Shhh: Here are Portland’s Quietest Neighborhoods
According to the Portland Police Bureau, “No excessive noise is allowed in the City of Portland between the hours of 10:00pm and 7:00am.”
That doesn’t keep delivery trucks from backing up at 4 AM with loud beepers, partiers playing music outdoors after midnight, and, to quote one 3:22 AM downtown Portland noise compliant, someone “Throwing large blocks of concrete into metal truck… on a daily basis.”
Noise is a part of life in any city, but some parts of Portland are definitely quieter than others. While those born and raised in the big city don’t mind – and even desire – a bit of noise, others may need to seek out some relief for their health and sanity. Let’s jump into the fray about what noise pollution is, and what we can do about it when shopping for Portland real estate.
Noise Pollution, the Invisible Menace
Noise pollution, or excessive exposure to high-decibel sound, is real and only becoming more of a problem in today’s urban environments. Whether it’s leaf blowers and lawn mowers or jets passing overhead — or simply a loud HVAC system — noise can contribute to a number of stress-related problems including cardiovascular disorders, ulcers, and sleep disturbances. Research has even found connections between noise pollution and low birth weight. (Read more at EPA.gov)
In the 2021 reality where many of us are still working from home, students are learning from home, and there’s really no place to “get away”, it’s more important than ever to be able to maintain library-quiet for at least part of the day. Studies have also shown a connection between noisy environments and learning challenges in kids, and noise pollution can exacerbate ADD and ADHD as well as behavioral problems.
With growing awareness about noise pollution and the desire to live in a quiet neighborhoods pretty much universal, it’s no surprise that home values even reflect the preference for quiet: One study found that home values go up between 8-10% when a home is away from a busy road.
Noisiest Neighborhoods in Portland
Noise pollution can be split into two categories: The abrupt or alarming sounds that tend to get called in as noise complaints, and the constant background noise that comes from nearby freeways, airports or industrial activity. Although the second type of noise pollution tends to be accepted as “part of the deal” for living in certain neighborhoods, it can turn up the decibels to a constant 80 dB in some residential areas, the equivalent of standing next to a vacuum. A 2017 study found that this type of noise pollution tends to be the highest in low-income and racial minority neighborhoods, because these neighborhoods tend to be situated near industrial parks, roadways and airports.
This trend holds true in Portland. In fact, Northeast Portland, which contains many historically black neighborhoods, is not only directly adjacent to Portland International Airport, it is currently targeted for an expansion of the I5, which residents say will increase noise pollution.
Aside from freeway and airport noise, other Portland neighborhoods might win the award for “noisiest” because they bring in a consistently high number of noise complaints, as viewed in the City of Portland’s noise complaint map. Unsurprisingly, the downtown Portland area wins for the number of noise complaints related to construction, loud music and amplifiers.
Outside of the downtown area, the only noticeable pattern for where noise complaints appear, is that they follow main thoroughfares like Sandy Boulevard, Burnside St. and Division St., where bars and restaurants also tend to be clustered.
Finally, some have complained of wind noises from the Columbia river gorge. Although these areas are outside the city of Portland, be aware that communities from Troutdale to Corbett may experience some naturally generated howls and gusts.
Quietest Neighborhoods in Portland
Okay, so where are the quietest neighborhoods in Portland? Just as certain factors can lead to a noisy neighborhood, there are environmental elements at work to help keep the quiet.
- Distance. How far is the neighborhood from the nearest “point source” of noise, like a freeway or factory? It goes without saying that those sensitive to noise should seek to live along roads that are strictly residential, where unnecessary traffic is not likely to pass through. Rural areas can also be noisy from farm equipment and other activities.
- Density. Let’s face it: Humans are noisy animals. The more people in a neighborhood, the louder it’s going to be. Portland population densities range from 15,500 people per square mile (in the Goose Hollow neighborhood near downtown) to the low hundreds of people per square mile, where homes are larger and/or farther apart.
- Trees & greenery. Not only do trees actually absorb sound, they also create distracting “white noise” (rustling of leaves, birdsong etc.) that can help mask some of the more disturbing noises in your environment.
- Culture. All types of neighborhoods generate noise; it may come down to the type of noise you prefer. For example, some neighborhoods may be overrun with the hated 6 AM leaf blowers, while others might be silent after sunrise but turn up the bass when the sun goes down.
Here are our top picks for *quieter* Portland Neighborhoods:
- Northwest Heights. Situated above the massive Forest Park, and with a population density of just 836 people/square mile, Northwest Heights is about as quiet as you can get within the Portland city limits. It had zero noise complaints in 2020, and it’s a long (and winding) 4 miles to Highway 26, the nearest major road.
- Inner Southeast. The neighborhoods of Woodstock, Brooklyn, Reed and Mt. Scott are all known as quiet “classic Portland” neighborhoods with older homes and many large, beautiful street trees. With a population density of around 5,000 people/mile, it’s about typical for a dense suburban area, but the lack of proximity to freeways or industrial activity keeps these neighborhoods pretty hush-hush.
- Southwest Hills. With many small parks and lower-density neighborhoods, this area of Portland is one of the quietest and most convenient, too. Although it is closer to the I5, the hilly landscape and abundance of green space may help absorb some of the sound.
Search for Quiet Portland Homes Online
Our real estate search engine, Portlandhomesforsale.com, allows you to enter keywords in addition to other filters like area, price, and number of bedrooms. Try entering “quiet” in the Custom Keyword Search field and see what comes up! Even easier, ask our top 1% Portland buyers’ agents, and we’ll be happy to create a custom list of homes for you to browse.February 1, 2021