This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 28, 2005 12:52 PM. The previous post in this blog was Free Buster. The next post in this blog is Tick, tick, tick. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Friday, January 28, 2005

Where Portland is heading

As we ponder how the South Waterfront development is going to look with its collection of bulky, 325-foot-tall condo towers, let's keep an eye on how tall and obstructive that really is. Here's the Mark Hatfield Courthouse, which is 318 feet tall:

Here's the Congress Center (formerly the Orebanco Building), the seventh-tallest building in Portland, at 322 feet tall:

Here's the ODS Tower (a.k.a. the Odious Tower), at 308 feet tall:

Now picture a bunch of these lined up side by side, right on the river, and you've got North Macadam. This is as creative as the city's planning bureaucrats can get. "If you don't like sprawl, you have to have these." Thank you, Vera, Neil, Erik, Randy, Dan and Sam, for this stunning vision.

This project inspires me to dream about two new citizen initiatives:

1. Boycott the South Waterfront district. Let the retailers know now that we won't ever shop there. Get some signs and bumper stickers going. That ought to slow things down a little. Maybe we could practice by boycotting the Pearl.

2. Repeal the City of Portland urban renewal property tax. Since it's being spent on junk like this, let's dry up the funds. Can you imagine what would happen if the angry neighborhoods of Portland (pardon the redundancy) and the Lars Larsonites got together and put that on the ballot? Homer Williams might have to move to Boise.

Comments (46)

Go BoJack!! It looks as the dark haze that has been hanging over Porkland for many years is starting to dissolve. Perhaps its caused by Global Warming?

I already boycott the Pearl- have since it's inception. Both of your ideas are excellent!

interesting. if only the mainstream media would make these comparisons, then people may look up from thier double tall lattes and pay attention. Well stated Jack. Though I'm supportive of s. waterfront because I like cities and progress, I think you make a good point.
question - what's the elevation of some of the building you pointed out in relation to the s. waterfront - i.e. it's downhill a little from the commerce center, so is the commerce center really 350ft above the willamette?


To be fair, I think the towers are going to be skinny and not blockish. However I'm not 100% sure. And if they build a bunch of square towers down there, it truly will be a travesty.

That said: I would definately vote for a ballot measure that repealed all urban renewal property taxes. Its ridiculous that all this so called urban renewl money goes toward building condos for wealthy people.

Yeah, they'll move into their half million dollar condos and go over at shop at the big box stores on the east Burnside bridge.

Don't these guys have any vision. We already have a Pearl District with expensive shops and condos.

Boise won't take Homer. They're building roads over there.

If you get Critical Mass to ride along Macadam, I'm in.

i would be happy to lead such an effort bojack. you gonna help me?

Actually, Lars, the outcome I really want is to keep the tax, but change what it is being spent on. But I think it's going to take the threat of something more drastic to get any real reform.

So far so good with Potter. It would be nice if he could throw a wrench in this plan.

Sounds like he had a good time with Critical Mass yesterday. Maybe the overly hyped-up-ready-to-pepper-spray Portland police will lay off.

Are you going to take Lars up on his offer?

I'm not sure I'd get too closely allied with Lars, but I'd support anything that radically changes the way "urban renweal" is done in Portland -- even if that meant doing away with it.

BTW, does anybody on the left think that the empty-nesters that live in these condos are going to vote for taxes to pay for schools and other social services?

BTW, does anybody on the left think that the empty-nesters that live in these condos are going to vote for taxes to pay for schools and other social services?

Well, the condo-owner keeps getting exempt from payments to Local Improvement Districts for things like the streetcar and light rail, if I recall correctly. So maybe they will have a little extra pocket cash around somewhere. ;)

I thought the school populations in Portland proper were on the decline. Why should people pay more to educate fewer students? And why don't you demand that your governments collect the same property taxes from wealthy new condo owners as they do from homeowners in the rest of the city?

