Portland Clean Energy Fund Offers its First Climate Action Grants

QPHP2FLYKFBP3FERHO45VUEW6Y
Shiny Flannery, left, Letty Martinez, and Xochitl Garnica, right, clear a section of land on their 2-acre farm on Sauvie Island. | Cassandra Profita

 “Letty Martinez, Shiny Flanary and Xochitl Garnica spent the spring and summer taming weeds and planting crops on their new two-acre farm on Portland’s Sauvie Island.

They teamed up to rent the land for their farming collective, which takes donations so it can provide some of its produce to low-income customers for free. As the farm grows, they’re hoping to add growing tunnels and a greenhouse with lighting and refrigeration powered by solar panels and batteries.

“As you can see, we’re really off the grid,” Garnica said, gesturing to the open field around her. “All of that will really help us a lot so we can help the community that really needs fresh produce.”

Garnica, an indigenous Mexican, said she knows how expensive fresh produce can be at local grocery stores like New Seasons and Trader Joe’s.

“My family, we can’t afford to go to those places,” she said.

Garnica and her coworkers are not the typical Oregon farmers, more than 96% of whom are white.

That means they could benefit from the new pot of grant money available through the Portland Clean Energy Fund — a climate action program created and led by communities of color.

Martinez said the program could help their farm break away from an unjust economic system that hasn’t served them in the past and leaves too many people without access to healthy food.

“It doesn’t work,” she said. “It doesn’t consider everyone and a lot of people end up with nothing at the end of it. We want folks to leave here with armfuls of whatever it is that they need.”

While their farmland is providing food for people in need, it’s also preserving green space in the city and sequestering carbon in the soil through regenerative farming practices. Plus, it creates farming jobs for people of color.

All of that fits nicely with the mission of the Portland Clean Energy Fund, a program launched through a voter-approved ballot measure in 2018.

A game changer

By taxing large retailers, the fund is expected to generate $40-60 million a year, and all of it is reserved for communities of color and those with low income who are more likely to suffer from the effects of climate change.

Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty calls the program her baby, which she helped create to diversify the world of renewable energy.

“We’re talking about energy efficiency, but we’re also talking about workforce development,” she said. “If you look at the green field today it’s predominantly white male.”

Hardesty said the program is already changing the way underserved communities are thinking about their future.

“They couldn’t even envision, how do I have solar panels? How do I add a green roof to my building? But today they’re starting to think about: What would that look like?” she said. “This is a game changer for Portland and quite frankly, I think, nationally.”

The program has guidelines for spending grant money in several areas, with 40-60% going to energy projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions like weatherizing homes and adding solar panels, 20-25% for workforce development and training for clean energy jobs like installing solar panels, 10-15% for regenerative farming and green infrastructure and 5% for “innovation.”

The retailers that make $1 billion in sales nationally and $500,000 in Portland are subject to a 1% surcharge on their gross revenues to fund the program. Last year, the Portland City Council pared back the number of businesses that are subject to that surcharge, exempting construction contractors, retirement plans and garbage and recycling services.

After some delays, and many months of outreach to communities that are eligible for funding, the program is now offering its first $8.6 million in climate action grants with plans to announce the recipients early next year.

The money comes at a critical time for groups that are fighting for racial justice and suffering disproportionately from the coronavirus pandemic, though it’s not clear yet who exactly who will benefit.

Shifting investments

Sam Baraso, who manages the PCEF program for the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability said the fund, will help address “centuries of underinvestment” in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, where people face higher risks from climate change impacts such as extreme heat and weather events, air pollution and wildfire smoke.

They’re also more likely to pay a higher portion of their income toward utility bills and less likely to benefit from existing clean energy programs that offer tax credits for things like solar panels and energy efficiency, he said.

“We know that a majority of those beneficiaries were high-income households,” Baraso said. “Oregon’s been a great state in making these investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. However, those benefits have not accrued to low income and communities of color.”

Anissa Pemberton, a program coordinator with the Coalition of Communities of Color, said the money will be a great help to the Black and Latinx communities that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We see this as a economic recovery tool,” Pemberton said. “I am hopeful that it will provide a stabilizing force for some low-income Portlanders, especially the folks who are looking for a new job.”

Pemberton said communities of color took the lead in designing the clean energy fund amid a lack of federal leadership on climate change.

“People of color communities in general, we have known for a long time that no one is coming to help us,” Pemberton said. “We’ve always had to find our own solutions.”

Time pressure

Businesses that fought against the program are now watching its evolution with a critical eye. The city of Portland had originally planned on distributing its first PCEF grants this year, but it recently extended the deadline for grant applications to Nov. 23 and plans to announce the grant awards in February.

