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Friday, January 20, 2006


The South Waterfront district development continues to gobble up local tax dollars like a Pac Man on steroids. The fine folks at the Portland Development Commission are meeting on Wednesday, when they'll officially amend their budget to throw another $2.58 million in this fiscal year for the aerial tram (apparently, rather than waiting 'til next year as originally planned to spend that much). They're also apparently adding $2.54 million for that $7 million contaminated Public Storage property that's been purchased for the yuppie park.

Read it and weep on page 10 of this pdf document.

Comments (12)

More money for the "park"?

Does that mean they'll return the $1 million+ they raided from the Parks Bureau budget?

I mean, really, the price shouldn't have changed since the last time, should it? I thought that was a stupid done deal.

Hell, if it's not, bail on that one, too!

Also, I understand the land the storage facility is built on has toxic contamination, too? The current owner is going to clean that up? Or, the source of the contamination, at least?

The city (YOU AND ME) will be responsible for the toxic waste in the Moody St. Park.

One should also wonder why the City would wait two years to purchase the Park land when it was an early requirement of the Planning Process to have a park of this size. (actually there were four parks designated a few years ago throughout the mile plus length of NM) By waiting these 2 years plus, the land value has more than doubled. So we are stuck paying $7.2M for just the block vs $2M to $3M if purchased two or more years ago. That is City of Portland fiscal planning. And still in the recently proposed 5 year budget for NM released at the URAC meeting this wseek, the park improvements are unfunded-no money.

I don't know how true this is, but the tale is that the NM/SoWhat planning area already had a designated area for parks, but Williams wanted to build a condo tower on the site, so he talked the city (PDC) into purchasing the storage facility land for park space. Williams makes more money and avoids the extra costs of having to deal with the toxic site.

It must be nice to have a government assuring that you don't lose money.

Jack, you're a tax expert, correct? Is it true that Oregon Revised Statutes provide a mechanism for local government borrowing to be referred to the ballot, provided enough registered voters sign a petition? Does this apply to rrban renewal borrowing as well? A well organized effort to gather enough signatures to refer PDC borrowing to the ballot could shut down this project, as well as others, could it not??

The $2.54 million is because PDC acted on the mistaken belief that "RMV" at the assessors office actually means real market value. Instead, it is a low-ball number aimed that serves usually nefarious objectives. If this is incompetence shrouded in wishful thinking, not much can be done. If its negligence or malfeasance, then one could argue that it's fraud.

Over at garagewine.blogspot.com, the case is made for an inquiry into whether fraud was committed by Matt Brown and Vic Rhodes regarding the Tram [rimshot] costs.

I realize that this is an absolute wasted effort on my part, but there are places that have been built in America were the developer builds, or pays for the parks, streets, lighting, etc. It is not necessarily a function of the government to do these things. A huge portion of Chicago and Kansas City were developed by private organization, or individual builders who took on the responsibility to do the entire project themselves. Why the hell is the city paying for this or any park in a new development?
These people can't run their own lives, but they want to run mine?

gordo wrote
""""""I don't know how true this is, but the tale is that the NM/SoWhat planning area already had a designated area for parks, but Williams wanted to build a condo tower on the site, """""""""
I've posted that tale several times because it is true and the park would have been in a far preferable location.
Just another rotten angle to this whole mess.

A mess which lands upon the PDC commissioners who should resign.

What have they been doing? Approving everything the developers want.


Sal Kadri, Doug Blomgren, Bertha Ferrán, Eric Parsons and Mark Rosenbaum

Kadri, Ferran and Rosenbaum are relatively new. The other two have been in on all of it.

I have a dear friend who can tell you why Michael's scenerio is not happening in Portland, this city manager negotiated with a condo owner who plopped themselves down in a chair and wanted over $1 million I can't remember how much over they said it was for greenway development, instead of asking where the developers wanted the check sent, this foolish engineer actually questioned the figure, did an analysis and review of the drawings and found the cost estimate was over by half, and only agreed to make a contribution to the cost of a couple $100K if the ongoing maintenance were written into the condo homeowners agreement, and the City of Portland would never be tapped again saving three of four times the cost of the one contribution to construction of the greenway in avoiding the cost of ongoing maintenance. Foolish Foolish engineer actually believed in operating ethicaly and that the rules of professional conduct apply to City employees and the Professional Ethics rule "always act in the public interest" were what a public employee should aspire too. That fool never saw it coming when the job position was eliminated, they were on the street, no job with Homer, this idiot had had the audacity to suggest the same scenerio of building the excess cost of maintaining the unique Brazilian endangered species wood used in the Pearl District Boardwalks could also be written into Homer's condo agreements, it was sad to watch that fool be chewed up and spit out by the City.

A Question -

With the lack of funding for many of the advertised SoWa ameneties, has any one heard the status of the buyout program offered to Gibbs Street residents under the tram route?

I don't know if any of the residents were interested. Even if they were, I wouldn't be surprised if the City tried to back out of the agreement.

Yes, the city contracted with Right of Way Associates to manage the buyout. I was one of four property owners in the area who had expressed interest. The program looked interesting in its first couple of incarnations, but by the time ROWA presented it to us, nobody was much interested.

The final version required us to sign a "due diligence" agreement - a contract - and pay $250 in earnest money, in return for which ROWA chose its own appraisers and home inspectors to value the property. We could hire our own appraisers and inspectors at our own expense, if we wanted to, but we'd essentially have to accept the city's determination of our property's worth. The city would agree to buy the property at that price only if we weren't able to sell it. We would then have until about March of this year to market the property and hope we had a buyer at or above the city's appraised price. I don't know if you've been in the area recently, but we have hell's own construction project going on down here, with the utility undergrounding, the sewer collapse and a bunch of other projects nobody tells us anything about -- not ideal circumstances in which to show your house to prospective buyers.

The "due diligence" agreement in its first recitation required us to acknowledge that the city had all the rights it needed to build the tram in the public right-of-way -- that is, to give up any rights to sue the city over the very question we sued them over before. It also required property owners to indemnify the city for anything that happened to their appraisers and inspectors while on the property. It also took them weeks to get us the home sale agreement they intended to use.

It wasn't really lack of interest that shut most people's hopes down -- it was that nobody thought the city would negotiate in good faith. And they didn't, of course.

Incidentally, having fought this project for 5+ years and after making in common with my neighbors all of the arguments now arising here on this blog and elsewhere in the media only to be ignored repeatedly, I have to say, the debacle and finger-pointing would be good for a great belly laugh down here in CTLH-land but for the fact that we still will have to live with the results.

I was thinking of taking my anti-tram site down, since we haven't updated it in a couple of years, but if you doubt our neighborhood's prescience, have a look at http://www.notram.org -- it makes a good historic artifact, if nothing else.

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