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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Potter stands alone

Well, the Portland City Council had its hearing yesterday on increasing the height and bulk of the hideous condo towers that will run virtually wall to wall along the South Waterfront. And gee whiz, the neighbors are going to get whacked again. Here is the council lineup, according to this morning's paper:

Potter: He's with the neighbors. Not only doesn't he think the developers should get more viewspace without a lot more discussion, he suggests the existing plan may already be too generous to them. Right on, Mayor!

Leonard: He's got a "compromise." It goes something like this: "O.k., neighbors, these developers have already got you down on the ground, bloodied and battered. They say they want to kick you 20 more times. I'm going to let them kick you only 12." On a recent Las Vegas junket, he was named politician of the year by a national developers' group. It shows.

Adams: All for the developers. He should be, Homer Williams bankrolled his campaign. Bought and paid for. "Shake up City Hall"? Sure.

Saltzman: You never hear from this guy, except when it's time to screw over a neighborhood. Then he's a solid aye vote. Mayor Potter, can you find us a good woman candidate to replace this fellow?

Sten: He's inclined to vote for the compromise, but he's going to see if he can get something more out of this for the neighborhood, blah blah blah. With the Scone gone, I was getting a little worried that we wouldn't be able to enjoy watching a city commissioner talk out of both sides of his mouth any more. I see that was a needless fear.

Comments (19)

It's certainly is a very different vibe these days. Potter has, let's see: Taken all the bureaus for 3 to 6 months to try to institute some citywide priorities; invited children to come testify at the start of Council sessions, the first of which did so yesterday; indicated he'd prefer backing up when it comes to South Waterfront; and just issued the official confirmation of what's been on his calendar for tomorrow, which is that he will be riding with Critical Mass on Saturday.

After twelve years of Vera, I'm surprised the City isn't already shellshocked and whiplashed.

Er, riding with Critical Mass on Friday, not Saturday.

Why would "a good woman" need Mayor Potter to "find" her to run for Saltzman's seat?

Well, she sure hasn't shown up on her own. I wish she would.

b!X, don't forget -- he's dumping two PDC commissioners as well.

One thing I was trying to signify with my wisecrack about the woman candidate was that we need someone else with Potter's value system. Not Vera's.

Yeah, I thought that's what you meant. Just clarifying.

What does being female have to do with it? I've seen (and you've named) some real terrible females on the Portland political landscape.

But having children testify at council meetings? Sorry, that taps into the only thing I really think Rush was right about, the sanctimonious overuse of "for the cheeeeeeeeeeldren" in ever cloying campaign for public opinion.

Continuing to follow the tangent away from the main topic, I think my favorite all-time bad female "politician" was Ma Anand Sheela from the bad old days of the Rajneeshees.

But having children testify at council meetings? Sorry, that taps into the only thing I really think Rush was right about, the sanctimonious overuse of "for the cheeeeeeeeeeldren" in ever cloying campaign for public opinion.

I actually didn't mean to suggest it was necessarily some wonderous thing, merely that it was a clear demarcation in approach to things from the previous administration.

I've said much the same opinion of the "for the children" tactic because it doesn't actually mean anything in and of itself.

South Waterfront, a compromise?

The Portland City Council says that what South Waterfront is shaping up to be is the result of "compromise". Of course the worst possible outcome for the public is emerging but I think I have the "compromise" thing figured out.

It goes like this folks.

Suppose a burglar broke into your home and grabbed your DVD player, jewelry and hoped into your car preparing to drive off. You catch him and say stop!
He gives you back the DVD player but forces you to give him gas money.
He calls this a "compromise" and drives off in your car.