Andrew Hoan is the CEO of the Portland Business Alliance, a group of more than 1,900 businesses that fought against the ballot measure that created the program. He said the business community supports the goals of the program but disagrees with the way it’s being funded.

“In light of an economically devastating year that 2020 represents and additional tax increases that have happened over the past two years, it’s a very challenging business environment we find ourselves in today,” he said, noting the coronavirus pandemic, violent political protests and massive wildfires, have all taken big tolls.

The city denied a request from business interests to stop collecting the PCEF surcharge during the pandemic. So, businesses are still paying into the fund, but very little money has been invested, Hoan said.

“This was approved in 2018, and two years later we are unaware of any large-scale expenses of the fund or job creation numbers that are available,” he said. “We really do need an effectively operating Portland Clean Energy Fund. We need it to deliver on promises made to voters.”

Robin Wang, a nonprofit executive, is one of nine grant committee members who will choose which projects get funded. He said he knows critics are watching closely to make sure the money is spent properly.

“I was a little skeptical about the initiative as a voter,” he said. “You know, sometimes money is wasted through government.”

He said the committee has been moving carefully toward making funding decisions because the program is the first of its kind and there’s no model to follow, but now there are millions of dollars waiting to be spent at a time when the money is desperately needed.

“So, there is this kind of tension between getting it done quickly and getting it done right,” he said.

Each of the program areas has its own measures of success, he noted, but ultimately the goal is to strike a balance between reducing carbon emissions and supporting the people who are most at risk in a warming world.

“People want it to be simple,” he said. “They just want to say, you know, we pulled 20 million tons of carbon from the air, right? That’s nice. But the reality is more complicated than that.”’

This article was written by Cassandra Profita. You can find the source article, here.

The Pandemic Boosts Portland Office Space

Businesses turn their interests into suburban markets for more space and to be closer to their employees.

In the third quarter of 2020, the amount of office space in Portland has increased compared with the previous quarter as a result of the pandemic, causing companies to reevaluate the location and space they need for their employees. In the second quarter, total office space has increased from 15.5 percent to 17 percent; The commercial real estate firm says that although this dip is abnormal, it has grown due to more companies subleasing their office space or not renewing leases. 

The nature of office work has been influenced completely by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many employees working from home and fewer workers going into the office due to social-distancing requirements. Some businesses have chosen to get rid of the office altogether, resulting in all employees working from home. 

“The trend has profound implications for Portland downtown businesses that rely on foot traffic from office workers, such as restaurants and retailers, and hotels that rely on business travelers” (Moore, 4).

The pandemic draws more attention to the suburban market for offices, leading to a renaissance of suburban-office markets. The vacancy rate for office space in the suburbs was 10.7% in the third quarter, virtually unchanged from the previous quarter – this includes Beaverton, Hillsboro, Clackamas, and Tualatin.

The trending increased interest in the suburban market has stood out for tenants interested in more space and being closer to their employees. 

Although downtown had the largest increase in vacancy rates, the three biggest deals of the third quarter were located in the downtown area. 

Tenants have leaned towards flexible or short-term leases due to the uncertainty that comes with the coronavirus and how the office market will adapt.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Oregon Announces Two-Week ‘Pause’ on Social Gatherings in 5 Counties

This past Friday, Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced new COVID-19 restrictions on five counties: Umatilla, Malheur, Marion, Jackson, and Multnomah. After several weeks of unprecedented spread, stricter measures have been placed since the initial “stay home, stay safe” measures were implemented in March. Though Oregon has been doing better limiting the spread, Brown says we need to go back to our offensive strategies against the virus. The biggest challenge is the increasing outbreak is not due to school or workplace gatherings, but small social gatherings and one-on-one meetings.

Due to the increasing COVID-19 rates, counties with exceptionally high cases will be put on a two-week pause for social gatherings, starting November 11th to November 25th. “Businesses in those counties are encouraged to have employees work from home when possible, restaurants and bars are asked to limit dining to outdoor seating or take-out whenever possible, and businesses are asked to cap their total capacity at 50” (Ross, 3). In addition, visits to long-term care facilities will also be paused and private social gatherings are asked to be limited. 

Governor Brown is frustrated at the number of Oregonians not taking restrictions seriously. Looking at the data, it is clear that not everyone is listening to the suggested guidelines. “Let me be very clear: For this two-week pause, please, please, please limit your social interactions to your own household,” Gov. Kate Brown expresses. If cases continue to rise, Brown will increase restrictions. 