And as for "pepper-spray-happy police," I hope the mayor lent a little law-abidingness to the often drunk-on-itself and out-of-control Critical Mass. And yes, I have ridden a bicycle thousands and thousands and thousands of miles in Oregon. That group doesn't do their own any favors.

Hey Jack... Maybe I missed it, but would you mind sharing why you hate the idea of South Waterfront redevelopment? I mean, besides the funding questions and the political battles - what's wrong with waterfront towers per se? They look quite lovely in Vancouver BC to me.

That comment speaks for itself. If these other places are so cool, why don't you just move there and leave us with an alternative? There's so much more North Macadam could have been. Open space, environmentally conscious, family friendly, egalitarian, in touch with history and culture... but no, we have to try to make it into San Francisco or Vancouver, B.C., or Barcelona, or some other ridiculous analogy.

That's all a bill of goods. South Waterfront is really about Californication, and the bank accounts of people like Peter Kohler, Homer Williams and Neil Goldschmidt. The middle-class sheep and unemployed "creative class" who can't see this, and go along in the name of hipster "planning," are pathetic dupes.

I've said it here before: Anyone who would move to Portland, Oregon and pay $1 million to live in an apartment tower is mentally ill. And wait 'til you see their politics. They won't be posting on "BlueOregon," that's a safe bet.

Got it, thanks. I'm not sure I disagree with you. Still pondering it all.

Certainly, leaving it as a brownfield isn't a good idea - so some sort of redevelopment is excellent; just the question of what kind of redevelopment.

Thanks for keeping up the drumbeat - I do think most Portlanders will be astounded when the doors finally open down there. It's a huge area; bigger in acreage than downtown.... and one day, it's just going to materialize from thin air for most people.

"South Waterfront is really about Californication...."

So was/is the Pearl. In spades.

One of my sets of grandparents had a house decades back in Northwest Portland, behind where Trader Joe's is now. As much as that area has phenomenally changed from those old working class days, it is still "Portland." The Pearl is not Portland. Or at least it is not "old" Portland and it is not "still" Portland. It is a New, very Californicated Portland.

I don't know which is the cart and which is the horse: if you build it, they will come; or they came and are building it.

I doubt it can be stopped. But good luck cutting back on behemoths along that waterfront. I would hope your idle speculation of what it could be would be more than idle. But more & more you will be having the conversation with the very Californians whose style you are crying over and decrying.

Hopefully with additional activism such as yesterday's meeting between neighborhood groups and the mayor will lead to a much better South Waterfront. In every conceivable way. As word circulates, I can imagine Willamette Riverkeepers, Executive Club, Audubon, Oregonians in Action, 1000 Friends of Oregon, City Club and a few others from both sides of eternity to sign on to the opposition.
If any of you are from these groups please contact me for additional information.

Thought us former Californians might need some sticking up for...I live in a lovely little house in Sellwood, where I shop at New Seasons and get tea at Ugly Mug. I vote as blue as blue can be. I volunteer 20-30 hours each week with the Oregon Bus Project. Right now, I am doing a ton of work to get people to go to Salem for a school funding rally.

We are not all bad. Most Californians I know are progressive, frustrated with the poor planning that has ruined SoCal and is ruining the Bay Area, and admire old Portland.

On another note, what do people think we should do with the South Waterfront???

Well, we could start by giving the property BACK to the Schnitzer's and let them pay the astronomical cost of clean up. Most of the area slated for development down there has quite alot of toxins in the ground.

The usual Portland story- the rich get richer and richer and walk away from responsibilities like pollution clean-up, and we middle classers get stuck with the bill. Portland, Oh Portland......

Yes! Back to the topic - stop paying taxes on Urban Renewal projects!! Better yet - abolish urban renewal altogether. Pay off existing debt with all the wonderful higher property taxes urban renewal advocates keep talking about and STOP! Oh, wait... maybe they're not getting such wonderful tax income, given the big breaks for the Pearl and other areas.
Voters support abolishing urban renewal plans every time they get enough information to understand what is at stake for them (hint: losing tax revenue for schools, police, fire, libraries, roads, and whatever else local property taxes take care of). That's a dirty little secret The Big O and others in Portland don't want you to know.

