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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 9, 2007 6:40 AM. The previous post in this blog was Erroneous Statement of the Week. The next post in this blog is Belmont shooting suspect identified. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, March 9, 2007

Sam the Tram to Lair Hill: Roll over and have a smoke

After spending like a drunken sailor for Homer Williams and the other weasels defiling the skyline with the vertical sprawl of the SoWhat district, the City of Portland is telling the existing adjacent neighborhood that now there's not enough money for transportation projects that will help alleviate its chronic traffic problems. Those promises of assistance that were made when the aerial tram [rim shot] was being rammed down the neighbors' throats? Well, golly, says Sam the Tram, there's not enough money lying around to live up to them. All of a sudden, some hard choices have to made.

What a surprise.

Comments (35)

Other transportation projects -- such as the tram, light rail and the Portland Streetcar -- used other money sources, he said, and were not built at the expense of roads.

We go to graduate school to learn how to build fences around public money. This pot is "restricted" that pot is "ear-marked." This little pile over here...the General Fund? Oh that's unrestricted: Fire, Police, Parks, all you "essential services"...duke it out!

I like Sam, and the above is not a direct quote, but how we structure projects and how we allocate resources reflects not some mystical uncontollable force of nature...but what we want to have happen. The bias in Parks spending, in PDOT spending, is way too much toward new development because that's where the "action" is. Even in existing neighborhoods, the model is "tear down and build anew" so we get condos in place of single-family homes and high-rises replacing smaller scale development.

We need a broader "conversation" about the totality of how we're spending money as a City --and what are priorities are-- than what we've been offered to date.

"Other transportation projects,, were not built at the expense of roads."

THAT is a,,,????
WEll, it's not true.

In fact it is so untrue Adams should resign immedaitely.

Even one of the recent developemts in SoWa show it to be untrue.
PDOT shifted $3.5 million from their general fund into SoWa streets because just prior to that decision, as the Tram cost soarded, the city agreed to pay OHSU $3.5 million for future parking spaces in a future building. One of many payments to OHSU which popped up during the Tram "negotiations",,,or FIX.

The examples are truly countless to show Adams speaks with forked tongue.

The absolute proof of tremendous shennanigans will be found if and when the PDC comes clean with a real SoWa budget.

This small component, the I-5 ped/bike bridge is todays example.
In the 1999 North Macadam plan the bridge was estimated to cost $1.4 million.
One of the many funny numbers used to cook up a conclusion of "feasibility" for the plan and the recommended "approval" advice from PDC staff.

Feasibility. An interesting notion.
One that vanished as soon as the plan was approved.

And today, 8 years later we have Sam Adams leading the same chorus his boss Vera began.

Of course there is a great body of the public who simply will not have any criticiziing of Sam.

So never mind.

"Adams said road money comes from state gasoline taxes, which have fallen far short of city needs. He said the city has 510 miles of major streets needing maintenance at a cost of $375 million. "We've been in a transportation crisis in this city for the past 10 or 15 years," he said."

Fascinating, yet Mr Adams thinks we have to spend $80M (probably 3x that in actuality) to fix 1.5 miles of Burnside.

This guy gets more two-faced the closer he gets to running for Mayor.

What's the surprise? In PDX these folks continue to be elected and reelected so long as they have a liberal D after their name on the ballot.

What's the surprise? In PDX these folks continue to be elected and reelected so long as they have a liberal D after their name on the ballot.

Now, now. That's not fair. I'm sure there's absolutely no correlation whatsoever between political affiliation and the sorts of scams city government has brought us over the years. After all, it's non-partisan down there at City Hall. That's what it says on the ballot, so it must be true.

Come on, guys. Thanks to Sam the Tram, we're going to use 50 percent less oil 30 years from now. Save the children!

The City needs a gas tax to pay for street maintenance - but I don't think you'll see Sam proposing that, not while he's getting ready to run for Mayor.

Sam is turning out to be another Vera, just as many of us predicted.

Lair Hill will probably get their ped bridge, becuase it's already budgeted for. But it is true that SoWa consumed hundreds of millions more than originally presented, and there is no more money for new projects for years, and that's assuming everything in progress meets budget. Almost everyone is upset, not just Lair Hill residents. In fact, it looks like SoWa residents and landowners may end up paying the hundreds of millions in SoWa transportation improvements that are necessary because of all the new buildings. And I think those SoWa improvements are a priority over cleaning up RIB access. What's funny is that it looks like OHSU people from outside the area are just driving to SoWa, parking, and taking the tram to work - not exactly what the traffic engineers predicted. Oh joy.

it looks like OHSU people from outside the area are just driving to SoWa, parking, and taking the tram to work - not exactly what the traffic engineers predicted.