The two-week pause is intended to be either a wake-up call or call to action, for those who aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. If people do not change their behavior, COVID-19 will grow out of control.

Once a county has a rate of 200 infections per 100,000 residents, new restrictions will come into effect for two weeks or more. “There are separate metrics for smaller, rural counties. Currently, five counties — Umatilla, Malheur, Marion, Jackson, and Multnomah — have crossed the 200-case threshold and will be put under the increased restrictions” (Ross, 7). Washington, Baker, Clackamas, Union, and Linn counties are also seeing cases rise at a rapid rate and are on the border of being added to the pause list; OHA plans to reevaluate its numbers today.

It is important to remember that just because a county is not currently on the pause list, does not mean people should continue their lives as normal. 

These policy changes are also hoped to be reflected in social gatherings as well for all Oregonians. Previously, officials have raised concerns that looser COVID-19 restrictions in public could potentially result in people taking fewer precautions in their private/social lives. These new public restrictions are hoped to convince people to take more daily precautions.

“The new call for action comes as cases climb across Oregon, with a record of 805 new cases reported Thursday. On Friday, 770 new cases were reported” (Ross, 14). Oregon reported 3,542 new COVID-19 cases from the week of October 26th-November 4th; The highest number yet, 34% higher than the previous week. 

In terms of exponential growth, the rate is incredibly concerning. The numbers Oregon is seeing are far beyond what OHA expected, even in the worst-case scenario projected. The worst-case scenario presented in the new model assumed that transmission would rise by 5%, and Oregon would be seeing 520 newly diagnosed cases each day by November 19th. Increased numbers were expected in the past, but not this high. 

Oregon’s epidemiological models, predicting the increase of rates, also serve to predict hospital capacity needs; But with cases rising exponentially, models can be outdated by the time they’re published, posing additional challenges for public health officials who want to increase needed restrictions before hospitals are full, which may be inevitable.

Oregon officials think there may still be time to slow the progression of the pandemic, but with little ICU capacity left, results need to be seen fast. 

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Updated Oregon School Metrics Allow More Students to Return to In-Person Learning

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released updated school metrics that allow for more Oregon students to return to in-person learning.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the changes Friday, October 30th at a news conference, stating the updates to the school metrics are necessary. She argued the benefits students receive from in-person learning in schools outweigh the risks of COVID-19.

“COVID is here to stay. It’s here to stay for the foreseeable future,” Brown said. “What’s also clear is we must prioritize getting our students into the classroom for in-person instruction.”

The ODE and OHA issued the first school metrics in August. The updated metrics released Friday took account for school districts country-wide and aligned with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new metrics are based on the latest COVID-19 studies and data, bringing Oregon in sync with other states like California. They will be taken into effect immediately and potentially allow about 130,000 Oregon students to return to some form of in-person learning.

According to ODE, updates for the statewide metrics include:

  • A transparent set of realistic goals for communities to strive for in regards to in-person instruction.
  • Acknowledgment that Oregon’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance’s strong public health protocols are structured in school settings, can greatly reduce transmission of the coronavirus.
  • Additional time for schools to transition between in-person and remote learning models.
  • Increased access to in-person learning at the elementary level.
  • A two week “Look Back” at the metrics data rather than a single week at a time over three week periods.
  • Removes State Positivity Rate in favor of county positivity rates.

As a state, one of the biggest priorities we need to recognize is getting students back to in-person learning. Schools act as a center of service for students and families, offering meals, access to mental health support and resources, and physical health services.

The new metrics allow all school districts, with regards to local public health, to make final decisions about when schools can move to in-person learning and instruction.

According to the updated metrics, the following counties are eligible for K-12 students to return to some form of in-person learning:

  • Baker
  • Clatsop
  • Curry
  • Gilliam
  • Grant
  • Hood River
  • Jefferson
  • Josephine
  • Klamath
  • Lake
  • Lincoln
  • Sherman
  • Tillamook
  • Union
  • Wheeler

The following counties are eligible for elementary education students to return to some form of in-person learning:

  • Benton
  • Clackamas
  • Columbia
  • Coos
  • Deschutes
  • Douglas
  • Polk
  • Wallowa

The following counties are not yet eligible for in-person learning:

  • Crook
  • Harney
  • Jackson
  • Lane
  • Linn
  • Malheur
  • Marion
  • Morrow
  • Multnomah
  • Umatilla
  • Washington
  • Yamhill

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Growth in Local, Innovative Coffee Subscription Company

Subscription services can bear a resemblance to the story of Goldilocks: Sometimes you end up with way too much of what you ordered, risking spoilage. Other times, you run out faster than planned. The answer, according to one company, is a scale” (Wallace, 1). 

