John Sexton at Haut Hair, Downtown Portland isn't recovering from the pandemic and the reasons will not surprise you
If you’re a regular HotAir reader then this news will not come as a surprise. Earlier this month, Willamette Week reported on researchers at UC Berkeley who used cellphone GPS data to see how various cities were recovering from the pandemic, i.e. has foot traffic returned to downtown areas. What it found was that out of 62 cities in the US and Canada, Portland was near the very bottom of the pile.When it comes to recovering from the pandemic, downtown Portland is bringing up the rear.You can view the colorful bar graph showing the results here. At the start of the pandemic, March-May of 2020, Portland was in 13th place out of the same 62 cities. So this wasn’t the municipal equivalent of a pre-existing condition. Portland went from being near the top of the list to at the very bottom.
That’s the conclusion of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who are using cellphone GPS data to see how many people are returning to businesses, bars, restaurants, and other attractions in 62 downtowns around the county as the COVID-19 pandemic ebbs.
In the latest period, March through May of this year, Portland came in 60th, with a recovery value of 41% compared with pre-pandemic activity. Only San Francisco (31%) and Cleveland, Ohio (36%) fared worse.
Yesterday, the same author who wrote about the Berkeley research connected it to some recent polling that helps explain why people aren’t returning to the city’s downtown area.City Hall asked DHM Research to assess attitudes about downtown, city services in neighborhoods, homelessness, policing, and housing prices. DHM surveyed 500 Portland adults from May 2 to 16, asking them to complete a 12-minute survey.As Kristof noted, the same poll found that only 41% of respondents felt “very safe” walking around in their own neighborhoods. That figure dropped to 16% who felt safe in their own neighborhoods at night. With figures like that, it’s no wonder people aren’t eager to leave the house. Earlier this month I wrote about a regular city resident who had witnessed two shootings in two months.
The results? Almost 60% of respondents had a negative impression of downtown. Top reasons for avoiding visits downtown were homelessness (66%), trash and graffiti (60%), vandalism and property crime (51%), and violent crime (50%). Parking was next at 29%.
What Willamette Week doesn’t do is consider the reasons why things are so bad in Portland but, again, if you’re a regular reader you already know. Portland’s downturn began with months of violent protests followed by an exodus of police as the city jumped on the defund bandwagon. Two years later, the police force is still shrinking in the midst of a historic crime wave.
So it turns out that coddling violent anarchists while defunding the police isn’t a great strategy for a healthy downtown. Who could have guessed? Certainly not the city’s hapless mayor who has been struggling to undo the damage he helped cause. Things are so bad that even the people who are trying to help the city’s homeless can’t take it anymore.
So crime, homelessness, open air drug markets and riots are bad for business? Whoda thunk?
They voted poorly.