Infill, is there another way?

I’m a fan of infill. As someone who was not born and raised in this great city, but happily live here, I support people who love Portland moving to Portland. Projections are that roughly one zillion people will be living her by 2050 and I want my compact urban environment to be maintained for all those newcomers. I’m not a fan of sprawl. I don’t really care that the infill houses don’t match the existing ones in the neighborhood or that infill houses look alike. After all, a lot of neighborhoods don’t have “matching” houses and most neighborhoods have banks of houses that were clearly built by some developer of the past as a row of them will be strikingly similar.

Infill in Portland mostly looks like variations of this:

Houses are 1500-2500 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths with a garage and a tiny front and back yard. My problem with infill is that this standard 3 bedroom/2.5 bath doesn’t really make sense for a lot of Portlanders. For a family of four, 3 bedroom houses are great. But there are an awful lot of Portlanders who are not a family of four. There are also an awful lot of Portlanders who would rather have less house and more yard. I’m wondering if we can’t look to a different model of infill for them.

One of my favorite things about North Portland is that it has a lot of very small houses on big lots. What worries me is that these are not seen as being worth preserving. Often, when they go on the market, they are bought by someone who tears them down and replaces them with the standard infill house.

But what if the tiny house, large lot became an infill choice? Tiny houses are much easier to maintain, heat and cool. If placed on a standard sized lot, they leave room for a large garden. They are all about sustainable. And they are cute. Take a look of some of these:

The Sebastarosa is 750-847 square feet:
The Enesti is 746-843 square feet:
The B-53 is 777-874 square feet:
All of the above tiny houses can be found on the Tumbleweed Tiny House website, which is also where the pictures came from. Somewhere in Portland there must be an infill developer who wants to focus on tiny house infill for the rest of us.

3 thoughts on “Infill, is there another way?”

  1. I had focused all my infill despair on the fact that none of the creeping row houses ever has an adequate complement of windows, and that they are often unnecessarily ugly. And also that they have no yard. But I hadn't thought about tiny houses as infill options, per se, and I believe you are right. An article in today's paper points out that the majority of Portland households are childless. Most of us don't need mucho house. The problem with convincing developers is going to be, how will they make money if they don't build? Could we develop a strong civic sense of house quality over quantity, regardless of size? Hm. How do we give this premise consumer clout?

  2. Why do all infill houses have to look the same? People claim to like choices. Let's get some. Also, in reference to the above, the city doesn't like to issue building permits for small houses because the property tax revenue is reduced.

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