Bottomless, a new Seattle upstart, created a coffee subscription company that makes the reordering process automatic and predicts the days you’ll need a new bag of beans to arrive at your door by using a smart scale to determine when you’re running low. The company knows exactly what you want, when you need it. 

After each use, coffee subscribers place their bag of beans on a wifi-enabled scale, sending data and analyses of consumption activity. The service includes the scale and starts at $5.99 per month with coffees that range from $12 to $20.

The pandemic resulted in a skyrocket of e-commerce purchases, increasing the demand for subscription and delivery-based services, therefore helping boost the coffee subscription company with more people stuck in their homes.

As of the week of Friday, October 23rd, Bottomless counted 6,000 customers. Last year around this time, their customers counted up to only 750. 

With COVID influencing the way people view technology and online services, the trend of buying products online has increased dramatically and will most likely continue for a few years.

“The company has come a long way since its inception in 2016 when Herrera and co-founder Michael Mayer — neither of whom had backgrounds in hardware development — conceptualized and invented the smart scale that would serve as Bottomless’ backbone. In true startup fashion, the duo bootstrapped the firm and spent the early days hand-soldering 3D-printed scales in their tiny apartment. They partnered with some roasters and signed up a couple hundred customers” (Wallace, 8)

At eighteen years old, Herrera emigrated from Peru without any knowledge of english at the time. She held different jobs until she was able to attend university in Portland, Oregon. Herrera grew up believing there was no other route to success other than hard work; She applied those lessons and skills she had learned during her upbringing to her career.

Bottomless received venture capital backing, business connections and mentorship after landing in the Winter 2019 cohort at Y Combinator, the legendary Silicon Valley startup accelerator. The company was able to afford their first manufacturing run earlier this year in which they said goodbye to handmade scales. 

“What has resulted is a “premiumization” of coffee purchases at retail and grocery stores, said Jim Watson, senior analyst for beverages research at Rabobank. People are spending more for whole bean coffee and pricier grounds, he said” (Wallace, 14). While grocery stores do carry a good selection of specialty and premium coffees, most of them are from global and national brands. With COVID-19, the importance of shopping local has been emphasized along with the opportunity to tap into local roasters.

Helping local businesses and being an online subscription service has worked out in the companies favor, but drastic economic shifts from the early part of the pandemic has caused instability in the finely-tuned system. 

In spring, some roasters experienced higher turnover after stark drop-offs in sales, so new employees had to be retrained on the Bottomless process. When the USPS timelines got rocky, Hererra and Mayer rebuilt their machine learning models. In addition to the shaky times COVID brought, existing customers that suffered from job loss were forced into cancelling their Bottomless subscription. 

Now, eight months into the pandemic, these aspects stabilized and the company is seeing steady growth in new customers and sales. “The activity is fueling optimism for a future where Bottomless could expand its technology into other product categories such as pet food and personal care” (Wallace, 19).

To find or subscribe to bottomless, click here.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

4 Things to Consider Before Refinancing

WB2227GED5G2VFAO3XSTVMJ5PY
This is a good time to catch a low mortgage rate. Advance Local, Shutterstock

Between politics and pandemics, mortgage rates have fallen and refinances have been booming with more room to expand.

Close to 18 million homeowners could potentially cut their mortgage’s interest rate by 0.75% or more, according to mortgage analytics company, Black Knight. That surpasses the 3 million homeowners who refinanced the first half of 2020. 

Mortgage rates decreased to a record low territory this summer and fall. “The average interest rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been under 3% since early September, according to NerdWallet’s daily rate survey” (Nerd Wallet, 3).

If you aren’t sure if now is the right time to refinance, ask yourself the following four questions.

 

1. What’s my goal?

What would you like to accomplish by refinancing? Identifying your goal for refinancing points you toward the right loan.

These are three common refinancing goals:

  • To reduce the monthly payment. For this refinance, it is quite simple Apply to a loan of the same term – another 30-year loan, if that’s what you have.
  • To pay less interest. When you refinance a 30-year mortgage into a loan with a shorter term, your monthly payments are likely to increase, but you’ll pay less interest over the duration of the loan. 
  •  To get cash. A cash-out refinance allows you to borrow more than you currently owe and take the difference in cash. Cash-out refinance is a common way to pay for home renovations.

 

2. Is my goal attainable?

Once you’ve identified your goal, figure out if it is realistic. 

