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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Saturday Market move: A done deal?

Here in Portland, when the politicians and bureaucrats ask what you want, there's always that nagging feeling, borne out by countless experiences, that the question you're spending all your energy arguing about has already been decided. Some rich guys are going to get richer, and something you love about the city is about to disappear in the process.

For example, there's been a lot of discussion, here and elsewhere, about the proposal to move the Portland Saturday Market out of its 28-year home under the Burnside Bridge. The Portland Development Commission last week solicited our votes on possible new locations for the weekend craftsfest, with leaving it in its current location one of the options we could vote on.

But is that really an option? The last newspaper story I saw on the market last week made it sound as though the move was a foregone conclusion. It described the situation this way:

The committee, which met Thursday, was formed to find a permanent home for the crafts market, which is currently held most weekends on a patchwork of leased land under the Burnside Bridge. The Saturday Market must move to make room for new development along Northwest Naito Parkway.
I'm not sure whether to trust the O's story. For one thing, I thought that the development that's being talked about for the market site -- condos and a 7-day-a-week public market of some kind -- would be along Southwest Naito, not Northwest.

But on the more important question of whether the move is to take place, perhaps the reporter got it right. Perhaps some PDC or city staffer was being uncharacteristically honest about the current status of the project. With all the talk of leaving the market in its current place, the reality may be that the decision has already been made to uproot it. In that case, the remaining discussion is the usual window dressing of fake public involvement.

That would certainly be consistent with the PDC's modus operandi on the Burnside Bridgehead project, where public process was an obvious sham. It would also be consistent with the City Council's process on the South Waterfront/OHSU Aerial Tram scam, which appeared to have been decided in favor of the developers in a back room long before the final votes were cast in City Hall.

For what it's worth, the official propaganda received from the PDC this week hints that the market will move either across Naito to Waterfront Park, or into a new configuration that somehow combines part of the current location with some space in the park. A block near the Greyhound bus station and Union train station is still being studied, albeit to a lesser extent, as is space under the Morrison Bridge. And oh yes, staying in the current location is still on the official list:

More than 400 Portland residents and Saturday Market visitors and vendors took time to offer their ideas and concerns regarding the seven sites being considered. Your comments have been reviewed and summarized and will be posted on the PDC and Saturday Market websites next week. This input was also presented to a Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) on November 17. The SAC relied heavily on the public input in making its recommendation to narrow the study from seven to three sites: Waterfront Park (D), at or near the Current Location (E), and an option looking at a combination of D and E. The SAC included two additional sites that they want to investigate further: U & R Blocks (A) and Morrison Bridge Blocks (F).
The map is here.

Comments (2)

Bits of information have suggested the Saturday Market move is due to more than making room for a new development. I've read comments from at least one Market vendor on both sides of the issue.
But I have never seen any story that tries to explain the whole situation.

Does anybody have more information about what is going on? For example, How did the Market end up where it is? Does it pay rent on the space? Is the Saturday Market unable to pay for a building it owns? Are the vendors being undercut by a seperate market just across the tracks? What is the Saturday Market's official position on this move? Is this entire story about a developer forcing out a part of Portland to throw up another condo tower?

I am speaking on behalf of several vendors who feel out of the loop with regards to what is going on. Nobody as of yet has published or explained the entire situation to US. Every weekend I get questions from my customers that I can only half answer at best. All we get are bits and pieces of the ever expanding puzzle. This is so frustrating and unfair to say the least. NO,a large majority of us do not trust the PDC or the City to make the correct decision for us. We the vendors know what is best for us , NOT the PDC, Not the CITY. This whole "asking the public for opinions" is the oldest trick in the book. The powers that be have already made their decisions.I for one do not understand why our "existing site" is still an option and apparently has been one of the options to begin with. The general public and city officials still remain ignorant to the fact that people actually make a LIVING WAGE selling their handcrafted goods. There is a lot riding on the final decision. The money that I make isn't my little fun money stash. My Market wages plus the money from wholesale contacts that I have made at the market pays my mortgage, all the rest of my bills, my health insurance and finally, my freakin TAXES!

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