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Friday, April 14, 2006

All the news that's fit to obfuscate

It's amazing how uneven a newspaper can be. Sometimes the O really breaks something -- the Emilie Boyles signature pages, for example -- and then other times it grinds out the most superficial pap.

Yesterday's story on the proposed move of Portland's downtown fire station was, unfortunately, in the latter category. The reporter gargles out some vague nonsense about "mixed housing and other uses," and blithely quotes one of the city's landed gentry as bemoaning the fact that he can't build a building taller than 75 feet a block from the river.

No mention of the wise policy behind that longstanding height limitation. And most importantly, no mention of the fact that what we're talking about here is another huge, soulless condo tower. Indeed, the word "condo" is entirely absent from the article.

But "linchpin" is there. Oh yeah, love the "linchpin." "Synergy" too. Those are the magic words that get the money out of the taxpayers' pockets and into the developers'. And the O tosses them around in its news columns without quotation marks around them. Its management is apparently so very in on the scam.

Missing, too, is any mention of that pesky little Saturday Market -- you know, the 30-year Portland institution that's about to rewarded for its decades of resourceful use of underutilized public space by being run out of it. To be replaced by some private outfit selling $40 bottles of wine and $20 wedges of cheese. All tax-abated, no doubt. Maybe the Schumachers could open an outlet store.

Here's the sell job from the paper:

If the fire station moves, the PDC plans to solicit developers about a new use for the building, which sits next to the Skidmore Fountain. The plan is to include housing and possibly space for a public market as conditions to transferring ownership. Adding housing in the area is key for the market, said market consultant Ron Paul, but the commissioners said Wednesday that they were concerned about a public market.
"A new use... to include housing and possibly space for a public market." Oh, golly gee willikers, people, what do you think that would be?

It's spelled c-o-n-d-o followed by t-o-w-e-r.

If you can't report in plain English on the basic facts, why waste ink on the story at all? High-definition, my keester.

Comments (17)

As a fan of your blog, I've noted a narrower focus of late with all that's happening in the city institutions. I know it's the times but not a Bruce Springsteen anecdote in weeks? Frankly, I'm concerned.
Therefore you are invited to "It's a Beautiful Pizza" on Tuesday, April 25th, to reconnect with the joyous side of life. 6p.m. to 8. This is the business that was initially billed 38 grand to move across Belmont by a city government gone mad. We should go there and recharge our souls where the battle began. I'm calling it the Tram Awards but any other suggestions are welcome. All except "The Vital Linchpins." That one is out.

Bill, I saw that, and heaven knows I need a break. But alas, I work at that hour on Tuesdays. I will have to settle for being with you in spirit as I do my own gig, lecturing on the "hot asset" rules of Subchapter K of the tax code.

BTW, if I ever get a band together, "Hot Assets" might not be a bad name for it...

Would it help if I mentioned Emilie Boyle is throwing in 5 grand for hors d'oeuvres?
Sorry you can't make it but we will carry on. It's really just an excuse to get the band some work. We have some big gigs coming up this summer.
Hmm, band names: How about "Randy and the Sherlocks"?

What exactly is the "wise policy" behind the height limitation? So that people on 2nd Ave. get sweet views?

As I understand it, the policy staggers the heights; they get higher as you get further away from the river. So the people on all the streets up to Fifth get views, at least on their top floors.

These are views they paid good money for when they bought or built their buildings, because the city had well-established rules about height.

It goes back to the Tom McCall-Neil Goldschmidt mayoral days, when the planning was apparently wonderful. Before it turned into a mad giveaway to the current Dirty Dozen.

Whether you agree with the original policy or not, it's unfair to change it after many people have made their investments in reliance on it.

I'm calling it the Tram Awards but any other suggestions are welcome.

I still like calling it the "Trammys, Bill."

it's unfair to change it after many people have made their investments in reliance on it.

Before they booted 'em out, the restaurant atop the Hilton was the Canlis --I was the last wine steward-- and nowadays the once spectacular view is largely blocked by the high rise that went in next door.

I imagine they'll be much bickering among the condo tower residents over views in SoWa as the towers sprout like weeds. The folks in historic Lair Hill, whose views of Mt Hood are already being spolied are out of luck with no recourse.

I don't think the system of protecting views is working very well, if at all.

I'd add the other weakness in protecting views is how, in the name of density, we've got four story condo buildings popping up next door to single family residences in our neighborhood...the remaining privacy in your backyard? Not so much, anymore.

I don't think the system of protecting views is working very well, if at all.

It's been sold out. The great Portland planning heroes of the '70s are rolling in their graves. We are now coasting on a livability reputation that we no longer deserve. It won't last long.

We are now coasting on a livability reputation that we no longer deserve.

That may be true, but we're not sitting still for it. In our neighborhood, Hosford-Abernethy, we've --our Neighborhood Association-- has challenged the destruction of a historic residence...to be replaced by one of those looming four story condo monoliths. We've challenged the rezoning of Fred Meyer's corporate headquarter's site to allow far, far more density. Our latest challenge is someone wanting to develop along the riverfront, but refusing to provide an easement for the Springwater corridor trail. The irony is the company hired Ball Janik to argue the city's code is an unconstitutional "extraction"...while the City also pays big bucks to Ball Janik to be its lobbyist. (And Ball Janik, and its principals, pay big bucks out as political contributions.)