If the goal is a smaller monthly payment, ask yourself how long you will remain in the home. The answer is important because when refinancing, you’ll lose money if you sell the home before reaching the break-even point. The reason for this is because when you refinance, you pay hundreds-thousands of dollars in closing costs. You want to keep the loan long enough for the savings to exceed the cost, which may take a few years. 

 

3. If the goal is to pay less interest, are the long-term savings worth the bigger payment?

If you shorten the loan term, you will most likely end up with an increased monthly payment. In case of a financial emergency, what will happen? Will you still be capable of making the monthly payment? If you have doubts, it may be safer for you to refinance for the same term as the current mortgage rather than a shorter one and pay extra principal each month. You will still have the benefit of paying it off more quickly, but you can stop making the excess payments when money is scarce. 

If the goal is to get cash: Do I have enough equity? In most cases, you’ll be able to borrow up to 80% of your home’s value, meaning that if you currently owe 70%, you will be able to cash 10% out of it. Determine your home’s current value and multiply it by 8% to determine the amount you’ll be able to borrow. Ask your lender how much you owe on the mortgage right now or check a recent statement. You’ll be able to cash out the difference between what you owe and 80% of the home’s value. 

How will the new refinancing fee affect me? Despite an adverse market refinance fee, the door remains open for refinancing. While frustrating, the fee on interest rates is too small to erase the savings that most would attain by refinancing. Fortunately, the adverse market refinance free doesn’t apply to every loan, only conventional mortgages. If you plan to refinance into a jumbo loan or a mortgage supported by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs, or the Department of Agriculture, the fee will not be imposed. Those loans accounted for about one-third of the mortgages taken in the second quarter of 2020. The other two-thirds were securitized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who imposed the raised interest rates on refinances by about one-eighth of a percentage point. Although, there are a few exceptions on the fees: The fee won’t be imposed on refinances of $125,000 or less, construction-to-permanent loans, or HomeReady and Home Possible mortgages, which have income limits.

The fee goes to Fannie and Freddie from the lender, and is unlikely to appear on your Loan Estimate paperwork; It is probably included in your interest rate. 

If you’re planning to refinance in order to reduce your monthly payment, the adverse market fee is important to acknowledge because the higher interest rate will push the break-even point back a few more months. 

When refinancing for a shorter term, the interest savings quickly overshadows the slight increase on rate.

If you’re attempting to go for a cash-out refinance, the goal is to get cash rather than saving money, so the fee does not impact your decision. 

 

4. Are there alternative ways to reach my goal?

While reducing your mortgage interest rate is great, there are other ways to attain your set goals if refinancing isn’t right for you.

  • To decrease your monthly house payment without refinancing, you could look for a less expensive homeowners insurance
  • If you are looking to pay less interest over time, you could pay extra principal monthly. By doing so, you could accelerate the payoff date, reducing the total interest paid on the loan.
  • Instead of a cash-out refinance, you could keep your mortgage and get a home equity line of credit or home equity loan. These loan products will most likely have higher interest rates than you can get with a cash-out refinance, but will still give the option of paying them off sooner than required.

 

After asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to identify more confidently what decision is best for you. 

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Moving During the Pandemic

DHIQJ5MH6NEZ7IQ7BL7M5DELRY
reSPACEd is a company that helps people prepare for a move or unpack in the Portland area.MaryJo Monroe/reSPACEd

“Moving is already hard enough. Add in precautions to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, and packing up the old place and hauling cherished items to a new home can make you rethink your whole decision and stay put.

Or, you could find an upside to moving during a lockdown.

Just ask Jeff Chase. The guitar technician would be touring with musicians right now if the world hadn’t come to a halt. Instead, he moved to Estacada on April 1 and has had no other option than to stay at home and settle in.

The last time Chase moved, to Portland in 2005, he recalls stuffing boxes into the house and leaving on a tour the next day. He unpacked in between tours. It took him more than a year to finish.

“With Covid, I’ve had the time to plan and execute every room, DIY my whole winterization plan, make needed upgrades and enjoy the view,” he says. “The stress level is much lower.”

Safely Making a Move

A day after the sellers vacated, Chase fished his new house keys out of a lockbox. “There was no formal presentation or an unveiling like you see on makeover shows,” he jokes.

He scheduled a crew to clean and disinfect the surfaces, then he hired out-of-work stage hands with trucks to move his possessions.
“Since I’m in the music industry and was just there, cooling my jets, I wanted to support others who weren’t working either,” he says.
On moving day, he bought packing supplies and rented a U-Haul truck. The receipt was passed to him on a long stick “like a pizza spatula,” he says. “I was impressed with how easily people adapted. You tell a few jokes, do a transaction,” he says.

