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Sunday, April 2, 2006

No problem

From today's Kohler-Coaster rehash in the O:

Meanwhile on Thursday, Kohler and Stadum visited Commissioner Dan Saltzman, pleading for more city money.
Go ahead, Dan. Give in. That city commissioner job is getting old anyway, right?

Comments (20)

The tram is the linchpin for South Waterfront.

Its promise of a quick connection brought OHSU down the hill instead of to Hillsboro and condo towers to the banks of the Willamette River.

But earlier we read:

The tram's original Pill Hill landing was to anchor into the hillside with cables, a feat repeated across the globe for decades. But two years earlier, Oregon Health & Science University had planned a massive hospital expansion in the same location.

So a "massive expansion" was planned on the hill even before OHSU started threatening to move to Hillsboro? Was the tram assumed to be a done deal well before it got to Council for a vote?

Vic Rhodes, former head of PDOT, and PATI project manager, once wrote a memo about one of the problems with Local Improvement Districts (LIDs) --the bulk of the funding mechanism for the Tram-- and that problem for the average homeowner was "sticker shock" from cost over runs. One proposal to deal with this was a "cap" on assessment costs for these neighborhood-driven projects. PDOT never funded or codified this proposal for the neighborhoods...and yet here it coms up for this never-ever-built-before engineering-marvel-Tram?

The City Charter and ORS are almost elegant in their simplicity. You build a LID, bill the property owners for their share of the benefit that acrrues to them, and that takes care of it.
There is nothing in the Charter or ORS that speaks to "caps." If this project is so desperately imporant --and therefore valuable-- then the benefitted property owners pay for it. Not anybody else. Or everybody else.

From the O:

"We've never done anything like that before, for sure," said Randy Woolwine, the U.S. vice president of
sales for Doppelmayr, an Austrian firm that has built trams since the early 1900s.

And what who pays if they don't get it right?


Dan Saltzman, if you’re reading this, you have a choice – a choice few of us ever get in life. You have a chance to stand up to all that is wretched and corrupt in civic government. By killing the tram you could prove that the citizens of Portland aren’t just a revenue stream for others to exploit through deceitful scams. This is your moment. What are you going to do? Star in your own version of a Frank Capra film where Jimmy Stewart chooses the love of the people over money and power? Or will you choose the tram, and star in a career-ending flop?

I wish I could bet money on things like "Dan can have it both ways - more city money for the tram AND retain his job." We know the truth: The electorate won't understand the URBAN RENEWAL fund obfuscation. I'm sure the O will make it totally clear after the fact, right? Right???

I like the idealism Jack...I wish it was reality.

How you think this will play out is not reality either, because it hasn't happened yet. And I certainly don't think Jack suffers from idealism.
There's such a thing as fighting on against long odds, isn't there? There's no point in rolling over now.

I may not always agree with Dan but one thing about him, when he makes up his mind, its over.

Dan Meek is sooner to become the Public Relations Outreach Manager for PGE than Dan Saltzman is to change his mind about giving the tram any more money.

In that case, there's three firm no's for more money for the tram. Erik Sten would never flip on this after his clear statements, would he? So I believe we're done here. I say if the tram is stopped we build a statue with all three of these commissioners and call it, "In Gratitude: To The Men Who Gave the Government of Portland Back To Its People."

FWIW, and for those who don't click the "trackbacks" links on these posts: Tram Designer Warned In 2003 That Cost Was 'Political'.

In December 03 the PATI Tram Citizen Advisory Committee passed a resolution calling for a "suspension of development work on the Tram. The estimated cost of the Tram is now far above the costs used to evaluate the desirability of the Tram"
I'll e-mail a copy of the resolution to Jack & b!X
in hopes they will post or link it for all to see.
This warning should have been sufficient to cause a review and updated estimates.

Randy: remember that the taxpayers on several blogs have easily added up over $16M in DIRECT taxpayer costs for the tram-beyond what the Oh, Council, OHSU and PDC keeps claiming has only been a "$3.5M public investment.

What we must watch out for are additional dollars that can be "hidden" to benefit OHSU and the property owners in the two LIDs contributing to the tram costs. These "hidden benefits" we have blogged several times, and more will be coming out in the near future.

These "gimmies" can allow Dan and the rest of the City Council to continue claiming how they are tough on not spending any more of the taxpayer's dollars beyond $3.5M in TIF money.

I think you get it, and I hope Dan gets it; and you educate the rest of the Council on the true dollar numbers.

I forgot: I thought it was funny that over three years after PATI and it's own CAC firmly stated and reviewed the cost overruns of the tram in mid 2003, and even prior knowledge to the cost overrun where the Oregonian attended these meetings, that the Oh's headlines on April 2, 2006 reads:

"Tram's price tag unrealistic from get-go"

This applies to some other medias too.

