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Thursday, August 17, 2006


Pull over... I think I'm going to hurl...

Comments (1)

"Invisible city in the code" means invisible empire of mobbed up developers and banksters and their political puppets.

Portland: Be a Team Player.

The debate is on their terms though. The only alternative is a competing vision of the code, which requires thinking, which is why they are so easily able to divide and manipulate the "No" crowd.

Posted by: fuggeddaboudit at August 17, 2006 05:12 PM

Forget that. The real tragedy here is, the Gaggmeister's back. Time to resume talking meaningless b.s. while the city heads down the financial tubes. And with a Harvard degree, no less. Aunt Sandy must be so proud.

At least he won't be posing in his beret at the Gotham Building any more. But I guess nobody back east wanted to hire him...

Posted by: Jack Bog at August 17, 2006 05:19 PM

I'm trying to sort of pin you down on the definition of victory here:

1. Removing the subsidy/funding to invert their scheme
2. Voting (i.e. taking) out the people who write the rules to protect them and enforce against their competition
3. Identifying our own opportunities (i.e., what the setup should be with our side in control) ["our" being, of course, simply a placeholder for people who disagree with the current development fraud]
4. Rolling back their ability to control the market (i.e., rewriting the rules in our favor)
5. Having disliked people and enemies "see the light" and putting people with different priorities (i.e. urban dog parks and architectural bs) in their place.

These are all gradations in the power process at work here. Tell me again how it is not like taking out the mob? Is it any wonder that they act like one to protect their unjustly secured priviliges?

And please, do not persist in pretending that it is not organized crime on a practical, if not overtly behavioral, level. Neil is, after all, just the front man and the croupier.

Posted by: fuggeddaboudit at August 17, 2006 06:25 PM

Regarding the orange-button "yes" men and women, they have been convinced this is hip, "progressive" and the socially responsible alternative to Utter Chaos, Doom and Gloom. This burns my backside; many would not go along if they had ANY idea what the development game is really like. Sharpies play on the legendary malleability of Portlanders.

Posted by: Cynthia at August 17, 2006 07:55 PM

I am not in favor of cronyism or corruption or the wasting of gov't funds, and maybe I am naive, but as far as how the tangible end results of the efforts ( 20-30 story condos) impact the city, aren't they preferable to letting Portland sprawl south and east subdivision by subdivision and strip mall by strip mall?

Obviously many have a problem with the vision of Portland that promotes density over sprawl, but these condo towers are consistent with the vision, they make it more likely that the city's huge investment in light rail and street cars will become more self sufficient over time, and it presents an alternative to the suburban model that seems to suck so many people and businesses out of the city limits and off the tax rolls.

Posted by: scott at August 17, 2006 09:13 PM


I don't think the issueis with broad-brush, either-or scenarios like density over sprawl. I think that is a false dichotomy. Compact development makes sense and we can have it without sacrificing common sense and intellectual integrity. What grates is the intellectual dishonesty that has been a part of this thing ever since Neil baby got transportation funds diverted from widening Hwy 26 to light rail and became a Legend. Plenty of people have been lining their pockets and drooling over hopes of getting rich over transpo oriented development. It hasn't been about how much development we need to avoid sprawl. It's been about how much a developer leech from city coffers and how many units he or she can build before people start to wake up. Keeping people diverted doing busy work and running in anti-intellectual hordes of "visionaries" has been part of the game from the beginning. If you remember, there was a City Club report that came out in the late 1990s that found a LACK of meaningful citizen involvement in the plan. If you can get people to run in mobs and wear orange buttons while thinking they are enlightened and everyone else is lacking in vision, you may be some kind of pr genius. Doesn't make you a planner,or a public servant genuinely concerned with the public interest, though.

Posted by: Cynthia at August 17, 2006 11:19 PM

Another part of the genius of this thing is how the players got the newsmedia to promote it as "progressive" by getting people to believe that critics were "right wing" or stupid. It is very interesting how skeptical the newsmedia is of critics, yet how lacking in skepticism it tends to be when it comes to the pr masters.

