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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 25, 2005 9:54 PM. The previous post in this blog was Read all about him. The next post in this blog is Jack Bog's Radio, revisited. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Where to begin?

Regular readers of this blog are probably wondering how long it's going to take me to get around to the Portland City Council's stunning denial yesterday of a 10-year property tax abatement for a luxury apartment tower in the SoWhat district being built along the waterfront. Well, it will take a while, for a couple of reasons. First, we've been entertaining guests all week, and that and summer's-end activities are eating up time today. But more importantly, it's taken me the better part of the day to wrap my mind around the enormity of this news. In the three-years-plus that I've been blogging, this is the most important, and encouraging, thing that's happened in city politics.

So stay tuned for the extended discussion. For now, let's just say thank you to Commissioners Randy Leonard, Dan Saltzman, and even Sam Adams(!) for finally, at least once, reflecting the will of the majority of people in Portland when it comes to the misguided juggernaut that's masquerading as "urban renewal."

Comments (16)

Let me put my drink down. Both of them. Okay.

Jack is thanking, gulp, City Commissioner Sam Adams for his vote turning down the tax abatement?

Did I just see a pig race across the night sky?

p.s. Only five more days to return that hideous pink bedspread, Jack!

Sid, excuse me, but you're posting too much. And you're making the same off-topic point that you've already made on another post. Under the comments policy, that earns you a time out.

About time they did something right.

Jack,

Oh, for goodness' sake! You are right to gloat about the city council vote, but please, please don't banish Sid. Of the many points of view from the other side of the aisle, he is among the most entertaining. [And it's not like you don't make toast of his arguments, anyway, so what's to lose?]

So, hey, bring him back! Your lively comment section just will not and cannot be the same without the snarkiness of the posts we deplore.

And here's hoping WWP himself doesn't get 69'd...

--WWP

Sid will be back. But he really has violated the rules, somewhat egregiously, and he and I both need for him to take a break.


It was good to see City Council finally stand up to developers and think about the kids and families who showed up in droves, it would have been particularly ironic at the session they approved millions in tax abatements and made the rich richer, right after sinking the Pier Pool at $80,000/year and didn't approve the repairs for Buckman pool which have served those poorer neighborhoods for years. http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news/1124967546177441.xml?oregonian?lcg&coll=7

I, too, was stunned by this display of backbone. Honestly, I cannot recall the last time the City council voted in reflection of my beliefs. Well, there was that time they finally decided to ditch tarping over the reservoirs - but only after they'd tossed millions of our tax dollars at the project.

This wasn't a case of "backbone" as much as it was a case of bad-faith bargaining on the part of Portland. Trammell Crow did everything that city staff asked them to do for eight months of planning this project, only to be sandbagged at the council meeting.

This is no way to govern a city.

If you listen to City Council Testimony yesterday and read the Oregonian Editorial on the Parks Keeping the Levy Promises for Buckman Pool, those community people also followed "rules" and in good faith felt in voting and campaigning for the Levy their pool would be saved, with the same "good faith", or I would argue even more good-faith as these people voted to tax themselves and volunteered to go door to door. The General fund money is simply not there to do everything. The council has to make choices, on where to allocate it. Yesterday was a good day for families in Portland who worked for thier perk instead of developers that wanted something for nothing.

So you're saying that it's news when Portland's city council acts in good faith, and no big deal when they don't. You're probably right about that.

The architects, draftsmen, project managers, construction workers, subs, and support staff at Trammell Crow are people too, members of families, and taxpayers. Do they deserve to be treated decently, or should they be shat upon by grandstanding politicos?

The apartments in this proposed development would have been occupied by people of above-average intellect who would have paid plenty of income taxes, the life-blood of the Oregon "progressives" who've once again shot themselves in their Birkenstocks by locking them out.

Richard, I can't see how rejecting the Alexan was the "progressive" thing to do. Tax abatement for "smart growth" density infill wonderfulness is a very PC cause. I think it was actually a moderate-to-right-wing move by the Council.

I agree that managed growth, like no growth, is a very PC, Stalinist, and neo-Amish cause, but the revelation that profits are involved (oh horrors!) quite often makes large projects like this one excellent fodder for grandstanding. Add in the fact that Trammell Crow is a TEXAS COMPANY and you've got the makings of demonstrations and conspiracy theories that last as long as Humboldt County grows weed. But that's not the thing that annoys me about the council's vote.

The city of Portland lead Trammell Crow down the bridal path and then left them at the altar. That sort of squirrelly behavior is going to cost Portland dearly in the long run, if not sooner.

One of the great deficiencies of American politics is the dearth of efficient public/private partnerships, so it's sad to see a stark example of double-dealing on the part of the government. Honest, competent government is neither a left- nor a right-wing cause, it's something that everybody should favor.

Richard,
Bullshat
$10 million so that "smart people would have a place to live"
So smart government has to build them charity housing?
What part of give away $10 million for nothing in return do you NOT grasp?
Your "people too" paragraph deserves only what I cannot post.
Keeping, instead of PAYING, property taxes for 10 years is not "profits".
It's charity. What's the name of this TC charity anyway?
TC gets $10 million and their 320 market rate apartment high rise. The axpayers and
public? Nothing.
This “public/private partnership” was the worst possible, one sided, fast and loose PDC
deal.
A deal which "reflected" the gaul of Trammel Crow, Homer and friends who are not
content with enormous financial gains from sweeping zone changes and millions in free
infrastructure.
They wanted a pile of money too.
"Trammel Crow executives appeared shell-shocked" when they didn't get it.
What kills me is TC and the PDC established no mechanism which assured any of the
"charity" tax dollars would truly go towards rent subsidy. It was one of these "trust me" with a wink deals.
And "sorry,no parking space included” in the small print.


Wasn't the subtitle of the recent Enron Movie

"the smartest people in the room"

Some very good discussion going on regarding political decision making and how the outcomes affect our communities. In saving the two pools at the recent council session and not fullfilling "tax relief" for a developer the commissioners got some mileage, the citizens got some "feel good time". But in the long run what have we truly accomplished? I predict that the tax abatement talks will still move forward and the developer will eventually see some relief, for the "promises" he was given to get him to the alter and next year Pier Pool will be threated with closure again. It does not take a crystal ball to see that Pier Pools closure would be bad for low income households that live nearby, but I do not see how high rises will bring livable wage jobs to North Portland households. On the scale of dollars to households which bring more to the quality of their lives?
Just my thoughts.

Richard,

Trying to pawn off 48 small studios as "working class" lower income dwellings was either ignorance or arrogance.

In a fundamentally political process like this, the rules can change.

The developer should have seen the writing on the wall. Yes, they'd worked for months on the plans. But that expense pales next to the profits that they would have made on the building if they'd just paid a bit of attention to the prevailing political winds.

Perhaps Trammell/Crow needs to invest a few cents in a political consultant. If not, then they should not get involved in projects that carry along with them heavy political baggage, as this one does.

The lesson from this will be learned by all the developers. Expect to see a few more two bedroom units in any new apartment complexes.


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