Portlanders react: How is the city’s reputation doing?

Is Portland Over?

Portlanders on the street say what they think are some of the biggest issues the city faces

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A recent real estate trend report seems to have indicated Portland may be facing a reputational crisis, according to an interpretation of that report by economic and urban development experts.

While Portland has seen a sharp slide down to near the bottom of an 80-city ranking that indicates real estate development desirability, that list is based largely on a survey whose respondents comprise urban development insiders who live outside the city. 

KOIN 6 News wanted to hear from Portlanders about their thoughts regarding the city’s reputation in the current moment and spoke to several community members on the street to hear what they had to say. 

Note: Some answers were edited for length and clarity.

What do you think about Portland’s reputation right now?

Clay Thompson (KOIN).

“The reputation is kind of battered right now, with all the riots and problems we’ve had with politics over the last year or so. But Portland’s been through a lot of difficult times before and they’ll recover just like they always have.”

–Clay Thompson, from Southeast Portland

“Considering the last year, our natural reputation has been a little less than ideal. I think the media constantly paints Portland as being sort of a dumpster fire. And of course with the homeless population rising, I work downtown so I’m personally affected by it and the vandalism that comes with it, but things are hopeful. I work in a coffee shop and we have lots of folks coming in saying that they’ve recently moved to the area and hope that things will get better because it’s a beautiful city and I’d love to see how things evolve with the city and going back to its former glory,”

–Frank, works in downtown Portland

Alesha (left) and Frank (KOIN).

“I think that it has been portrayed in a much more inflammatory manner than it needs to be and I think the reasons for that  are larger than what is just going on here in Portland. I think that there’s a lot of work that we need to do to take care of our community. And when I say that I specifically mean making sure that people have their basic needs met and are housed and those who have the ability to do that work are not doing it in a way that doesn’t inflict further harm and violence on these marginalized communities. I’m a political organizer here in Portland and it’s very important for me that the people here have a good quality of life and we don’t just look like a good city.”

Betty (KOIN).

–Alesha, Portland-based political organizer

“I’ve had a lot of people call me from out of state thinking that Portland is a war zone. It is not a war zone. There are a lot of problems […] Portland is actually a wonderful, welcoming town. But we’re just struggling through all the same things that all of America is right now. And we will eventually work everything out and get through it, it’s just going to take some time and patience.”

–Betty, from Portland’s Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood

Charles Gillies (KOIN).

“Well, you’re talking in regards to how the rest of the country looks at Portland? I think people that make their living with the news will exaggerate things a little bit to look like it’s a lot worse, but Portland’s a great city, very relaxed, even in hard times. So, I love living here and I have no problems, but always the news gets it a little more excited or a little more dangerous or risky, but it isn’t. That’s it.”

–Charles Gillies, downtown Portland.

Brett Gongliewski (KOIN).

“I don’t think it has the great, come one come all reputation that it used to have, when I was young….that growing up, this was just a super user friendly, everybody welcomed everybody. Now it just seems that…seems so much dissatisfaction and disconnect between people and the homeless […] And it’s not just the fun, beautiful, vibrant town that it used to be, to me. And I know COVID isn’t helping. But, that said, it’s still not, to me, what it should be–the City of Roses.”

–Brett Gongliewski, from Aloha, Ore. 

Eddie B. Hill (KOIN).

“Portland is still in people’s minds as a place to be if you want greenery, if you want a better life than what’s going on in the rest of the country. If you’re looking for, you know, I’m hearing a lot more people describe this as a blue zone. The United Nation established blue zones around the world where, you know, like in the event of catastrophic climate change, these are one of the places you’ll want to go and our region, the Cascadian Region, is one of those regions. […]

I think our reputation is tattered in a bit in terms of that ‘keep it weird’ and we discovered it’s more like ‘keep it isolated and myopic’ and like different understandings or interpretations – my interpretation of weird is not what we’ve been experiencing in Portland the last year. And there’s also still a beautiful community. We’re out here talking. We have people, the majority of Portlanders are still not with the madness and I see that all across the city. We have farms and gardens across the city where Black and brown people are now farming and doing agriculture work.”

–Eddie B. Hill, Portland-based urban planner and non-profit organizer 

Vlad Cherchenko (KOIN).

“So much has changed just in the last year. I did not want to move out of downtown Portland. I didn’t want to move my business out because of all the food carts and all the food options. It was just a really cool city to be in. And I was really proud to be from Portland. 

But after all the events that took place last summer and 2020, Portland’s just not the same. We have a lot of businesses moving out. The restaurant options are very limited. So it’s just not the same town anymore. The appeal is no longer there. So we’re moving out. Next Tuesday will be our last day here at downtown Portland. And mainly because of what’s happened in the last, within the last year.”

–Vlad Cherchenko, from Vancouver, Wash.

Hector Manuel Jr. Osuna Mondragon (KOIN).

“I’ve been living outside of the U.S. for a while and then been back for two years or so and I know that before, which I think maybe is still an issue, you know, questions around equity, that has always been a thing. So, I think some of that may be kind of very resembling in terms of housing affordability. So, I think those are definitely still issues that are happening in Portland.”

–Hector Manuel Jr. Osuna Mondragon, has worked in education in Portland

Laura Selvy (KOIN).

“In terms of reputation I guess it’s hard to answer because I live here, so I feel like I wonder what it is – what people outside of Portland would be talking about right now and guessing you’re kind of talking about a lot of the protests that have been going on and just the general last year. So I don’t know how good of an answer I have other than I feel very close to it and I don’t know how outsiders would think of Portland.”

–Laura Selvy, Portland social worker 

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