But what we predicted.

The two funniest lines in the story: Adams saying "I'm not going to promise you things I can't deliver" -- now -- and the neighbor guy saying "It's almost like a double-cross" -- almost. Freakin' hysterical.

The City needs a gas tax to pay for street maintenance

Once Comcast gets my neighborhood back online, I'm gonna post a picture of the man-eating pot hole I encountered last night on one of those "unimproved" streets near 77th and Division. I was literally up to my axles.

A penny a gallon gas tax would go far toward fixing Portland's streets.

But Chris, you know they won't spend it on that. That gas tax will wind up in Homer Williams's pocket faster than Chris Smith can say "linchpin."

parking, and taking the tram to work

11 hour parking meters definitely help...

That gas tax will wind up in Homer Williams's pocket faster than Chris Smith can say "linchpin."

Oh, I know. A boy can dream though, can't he?

I think the most annoying thing Sam says here is, "We've been in a transportation crisis in this city for the past 10 or 15 years." If that's true, is this how you respond to a crisis? By pouring money into amusement park rides? What will we do if it gets worse? Build a ferris wheel?

The biggest crisis facing Portland over the past 10 to 15 years has been the presence of Sam Adams and Vera Katz. When it comes to the developer crowd, they'll do anything to please. Which is why Portland is being wrecked, aesthetically and financially.

Build a ferris wheel?

I'm holding out for a roller coaster.

the answer is obvious people!! We need to buy flying cars!!!!! and rather them using oil, they are powered by pixie dust!!

I'm holding out for a roller coaster.

We already have the Kohler Coaster.

you know they won't spend it on that. That gas tax will wind up in Homer Williams's pocket

Or used to build another "East Bank Esplanade."

Hey, the Esplanade is cool. But of course, despite the sales pitch, it's not a transportation project.

From the SouthPortland NA wednesdays meeting at the OHSU Health Club where Sam presented his mayor's campaign speech, these are a few attendee sidebars:

The budget for the ped bridge just a few years ago based on the 04 URAC budget sheet was $1.4M. And it still is. But as stated by PDOT reps in the Jan 07 URAC meeting the bridge "could be $10M or higher". It looks like the $11M price today isn't far off and heck with the 10 times price increase, that is how we do things in CoP.

The bridge and tram increases are two very visible examples of how almost every Project (on-going and completed and proposed) identified in the NM URAC budgets has been many times over budget.

Sam's claim that "other transportation projects...were not built at the expense of roads" is totally false. Just in the SoWhat scenario, besides the $3.5M slipped from the general fund transportation budget to help pay for the trolley extension to SW Lowell that was over budget, Amendment 8 to the NM Agreement also "slipped" $48M from the general taxpayers fund to cover transportations cost overruns in SoWhat, like the tram, etc. Taking money from the general fund deprives money from the fund to pay for Sam's road department.

This same analogy applies to the proposed I-5 off ramp into SoWhat. If you take $30M of $40M federal funds allocated by congress to serve all the metro area, and use it for the ramp, you are stealing transportation dollars for other needed projects.

Loner, at this meeting Sam did propose a gas tax increase (state and/or county) and asked the NA to support his efforts. He even advocated, after an audience member suggested such, the implementation of a "mileage tax" on vehicles. Maybe he isn't running for mayor.

In OR state statutes describing Urban Renewal, payment for UR is to be paid for from the future property tax increases within the URA TIF-tax increment financing tax dolllars). The taxpayers/public is essentially loaning money (bonds) for improvments to entice development that will increase the property taxes. In the SoWhat case, so far the yet to be adopted 5 year budget states that $125M will be spent. Of that amount because of lack of TIF dollars not matching the dollars spent,Amendment 8 was passed to prop up SoWhat with $48M from the taxpayers general fund. That is about a 40% shortfall. What is more potentially dangerous is that the projects of SoWhat that are the most costly haven't even been started/funded-like all the transportation projects, the parks, the greenway, the ped. bridge, neighborhood improvements, etc.

