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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 20, 2004 3:06 PM. The previous post in this blog was Good read. The next post in this blog is Flash: Estate planning news. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Hopeless

Million-Dollar Jim Francesconi spent yesterday morning telling reporters how he's going to portray himself in the general election as an agent of change.

Then he went back inside City Hall and voted tens of millions of tax dollars (including $10 million of "urban renewal" funds, which include citywide property taxes) to re-do the transit mall to add light rail.

In a few weeks, he will vote many more millions of city tax dollars for an aerial tram to OHSU. He has no choice -- he sits on the tram's board of directors.

Oh yeah, if he's elected mayor, he's gonna change the way things are done. Sure.

Jim, I hear they need a new county counsel in Clackamas County. You might want to send in your resume.

Comments (28)

It costs money to build a city, so far this one seems to be doing pretty well. What's the alternative?

I tend to agree.

Jack does not seem to be a fan of public subsidized development. He has a point regarding the Aerial Tram. (OHSU surely could have paid for it).

However, I think another MAX running downtown is essential to building a development of Portland's inner city.

I've figured it out -

It appears true that JB is not a fan of subsidized development. But my sense is that it is more accurate to say that if we do subsidize development, JB wants Portland to use its leverage to get a good deal. I suspect that we would hear fewer complaints about the tram if OHSU kicked in more money. The Pearl District tax abatements are similarly offensive.

Jack,

are there any circumstances where publiclly funded ventures are acceptable? What would you do in portland for a public funded venture.

I hear a lot of b#@ching on your blog about publicly funded ventures, but I haven't seen you lay out your position on sponsering ventures with public money. What is the role of government to sponser capital projects?

Anxiously awaiting your reponse!

Oh boy. What is this here? A "Lets Jump Jack for being a Skeptic Day"?

For the record -- as the three people who read 751 know -- I am pro MAX and anti Tram, (though I am also a stirdent critic of many design flaws and Porkish-angles of the former,) and I am agnostic on the Streetcar. But even so, and accounting for the disagreements I have with Jack's thoughts on these are times, I find this thread of "I hear a lot of b#aching on your blog" amusing.

Maybe they all work for Sam Adams in reality.... ;-P

Kids, don't get me started. I don't have time to write the whole book right now.

Let's stop publicly subsidizing all of this pork until we have:

1. A properly funded, well-trained, non-trigger-happy Police Bureau.

2. A functional mental health system to replace the "open air" system we have now.

3. Permanent local funding for schools.

Come see me then. At which point I'd say, let's do some urban renewal in places like St. Johns, Lents, Buckman, Rose City, Kerns, Sabin... Let's declare a moratorium on 97201 and 97204 until some other areas get some substantial help.

NO MORE INNER CITY LIGHT RAIL. It's too expensive. Buy more buses.

And for pete's sake, enough with subsidizing the "luxury" condo towers. They're horrible. They're a visual blight. They're not Portland. They're what people move here to get away from. They're anti-family. Can't Homer Williams and Hoffman Construction learn how to build something else?

People who want to own or live in big multi-unit boxes have plenty of opportunity in Raleigh Hills, Cedar Hills, Tigard, Beaverton, and Hillsboro, which, in case you haven't noticed, are massively overbuilt.

Who are the dopes who want to move to a place like Portland, Oregon and then pay $250,000 to live in a 800-square-foot condo in a jungle of towers, with no place to park, not a tree in sight, no grocery store nearby, and listen to the nose-ring guy through the thin walls playing Everclear too loud on his stereo all night? Not to mention the drunks and bangers who frequent the oh-so-hip bars that get sited nearby...

And how about a frickin' park somewhere in these developments? Not a yuppie fountain -- an actual park, like the ones that made Portland great?

That's not on the Vera-Jimbo-Neil screen, I guess. Good riddance. Good riddance to all of them.

P.S. While we're throwing money around, how about decent public shelter for homeless families?