Posted by: Cynthis at August 17, 2006 11:24 PM

Take-home message: Codes matter.

Unless of course you are a SoWhat developer that has City Council in your pocket...

Posted by: Jon at August 18, 2006 08:03 AM


Thank you for the response.

I do not know the long term history of the portland planning process, so I defer to your knowledge on that issue.

When looking at planning issues I like to distinguish legitimate arguments against this or that planning decsion (based on financial reasons or planning reasons or political corruption) from the arguments that boil down to anti-change or NIMBY arguments from those who oppose any change to their neighborhood or city or who resent the fact that developers make an awful lot of money on these projects.

I see a lot of anti-change sentiments and a lot of developer resentment on these threads.

I also think that if you are looking for "intellectual integrity" in any public planning process at any munincipality you are going to be eternally disappointed. The analogy comparing legislation to making sausage (the end result may be OK but you don't want to see it made) probably also applies to planning and zoning process, where developers always push the envelope to maximize profit, neighborhoods (almost) always oppose material change to their neighborhoods, and 80% of the voting public are out to lunch if it doesn't involve their block.

It sounds as if Jack Bog's primary bone of contention is that the city should not be using public money to incent or support for-profit development in Portland, even if the types of development supported are consistent with what is presented as "Portland's" growth and planning vision.

Fair enough, I am not knowledgable enough on the issue to know whether the projects would not be done at all without the public support or whether these projects would be done anyway and the public financing just makes the developer's profit margin that much fatter.

As I stated in another thread here, I currently live in Atlanta and my perspective is that of a resident of a classic Sunbelt city that has allowed automobile-based development to run rampant at the expense of the downtown core. Your ability to bike or walk to shopping or entertainment areas are limited, public transit is underfunded and the money is spent on add'l highway lanes and parking garages.

Atlanta is trying to reverse the trend a little bit by promoting infill development and a plan for a circular greenway with a light rail/streetcar component is on the drawing board.

But people object saying Atlanta is not dense enough to justify that kind of public transit, and when tall multi-story condos are proposed to increase density people object saying without public transit it will worsen traffic too much.

So its a Catch 22, you can't increase density without worsening traffic if there is no public transit option, but you can't justify public transit without more density.

At least Portland is attempting to avoid that Catch 22, it may not be doing so with intellectual integrity or financial probity, but the attempt is admirable from my point of view.

Posted by: scott at August 18, 2006 08:46 AM

Eyewww. Gragg me with a Randy.

Posted by: Bark Munster at August 18, 2006 10:27 AM


I think you really have to be here to get a feeling for the nuances. I moved to Portland in the late 1970s, in part, because of its reputation as a leader in "smart growth". I went through a master's program in land use planning, and later, to law school. So I have a window on the "sausage making" business. And believe the public really needs to know what goes into it. For its health.

I am not someone who is particularly afraid of change, but what land use planning is supposed to afford us is reasoned, planned change. I have no problem with developers making a profit. I support public transportation. But when they start speculating (gambling on a tony up market), well, that is one of the problems land use planning is supposed to prevent. And I have a huge problem with developers working with public servants to trample the legal rights of individuals and then calling them names, like NIMBY. It is completely disrespectful of their intelligence and their right to be involved in their communities.

I certainly support preserving farmland; my read is that many Jack Bog's Blog readers do. But let's be real about it. Let's label the sausage ingredients accurately. I don't know if you are following the efforts to preserve the north side of Mt. Hood that are going on in Congress now. Today's Oregonian reports that our senators have proposed a new bill. But, at the last minute, they dropped a requirement that questionable appraisals pursuant to a land swap meet federal standards. No doubt under pressure from environmental groups. What this will do,ultimately, I predict, is give these environmental groups a bad name, make them look like a bunch of dupes. I think they are being taken in under a pretext of preservation. I don't have first hand knowledge of the appraisals in this case. But I have seen appraisals in other Oregon cases that make it appear a deal is more than fair to a developer, when actually the property he or she is receiving has been grossly undervalued. It's a common ploy. If Oregonians can't wake up, it would be nice if our senators would watch out for us and not buckle under to pressure from misled pushy people who are themselves falling prey to developer intimidation. If preserving wilderness is worth doing, it is worth doing right.
You gotta come to Oregon, Scott, to see how weird it is. I have had clients from the South who begged to go home after living here a while and seeing this stuff.