Frank Dufay writes:
The City Charter and ORS are almost elegant in their simplicity. You build a LID, bill the property owners for their share of the benefit that acrrues to them, and that takes care of it.

But, what happens if the cost exceeds the benefit? IIRC, this is why Zidell and the City are on their way to court. My guess is that the total costs of the Tram [rimshot] exceed the benefits across the those who have to pay the LID. Sooooo, funding must be found outside a LID funding scheme.

104th St. Drive In w/ Snakes on a Plane. So best. So much better than The Lady in the Tutti-Frutti Hat.

There is an incompatibility between three no-more-money votes and continued work. I do not know where this confident originates about getting city money (presuming it is first paid to KiwiWit) back from the OHSU folks. I do know that any lawyer advocating that they can guarantee results in court would be violating ethics rules of the bar.

Refocus on the demand from KiwiWit to the city by perhaps telling them to look instead directly to the OHSU folks. It is the KiwiWit folks that would then be rolling the legal roulette wheel rather than the city. Let KiwiWit be a party to the legal battle, as the real party in interest and the real party that benefits from the city assuming the role of apparent guarantor for their private risk of losing a battle against the OHSU folks.

Assuming that the lawyers are not going to act unethically then it is the city that would potentially be unlawfully giving money to KiwiWit. If KiwiWit cannot win against OHSU then they could hardly get it from the city.

This does little more than modify who it is that bears the burden of persuasion and proof in court, where the interests of the three entities (three for simplicity sake) would be represented. Is the city, today, sitting in the shoes of KiwiWit, as a surety for them, to obtain payment directly from OHSU?

Are you willing to measure the value of swapping such burden of persuasion and proof? It could, and would, be the equivalent of a legal choice or judgment that itself could be ample grounds, all alone, for an action for legal malpractice.

This is the kind of thing that I love -- ethics. Is it close enough to at least prompt the city attorney to obtain an advisory ruling from the bar? And, to make the resulting advice public?

(Cartoon name intended.)

But, what happens if the cost exceeds the benefit?

The assumption is that the properties' values are raised equivalent to the cost of the improvement. (I'm not saying that's a great assumption --or even accurate-- but it is the assumption built into the whole LID program.)

When I was proposing apportionment methods for LIDs before I got replaced by Matt Brown, I tried to look at ways to establish "benefit" that were really tied to actual benefit, not nearly meaningless factors like "square footage." That was popular with the neighborhoods...but not so much with the development community, or PDOT.

If the cost of the improvement is well beyond the "value" it generates for the properties it benefits...then it makes no sense to do it, since legally you can't charge property owners more than the value received. Unless you make a conscious decision to subsidize it for other, unrelated reasons. But if you do that you'd better know where the subsidy is coming from up front. Or, well, you face a shortfall in funding.

Incidentally, the couple of million bucks being proposed for the South Waterfront Traffic Management Association (unfunded to date, if I remember right)...well, no know ever posted what the heck that was. Turns out, at PDOTs website, the definition includes "shuttle vans." I'm guessing this is the fall-back for getting folks up the hill when the tram is down for maintenance, or whatever?

Or down for trying to fix it, because it's never going to work right to begin with.

...because it's never going to work right to begin with.

Oh well. It was the thought that counted.

Given their strong feelings in support of the Tram, perhaps the Oregonian would be willing to donate their kicker refund to the funding deficit?

So sorry. I forgot how much easier it is to spend other people's money.

I know this is from another thread, but...

And the tram is likely the tip of the iceberg - there are probably many other tram-equivalents hiding under the rocks.

- Burnside/Couch Couplet
- Mall "Revitalization"
- Fiber Optic Ring (I HOPE that on'es dead, but you never know...
- The truth about the SoWa development in the first place (it would have been developed in the 90's if it weren't for Sten and Katz

These are hiding under the rocks, but they're very much out there and public. Dust off your outrage mask. You're gonna need it.

Randy, your post elsewhere about OHSU placing its now-under-construction new hospital building right where the west tram terminal was originally designated to be placed is astounding-especially because it increased the price of the tram substantially. (see todays O story) All perpetuated by OHSU themselves.

But also I remind you that the tram idea originated in 1998 by Neil's OHSU's lobbying. So, OHSU, with it's own planning department knowing of the tram idea and placement clear back atleast to 1998 did not plan very well. Eight years of planning. Now OHSU states that the budget shortfall is the taxpayers doings and they must pay. Absurd.

Also, Randy, could you help out in acquiring the "true life cycle costing" for the tram that was requested by the NM URAC back in Nov. 05. The request was made to PDC/PATI, and I'm sure the Council has been updated about this request by PDC.

Adams keeps promising the costing but no such luck after six months. URAC and others, and I think the Council would find it useful to have in deliberations about the tram, and for the budgeting for North Macadam's URD. Preliminary estimates have put the cost well over $250M for a twenty year life cycle cost.


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