintain its roads.
There were about 7,667,066 cars sold in the US in 2006. That’s almost one quadrillion BTUs used to manufacture cars each year in the US alone. The interstate MAX line should hopefully last a long time.
Big box stores also rely on heavily shipped and trafficked foreign goods, something you’re not including in your statement that “one stop shopping” energy equation. Also, if one walks to three stores for their items in their neighborhood, but one person drives a far distance and does “one stop shopping”, what is the energy equation on that scenario?
The streetcar zealots and car zealots really need to stop obfuscating the issue of sustainability and being “green”. No, a streetcar is not going to save the day, but a big box, auto-dependent lifestyle is not sustainable either and is downright insulting to suggest so.
It is possible to build a better big box. This is America, retailers will and do design their stores differently if they can make money doing so. There are multi-story urban Costcos, Home Depots, and Targets. Target in particular has built a number of these stores, including ones that incorporate space for smaller retailers. Fred Meyer does this as well.
I think it is less about the store itself and more about the form, parking, etc.
Costco tried to build a store in NW Portland and the city ran them out of town. Because of this people now have to drive out to Tigard or to the Airport area to shop there. By the way these two locations are among the busiest in the chain.
An Costco knows how to run an urban store. They have one in both downtown Seattle and Vancouver BC.
I used to live near Hillsdale. The joke was that people would browse the shops there but would drive out to Beaverton to actually buy something.
“the city ran them out of town”
Costco found a parcel of industrial land they liked and wanted it re-zoned for retail. They begged the city to “change the rules just for us” and the City said “no.” I really don’t see how making Costco play by the same rules everyone else has to follow adds up to “running them, out of town.”
ws said: “I’d like to see smaller grocery stores where people can walk to them that provide sustenance.”
Obviously with little choice of product and high prices low income people can not afford.
“Taxpayers subsidize big box stores all the time. A new big box store wants to come to town and the city government, too excited for new jobs and tax base growth, help fund road improvements, etc. for them”
Can you give an example of this in Portland? Sam hates WalMart, but is more than willing to take any grant money they offer.
“The streetcar zealots and car zealots really need to stop obfuscating the issue of sustainability and being “green”. No, a streetcar is not going to save the day, but a big box, auto-dependent lifestyle is not sustainable either and is downright insulting to suggest so.”
Shopping at a one-stop center; be it a big box, shopping center or town center can however cut down on travel, what ever the method, to multiple locations. However, to achieve bona fide sustainability, reducing and eventually flat-lining population growth must be primary part of the conversation – and it currently is not.
WS: I agree that big box typical parking lot developments set way back from the street are monstrous for a walkable environment. A “better big box” frontage such as seen in Orenco Village and Bridgeport Village is far better. And if the big box has good (and used) transit access, then they simply need fewer parking spaces.
Near me, WinCo abandoned the shopping center where Target and BB&B are located. It is particularly hideous for walking access. Not only can’t you enter at the apex of the C-shaped structure, making for a long walk-around when approaching from my neighborhood or the bus stop, but it is even dangerous getting from car to store as the main travel lane goes directly in front of the front doors of the establishments.
Winco moved to a spot just a little further from my house, with better access to the store from the sidewalk from 3 directions. I usually take a neighborhood pedestrian-only path that passes the grade school to get there. But there is also nice access from the greenway trail. I like to grab a backpack to pick up a few items early in the morning, happy that it is open 24 hours. Even friendlier access would be with the store fronting the sidewalk and bus stops with the parking lot recessed behind it or to the side, as you see at the New Seasons at Orenco Station and the Whole Foods at Bridgeport Village. The former Wild Oats at Bridgeport was similar. Those make for much more attractive and pedestrian friendly environments.
The property that Costco was looking to built on is still vacant 15 years later. What’s better vacant underused land near the center of the city that no industrial user seems to want…or a vibrant, bustling Costco store that is reducing driving trips folks are taking to the burbs?
I was taking issue with your statement that the City “ran Costco out of town.” A decision not to rezone a parcel on demand doesn’t come anywhere close to that.
(I’m mentioning who said what to respond to multiple posts in one.)
ws said: There’s no way the ultra-big box retailers can be located within the urban downtown with their usual footprints like the Costcos, Wal-Marts, and Ikeas.
A rough estimate of the size of stores in other urban areas shows that they can. The property that Costco tried to move to is walking distance for a lot of NW. Costco may not be the best place to walk to, but the site has very convenient access to US-30 and the Fremont Bridge.
WalMart has been able to develop on smaller footprints in other urban areas, sometimes with limited parking or a garage, but it’s been done in other areas. The biggest problem they have with opening downtown stores is not finding land, but finding cities willing to let them move into downtown areas.
Ikea tried in Atlanta to open a location in Midtown, amongst high rises and townhouses, and faced opposition from the community. Again, it was small businesses complaining about competing with them.