Posted by: Cynthia at August 18, 2006 11:12 AM

Correction: But I have seen appraisals in other Oregon cases that make it appear a developer is taking a loss on a deal, when actually the property he or she is receiving has been grossly undervalued.

Posted by: Cynthis at August 18, 2006 01:30 PM

If Jack got upset about that one wait till he sees this. Make sure to also watch the video. The one with Sam talking about the Tram. And remember the interviewer is like one of the leaders of Britain's CONSERVATIVE Party.

Posted by: GAC at August 18, 2006 05:40 PM

^ Did you hear what I heard about 12 minutes in to the video?

"Local government itself is funding over 150 community and business organizations, to make sure their voice is heard..."

That's called publicly funded astroturf for the benefit of rich developers.

Would be fascinating to follow that money and identify all the bought off nonprofit cheerleaders.

Posted by: whoa at August 18, 2006 11:32 PM


I think you have something there. I remember listening to City Club this summer on radio, I think it might have been David Bragdon, it was one of the last speakers they had, one of them went on about how the non-profit sector had stepped up to the leadership plate, to help fill the void of public involvement as Neil had challenged them. Again over my lifetime I have seen non-profits change from kind of funky mission based organizations led by people who ususally were inspired by something in thier lives that led them to want to ease the suffering and hardship from whatever medical or social malady befell them.

Portland Children's Investment Fund
Allocation Committee Meeting
Tuesday, February 7, 2006
12:30 – 2:30 pm
City Council Chambers, 2nd Floor, City Hall
1221 SW 4th Ave., Portland, OR

Children’s Institute Swati Adarkar Info/Disc. 15 min.
Ready to Learn Initiative

Stand for Children Jonah Edelman Info/Disc. 10 min.
Partnership with Children’s

This was right around the time that Stand for Children endorsed Dan Saltzman for City Council. Probably the Children's Institute would show up as the grantee and their partner would be a subconsultant so there would not be an obvious connection with the endorsment and grant from ChIF. Thought Cogen was throwing around his access to the ChIF money on Blue Oregon a couple of weeks back, while he was going to Save the SUN program.

The irony is that for this ChIF money, your tax dollars that are now handed out like this and under the control of these politicians, is only a percentage of what has been bled off from schools and social services from Tax Increment Financing.

But as Cynthia says the masses are blind, they are too busy hating George Bush to see that the future of our children and city are being sold to big money interests.

Posted by: John Capradoe at August 19, 2006 08:19 AM


You wrote above that:

"And I have a huge problem with developers working with public servants to trample the legal rights of individuals and then calling them names, like NIMBY. It is completely disrespectful of their intelligence and their right to be involved in their communities. "

I didn't mean to dismiss all NIMBY-type objections to a development proposal.

Nearby landowners certainly have a right to oppose any project in their neighborhood if they perceive it to have a negative affect on their enjoyment of their land, but such opposition is by its nature subjective and primarily motivated by self interest.

In my mind, neighborhood opposition deserves about the same respect as the developer's promotion, both are seeking to maximize the value and enjoyment of their property. Now for development's that materially change the character of the neighborhood I do give greater weight to the current residents, since they purchased with some expectation that the neighborhood's land use would not materially change, although I am not sure that expectation rises to the level of a legal entitlement.

A development could be good for Portland as a whole but still opposed by the neighborhood. I respect the right of the neigborhood to object and to use whatever political and PR tools it can to kill the development, but if an objective cost benefit analysis concludes that the development has a net beneficial effect for the metropolitan area as a whole, then that project should be approved over neigborhood opposition. Approval in that case would not constitute the "trampling of legal rights" but would simply be a matter of the community as a whole making the decision that maximizes the larger community's enjoyment and use of the entire metropolitan area.

