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Monday, August 28, 2006

The Linnton deal

The Stennies are having a stroke over last week's Portland City Council vote not to turn the Linnton neighborhood's industrial wasteland into a "town center," presumably like the one in Beaverton. The vote was 3-2, with Opie and Sam the Tram dissenting.

A lot of vocal people out Linnton way worked long and hard to get housing built on the underachieving lots where proud factories once stood. The train was on the track, but it has suddenly been derailed, and Mayor Tom Potter, clearly a driving force in keeping the plan from taking effect, is taking heat for it from the streetcar crowd.

Not from me. The council vote makes a lot of sense. There was a bunch of talk about environmental contamination on the site, but I don't think that that was what this was really about. It seems to me that the council was simply weighing industrial "sanctuary" vs. more condos, and it came out in favor of keeping the land dedicated to potential middle-class jobs. Sure, the neighbors are frustrated, but welcome to the club. Who ever said that the neighbors dictate planning around here? Ask the folks in Buckman, and many other neighborhoods, about that.

What's funny to me are that the "progressive" voices crying out for pure democracy in this instance are the same ones who'll tell you the public can't be trusted on matters such as taxpayer financing of political campaigns and public power. In the latter cases, the City Council knows best. But when Erik and Sam and their real estate johns have the neighborhood association types going their way, then you have to give The People what they want, or else it's the end of civilization as we know it.

That's not how it works around here. Keep going, Mayor Potter. This was another right vote in your column.

Comments (1)

I'm all for industrial sanctuaries, but the old Linnton Plywood site has been vacant for years. I don't know if that was a function of the uncertainty over the property's future zoning. I know Homer W. was sniffing around, so someone probably saw a payday coming if the zoning got changed. My bet is that the site is going to just sit there.

Posted by: stan at August 29, 2006 12:36 AM

Better to have it rot than to turn it over to callous, greedy people.

Posted by: Jack Bog at August 29, 2006 12:39 AM

Jack: A lot of vocal people out Linnton way worked long and hard to get housing built on the underachieving lots where proud factories once stood.
JK: I wonder how the locals expect a condo farm to improve their lives? What am I missing?


Posted by: jim karlock at August 29, 2006 04:36 AM

The Statewide Land Use Planning Goals And Guidelines include a component to address citizen involvement. It's function is to assure transparency of government actions through providing effective, advance notice.

Mr. Smith -- Goal 14 on Urbanization, in bold at the top, includes the notion of "orderly and efficient transition from rural to urban land use[.]"

The UGB is not a forever line in the sand, but a shifting line . . . nor is it a religion.

I have mockingly noted in the past that there are some folks that hold the belief that transparency is all that is needed to support government action, exclusive of every other consideration; like if bank robbery can become legal if the purp merely announces their name for all to hear as they take their loot.

If Mr. Smith cannot stay within the box of a designated role, or even acknowledge it's existence, what might he, and his like-minded friends, do if they were actually elected officials? Compare Temperance with intemperance.

Advocacy of the "process" necessarily involves a non-myopic view of the full spectrum of substantive issues at stake, and the risk involved with putting a result ahead of process. The next step for a disappointed developer is either the Land Use Board of Appeals or the Circuit Court. Let that developer step forward and make their case directly, rather than via the BlueOregon-MandateMedia PAC. Taxpayer subsidies are not one of the things that such developer can compel via the judiciary in the ordinary course of the "process."

Posted by: Ron Ledbury at August 29, 2006 06:11 AM

Sandwiching homes between two petroleum products storage facilities (aka "Tank Farms:) was a bad idea. The possibility of a catastrophic accident is simply too high.

It's like permitting construction of a subdivision in an area prone to landslides. Or rebuilding an oceanside city that is 7 feet below sea level. It's just a matter of time.

Posted by: Mister Tee at August 29, 2006 06:25 AM

I finally figured out why Jack is against this project - as well as South Waterfront, Pearl District, etc. The look of abandoned industrial areas is a comforting reminder of Newark N.J.

Posted by: Matilda at August 29, 2006 08:30 AM

I remember back when I was in planning school, a friend and her young children moving to Portland stayed with me for a few months. One of the daughters, who was in Kindergarten, heard me make a snide remark about Mr. Rogers not seeing the big picture. Then I heard one of her classmates ask if I was the one who "didn't like Mr. Rogers". The Evil Dissenter.

Actually, I liked him a lot. Neighborhoods, community and citizen involvement are extremely important. But sometimes you gotta realize there is more at stake than just your immediate interests. To me, Mayor Potter's decision seems like a signal to the community that he is not going to let Homer Williams and the Goldschmidt set control his administration.

I applaud it.

Posted by: Cynthia at August 29, 2006 09:51 AM

The look of abandoned industrial areas is a comforting reminder of Newark N.J.

It reminds me that it's possible, with real leadership, to bring those areas back to life with uses that make economic sense. It has happened in places like Newark, and it can happen in Portland, if the city will just step aside and get out of the condo business.

Posted by: Jack Bog at August 29, 2006 10:59 AM

The industrial area up along Hwy 30 to Linnton isn't as 'abandoned' as some may think. There's still quite a few people that work up in that part of town. And it would certainly behoove this city to actually try and keep some industry around to occupy our industrial districts.
The word 'jobs' comes to mind.
It seems that whenever the condo-crowd has it's eye on some new chunk of real estate they want to pick up for a song the word 'abanoned' gets thrown around.
I can understand that many folks up in Linnton would like a more neighborhood feel, but the fact is we can't chase industrial/manufacturing, etc type business way out of town and thrive only on condo towers, coffee shops and fancy bistros.

Posted by: morty at August 29, 2006 01:15 PM

If Mr. Smith cannot stay within the box of a designated role...

Um, Ron, to which Mr. Smith are you referring? I didn't see anyone in the post or in your link named Smith. Just curious, being a Mr. Smith and all...

Posted by: Don Smith at August 29, 2006 01:34 PM

I might have intended any naive Mr. Smith; or the one with the funny hat. Do you wear a funny hat? Follow Jack's link, where I cannot seem to figure out how to comment any more. (This could or should be Randy's final attempt to reason with that PAC over there.)

Posted by: Ron Ledbury at August 29, 2006 01:54 PM

[Posted as indicated; restored later.]


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