Ikea has multiple floor locations, and if a developer wants to work with them seem willing to move into most urban areas with enough density (and far enough away from existing Ikeas) to make a profit.
Realistically the CEID area, the Conway site, NW Industrial, or even the Post Office site could all be redeveloped in ways that would allow any big-box retailer to take the first floor, allow for parking above, and condos/apartments or office space above if a developer wanted to build that way.
Douglas said: How many big-screen TVs will you buy in a year?
I typically would go to Fry’s for purchases under $20. If you’re running some Cat5 and realize you’ve run out of end pieces for it, there’s nowhere closer than Wilsonville that I know of to go grab another 50 at a reasonable price.
I may not be typical, but I’d hope I’m not the only computer tech that operates near downtown Portland. We should be finding ways to locate stores like Fry’s closer to downtown, and not pushing them to the far-out suburbs.
Unfortunately, Fry’s doesn’t seem to want to locate in denser neighborhoods, or at least hasn’t so far, so it’s unlikely that they’d locate in the Pearl regardless of if the land was available for them.
Terry said: Whole Foods, Safeway and Farmers Markets on average are all more expensive than WinCo or WalMart.
Lumping Safeway in with Whole Foods or a farmer’s market is somewhat misleading. Safeway is one of the big boys, and their groceries are fairly cheap if you compare them to Fred Meyers (or Vons to Ralph’s, as they’re known in California. Same owners.)
As far as WalMart vs Ikea, I have concerns about the mayor’s opinions on it. For example:
“IKEA provides benefits,” says Adams. “They recycle. They work on energy reduction. They’re a much different business than Wal-Mart.”
They both sell crappy products at the lowest price. I don’t see a difference, other than WalMart had some anti-union problems before. Oddly, they’re now on the same side as a SEIU as far as health care, and have changed a lot since the late 90’s.
Terry said: However, to achieve bona fide sustainability, reducing and eventually flat-lining population growth must be primary part of the conversation – and it currently is not.
How do you propose we flat-line population growth? A 1 child rule? Secede from the US so we can regulate immigration to the state?
Lurker B said: It is possible to build a better big box. This is America, retailers will and do design their stores differently if they can make money doing so.
I agree 100%. If property developers and the store operators work together, and are able to get zoning permission from the city, almost anything is possible. Portland currently limits the square footage of a lot of retail sites (like Cascade Station) to prevent big box retailers from moving in. Over-regulating what we’ll allow to move in is a great way to prevent the best potential use for any given plot of land.
If Cascade Station had been allowed more big box stores, it’s likely that they would have built some parking garages rather than the current one store per footprint that is built now. The aloft Hotel is four floors tall, so I’m sure they could have figured out rooftop parking or something like that without violating FAA height limits, which would have increased the density of development out there, right on a MAX line. We do want more density in Portland, right?
Sorry for the length, but this discussion blew up quick.
“Flat-lining population growth.”
Some modest proposals:
1. Bubble-staters now can’t sell their under-water homes to move to the Northwest. Those who get foreclosed/short sale won’t be able to get a mortgage. That should help stem things for 5 years or so.
2. I hear there is reduced immigration of seasonal laborers due to the world financial crisis. (Still the case, or am I behind the news?)
3. Can’t take out a second mortgage or do a cash-out refi for fertility treatments/IVF/embryo transfer. Many middle class jobs lost, further reducing available cash to spend on fertility treatments as couples try to survive on one income. Only the actually fertile will be able to easily reproduce. A lot fewer multiple births.
4. Swine flu pandemic targets the young and those at maximum fertility ages. If it blows up into 1918 lethality, that’ll knock back the reproduction rate a bit.
5. Worst rumors of health care reform turn out to be true and death panels eliminate ailing folks over 65.
(Just kidding, I am in the health care sector and I highly favor Advanced Directives for everyone, not scared of them in the least).
I hear there is reduced immigration of seasonal laborers due to the world financial crisis. (Still the case, or am I behind the news?)
Your not paying attention, CNBC says that the financial crisis is almost over.
Dow almost back at 10k and the rich are comfortable again.
Don’t ya know, when the rich are comfortable the world is right!
(the rest of us are irrelevant)
Bubble-staters now can’t sell their under-water homes to move to the Northwest. Those who get foreclosed/short sale won’t be able to get a mortgage. That should help stem things for 5 years or so.
Most of the people I’ve known who moved here (myself included) didn’t sell a house to move here. I know there’s the expectation that everyone who moves here cashed in on the housing bubble, but some of ‘us’ moved here without cashing in on anything.
Numbers 4 and 5 did make me laugh though.
“How do you propose we flat-line population growth?”