Pack, Move and Unpack Easier

At the start of stay-at-home orders, no one could have foreseen moving and storage companies like WayForth in Portland laying off employees and locking out about 600 customers from retrieving their furniture and other belongings.

STORAGECafé, a nationwide self-storage search website with more than 25,000 storage facilities listings, found most storage facilities have stayed open and installed ways for customers to avoid direct contact with the staff such as drive-up access and online payments.

“Some storage facilities decided to delay auctions and show leniency on late fees during this time,” reports Maria Gatea, senior editor at STORAGECafé’s blog.

American Moving & Storage Association members can provide virtual estimates, rather than visiting the home. They recommend buying new moving boxes and tape instead of using recycled boxes and if you’re in a vulnerable group, over 65 or have a compromised immune system, they suggest postponing a move until the pandemic is over if possible.

MaryJo Monroe is a professional organizer with reSPACEd, which has helped thousands of people since 2008 declutter in preparation of a move or unpack after a move to the Portland area.

“This summer, we did things a bit differently with the pandemic, but we still had one of our busiest move seasons ever,” she says.

Monroe, who is also the past president of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) Oregon, offers these tips:

Before You Move

  • Take the time to put aside anything you don’t need or want to avoid packing it and paying to have it transported. Look online or call charity thrift stores to confirm they are accepting donations.
  • Keep your pre-pandemic clothes that you haven’t worn in six months, suggests Monroe, but separate them from the rest of your wardrobe. Keep them in a labeled packing tub to avoid wasting time and space in your new closet hanging up clothes that you may not wear for awhile.
  • Put face masks and sanitization supplies in a clearly labeled box and keep it nearby during the move so it can be one of the first boxes you can access when you arrive. Clorox wipes will dry out and be useless if stashed in a hot garage or car trunk for days.

After You Move

  • If you have kids, need to start work right away or just hate the thought of unpacking boxes for the next several weeks, do yourself a favor and hire an unpacking company to set up your house. Insist that any workers in your home wear masks and gloves the entire time, even if they are working alone.
  • Coordinate with your internet provider so you can get online within 24 hours of your move.
  • If you are working from home, the home office will probably be one of the rooms, along with the kitchen and bathroom, that you will want to unpack and set up first. If you will be doing video conference calls, hang artwork or set up bookshelves on the wall opposite your computer screen to project a professional appearance on your calls. Read: More tips for setting up a work-from-home space
  • If you have school-age children, they will need their distance learning space set up right away too. It can be tough to get a desk at some of the Portland area’s big box stores right now due to office furniture shortages, so in a pinch kids can use an oversize clipboard on their lap. Read: More tips for setting up a distance learning space
  • Save room in your pantry to accommodate cleaning supplies and extra nonperishable food in case you have to quarantine for two to three weeks.
  • Don’t feel rushed to unpack entertaining cookware or servingware. Parties are on hold, so put those items in the garage or basement, freeing up space in your pantry.
  • The garage and basement are typically the last rooms to be unpacked and set up after a move. During this pandemic and wildfire season, leave extra storage space on the shelves for emergency supplies such as bottled water, paper products and outdoor sleeping gear. Many families are also making room in their garages or basements for an extra freezer to store additional food, says Monroe.

Helpful Sources

U-Haul has moving kits with boxes, tape, bubblewrap and of course, trucks and trailers to rent. Or if you’re moving within the city, you can book a Zipcar for the time you need.

Staples has measuring tapeboxes and other moving supplies.

If you need a second pair of hands, TaskRabbit can connect you to people skilled to help with cleaning, furniture assembly and small home repairs.

After you find out who’s the best company in your new area, get WiFi connected with AT&TVerizon or a Google Nest from Verishop.

Organize your new home with Open Spaces or The Container StoreHome Depot and Wayfair also have closet systems and solutions.”

This article was written by Janet Eastman. It can be found, here.

