Streetfilms: Depaving Day in Portland

Our coverage of the Toward Carfree Cities conference continues with this Streetfilm from Elizabeth Press, who brings us a unique public service project.

Hundreds of conference participants helped break and remove asphalt from a 3,000 square foot parking lot.
is the mastermind behind the Fargo Garden Project. They promote the
removal of unnecessary concrete and asphalt from urban areas. will continue to work with Goldsmith Properties to transform
this now asphalt-free site into a community greenspace. Once completed,
the site will be used to educate the public about pavement removal and
storm water drainage management.

  • Spud Spudly

    That’s freaking brilliant.

  • da

    Under the paving stones, the beach!

  • gecko

    Nice. We can do that here and give it to DOT for recycling.

  • Sikbug

    I mean this seems really cool for someplace like NYC, but it’s freckn Portland and just from the video you can see how much open space is around there. I dunno, I mean it’s a good idea but not a good place for it?

  • Outlawing is unlawful, Da. Love those stilts!

  • da

    Angus, the translation I always heard was, “It is forbidden to forbid!”

  • I know, Da. The problem is that “interdit de” is extremely common in France; there are signs everywhere. In the US, how often do you see “forbidden” on a sign?” Translating it as “forbidden” makes it sound quaint and Victorian.

  • Maybe, “Prohibition prohibited,” but that makes people think of moonshine and speakeasies. Maybe “Outlawing prohibited.”

  • Speaking of language, “food forest” ? I don’t think so.

  • dbs

    Yes to DePaving!

    Every time it rains in NYC, the stormwater landing on impervious (aka non-vegetated or non-porously paved surfaces) flows down the drain and flows through the sewer system to the Wastewater Treatment plants for treatment. If the treatment plants are above capacity, the stormwater, combined with raw sewage, ends up overflowing into our waterways, not good for fish or triathletes.

    The stormwater rate is included on a 1:1 ratio in the potable water-delivery rates in NYC (and in many most other cities.) Users who use little or no potable water, or at least generate a disproportionate amount of stormwater compared to potable usage, are esssentially recieving a subsidy on their use of the sewer system. Those users include parking lot owners, big box stores, NYCDOT and NYSDOT roadways (another hidden cost that drivers impose on our city) and The Port Authority’s airport runways.

    Of course, the subsidy is provided by the City’s poorest residents, since they use more potable water than wealthier residents (they live at higher densities, which means more toilet flushing, they go out to eat less often, go on vacation less often, etc.)

    So, when water rates go up, those who suffer most are those who can least afford it. And, on July 1, Water Rates will rise 14.5%, the largest single year jump in recent history.

    When water rates go up, so to, does rent. One of the primary factors the Rent Guidelines Board uses to determine hike is increase in utility rates.
    (The Rent Stabilization Law sets forth the factors that must be considered by the Board prior to the adoption of rent guidelines. These include: (1) the economic condition of the residential real estate industry in N.Y.C. including such factors as the prevailing and projected
    (i) real estate taxes and sewer and water rates…
    Source: )

    So, essentially, not only are the poorest folks subsidizing others’ stormwater usage, their rents are rising because of it…and the larger the increase, the closer an apartment comes to becoming market-rate.

    If all this is confusing, it is no wonder. Water and pavement were never meant to meet.

    A great article on Stormwater User Fee can be found here:

    If the NYC Water Board began billing for stormwater separate from potable water, and as a real reflection on usage, it would instantaneously do wonders for DePave projects, protect affordable housing, reduce combined sewer overflow, and perhaps even reduce traffic in this small town on the Hudson.

  • Amazing!

  • I mentioned this to my wife, and she said, “It sounds like that Talking Heads lyric.”
    I said, “You mean, ‘Underneath the concrete the dream is still alive‘?”
    She said, “No, the other one.”
    “‘Once there were parking lots, Now there’s a peaceful oasis‘?”
    “Yeah, that one.”

    I think I’ve settled on “Prohibiting is prohibited.” Here are some reminiscences from the author of “Sous les pavés…”:

  • We are working to do this in NYC. please help. Need: volunteers in September, dumpster/s, arrangements for recycling or carting away, sledgehammers and pickaxes, flat shovels, garbage bags, food, juice, music…other ideas?


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