I do not have the answer – but with the global warming fanatics sounding alarms and spreading fear to control the populous; and enviro-zealots attempting to dictate how and where we live, how we move about, our lifestyles in general and even what we eat; the sustainability of limiting and flat-lining population growth needs to be an up front part of the conversation – not kept behind closed doors because of it’s highly controversial, emotional and religious subject matter. Undoubtedly, the political power brokers dread even bringing the subject up because it would weaken their position of governance.
the sustainability of limiting and flat-lining population growth needs to be an up front part of the conversation – not kept behind closed doors because of it’s highly controversial, emotional and religious subject matter.
I have a feeling that forcing people to flat-line population growth would be seen as a little too socialist. You wouldn’t want that though, right?
I think we are all a little amiss at your logic about population growth. Yet, you go absolutely crazy should the Portland area governments direct its attention towards transit, urban development, and bicycles knowing full well that these components have and can reduce GHG emissions:
One dictates lifestyle completely, and the other provides options. I am particularly confused.
Dave H:WalMart has been able to develop on smaller footprints in other urban areas
ws:That right there proves my point. If they build smaller footprints…
You have to remember, their cost-benefit analysis shows they make more money with ultra cheap land near highways, with large surface parking lots, and bigger (and bigger) stores.
If things change regarding transportation costs, they may change their game plan too.
I don’t have an issue if these mega stores condense down and want to open up shop in downtown environments. Many of them are changing their attitudes towards their store sizes and what not (Like target and Home Depot). Wal-Mart? Not so much IMO.
But remember, a parking garage parking spot costs about $15,000, whereas a surface parking lot spot is about $1,000 in construction costs. Big difference.
I also think more people are willing to buy things online like TVs and computers. Why even bother with a retail store?
Home supplies, however, you need a store, and I think an urban home depot would do wonders for many cities.
That right there proves my point. If they build smaller footprints…
But often WalMart doesn’t build their own stores, but rather leases from a developer who builds the development. If a developer can make a desirable site for a WalMart, is it so bad if WalMart moves in?
Portland has actively obstructed allowing large scale retailers, regardless of brand, like at Cascade Station until Ikea was on board. It just seems biased to me.
Dave H: Aha! You immigrants always want to change us born-in-Oregonians. We do offer amnesty after 25 years residence.
I’m too lazy to look up stats, but I’d wager the majority of population growth in Oregon is from people moving into the state vs. birth rate.
With a glut of housing on the market (rentals included), we no longer have that restriction to population growth. Perhaps our extremely high unemployment figures relative to the US average will encourage emigration.
I’m one of those old geezers who keeps mumbling, “That used to be a field!” as we ride down Hwy. 26 or out past Clackamas…
Heck, I’m old enough I remember when Hwy. 26 got widened from 2 lanes to 4 lanes between West Union and North Plains! And when the Vista Ridge Tunnels were drilled and opened! And when Hwy. 217 finally eliminated its traffic lights at Denney Rd. I rode the bus to Portland before there was Tri-Met. Ah, the bad old days…
ws said: “One dictates lifestyle completely, and the other provides options. I am particularly confused.”
It is Sam, Metro and their cohorts that are the fractions that want to dictate lifestyles. Since quality of life is a subjective term meaning different things to different people – as far as providing options, I would be OK with it if:
1) Those options are financially self-sustainable paid for by the users and including NOT subsidizing any project from other resources or a source of revenue outside of what the project itself generates.
2) Those choices can be accommodated without taking away or negatively impacting any existing infrastructure including roadway infrastructure and motor vehicle capacity; and/or if those choices can be accommodated without all the activism against increasing roadway infrastructure and increasing motor vehicle capacity.
As fof flat-lining population growth: The current human population is already straining the resources this Earth can provide, renewable or otherwise. Anybody that doesn’t think reducing population growth should be the primary focus of the conversation has their head in the sand.
What I’m trying to say is that Wal-Mart’s game plan is not to go smaller if necessary. I don’t disagree that P-town is abrasive towards big-time corporate stores, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Also, if you noticed in the news, the new New Seasons in Hawthorne could not get financing for a smaller footprint store, so they had to build bigger w/ almost twice the parking. Even if companies and developers want to, getting lending is another story.
Banks are A HUGE part of the sprawl story. Try getting financing for a housing project with no or small driveway in front, minimal setback from the road, or insert any urban-esque feature that might be built in the suburbs.
No finance = No project
Terry Parker:As fof flat-lining population growth: The current human population is already straining the resources this Earth can provide, renewable or otherwise. Anybody that doesn’t think reducing population growth should be the primary focus of the conversation has their head in the sand.
ws:Nobody’s saying it’s not (it’s a very valid point), but do you have any non-coercive, non-social engineering, and non-dictatorial ideas of reducing population growth?
