Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cascade Policy Institute Quits Portland; City is "Less Safe"

Semi-notable libertarian think tank the Cascade Policy Institute recently announced they would be leaving their O'Bryant Square-area offices on SW Alder, and heading over the border into Washington County and the apparently friendlier confines of Scholls Ferry Rd. Why are they leaving? Fear of Downtown:
Cheaper rent and free parking were among the reasons, says Steve Buckstein, who founded Cascade in 1991. So was the atmosphere around the Woodlark Building at 813 S.W. Alder St.

"This part of downtown gives the appearance of being less safe, with the street people and panhandlers,” Buckstein said during his final week at the Woodlark. “People don’t want to come down here, people tell us. And women did not feel safe after dark.”
At least he refers to it as "the appearance" of being less safe, which is smart, given that just a couple of blurbs down The O's updates page, Mayor Potter lets us know that crime in the downtown area is down 7% in the last year or so, and 30% off since the good old days of 1996. And the area Cascade inhabits, near the Park Blocks and a few streets over from Pioneer Square, is the subject of strong enforcement to weed out just the kind of ne'er do wells that have Buckstein and his folks on edge.

But really, the move out of Gomorrah had to be inevitable for Cascade. Which features of Portland jibe with the focus of Cascade's research, which tends to harp on things like public schools, public transportation, subsidies for green technology, taxes to improve services, etc.? In every case, Cascade's position tends to run counter to the direction Portland favors. So why stay in the midst of all that fiscal and philosophical iniquity?

Beats me. So enjoy the cul de sacs, big lots, heavy auto traffic and dearth of decent restaurants* out in the Beav, guys! Sounds like it's more your speed, anyway.

*Believe it or not, from the very Portland Business Alliance Survey {pdf} that Cascade cites in "research" that light rail has failed the city, the selection of restaurants is the #2 factor for businesses deciding to locate or stay downtown (behind "a central location".) And while we're citing that survey, Cascade's opinion that the area is "not safe" is shared by only 6% of businesses...remarkably, about the same percentage that claim they're going to leave the city in the next two years. Don't let the door to Portland's living room hit you on the way out!