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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 13, 2006 11:00 AM. The previous post in this blog was Watch your money swirl around in the porcelain bowl. The next post in this blog is Going, going.... Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Friday, October 13, 2006

Why bother?

The City of Portland's about to embark on another high-profile, time-consuming, and no doubt expensive "planning process" for its downtown -- a blueprint, supposedly, for the next 30 years of development. The funny thing is, they're saying it's needed because the last such plan, from 1988, is so badly obsolete:

Kelley and McDonough believe that the 1988 effort now is out of date, however. For example, although the plan said the Pearl District should be considered part of the central city, it did not envision the dense housing that has been built there. Instead, it calls for the area – then known as the Northwest Triangle – to remain a warehouse and light-industrial district.

Nor did the plan understand how many people would want to live downtown. Although it called for housing in the South Waterfront area, the plan recommended that only low-rise buildings be constructed along the Willamette River. Instead, high-rise condominium towers now are being built throughout the area, including the lots closest to the river.

In other words, the last plan wasn't worth the paper that it was written on. When the condo tower money showed up, and Vera, Opie, and Big Pipe drank their Kool-Aid, the plan went out the window, and two concrete jungles emerged.

Given that's the way it works in the Rose City, you wonder why anyone would bother going through the motions yet again.

Comments (14)

Salutations to our Glorious Leaders of the Central Planning Committee. They will bring honor on us all!

In all fairness, I think most 30yr plans are dubious exercises in futility. While I think it's necessary to keep an eye on long-term needs and planning, 15yr plans would allow more adjustment for reality. It's like a satellite dish on your roof... if it gets bumped 1 degree off it's target, it misses by miles out in space.

I don't think anyone would make a 30yr budget for these same reasons, let alone a 10yr budget.

Given that's the way it works in the Rose City, you wonder why anyone would bother going through the motions yet again.

Job security.

You don't think they actually believe their own BS do you? That's just for the proles who pay the bills.

In all fairness, I think "dubious exercises in futility" is redundant.

I cannot wait for the bus mall closure this winter. It will showcase PDX transportation planning at its finest. As the chaos reign's, the planning bureau will no doubt move to build 300' skinny condo towers on 3rd. and 4th., justified by the increase in foot and vehicle traffic.

Truth be known, the way he's going, Grampy's gonna need 30 years just to elucidate his vision. The larger truth, I contend, he's truly fookin' blind.

How about mimicking the treatment of stock options? "Gosh, I/we don't know the value today, but I'll know when I select the time to sell."

In every single sale of real property include a reopener clause to be invoked at the option of the seller (and successors etc) in the event of some future zoning change. Make it applicable not just once, but sequentially however many times the zoning changes. And, so as to avoid voiding it as a violation of the rule against perpetuities make the clause itself expire after 99 years.

This 99-year period would squish out the short-and-midterm-term-incentive of the Collective to claim a property interest in arbitrariness.

Nearly all Neil's deals, or those that follow the pattern, have no real downside private risk in the event that a multi year back room deal fails to fully materialize.

Don't get mad, don't give up, GET EVEN . . . it just feels better.

Yeah, on condemnation so as to achieve some public purpose on SOMEONE ELSE'S private property, after the city buys and then sells, offer a lease for a period to extend no longer than the declared public purpose on the subject property. You know, any tax break for property that supposedly limits the rents they will charge (affordable housing, whatever) necessarily expires (and is again open to renegotiating, or is that re-lobbying) . . . and along with it the public purpose for the city doing ANY purchase resale agreement in the first place.

Realtor's that represent the sellers are not doing their job, in my opinion. Some of the simplest solutions, like those above, are between two private contracting parties rather than political. That is what the contract clause is there to protect . . . private contracts; from attack by government. It is a RESTRAINT on the government against private folks.

Post-M37 could any one the political party protagonists really claim that Development Potential cannot represent a distinct new bundle of rights (at least for a private contract for 99 years, but which is recorded in parallel with deeds and other title stuff)? Any potential buyer would have notice of the side contract just as with the associated real property.

Any lawyer-Realtor-AnyFancyProfessionalTitledPerson representing a seller Post-M37, and the judicial resolution, would, in my opinion, be subject to malpractice were they to not include a reference to such 99-year-period personal-side-contract on any real estate deal. It is like forgetting to make a reference to issue in a will (a pretermitted heir). Make the professionals honor their duty of loyalty and due diligence, to the sellers.

The dynamics (or havoc) of how this would play out on a wide range of fronts is left as a personal exercise -- including taxation issues and "public" debt in any bankruptcy petition. One could, on the cusp, argue that the lawyers could have professional liability (on lack of reference to a 99-year personal side contract, about allocation of the benefit or risk of Development Potential, that must be recorded) going back as far as 1978. See Penn Central v. New York.

(Individual-Liberty and Arbitrary-Government are two mutually exclusive, and conflicting, notions; and it IS related to property. Any void in the Rule of Law is ripe for arbitrariness, like, I suppose, a fungus.)

