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PORTLAND-The Portland Development Commission is aiming to find out just how much its urban renewal activities contribute to a neighborhood’s gentrification. The PDC’s executive director Don Mazziotti is calling for a “fact-based” study to determine to what extent its redevelopment activities help raise property values and displace the poor. No vote has been scheduled on the proposal. It was brought up in a commission meeting earlier this month, says a source at the commission.

Last year, the PDC paid $380,000 to survey residents within urban renewal districts about urban renewal issues, but the report apparently didn’t address specific causes. A new study would specifically address what has caused gentrification to date.

The poster neighborhoods for the issue are in Northeast Portland, where much redevelopment and renovation of commercial buildings and roads has occurred. The revitalization has brought new restaurants and art galleries willing to pay higher rents, and in turn has attracted investors and first-time home buyers who pay top dollar for the property, which more often than not was previously being used as a rental.

Mazziotti has said the purpose of the new study is not an attempt to absolve the agency of any responsibility. Rather, he said the plan is to find out just how significant an affect, if any, the PDC’s activities have on gentrification.

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