That's South Waterfront.
A few years back the property owners and developers were given a windfall with a city gifted zone change from industrial to mixed use. The public got nothing. Then, the once 45 to 60 ft building height limitations grew to 150 ft. with additional city concessions. The public got nothing. Higher densities with more buildings were added. The height limitations grew again to 225 then again to 250. The public got nothing while a proposed greeenway, in the mix from day one, emerged as a pretense of "compromise".
Building heights grew again to 325 feet while the greenway evolved as no more than a glorified sidewalk above a sloping riverbank with hopefully more that rip rap to look at.
Throughout all of this is the commitment of hundreds of millions of tax dollars from the City and the Portland Development Commission to help pay for this development.
Now, back a the "compromise" table at City Hall are the developers looking for more "compromise". They are seeking a removal of the 200 ft. building separation requirement, a removal of the 125ft. building width limitation and elimination of the limit on overall building footprint--seeking to "compromise" away a previous "compromise".
Here again the public is offered and will be getting nothing.
The public doesn't get a real greenway, gets no planning for increased traffic, get no new plan while the proposed housing numbers soar from 2000 to now 8000 units, has their panoramic view destroyed, gets a $40 million Tram no one wants, and will be paying an estimated $1 billion in tax subsidies towards this "compromise" .

With wide buildings 325ft high, packed tightly together from the Spaghetti Factory to Riverplace, anyone living anywhere near this whole stretch will lose their entire view while paying to have it taken away.

But, remember now, this is all a "compromise" and they call it "planning".

It's been something to watch Portland ban snout houses for some greater good, and then turn around and make the public pay big $ to have the biggest snout possible, South Waterfront, stuck right in everyone's face.

Steve Schopp & Jerry Ward

Hat toss to Messrs. Schopp & Ward.

It's been something to watch Portland ban snout houses for some greater good, and then turn around and make the public pay big $ to have the biggest snout possible, South Waterfront, stuck right in everyone's face.

I'm confused about the fact that Steve Schopp posted something I agree with. Heh.

I agree with you on the South Waterfront, but I would like to point out two very good things that happened in council during the morning. The council unanimously approved a resolution to look into the sustainability of the police and fire pension and disability system. That's a very good thing, in that property tax "compression" is already resulting in monies being diverted from the parks and childrens levies to fund that hemorrhaging system. They also passed on an "emergency" ordinance to sign off on the purchase of 1.25 million dollars worth of data storage equipment which city technocrats were asking for pending more information and clarification of need, suitability of use and budgeting for same. I was critical of mayor Potter during the campaign, but I was impressed with his leadership during the council session on these two issues. I don't think the condo tower compromise is a done deal yet.

Potter's doing great. The other four, not.

Wasn't most all the South Waterfront area once declared Ground Zero for some of Oregon's worst polluted ground as a result of years of WWII Ship Salvaging? You know, our very own Superfund site?

According to the willamette-riverkeeper.org website, "the Willamette is now on the Clean Water Act 303 (d) list for violations of water quality standards. The Willamette currently violates temperature, bacteria, and mercury standards."

They also point out that "a large section of the river, some 40-miles known as the Newberg Pool, is home to resident fish (those that don't migrate such as the northern pikeminnow) that exhibit high percentages of skeletal deformities. For example, in some samples in this area over 50% of the juvenile fish were deformed. This section of the river, as well as others, contains PCBs, dioxin, and PAH among others."

You certainly wouldn't eat any of the fish or other hapless creatures living in this stuff.

Has anything changed here? Wouldn't it make sense to take care of these issues first, before we dump more millions into lining the developers' pockets again?

It's also the most susceptible spot in the city to major damage in an earthquake. No place to be living 300 feet off the ground.

What! Didn't the US Navy already pay many, many millions to have that mess cleaned up. I can't seem to recall on which Holiday weekend that occurred?

Don't forget that the taxpayers will also get shafted when it's time to clean up that site. Thanks to the Schnitzer's, who owned the land and in a spasm of "generosity" donated it to the city, neatly managing to avoid the clean-up bill.

Re:Newberg Pool and deformed fish. OSU scientists definitively proved that the deformities were cause by a parasite. They tested the water in the Newberg pool and couldn't find pesticides or other toxic materials. Further, even if they had found pesticides, THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC PROOF that pesticides cause any illnesses in humans or animals. All the hoo-hah about it always comes down to "they *could* cause deformities...blah, blah, blah." Read all the way to the bottom of any of these scare pieces to find this info.

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