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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 26, 2005 10:47 PM. The previous post in this blog was Apology. The next post in this blog is H-O-L-M-E. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

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.

Their answer: Adding two or more two-bedroom units would require additional subsidies.

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.

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.

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."

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?

Comments (19)

There really is nothing better than reading a good newspaper article in the morning. I usually mix in a cup of coffee, and I'm usually reading the Sports page, but I hear you.

The most interesting thing in this article is how tone deaf Sten is on almost every topic now. Any clues on his future, I guess he always has Randy (even he knows which way the wind is blowing if you discount the PGE idiocy) as a friend.


It's important that ordinary people flood the commissioners e-mail with positive KUDO's or their opinion on this. You all know that the TC folks and their paid lobbyists will be hounding the halls of City Hall, they need to hear from regular people. Good luck on the Radio Sunday Jack, I know I will be listening. Kudo's to you also for this Blog.

I am thinking that perhaps good and popular blogs like this one may be influencing our city elders realize there is a public interest beyond aggegated special interests and to LISTEN. As for the Oregonian, some people over there try hard and the paper seems to be improving-and sometimes produces really good articles. BUT if whoever it is who using the front page to promote the agenda of an untoward clique would STOP IT and start INVESTIGATING the clique instead, the crowd over there would hear more compliments and fewer complaints.

Thank you, folks. Some days -- I like to think even most days -- this blog is a good thing. But like so many one-person soapboxes, it's got the disadvantages of not having a collaborator or supervision. And the ability to publish instantly has its clear dangers.

The tax abatement was a good vote but one thing you might ask Randy is regarding his comment two hearings ago when he declared South Waterfront a success.
It may be a success that the property owners/developers successfully partnered with the city to get $277 million in free infrastucture, swepping zone changes to allow 325 ft. buildings and the silly Tram [rim shot].
But it may be a wee bit premature to declare South Waterfront a success since it is just now coming out of the ground.

Cynthia, Randy Leonard's already said his reading of blogger Isaac Lacqudem's analysis of the proposed Alexan tax abatements strongly influenced his decision - he even stated he 'borrowed' some of Isaac's arguments as part of his own statement after his no vote.

Thanks, Betsy, I will check it out. Jack, at least blogs like this balance out the publications like the Oregonian where there is over-cautious know-it-all supervision and not enough intellectual curiosity and critical thinking. I think they help ward off journalistic complacency.

You're right on target here, Jack. You deserve a Pulitzer prize for your wonderful analysis and great writing.

Keep it up!

Doug

Understand The O. It is the principal daily owned by the NYC-based Advance Publications - Conde Nast outfit. You know the look and feel. Vanity Fair. The New Yorker. Etc. For their own corporate purposes, their vision of Portland is of a Manhattan-on-the-Willamette, and the editor is a hired gun from back east placed here to prevent reality from interfering with the Old Grey Lady pretension: maintaining one set of rules for those with whom they agree and another set for those with whom they disagree. That is the definition of a "double standard" - more usual in the mix of glitz and glamour rags, but not appropriate at all for a statewide monopoly news daily.

. . .And if you're a worker, you're probably not going to live there."

JK: A lousy 15% non-rich people apartments do not make a mixed neighborhood.

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."

JK: The GOOD message is that upper income welfare is being questioned in Portland.

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.

JK: For over $1000 per MONTH per unit subsidy, they canít put in an extra bedroom?

"What the hell?" Williams said after the meeting. "We can make more money building condos."

Jack: Time for you to start checking out another pot of tax money for a target. Spokane? Boise?

JK: Is it time to print up some bumper stickers? Kick Homerís thieving butt out of town.

Kick the PDC's theiving butt out of town.

Do some serious and detailed thieving butt analysis, then round THEM ALL up and drive em out of town no matter what their friends on the ethics committees and internal review boards, or at the O say. Seriously, maybe Oregon starts looking a lot like the wild, wild west when our institutions are being too heavily influenced by outlaws.

A couple of years ago, I looked at apartments at The Lovejoy. It is a subsidized building. I was astounded to find that the income limits there were $38K/year, for "low income" housing. The apartment I looked at I believe was $900/month. This was low-income housing and income levels, I thought?

I staggered outside. A woman was standing on the curb and I had to share this discovery with her. "My daughter lives there, and she makes $38K/year. It adds diversity to the Pearl," she rudely snorted.

I expect it is the same sort of "low income" and "diversity" that would have been "subsidized" in SoWhat.

Breathtaking. But as I've said before, I have just never breathed air that rare.

Kick PDC's theiving butt out of town

I kinda like the look of that.
JK

Kick Homer's theiving butt out of town

Looks kinda nice too.

Maybe I'll order up some of each.
JK

There is an indication that the PDC had promised other developers the same tax abatment as the Alexan.

Who are those Developers and what projects?

In the hearings it was said that the PDC staff had been working with Trammel Crow for months.

Doing what?
Beyond the policy of 15% units required to meet the affordable housing tax abaetment what was the PDC doing?

Moreover what could they have been doing in the public's interest if they deliver such a poor recommendation for the public?

The PDC must be opened up to extensive public records requests and investigation.

There is no way the public is currently getting a true tally of costs or activities at that agency.


You are right on target, Dan. I took a tax bill and did some tunneling around in the city budget for numbers.

For a House near Grant HS, @Accessed Value of $222,800 they paid, $391.45 in Urban Renewal Money, $500.94 for the infamous Police and Fire disability fund. Compare this with $82 for the Parks Levy, which brought their Parks spending up to $274.04 or Portland Taxpayers appear to be spending $117.41 more for Urban Renewal then for City Parks. The total City of Portland share was $957.30 which part of is the Parks Roads Police and Fire Services. Compare that with $391.45 for Urban Renewal. Kindo makes one think about prioities in spending and where and why the money is going to Urban Renewal.

I ran the numbers on my own most recent property tax bill here. Of the property tax dollars I pay to the City of Portland, they go here:

"City of Portland" 46.43%
"City of Portland Child Loc Op" 4.11%
"City of Portland Parks Loc Op" 3.99%
"Portland Police/Fire Pension" 24.30%
"Urban Renewal - Portland" 18.99%
"City of Portland Bonds" 2.18%
Total 100.00%




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