The city that works is breaking down. Most of the water reservoirs in Portland are in poor condition, as are 43 percent of traffic lights. Union Station needs at least $45 million in earthquake updates, roof repairs and other fixes. Hundreds of fire hydrants are almost a century old, including the one outside the iconic Portland Building. The breakdowns carry headaches — such as potholes wrecking auto alignments — and looming disasters. A moderate earthquake could cripple some city bridges and a Water Bureau maintenance building. And the communications system police and firefighters would use after a quake? It’s obsolete, nearing ancient.
I love this city. Portland is a wonderful place to work and live. I feel comfortable here in a way that’s unlike anything I’ve felt in all the myriad other places I’ve sojourned. Even so, though I love being here, I realize that it’s no Paradise on Earth. Like anywhere else, Portland has it’s warts- though they do seem fewer and farther between.
Portland prides itself as “the city that works”, which it really does on so many levels. Unfortunately, even the Rose City has it’s problems. While the tri-county area continues growing by leaps and bounds, many of the problems that growth brings continue to be papered over. In many respects, Portland is like any other major city trying to balance scarce resources with the need to maintain and upgrade an aging- and in some cases, decrepit and obsolete- infrastructure. What it has going for it are things that allow residents to overlook some of the very real problems this metropolitan area faces.
Portland is blessed with world-class livability few other cities enjoy. It makes Houston look like the dump (sorry, y’all; just calling them as I see ‘em) it is. Of course, Houston and Portland are in many ways apples and oranges- different cities with different philosophies, different economies, and different issues. While Houston is in many cases making little, if any, effort to resolve some of it’s more pressing infrastructure issues, at least Portland has a handle on what needs to be done. This does’t mean, of course, that the resources exist to deal with every crying need, but where Houston suffers from a surfeit of benign neglect, Portland’s merely trying to stretch scarce resources to cover what needs they can.
This is a city that works, and it’s a wonderful place to live. While it’s certainly not perfect, from where I sit it’s infinitely preferable to living in Houston. I may be losing my suntan (and I’m still adapting to a new set of allergens), but I’m living in a place where life is much easier and much less stressful, and at this point in my life that counts for a lot. No, it’s not Paradise, but it’s probably about as close as I’m going to get in this lifetime.