Reading is fun
I often rag on The Oregonian, sometimes unfairly. And so it's only right that I also testify to that publication's good points. I must confess that rarely have I enjoyed a reading experience as much as I did spending a few minutes with yesterday morning's article on the Portland City Council's rejection of the tax abatement for the proposed luxury rental apartments in the SoWhat district. It just got better and better as it went along, and coupled with an excellent bowl of Wheaties with bananas and Oregon huckleberries, well, it was just a little slice of heaven.
"Trammell Crow has gone by the rules here, but I do think 48 studio units is not sufficient" to attract families to the city, Saltzman said.O Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are callin'!
Two prominent Portland developers and a lobbyist from the Portland Business Alliance tried to sway the council. They argued that businesses need predictability and that a rejection could damage Portland's credibility for future projects.Oh please, Lord, let it be so!
"My fear here is that we're going to have everybody's worst nightmare," [Homer] Williams said. "This is going to be a neighborhood where if you're rich, you can live there. And if you're a worker, you're probably not going to live there."Boo hoo. The only kind of worker these folks care about are black T-shirted single folks who already have tons and tons of empty apartments to choose from all over town -- but not much by way of meaningful career prospects as the city fritters away its economic development potential on Californicated retiree housing. What about working families, Homer? Guess they can stay in the neighborhoods that your good buddy Joe Weston wrecked with junk motel-looking apartments in the '70s.
Cameron Vaughan-Tyler, the Portland Business Alliance's lobbyist, said, "To move the goal posts at this stage of the game is unfair, arbitrary and sends a bad message."By this point, I'm standing on the kitchen counter stool in my bathrobe, whipping a dish towel around and hooting so loud I'm scaring the kids.
Sten argued against the majority, saying their decision "radically changed the city's policies. . . . I think we should just say this policy is off the books."Oh please, Lord, may it be so!
A week earlier, Saltzman asked the developers to see whether they could add two-bedroom apartments while setting aside at least 12 percent of all units for moderate-income renters.There's their ticket to ride. Amazing that construction guys can't read handwriting on a wall. You can't throw Saltzman a bone with two real apartments? Guess you're looking for a way out the door.
Their answer: Adding two or more two-bedroom units would require additional subsidies.
Without their property tax waiver, Trammell Crow executives say the building could become another condo tower. If so, Hinnen said he'll have to find new investors and redesign the building at a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars.There's that civic spirit that endears these guys to us all. Hey, Homer, wake up. Your fixer, Neil, is gone. Your marionette, Vera, is out of the picture. Mazziotti's expense account has expired. The real people of Portland are speaking now, at least for the moment. And, mirabile dictu, the people they elected to run the city are finally listening. Time for you to start checking out another pot of tax money for a target. Spokane? Boise?
Williams, though, said South Waterfront would move on just fine without the apartments.
"What the hell?" Williams said after the meeting. "We can make more money building condos."