Hmmm, I'm ranting. Better stop.

Just believe me - urban renewal isn't doing any favors for anyone, except the people already identified in the comments here.

It is possible to get an initiative petition to put a measure on the ballot to abolish urban renewal. There are already at least two successful precedents that I know of. If you knew how much of your money was going into these projects and how little (ok, none) you will get back, you'd even be willing join Lars in a project to abolish urban renewal in Portland!

What are we waiting for?

South Waterfront

1) Recognize and spread the word on it's enormous adverse impact in every way possible. Info/proof is available.

2) Second put aside any and all partisan paranoia, hatred, disdain and chatter for this one issue.

3) Ferociously in any way possible demand that the City Council NOT approve (or postpone) the even worse concessions in next Wednesdays hearing.
Every individual and group must do this prior to or during the hearing if public testimony will be allowed.

4) Organize the opposition into one written voice listing all groups and individuals.

4) Demand that the city halt and review the plan which was developed with the city planners repeatedly misrepresenting the size and scope of the development.

5) Demand that all public funding of (Urban Renewal and other PDC tools) be suspended pending a review.

6) Insist that Mayor Potter order the city planners to develop real world, to scale depictions/ drawings and photographs for the entire proposed South Waterfront plan. We shouldn't pay taxes for planning agencies then rely on activists to do the accurate work voluntarily.

7) Insist that Mayor Potter order the city to pay for an independent estmate/audit of all likely public costs related to South Waterfront.

8) Have an interim conference with all interested opposition to consider the progress?

9) List and describe the better outcome for South Waterfront and seek feedback from the property owners.

10) Insist that the City permanently assign an office to represent solely the public interest so that when future misrepresentations are found immediate work by the CITY itself can be initiated to correct it. Requests could be made by the neighborhood associations and the city would have to comply.
As an example, if this were in place long ago the city would have been required to prepare "to scale" drawings and depictions of any developments in question. In this case the buildings heights, widths, numbers and impacts would have been made apparent sooner rather than later.

11) Organize a walk/bike demonstration for Next Saturday. Have everyone who is interested in stopping South Waterfront contribute. The universal, cross party dynamics would send a huge message.
I really don't care who, of what political persuasion, contributes.
It could be an extraordinary coalition for this one issue.
Something in the way of 1000 Friends and Oregonians In Action both being represented along with others who are polar opposites.
Try this out.
Can you imagine if Critical Mass and Lars Larson both joined in and rode together in opposition?

I already checked Lars said he will do it.

Someone check with Critical Mass and others and let's get cracking.

We can beat up on each other another day. After we put the kabash on this South Waterfront Cabal.

I don't know that you're going to stop South Waterfront. And I don't think you're going motivate a lot of people to act in a short time. But I think it's possible to slow the bad trend way down, and stop the next ones that are sure to follow if something isn't done. A nice several months of debate on a real ballot measure aimed at the property tax angle would be very beneficial.

(hint: losing tax revenue for schools, police, fire, libraries, roads, and whatever else local property taxes take care of).

This is oversimplified. In an URA, taxing is capped at a value level assessed at the time of the URA's creation. Taxes up to that level of value continue to be paid as always. Increase in value, above that cap, in the URA as development happens goes to pay off the bonds.

There's also one type of URA in which the value above the cap that is created through development is split, with some going to payoff the bonds, and some going to the taxing jurisdictions.

I'm not saying stop fighting against urban renewal if that' what you want to do. I'd just encourage having the facts of how urban renewal works first.

Ahem, no, b!X, you have a blind spot on this. A goodly portion of every Portlander's property tax bill -- for example, mine, who do not live in an URA -- goes to City of Portland urban renewal projects. In fact, it's 7.89% of my property tax bill, several hundred dollars a year. Although some folks like Lars would see it differently, I'd gladly continue to pay that for police, schools, and mental health for the indigent. But I'm very tired of paying it for the Pearl District, streetcar, tram, and other toys, and would gladly support a measure to block the use of these citywide property tax dollars for the joke that urban renewal in this city has become.