I agree that the showcase items are nice - in good economic times. But since the voters have made clear that they don't want to pay anymore taxes, it is a matter of priorities. I can think of dozens of better ways to spend the millions being spent on the tram, etc. Here in Southwest where I am, sidewalks on main roads and paved streets would be a nice place to spend some money, and every area of the city has similar needs that are being ignored. We need candidates who recognize that the neighborhoods are what make Portland great and that downtown is icing. Until that happens, there will continue to be "neighborhood insurgents" (which is another reason I was dismayed at Jack's dismissal of Leonard's opponents).

I'm all for neighborhood insurgents, but Leonard was the wrong guy to attack. You want to clean house and get priorities straight? Go after Sten and Saltzman. I'd vote for Bonnie McKnight over either of them, in a heartbeat.

"Who are the dopes who want to move to a place like Portland, Oregon and then pay $250,000 to live in a 800-square-foot condo in a jungle of towers, with no place to park, not a tree in sight, no grocery store nearby, and listen to the nose-ring guy through the thin walls playing Everclear too loud on his stereo all night? Not to mention the drunks and bangers who frequent the oh-so-hip bars that get sited nearby...

Loving this thread. Let's see, I don't want to name any names as to who the dopes are that want to live there, but maybe I could tell you what the name of the state they largely come from rhymes with?

At any rate, I was going to ask, but finally noticed, you added "Erik" to your short list of names I love to hate. Am I wrong to despise him so for adding insult to injury via the tax subsidies for this growing wedge of generic Bay Area in what used to be Portland?

I walked across the Broadway bridge a few days back, and the mushrooms are continuing to sprout ... my god, ever more of them!

But since the voters have made clear that they don't want to pay anymore taxes

Oregon voters have certainly said that, but Portland voters seem okay with voting in new taxes. I know I am.

Uhhh, Jack, the city isn't going to stop growing. I mean if you really want the small-city-with-great-neighborhoods feel, you're probably going to have to move. Sad, but the truth.

Granted the subsidies (spelling?) in the Pearl are getting out of hand, but people are moving in droves to that neighborhood and they're loving it.

I love this blog, but you sound just like my mother.

People pay at least twice, more like three times $250,000 in New York for an 800 square foot condo with "no amenities" nearby, instead of moving to the leafy Westchester County suburbs.

People pay three or four times $250,000 in San Francisco for an 800 square foot condo with "no amenities" nearby, instead of moving to Tracy or Gilroy.

What's with the Pearl District bashing? It may not be Jack's cup of tea, but it's a desirable home to a lot of others.

Maybe the University of Idaho Law School needs a tax prof. Moscow is a lovely little town. And not a skyscraper condo ghetto in sight.

> Who are the dopes who want to move to a place like Portland, Oregon and then pay $250,000 to live in a 800-square-foot condo in a jungle of towers, with no place to park, not a tree in sight, no grocery store nearby, and listen to the nose-ring guy through the thin walls playing Everclear too loud on his stereo all night?

Have you even been to the Pearl or NW lately? There is no shortage of these types. And most of those towers are actually quite attractive - they are architecturally interesting, for the most part, compared to other cities I've lived in. Not a tree in sight? What about Forest Park? It's 15 blocks away. No grocery stores? Whole Foods is right there and the new downtown Safeway is a quick drive or streetcar or bus ride away. If you think the Pearl is an urban jungle, I want you to go check out Co-op City in the Bronx sometime.

I'm with Justin - this is a city, dammit, not a village. Time to acknowledge that, accept reality, and get along with the business of making it a livable city, which we are doing an excellent job of.

I'm planning to sell my house next year, and we're going to look for a condo. (I'm 42.) I don't like having a yard--hate hate paying some guy $25 a week to mow only a little less than I hate doing it myself. I don't want a condo with *no* parking and *no* grocery store nearby...but I do want all on one level (no stairs-someday I might be disabled), and I like being urban, not suburban. I work downtown, and I hate the suburbs; I don't want to commute from further east than 82nd or further west than the West Hills, further south than Sellwood or further north than around Columbia Boulevard.

Who is building infill anywhere else that would suit my needs? Those tall condo buildings are just the ticket: no stairs to walk up, secured building, and don't they mostly have parking under the building for tenants? There are grocery stores near enough--Safeway downtown, for one thing. Or delivery: I used Home Grocer like an apostle until it went under.