(Oh yeah, be sure to EXPRESSLY EXCLUDE the PERSONAL SIDE CONTRACT from the reach of purchase money MORTAGEE'S for the PRESENT USE.)

signed -- The Rebel, inspired by Rosa, not Che.

It would be nice if these plans were for a reasonable timeline - say, ten to fifteen years. And even better if they were printed on toilet paper; in which case they'd serve a useful purpose.

You don't understand Jack. The 1988 plan was a complete success.

You see, the purpose wasn't planning per se, but to create patronage jobs and far contracts that can be handed out to supporters of the Goldschmidt political machine. (which is still in business with new front men)

If you look at it that way, the plan was a complete success just as the new one will be.

Dear John:

I am tired of being a conservative good girl in a ripped city, so I'm breaking up with the Republicans and I'm starting a new life as a Progressive Portlander.

I know this will come as a shock to you and I regret I had to inform you via letter, but I didn't know when I would see you again, and a girl has needs too.

If it wouldn't be too much to ask, can you tell me where I can go to get a patronage job on the new 30 year plan? Also: would you mind sending all my old emails back?



The reason that such long range plans are needed is "what lies beneath", or infrastructure. To put it more simply there is a lot more flow to the sewer system from a high rise condo doing laundry, showers, and 1-2.5 bathrooms per 1000sq-ft than there is in an old tilt-up industrial building that housed an industrial operation or assembly line. As these so called "planners" are finding out, also a good deal more traffic evolves from condo development than industrial development as well. I suspect of this multi-billion dollar sewer system is driven by the "high density" development. In most public entities, (for ref: see the post I made under Jack's 10-12post Know when to say when), THE DEVELOPER PAYS FOR THIS ADDED COST OF DEVELOPMENT. Hell its even the case as close as Washington County, when I developed over there I had to put in the sewers and upgrade the stormwater systems as part of my development permit. THIS IS THE CASE IN VANCOUVER BC, the darling example of high density development.

LOOK at your property TAX bills people when you get them. Look at Jack's post on 10-28-2005, 19% of your property tax goes to Urban renewal. YOU ARE PAYING FOR WHAT DEVELOPERS SHOULD BE. YOU ARE BEING SOLD DOWN THE RIVER.

A ZONING CHANGE drives increased cost of urban infrastructure to accommodate it. To add insult to injury not only do the poor saps in PORTLAND PAY FOR WHAT THE DEVELOPERS SHOULD, but for BOONDOGGLES like the TRAM, and then places like the PEARL are TAX ABATED, so the estimated $100,000+ a year Willy Week estimated to maintain Jamison Square, and there is no money to fix the neighborhood park wading pools, and the $90+ dollar a ride operating subsidy for the street car, so you have to put parking meters to support it in neighborhood business districts.

I keep wondering when people are going to wake up and understand how they are being ripped off, or maybe we should sell some more parks and close a few more public schools.

Portland's planning process is about as effective as the old Soviet five-year plans ever were.

At least the Soviets admit to being commies.

JK: This pretty much says it all:
“No one really understood how much the Internet would change the way we do business 10 years ago,” she said. “What will downtown look like in 30 years?” (Quoting Sandra McDonough, executive director and chief executive officer of the Portland Business Alliance)

Lets see, we botched a 10 year projection, so lets try 30 years.


Jack, your quoted article continues with the acknowledgement that the Central City Plan also envisioned low-rise development in the North Macadam District that was added just as the Plan was finalized. The Plan acknowledged the "transportation island" problems of NM and was sensitive to the Willamette River Greenway Zone which covers all of NM-the "stepdown requirements", the "similar in scale to surroundings" requirements.

I've been through four of Portland's Planning Bureau processes for our CTLH Neighborhood (now South Portland): The CTLH Neighborhood Plan; the SW Macadam Plan (SW Macadam improvements and related zoning, design district plan); the Central Distict Plan in relation to NM; and the North Macadam Urban Renewal Plan.

In all four planning endeavors one fact stands out, Portland Planning is about increasing density/upzoning. But the "mission statements" at the beginning of these Plans were about solving all the issues/problems/future-present goals generated by all kinds of "focus groups/charettes". But in simplistic analysis it was really a tool for Planners to change R5 zoning (residential) to CX (commercial) or R2 (rowhousing); and industrial zoning to C-downtown commercial zoning; and etc. And forget adding the infrastructure to enable the zone changes. These district/neighborhood plans throughout the city are generally not about "Future Planning" but about rezoning to higher densities, and throwing in a few bones to hopefully address some of the "mission" concerns.

Besides the Pearl District not reflecting and totally opposite of what the Central City Plan called for-an industrial sanctuary; the same is holding true for North Macadam. First, the Central District Plan called for it to have moderate housing density. Then in the earlier phases of the North Macadam Plan, planning of over ten years, the density and height issues were prescribed to be much less. Then after the Plan was even adopted by City Council, there has been eight amendments increasing height/density even more.

So, the obvious question is: Why do we (citizens) even play along with the City Planning process? And then: Why do we allow our city officials and planners to dupe us over and over again?


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Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
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Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
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Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
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L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
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Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
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Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
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Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
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Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
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Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
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Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
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Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
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C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
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William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
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Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
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Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
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David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
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Road Work

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