I understand there's a separate line-item, that just wasn't what I was addressing. I was addressing a specific and incomplete reference/description of what "establishing urban renewal plans" entails.

As for the line-item, support or oppose, there's info here, which, for all of the blind spot you refer to, I've pasted a link to here at least once before.

Also a somewhat arcane description from Sandy, Oregon.

I also seem to have covered this arcane weirdness back in March of last year.

Also, as I understand some of the reading I'm sitting here doing, the line-item is the result of imposing a special levy, which was a mehtod authorized by the passage of Measure 50 in order to offset the damage M50 would have done to exisitng URAs and their ability to repay their debt.

Those special levies appear to only be usable for URAs which existed prior to, I think, December of 1996. In Portland's case, thats means Convention Center, Downtown Waterfront,? South Park Blocks, and Airport Way.

What I haven't yet determined is if that means the special levy goes away when those URAs expire, or continue for some period after expiration in order to continue paying the debt.

(For what it's worth: Convention Center expires in 2013, Downtown Waterfront in 2008, South Park Blocks in 2008, and Airport Way's expiration I can't seem to find.)

Again, not that I'm saying don't oppose the line item/special levy. I'm just trying to help flesh out the story behind it.

What I haven't yet determined is if that means the special levy goes away when those URAs expire, or continue for some period after expiration in order to continue paying the debt.

Actually, I think I have the answer to this. Not to keep flooding your comments, but since I'm up and reading, I may as well pass along what I find, because now I've found out what happens to special levy money after an Options 3 URA expires. What follows I'm getting from the Google cache, in HTML format, of a pdf from the Portland Development Commission which was intended to answer questions about Downtown Waterfront URA.

If an Option 3 UTA expires without having incurred the maximum allowable indebtedness, it seems that one of three things can be done with its portion of special levy monies: It could be reallocated to other Option 3 URAs, the total amount of the special levy could be reduced, thereby reducing property taxes, or it could be used "to redeem bonds prior to maturity".

The standard or baseline is that when an Option 3 URA expires, "divide-the-taxes" revenues and special levy monies go towards servicing that URA's incurred debt, until that debt is paid.

The problem I think people will have if they try to go after the special levy/line item is that it's there because M50's provisions would have left what we call Option 3 URAs without the ability to pay off their debts. So M50 authorized special levies in order to fill the gap for URAs which existed prior to M50's passage.

In other words, if you kill off the special levy/line item, four of Portland's URAs might not be able to service their debts in time.

I say might because I assume it would take a financial analysis of the increases in value in those Option 3 URAs to actually find out if that's true or not.

Those URA expiration dates are very soft, as you know. They seem to keep getting renewed.

If Lars were to really get into this, I'm sure he'd have the Don McIntyres of the world (or whatever his name is) scope out what could and couldn't be done. Maybe we're stuck with this property tax for a while longer. But it can't be forever, can it? And my push would be to get rid of it as soon as is legally possible.

I'm sure the preference of the city planning folks and PDC honchos would be to leave the tax in place indefinitely, and keep the slush fund rolling even after existing bonds are paid off.

BTW, there's a separate set of line items on the tax bill for bond levies (including the school district's). This line item is not in that section.

Good luck cutting through the smoke and mirrors.

The renewal of URAs is an issue, to be sure. There is, at some point, supposed to be (I think) a study of all of Portland's URAs. If I can figure out if that's true, and when it's supposed to happen (if it isn't underway already), I'll let y'all know, because if the special levy/line item mater is of concern, you should probably request that it be part of the study. And I say that even knowing that I'm not sure I agree with the opposition.

One other item to consider, given Jack's willingness to pay that amount, but for basic services rather than urban renewal: If, hypothetically, people were successful at killing off the special levy, the region's conservatives would never let you institute a comparable tax that went to basic services.