Lots of people are going to want those condos, according to the market analyses I've seen. Soon the baby boomers will be retiring in mass quantities, looking for a place they can stay in until they can't take care of themselves...and a one-level condo in a high rise looks pretty good on that score. No yard or building maintenance to be responsible for, a secured entry, no stairs to navigate with a cane or walker. Get your groceries delivered, and when you can't drive any more, you're close to mass transit.

"What's with the Pearl District bashing? It may not be Jack's cup of tea, but it's a desirable home to a lot of others."

It doesn't look or feel like Portland. The tax subsidies for the rich were filthy.

I was living in a house in NoPo paying quintuple or more taxes at the time. I'll hate them forever.

I did almost get mowed down by a Porsche Cayenne SUV. That was something that might not happen everywhere.

You asked.

Jack,

So you understand how federal transportation dollars are distributed?

We are all paying federal taxes, and will be for the foreseeable future. Parts of those taxes go for transportation spending. Personally, I would like to see at least a portion of the money I pay in federal taxes invested in some real, concrete, lasting infrastructure in the city.

I grabbed the funding mix for the light rail project from b!Xís site, and calculated some percentages (dollars are in millions):

Total 196 Percentages
Federal Transit 96 48.98%
Tri-met 5 2.55%
Metro 5 2.55%
City of Portland 40 20.41%
City of Portland Urban Renewal 10 5.10%
City of Portland, on street parking revenue 15 7.65%
Public Utility contributions 5 2.55%
City of Portland Special Property Tax
(i.e. Local Improvement District) 15 7.65%
Portland State University 5 2.55%

City of Portland Total 40.82%

(sorry, formarting to make the above moer readable does not come through)

You canít spend federal transportation dollars on police, mental health, or schools, so pretty much all of the money except the City of Portland general and off street parking portions of $55 million is off the table, as it would not be there for other non-transportation projects.

I do not know all of the limitations on spending money from federal transportation dollars, but I am pretty sure that $96 million is only available to a public transit project.

Also buses are only cheaper in the short term. On a cost per rider per mile basis, light rail is lower cost than buses in the long term.

Now I think a light rail train up to St. Johnís or down 99E, or down 217, or down 205 would help many of the communities you list a lot, however the cost of such projects would require even more money be spent. The Yellow line cost $350 million dollars for 5.8 miles. You do the math.

It is not that I oppose the changes you are suggesting. In fact I think it would be wonderful if the city committed to the three things you mentioned. However you have to have a full understanding of where the money is coming form and what restrictions are placed on said money before you suggest spending it elsewhere.

Thanks, Vera, er, I mean Tim.

I know there's lots of federal and state money in this pork. If it were up to me, I'd pass on most of it, because it means spending our scarce local dollars on toys, while we let core services rot.

Brett, please don't lecture me on the Bronx. I grew up in Newark, N.J., where we ate hipster punks for breakfast.

And Gordo, you're so cute. Believe me, if there were something decent for me in Boise or Missoula or the coast (or if I hit the lottery), I'd be so out of here. I don't really want to live in a place where the type of resident who likes the Pearl District is running things. I moved to Portland as an earthy, wholesome alternative to LA. Now, 25 years later, LA has caught up with me. I'm grateful for the time I had before the ruination. But people like Vera Katz and Randy Gragg who live here and watch it happen and applaud are, IMHO, fools. And the developers who are cashing in on it are evil.

Ten years from now, when the bloom is off and those cheesy Pearl condos need serious maintenance, I think we'll be singing a different tune.

To get back to my original post: to every Pearlie who voted for Francesconi, this Bud's for you.

Well I thought about sinking to your level Jack, but that would demane me and undermine my point.

The only logical conclusion is that you don't have a leg to stand on if you have to rely on comparing me to the mayor of our fair city instead of addressing my post on it's substance.

Perhaps you could enlighten us with the fiscal breakdown of current revenue and spending of the city? Maybe some percentages of where money comes from and where it goes. No, that would take actual work researching and compiling. You just prefer to rant.

The first step to making a logical, realistic point is understanding the current situation, which it is now clear that you don't.