Big money is at play big time in this city, but people at the grass roots level are also getting pretty fed up with it all. Whether she'll succeed or not, Amanda's campaign represents something very different, which, unlike Eric's, took no seed money from the "players" gang. We'll see whether this works out at the ballot box, or whether its back to business as usual. But, regardless, the neighborhood folks are energized, the media folks are kept on their toes by blogs like this, and I just can't help but feel optimistic.


I thought the Tram was the linchpin. Anyway, as reported on the Wino's blog, Homer himself, by way of Randy Gragg, found the Oregonian's first linchpin in 2002.

We should borrow from the Oregonian's "Edge" column: substitute the word "underpants" for linchpin. So, yesterday's article would read: The relocation, supporters believe, could become the underpants that would create the synergy that the area has sorely lacked.

Juvenile? Yes.

Juvenile? Yes.

See what I mean? How can you not feel optimistic with humor like this?

The emperor is not only naked, but he doesn't have a linchpin.

Frank Dufay: Whether she'll succeed or not, Amanda's campaign represents something very different, which, unlike Eric's, took no seed money from the "players" gang. We'll see whether this works out at the ballot box. . .

JK: Can someone persuade her to take off the kid gloves and start attacking Dan's record?

Dan just handed her the election on a silver platter, and she seems unwilling to follow up. She needs to attack his being in favor of a sales tax and, of course, his pro-tram vote. Either one should get him tossed, but Amanda needs to follow up and relentlessly pound on these (and promise no sales tax.)

A challenger seldom wins by saying Dan is doing a good job, elect me. That appears to be her current message.


because the city had well-established rules about height.

Riiiight....until the SoWhat towers were built.

The city and state "greenway regulations" coupled with the city's "Central City Design Zone" is what defines the "step-down building height requirements".

The step down is not only for the benefit of those to the west of the river. The 1970 regs realized that for the greenway to function it needed solar light from the west; to make the public space along the river a more open, pleasant space; it realized that if there were tall buildings right along the river that it would also affect the views for those on and on the other side of the river, etc.

You don't put the tall person in the front of the theater-and that is what Portland's topography is, a theater in all directions-we have so many theater seats being destroyed.

In Portland the regs were important in that it responds to the fact that views, sunlight is not only easterly to Mt. Hood (etc), but that our eastside has views to the west and the westhills and downtown.

The greenway boundaries is not a consistant line right along the river. Along the city's downtown waterfront it extends all the way to Naito-400 ft. In North Macadam it extends to Macadam-1000 to 1200 ft. Other places it narrows.

The city in recent years hasn't been respectful of these hardfast regs. And Ball and Janik has been one of those who have argued in hearings that "similar in scale to nearby surroundings" (a greenway reg) is not valid.

There are many neigborhoods that have and now beginning to strongly enforce/demand that our planners and council begin to once again live by our regulations on height. But I think it is time for a referendum like other citys have done because they are not listening.

Amanda is carrying a positive message, folks are really discouraged that City Hall is out of touch, if you look at the new Mayor's Blog on land use isses people are not wasting their breath, or more accruately blog strokes, on Land Use issues, only 7 comments on Potter's confessional on why he voted for the tram, and some of those are commenting on the Foxworth issues. I think Frank is right the neighborhoods have to get to the point they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, after all that is what got Amanda into the race. We also need to change the Culture at City Hall, right now if you don't play along with the scams and make waves you are out, I think that is why the circle there has gotten smaller and smaller, if you look at things like the PATI board, the same old names keep popping up, the "Safe and no hassle" folks to have on the boards that won't ask questions, and the folks that don't like that that like to get to the root of issues are rooted out. Dave Lister's candidacy is based on this also and his utter frustration at the Water Bureau billing fiasco. The sad thing that I think was demonstrated with the Foxworth thing, was relationships is more important than performance in a job there, whether that relationship is being the significant other to one of the City Power brokers, or son, or son-in-law, or have some relationship to someone rich and powerful who pulls the strings. When the neighborhood associations are tired of being lied to and the taxpayers realize how much of thier future is being mortgaged then maybe we can have a dialogue on how to fix things, I have a friend who tells me it won't happen until we hit the wall. I did pick up on Jack's little item a while back that the City was buying its favorable bond rating, that is a crack, along with the potholes, and watermain leaks, sewer overflows, and increased gang activity, homeless still homeless.
Amanda is getting out to the neighborhoods, hopefully they will get out for her on election day.


I know Amanda's carrying the positive message and all, but seriously, she won't have a chance if she doesn't throw some elbows. There are two reasons for this. First, Dan must be held accountable for his record and HE'S not going to point out his shortcomings.

More importantly, though, part of being a politician is being tough. If voters see Amanda as weak-kneed for not going after her opponent, they won't vote for her. She has to step up. There is no alternative. She has to get tough. She needn't take cheap shots, but she does have to throw real punches. Politics is indeed a boxing match. Voters want a winner. Winners have to throw punches.

Jim Karlock: are you trying to create the false impression that you have engaged in dialogue with the people you quote? If not, would you consider simply putting their words in italics

It's particularly annoying when you do a long series of unrelated comments, because you are creating the false impression that the others are taking your views into account when (more likely), they are ignoring your comments because they are so damned heavy handed and lengthy.

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