That might not stop anyone from demanding an end to paying for urban rewewal in this manner, of course. I just don't think anyone would succeed in getting that amount of money instituted as a tax for something else.

Once it isn't being collected for UR, it isn't going to reappear on the tax bills targeted for something else -- the Right would never let that happen.

So be it, then. If it's tram or nothing, I'll take nothing.

What's wrong with the tram? Architecturally interesting cities are not built by penny pinching misers, it takes some class, imagination and flair to accomplish that. Think Eiffel tower for example, what functional purpose it was supposed to serve? Was moving the freeway to rebuild the waterfront a sensible use of taxpayer money? Or esplanade? Somehow I doubt Jack would have approved any of them.

Actually, I like the Esplanade a lot. It's there for every Portlander to use, and it made an ugly scene a lot brighter. I didn't oppose its construction, and I'm glad I didn't.

The tram, on the other hand, is a needless toy for a very few rich people that will hurt a working-class neighborhood that deserves better. It will cost a fortune to build and a steady ransom to run, all of which will somehow be imposed on the peons below. My posts on this are too numerous to list -- just run "tram" through the search box.

I wasn't here when the waterfront got straightened out. But again, given its benefit to all residents and visitors, I have to believe I would have supported it.

I'm not cheap. I voted for the county income tax, and against its repeal. I'm just an Oregonian who's tired of working his tail off to build condo towers.

But if we stop the South Waterfront Condos where will all the retired politicians go to live tax free? The Pearl is filled up.

When the idea of the Tram first surfaced the cost was anticipated to be around $8.5 million. It has now soared to $40 million and has promised to be the "right Tram for the right price".
This demonstrates a mindset that public cost is not a factor in determining success or worthiness. Of course the other thought is what else could $40 million do? Apparently nothing so go ahead with the Tram??

In reality the Tram is inefficient and a tremndous waste of money and will not help with any transportation need.

The cost of Tram is monstrous. That makes it preposterous.

Been away from the keyboard for a few days. You've made the point a couple of times that if people like Vancouver or Prague or SF do damn much, why not just move there? It's been a problem I've had with Portland and Oregon for a long time. There's this "me too" attitude among politicians that says if one city has it, we need to do it as well. I'll never forget reading Vera gush as she walked out of a sales pitch regarding the tram. "It will be out post card to the world!" she said. Seattle has its Needle, New York has its ESB, Sydney has its bridge. Now Portland can have its tram. Only we already have a post card. It's called Mt. Hood. And with a bunch of new buildings blocking even more views, maybe the tram is all we'll have left.

Like Lars, I live across the river now, so there's not a lot I can do to affect the ballot in PDX. But I'm more than happy to boycott.

What I am witnessing is an inability of people to focus, stay focused and do something about what is clearly the most publiclly offensive devlopment in Portland's history. This South Watefront, riddled with red flags and fatal flaws of all sorts, is far worse that the water buruea computer debackle, resevoir covering, Sellwood Bridge closing to transit and trucking, PDC Creative Services Building mis-adventure, convention center expansion, Shipyard/drydock sale and airport hanger/maintenance boondoggle COMBINED.
Yet, the public urgency pales in comparison to the reaction to the Portland Healthy Streams Program which died as a result of the public uprising.
Moving forward with South Waterfront as now crafted is the worst possible outcome for the central city.

How is it that such an insulting monolith of long term obstruction,waste and illconvceived chaos can move forward to implementation when it is so staggeringly BAD on all counts?

Perhaps the region is in such overall chaos that focus and reation is not possible.

Just too much to ponder.

I'm trying to get worked up about this issue and having a hard time doing so. My objections to the project involve relative quibles about the size, not the idea of building density in the center of the city.

True I would not choose to live in a waterfront tower (or be able to do so), but some people presumably will like tower living.

I support the urban growth boundary, and ipso facto this implies building up instead of out.