Oregon Movie Theaters During the Pandemic

584f95c319c4510535253814c4ad731b_L
Photo: Jason E. Kaplan | Northwest Film Center and Portland Art Museum’s drive-in screening of Xanadu at Zidell Yards next to the Ross Island Bridge

 When quarantine began in Oregon, back in March, Governor Kate Brown halted all gatherings of 25 people or more. At the time, many theaters in Oregon were still showing movies like 1917 and Parasite. What makes Oregon theaters different from the rest of the U.S. is that moviegoers rely heavily on independent cinemas that are struggling through COVID-19, rather than large owned companies such as AMC, Regal, and Cinemark. For instance, Portland has approximately twenty-five movie theaters, but only five of them are owned by large companies. Each of Oregon’s independent theaters has taken their approach to moviegoing during the pandemic. While some have stayed dark and hoped for the best, others like the Columbia Theatre and the St. Johns Twin Cinemas sell packs of concessions. The drive-in movie theatres in Oregon, such as the 99W and the M-F, continued their summer business with classic films and social distancing in their vehicles. Smaller indoor theaters like the Cinema 8 and Cinemagic got creative by selling packs of DVDs and concessions to keep their business running. 

Unfortunately, their patience will not last forever with the hold Governor Kate Brown still has on social gatherings. In late August, Oregon movie theater owners petitioned to join bars and restaurants as part of the phase one reopenings. “Theater owners including Tom Ranieri of Portland’s Cinema 21, Doug Whyte of Portland’s Hollywood Theatre and Conners McMenamin of the McMenamins chain argued that they had space for social distancing and the experience with crowds to warrant the capacity of up to 100 that Phase 1 allows for bars and restaurants” but until phase two, theaters will only be allowed to host 25 people at a time (Notte 5).

For many owners and programmers, to survive, they must rethink the meaning of cinemas for the future in this pandemic:

 

The Oregon Theater, Portland –

Kevin Cavenaugh, former Peace Corps Architect, bought out a porn theater in April. He told the owner, who passed in May, that he would do something others would not: “save the building and bring the theater back”.

Built in 1925, the Oregon Theater was initially a 6,000-square-foot vaudeville palace. In the 1960s, the theater moved on to X-rated films and took on a reputation of seediness. It had not seen any maintenance for the past 40 years, but now there’s more light and it is clean; Many of the original features of the theater remain intact and ornate vaudeville detail. It is a vintage movie palace waiting to open.

 

The Hollywood Theatre, Portland – 

Built in 1926, the Hollywood Theatre is Portland’s most intricate cinema palace. Since the pandemic shut down the Hollywood to audiences, the theater and its community have gone through several stages of coping and struggle to survive. They have sold to-go concessions from their lobby, hosted online screenings, streamed new releases, partnered with a hip hop artist and producer, and rented out its biggest theater space to parties of 10. 

To end summer with a bang, the Hollywood Theatre teamed up with the Portland Expo Center to host drive-in screenings on the Expo Center’s wall. Films shown include Mad Max, Jurassic Park, and Beetlejuice.

To people’s surprise, membership for the Hollywood is doing better now than it was this time last year. People have stepped up and upgraded their memberships and even sent donations. Though the Hollywood promised their members they would make up for the lost time from closures, they know they can always rely on their members to support the theater if needed.

 

Northwest Film Center/Portland Art Museum, Portland – 

After thirteen years of being apart of a Brooklyn-based Independent Filmmaker Project, Amy Dotson moved to Portland in the middle of 2019 to work with Northwest Film Center as the director and curator. Unfortunately, six months later, the film center’s screening room at the Portland Art Museum was closed by COVID-19. 

“Dotson viewed it not as a crisis but as an existential question: What is cinema? Where can it be made and shown? What communities get to take part in it? Is an open theater — or a screen of any sort — necessary for its enjoyment?” (Notte 30).

Dotson viewed the Portland International Film Festival as the basis of a new idea: “an intersection of art, storytelling, and cinema”. With venues shut down, including the Northwest Film Center, the universal approach towards cinema accelerated.

The film center turned their cinema approach into a drive-in at Zidell Yards this summer showing favorites such as Creature From the Black Lagoon, E.T.and The Birds with broader offerings including The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, Knives, and Skin, and the documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble.

The film center has found many ways to keep both the cinema alive and escape its more siloed definitions.

 

Cinema 21, Portland – 

After COVID-19 hit, Tom Ranieri did what little he could; He teamed with distributors for virtual screenings and held benefit screenings with tickets selling at $99 apiece. In August, he decided to host socially distanced screenings with classic movies and capped crowds at 25 people. The money he made off his “Virtual Cinema” with distributors helped him enough to make him consider holding onto the theater post-pandemic. 

Through his efforts and his petition for Kate Brown to reopen theaters, his goal is to prove to people that he can still run a theater and that people will still attend movies if you let them.

 

McMenamins theaters, Oregon and Washington – 

Family-owned business, McMenamins has many branches such as wine, beer, coffee, restaurants, hotels, concerts, golf courses, and the movie empire. They have six first-run movie theaters and three second-run theaters in Oregon and Washington. While the theaters compromise between 2-4% of the business, they tend to draw their customers to other parts of McMenamins. At McMenamins, you can enjoy a movie while taking time to explore the gardens, restaurants, and other fun entertainment the property has to offer. 

