This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 8, 2005 3:39 AM. The previous post in this blog was Lifestyles of the Rich and Dead. The next post in this blog is No need to ahsk. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Planned slowdown

For the rest of this week, my posting here is likely to be very light. I'm takin' care of bidness elsewhere.

Try some of the blogs that I have enrolled down a ways over on the left sidebar. Some great writers, thinkers, sweethearts, and goofballs in those ranks. Or feel free to post a comment of your own on this post, about whatever, and get a nice thread going.

I'll catch you later.

Comments (2)

South Watefront, a compromise?
(Chapter two)

Please read chapter one before moving on to chapter two

I remember that a couple weeks ago 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

Steve: Don't overdo it!

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