All I can think of are tax incentives…but knowing that China tried charging people more money for having more than two kids…and well that created a boy/girl ratio out of whack, not to mention SO many girls in China just wound up missing into thin air.
Even so, are tax incentives “social engineering”?
Referring to flat-lining population growth, ws said: “Nobody’s saying it’s not (it’s a very valid point), but do you have any non-coercive, non-social engineering, and non-dictatorial ideas of reducing population growth?
I have already stated I do not have the answer and I certainly do not want to dictate to people or use a socially engineered concept. However, by having an open conversation with the public that is primary to the sustainability of the Earth’s resources, it makes people far more aware of the issue and some good ideas may be presented, even if they are all voluntary. A good start would be for the government to offer more family planning alternatives.
As for the part about and using the term “non-social engineering” to make a point after calling the phrase “social engineering” a useless buzz word in another thread – well it can hardly be a useless can if you used it too! LOL-gotcha! It does have a meaning and you just proved it.
JK: You want the nest way to limit the world population?
Encourage rapid industrialization of the third world.
As to the developed world, most of their birth rates are below replacement so they are not a problem.
Except the issue we’re speaking of is environmental impact from overpopulation – not over population itself. Per capita resource use of industrialized nations is much higher than third world countries.
I’m not saying industrialization of these countries is wrong, but it completely misses the point.
ws: Except the issue we’re speaking of is environmental impact from overpopulation – not over population itself. Per capita resource use of industrialized nations is much higher than third world countries.
JK: Does that mean you advocate leaving those in eternal poverty?
Does that mean you advocate leaving those in eternal poverty?
Do try, just for a moment, to not ascribe the worst possible motives to the other people commenting here. Yes, I realized you put that in the form of a question. That makes it only marginally less offensive. Plus, it completely ignores the context of the argument, which WS clearly stated. Knock it off.
JK:“Does that mean you advocate leaving those in eternal poverty?”
ws: Yeah, totally. My main goal in life is to see impoverished people die of malnutrition and AIDS. *sarcasm*
You’ve really been playing gutter ball of late, Jim.
WS, I already admonished JK, don’t drag us further down that road. Thanks.
JK: I am just trying to get you to consider the possible consequences of proposed actions.
If your proposed solution will help people lead better lives (by their standards, not yours) please explain
If your proposed solution will help people lead better lives (by their standards, not yours) please explain
There are YOUR standards and there are OTHER standards.
I personally do not subscribe to most everything you speak of here, I do not share your standards.
There is your point of view, and my point of view.
The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but definitely that middle points toward my point of view.
If I had to use labels, which I hate to do, I would say you represent the “right” and I represent the “left”.
Now it seems to me, that those in the ‘right’ camp are much more expert at the art of gutter ball than those of us in the ‘left’.
And I give the right much respect for the ability to understand how to get people to believe their point of view.
However, you guys on the “right” attempting to convince us that we are the only ones guilty of social engineering is laughable.
Every single theory espoused by those of the right is in itself social engineering.
You want the rulers to be the business leaders, money and wealth is your god.
We on the left tend to think government will be better at it. Altruism is our god.
The truth is we both are wrong.
al m Says:
Quoting JK: If your proposed solution will help people lead better lives (by their standards, not yours) please explain
There are YOUR standards and there are OTHER standards.
JK: I was using “their standards” IE: the standards of those affected.
How is that wrong?
Al wrote to JK: “You want the rulers to be the business leaders, money and wealth is your god.”
Al, I just admonished JK for applying negative motivations to other posters. Don’t do the same to him.
Of course, the whole right-vs-left thing is simplistic anything:
Al just self-identified with the left–but Mayor Adams is also associated with the left; and I suspect Al and the mayor disagree on many things. (Keeping the discussion to transit and politics, of course).
JK seems to be a by-the-book Libertarian, whom Al equated with the “right”–but there’s a whole lot difference between Karlock and characters such as Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, or Pat Robertson.
Where, on the political spectrum, will you find Bojack? Where, on the political spectrum, will you find the moderate corporatists who dominate the Oregonian editorial staff?
Labels such as “right” and “left” are mostly useless, it seems.
Labels such as “right” and “left” are mostly useless, it seems.
I can agree with that, when either one hits the crazy point they all come together.
I appreciate that you and ws keep things at the discussable level, Portland needs more people willing to discuss without labels.
As much as I don’t care for Jerry Pournelle or his fiction, I remain convinced that his chart (from 1963) does the best job of defining politics in the US. It could probably stand updating and perhaps fleshing out, but it is far more reliable than left/right analysis.
Right left up down, the point I was trying to make, and failed to make was this:
No matter which ideology is in charge of running things its still gonna be f***ed up!
Al, I just admonished JK for applying negative motivations to other posters. Don’t do the same to him.
GOD I LOVE IT WHEN BOB GETS LIKE THIS!