About 60 employees were directly affected by the closures and while some were able to shift to other parts of the McMenamins operations, it was a bit tougher on those who worked at venues such as the Bagdad Theater and Mission Theater in Portland. Fortunately, they were able to use the Old. St. Francis School theater in bed and it’s Olympia Club theater in Centralia to try out social-distancing strategies. They closed off and removed seats, updated software to space out guests, and played with concessions and ideas like in-seat food delivery; This allowed McMenamins to use social-distancing strategies from its restaurants to give their movie theaters a chance to return after the pandemic.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Office Real Estate Market Predicted to Return to Pre-COVID Level in 2025

104346750-empty_office
Vacancies caused by Covid-19 will result in over 200 million of net negative square footage in the office real estate market, but the growth of professional services sector jobs will help lead to a recovery over five years, says Cushman & Wakefield. Thomas Barwick | Getty Images

For the past six months, working from home has become a permanent trend during this pandemic. Ultimately, we will all return to our workspaces and the number of people will match up to what we had pre-COVID. The question remains as to when things will finally return to normal. According to a news forecast from Cushman & Wakefield, it could take five years.

Global office vacancies aren’t projected to return to their pre-Covid peak level until 2025, resulting in the loss of 215 million square feet of office vacancy due to the pandemic. Between the start of COVID-19 in the United States and 2021, the net-negative office square feet damage will reach approximately 95 million square feet, topping the financial crisis trough by 10 million square feet.

During the financial crisis, Canada, Europe, and the U.S. reported a combined decline of 120.5 million square feet occupancy from peak-to-trough. This evidence proves that the situation will most likely be worse in the west.

The work from home trend is present in most companies operating through the pandemic. Cushman & Wakefield studied some of the most extensive companies around the world about the future of the office and ventured to weigh both the cyclical results of the Covid recession and structural impacts regarding a tremendous increase in work from home. Two key verdicts arose from this study; Office leasings fundamentals will be significantly impacted, and vacancies will increase to an all-time high. Secondly, the office real estate market will fully recover immensely due to employment growth and the continuous shift in the U.S. economy’s concentration in certain types of professional jobs.

An estimated 82% of the damage in real estate firms will be related to cyclical factors such as permanent job losses and the growth of coworking. The other 18% is due to structural factors like assumptions about permanent remote workers and hybrid workers. Work from home will double, and those who are working both from home and at the office (hybrid) will increase. “The study estimates that the share of people working permanently from home in the U.S. and Europe will increase from roughly 5-6% pre-Covid-19 to between 10% and 11% post-Covid, while the share of hybrid — also referred to as agile workers — will increase from between 32% to 36% to just under half of all workers (Para 8).

Levi Strauss & Co recently shut down any new commercial real estate during the crisis. The CFO states, “The myth that work from home is not productive has been busted.”  The CFO believes that society will eventually settle into a culture where working from anywhere will be the new norm. As for Google, they will be trying out a hybrid plan of work since most employees don’t want to be in the office every day. Young workers are taking advantage of the remote working shift to travel, embracing a new lifestyle full of voyage and technology. This is a transformation that could become permanent for a new generation of workers.

Many workers still do not feel comfortable returning to their offices. After one study, only 14% of workers claimed they felt trusting enough of their CEOs and managers to safely lead them back to work. As for now, working from home is the new norm for our society.

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Portland City Council Takes Next Step to Help with the Rental Crisis

On Wednesday, September 16th, the Portland City Council took the necessary steps to help with the current rental crisis. Administrators passed a new measure that takes a toll on landlords renting out their space: “Between now and March of next year, if landlords raise the rent, they’ll have to pay for their tenants’ expenses if they move out” (❡3). Beforehand, the rent increase was 10% or higher to apply for the relocation costs. Now, the rule will apply to a rent increase of any amount. This is good news for those who are paying rent, but unluckily for landlords, it restrains them if they need to raise their rent. 

Mayor Ted Wheeler states the purpose of this measure is to help people stay stable under the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. “Our goal is to deploy our rent assistance funds quickly and effectively so that renters are able to pay what they owe, but we can’t accurately budget these resources when rents are not stable” (❡6).

$35-million is being funded to help Portlandians pay for their rent, but it’s not nearly enough to cover the debt of what is owed. When the statewide eviction moratorium expires in Oregon, this could cause many difficulties to those who are renting.

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.