Nice, Tim. I see 40% from the City of Portland. I understand that real well.

There's more knowledge of Portland in my pinky than you have in your arrogant head.

Jack, leash up your attack dog, you are going way over board.

I am the one who is arrogant? If you do have more knowledege in you pinky, you sure don't show it. Saying something and showing it are two different things.

All you ever do when anyone questions you is resort to name calling and generalzations. SHOW ME THE KNOWLEDGE! If you read my post carefully, you might find that I never claimed to be an expert on the city government or it's finances. One of the reasons I read Porltand political blogs is because I am interested in learning more about Portland as well about the view of the population.

And still no substance in your response.

Tim, you're the one who started the ad hominem crap. "No, that would take actual work researching and compiling. You just prefer to rant." The substantive issue is whether the City of Portland is spending too much money on light rail, the mall, and the tram. You quote some figures from the b!X blog, and suddenly you're the research expert and I'm lazy and ignorant.

Look at your own numbers. Do they or do they not show the City of Portland paying 40%? And does that or does that not include many millions of dollars citywide property tax revenue? That's what I'm complaining about. If I'm wrong about that, enlighten me.

One more point: Think about what you're going to say next. Because if you insult me again personally, it will be your last posting on this blog.

Sheesh... I must have been right after all!

Pro-MAX Alexander will now chime in: Yes, there is a *Federal* color of money issue. The thing is, almost all Federal money comes in a form of matching grant, wherein we have to put in X amount to get Y amount from FTA.

If we didn't have to put any money in, woo hoo, cash in, baby! But when we do, we have to take a more serious look at things.

What I am surprised about is that the City is putting *anything* into the Bus Mall MAX project. Personally I feel all the local funds should have to come from one source: Tri-Met. It's their system. They should have to put up the matching moolah.

Portland is still full of streets where the pavement is original 1900's macadam, where some streets are just gravel, where there are not adeqaute sidewalks, and where the sewage goes in the river every time it rains. Something is wrong about that.

Jack,

I apologize for attacking you. I got a little heated, but after some thought, I have settled down.

I have lived in several cities in America and visited countless others, and Portland is the best city in the country. Portland historically has taken risks with city funds, such as when the transit mall was originally developed in the seventies. Portlandís transit mall became a model for other cities.

My only point is, that the city of Portland pays a substantial amount of money already to police, fire, and transportation projects. All transportation projects are not focused on downtown. Hollywood district is getting a facelift, Woodstock, Alberta, Lents all have all had money spent improving roads. There is a new bridge going in Westmoreland. Portland spends money on all parts of the city. Portland also lays out a good bit of cash on parks, which is great. Portland has many acres of parks to maintain already. While I would love to see Portland expand itís park system adding more parks means more maintenance and fixed cost in the city budget. Oh, and there doing that big pipe project to keep the sewage out of the river.

I agree that projects like the Portland Mall Revitalization are costly in the short term, but will pay off long term to everyone in the city. When the city of Portland is footing only 40% of the bill, we are not paying the full costs, but getting the full benefit. Portland is laying out 40 million in city funds and getting a 200 million dollar project.

The Tram is just plain indefensible though.

I got too hot, too.

I still like the mall the way it is. Even with the feds paying for most of the update, I don't think it will be much of an improvement. And the construction will make downtown a very, very unpleasant place for a good long while. It will take years to recover.

The original mall was a great Neil G. idea from 30 years ago. We need a new idea for downtown -- and not until we've taken care of basic services that aren't being done well at all.

As for the need to take risks, just about every one Vera has taken has been wrong -- the Convention Center expansion and PGE Park being the biggest wastes. I suspect NoPo light rail may turn out to be a dud, too, and I'm not at all impressed by the Pearl theater deal. (I guess our Performing Arts Center didn't turn out to be good enough either, eh?) That's well over a hundred million in city funds right there. The Rose Garden/Memorial Coliseum deal has also gone quite sour. Pardon me if I question the latest addition to the list.

I'm hip?! Who knew.

If you know the East Coast, then you know the Pearl is no urban jungle.


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Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 119
At this date last year: 21
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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