Posted by: scott at August 21, 2006 10:44 AM


The way development is going here however, is that the undesirable stuff is NIMBY'd into non UR neigbhorhoods, like Buckman, then their public assests are neglected, like the Buckman Pool. When monied interests can pick them up for redevelopment.

It kind of explains why there are not methadone clinics in the Pearl, and I doubt that the OHSU health Center buildling in SW will dispense it either, even though both places have the streetcar that could transport the folks to and fro conveniently from Downtown.

Posted by: John Capradoe at August 21, 2006 11:58 AM

" A development could be good for Portland as a whole but still opposed by the neighborhood."

Agreed, Scott, with most of your points.

But what I have seen in some SW neighborhoods is that legitimate costs benefit analyses get dismissed as "NIMBYSISM", because the City(which in the case of the tram (rim shot) did not have a costa-benefit study), is starry-eyed over the development agenda. And John is right: necessary, but undesirable developments get dumped in neighborhoods considered too unimportant (because of average income levels, or lack of political clout, I guess) to fight back. What we did here re: Metadone clinics and group homes does not meet American Planning Association standards for distributing them in communities. Just shows you the extent to which our government is actually for sale and not a "national leader in land use planning" blah, blah, blah....

Posted by: Cynthia at August 21, 2006 03:33 PM

Oops, that's NIMBYISM, cost-benefit study, and Methadone. (Try a Google search on that).

Posted by: Cynthia at August 21, 2006 03:35 PM

One more thing: it is really interesting how people who are new here (or don't live here) will tend to vigorously defend local government and assume anyone questioning it is just a self-interested hokey, hicky hayseed, when they don't know the facts and don't seem interested in fact-finding. This kind of thing promotes the boring, Us vs. Them partisanism that never seems to fade. I was thinking about this the other day and how maybe schools' emphasis on teaching team sports above activities that promote good individual character traits, like patience, tenacity, kindness, community service etc. has something to do with it. I think both working part of a team and being able to work as an individual (even when it is unpopular) are important.

Posted by: Cynthia at August 21, 2006 03:50 PM


You wrote:


The way development is going here however, is that the undesirable stuff is NIMBY'd into non UR neigbhorhoods, like Buckman, then their public assests are neglected, like the Buckman Pool. When monied interests can pick them up for redevelopment.

It kind of explains why there are not methadone clinics in the Pearl, and I doubt that the OHSU health Center buildling in SW will dispense it either, even though both places have the streetcar that could transport the folks to and for conveniently from Downtown. "

I agree.

Posted by: scott at August 23, 2006 12:39 PM


You wrote:

"One more thing: it is really interesting how people who are new here (or don't live here) will tend to vigorously defend local government and assume anyone questioning it is just a self-interested hokey, hicky hayseed, when they don't know the facts and don't seem interested in fact-finding."

If you were referring to me, you are putting words in my mouth. I called no one hokey or hicky or a hayseed, and made it clear that, as I do not live in portland, I have little to no knowledge of the history or context of these issues.

My opinion on NIMBY defenses to developments or projects has nothing to do with Portland. Believe it or not, Portland is not the only city having these kinds of battles or issues. Whether it is the condo in Portland, the intown strip mall development in Atlanta, the nuclear waste storage facility in Nevada, or the solid waste facility in West Palm Beach, FL, local neighborhoods fight the change in character or the perceived drop in property values these projects are alleged to bring.

Posted by: scott at August 23, 2006 12:46 PM

Although you triggered my comment, I was not especially referring to you, but rather a formula I have seen repeated over the past 25 years. We have a pr machine that attracts people (including myself) with the promise that Portland is truly forward thinking. But when you get here, you find there is less rigidity in thinking patterns in places like Atlanta.

I agree with you, we are not the only place facing these issues. We just sometimes act like we are.

Posted by: Cynthia at August 24, 2006 10:03 AM

[Posted as indicated; restored later.]


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Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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