I support the urban growth boundary so that means I feel logically compelled to support height and density within the boundary.

As a general principle I think that social density is a good thing... particularly if it creates urban environments where people want to live... and are willing to pay to live... including, I hope, the payment of taxes to support urban life.

If this little island of urban life we call Portland is going to survive out here in Oregon it will surely do so by creating a city worth inhabiting.... one that draws new people and new money.

Again, one can quibble about tower height. One can argue about design. It is certainly legitimate to protest the impact of development on neighborhoods. But what sense does it make to lament, fundamentally, the process of change whereby the City of Portland becomes a denser urban environment that serves as an attractant for young, creative and dynamic individuals? Or for older wealthier retirees?

I'm not involved in the details of South Waterfront... I don't know who is scratcing whom's back. I don't know how to weigh the loss of the views of an old neighborhood against the acquisition of views by a new one.

But sitting here in NE Portland I see that the central city area is growing, attracting new money, new people, and I'm not clear on why I should object. In fact I think that's what I bargained for when I supported the urban growth boundary. Isn't it?

Love the new masthead Jack!


If this were simnply about a few views or design
there would not be any noticeable oppostion.
The blocking of views is MASSIVE and it's right along the river, stretching the length from riverplace to John's landing area. Someone said it is like placing the tallest people in the front of the theater. The public cost in dollars and other detriments is staggering.
Money we cannot afford to waste let alone on private for profit devlopment.
The theme has been "density" at all costs without regard for a single impact on the immediate area or greater Portland.
Planners have no idea how the area will handle traffic for instance. This approach is reckless and is already showing signs of tremendous failure. The closing of the Sellwwod Bridge to transit and truck traffic (due to it's neglected condition) is a prime example of planning without regard for basic planning principals. This is sign of declining livability not the improvement. The cost of the proposed Tram is half the cost of a new bridge. How wise is placing the Tram ahead of the Bridge? 34,000 vehicles of all kinds use the Sellwood Bridge every day.
Affection for the UGB and it's concepts is one thing but blind adornment is quite another.
In the case of South Waterfront, city officials are giving away everything in pursuit of higher density. The number of housing units for the area has escalated from 2000 to 8000 with no assessment on how the area will handle that
growth. Is it responsible planning to move forward with such reckless abandonment of basic common sense?
Nothing good can come from a process which places no limit on cost and density while ignoring the consequences of that blind limitlessness.
Is that a word?

"If this little island of urban life we call Portland is going to survive out here in Oregon it will surely do so by creating a city worth inhabiting.... one that draws new people and new money."

Was ever a place not improved by importing more and more new people and new money? There's a question for the ages -- or the town. The state's answer used to be different.

Indeed, Mr. Schopp, limitlessness is a word -- one more and more in use.

South Watefront, a compromise?
(Chapter two)

Please read chapter one before moving on to chapter two

I remember that some folks were unaware that the 325 ft. limit for SoWa was established 2 years ago and is not part of the new proposal to get rid of other limitations.
People are rightfully opposing a change which would make those 325 ft. buildings wider and closer together,
but many are likely UNAWARE that there is NO CURRENT RESTRICTIONS on any SoWa buildings 250 ft. or less.

The entire area is already zoned for unlimited building widths, spacing and crowding for heights up to
250 feet or around 25 stories.
Imagine a four block thick wall of 250 feet tall buildings (with 325 ft. towers above that) running along the river from Riverplace to the Spaghetti House.

Riverplace where a 150 ft. cap is being maintained to preserve current high rise views should and could be the model for South Waterfront if folks would demand that model.
The ability to stop this assault on the City exists. The Mayor received over 400 E-mails a couple weeks ago when folks were outraged over the proposed changes.
However, even then, folks were UNAWARE that the proposed changes were already codified for buildings 250 ft. and less two years ago.

In other words, what people found most offensive, (excessively tall buildings with no limit on width, spacing and overall footprint) has been the zoning standard for all of South Waterfront for TWO YEARS now, for buildings up to 250 ft.

And again, the 325 ft. building height limit was also approved two years ago.

The current proposed concessions for developers seeks to remove the only remaining limitations to building dimensions and spacing left. Those addressing any 325 ft buildings.

Again, there are no remaining limitations on any buildings 250 ft. or less and have not been for two years. The city and press have had two years to make that clear and have not.

The three changes would
1) Remove the 125 ft. width limit on 325 ft. buildings
2) Remove the 200 ft. between building spacing requirement on 325 ft. buildings.
3) Removes the 10,000 sq. ft. floor plate limit for 325 ft. buildings.

These changes if approved will result in the entire SoWa having no limits on building dimensions and spacing at all.

These changes mean a lot to the developers of the first 325 ft. tower now under construction. It seems that first tower, having a building permit for foundation work only is being built at a 12,000 sq. ft. floor plate dimension, which would limit the height to 250 ft. They want the building to be 325 ft. to allow an additional 30 or so condos and many millions more in value.

This is why if there must be a false "compromise" it's the unlimited floor plate increase they are after.
This is a compromise where the public gets nothing that doesn't already exist and the developer has millions to gain.

Apparently there has been some winking and nodding signals given by city officials since that first tower is being promoted as 325 ft. 12,000 sq. ft. tower. A size not currently allowed.

Curiously the proposed changes in building standards are coming from the design commission when changes to standards are required to be processed through the planning commission.
Furthermore the changes, which cover all of South Waterfront, appear to have been generated by the design commission itself and not by an applicant as required. Who is the applicant?

Can or will SoWa ever be developed if the current plan is altered?
Of course and the public has much to gain from forcing the city back to the drawing board.

Contrary to news reports of developers suggesting so, the current objections and scenario surrounding the SoWa have nothing to do with any business unfriendliness or anti-business sentiment. This notion, with help from the press, is being used by developers as a lever to tip City Council towards approval.
Council members should remember that hundreds of millions of tax dollars are at also at stake.

SoWa is prime, river front, city center property with owners who previously spent considerable sums on plans to develop the area with compatible scale and without public funding.
The City of Portland killed those plans and have now turned the planned development into the worse possible scenario. High public cost, worst possible effect on the city and highest benefit for the developers.

South Waterfront is a recipe for a costly, dysfunctional and congested rat race with monolithic monstrosities blocking countless views. The river, Ross Island and Mt Hood from the West, hillsides, sunsets from the East, while delivering long term debt, irreversible tax subsidy dependency and a plan-less boondoggle advanced along a process riddled with red flags and fatal flaws.

And I haven't even mentioned the $40 million Tram, plans that change housing numbers from 2000 to 8000 or the baseless promise of 10,000 biotech jobs and $1 billion in research revenue.

How many times must the public purchase, bargain or compromise for the glorified sidewalk greenway along the river?
With the city granting so many concessions it appears the public has bargained for the same greenway many times over.
Every time the developer/property owners and city planners get something they claim we are getting a greenway in exchange.
A greenway which was required all along, was never at risk, and could be a much nicer public enhancement even if a few of the 100's of millions of tax dollars headed for the development were used to simply buy it.

Through all of this SoWa planning process, one has to wonder who has been looking out for the public interest. It sure hasn't been the City, Metro or our newspapers.

Steve Schopp


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Where Portland is heading:

» Urban Renewal, Property Tax Bills, And The Special Levy (Oh My!) from The One True b!X's PORTLAND COMMUNIQUE
There's nothing quite like a little late night excursion into the arcana of (as the headline says) urban renewal, property tax bills, and special levies. But there's been a nice little thread raging ov... [Read More]

» North Macadam Urban Renewal from BlueOregon
B!x has done the community a service with this excellent explanation of Urban Renewal Districts. Urban Renewal is very arcane stuff and his explanations are good. I was in the State Senate in 1996 when Measure 47 passed, the [Read More]

Clicky Web Analytics