Guess who pays? Homer and Edelen will be out of there before the bills come.

The previous post needs to add the major concern that the payees could INCLUDE the property owners remaining in SoWhat who haven't developed yet, the new condo owners moving in, besides the city wide taxpayers, and all the other region-wide taxpayers that are stolen from to pay for the projects of SoWhat.

Jack Bog said:

"When it comes to the developer crowd, they'll do anything to please. Which is why Portland is being wrecked, aesthetically and financially."

And that is another good argument to just say no to the strong mayor proposal and to say YES to council oversight over the PDC.

And that is another good argument to just say no to the strong mayor proposal and to say YES to council oversight over the PDC.

It's definitely reason to vote yes on the PDC change. But come on, this mess all came about under the current commission form of government. It may not be cause to change it, but it's certainly no testament to the merits of keeping it.

What about Sam's latest budget-busting proposal, the $80 million Burnside/Couch couplet? Is that $ coming out of this same pot? Does anyone know that?

Oh yeah, and Sam just changed the date on the couplet vote -- putiing it right in the middle of spring break....parents of the elementary schools on both ends of the street being largely shut out of the process as a result. Whether you are for the couplet or not, that is just wrong!

Jack,
I'm just thinking that under our current form Homer et al only have to buy three votes. The new form would reduce it to one.

ROFLMAO!

There's more to come, folks....

They are building in a brand new traffic problem. With each additional condo building they add to the existing problem of inadequate access.

You think Pill Hill has a problem with parking during weekdays, just wait. OHSU is exporting parking problems down to the waterfront. There are not supposed to be parking lots that accomodate workers tramming to the Hill...but, hey, there's a huge empty space, known on campus as "Schnitzer Campus", between the Marquam and the Ross Island bridges. It's a brownfield parking lot.

Zidell is in on this SoWhat gig, isn't he? I mean, what's that gritty, old ship dismantling factory still doing there? It adds a certain...cachet...to the neighborhood. I like it, but I can't see it as a 'selling point' for the condos.

Oh...It seems the "three-minute ride" has increased by more than double of late. Wind problems have forced them to slow the tram *rimshot* cars down. I'll bet they've never had anywhere near 78 passengers on it at one time, either.

Are they even done with the tram? If you drive by the footing on Macadam heading into Portland it looks unfinished. Is it possible they ran out of cement? I'd guess it was diverted to pave a smoother road to Homer's piggy bank.

I think Zidell, so far, has been cut out of the SoWa money, and might end up paying big time for transportation improvements to benefit projects already in progress. I think the TIF killer is that so much money UR money was spent on OHSU property and other tax-exempt property in the district that will never generate any "increment" so to speak. The condo buyers were promised lots of things that won't be built, but that's another story.

But come on, this mess all came about under the current commission form of government. It may not be cause to change it, but it's certainly no testament to the merits of keeping it.

This is nonsense. Project disasters such as the tram happen under every form of city government in the country. So the tram/FoG connection assertion is irrelevant.

Project disasters such as the tram happen under every form of city government in the country. So the tram/FoG connection assertion is irrelevant.

Agreed.

And, given that Portland is one of the few remaining commission style governments, that would seem to mean that even more egregious project disasters have been committed by governments with structures like the "strong-mayor" one being recommended. (I do like Sam the Tram's typification of it as the 'imperial mayor') Boston comes to mind...what is the structure of their municipal government?

Zidells and other property owners so far left out of the early SoWhat developments are certainly worried about having to disportionitely having to help foot the bills on all the projects promised.

At the recent URAC meeting this thursday exactly that was expressed by several URAC members. SoWhat is broke and only will get worse if each promised project proceeds. Even the condo owners are worried they will be paying under LIDs. The city taxpayers who will be paying the most are not even represented at the "stakeholder" URAC table.

Remember, the $128M on the last unapproved 5 year budget is ONLY for the central (1/3) portion of the whole one mile long WoWhat. We still have the North and South to complete and all the projects that are most costly have been stalled to the later developments. That is why SoWhat is now WO What.

So...the city can back out of promises and commitments made to city residents, but when it comes to developers running a scam and mega-quasi-governmental abetting it, against the interests of the residents, they couldn't do that.

Every neighborhood in the city should remember this. City promises for neighborhood improvements are worthless, unless they line the pockets of friends and family of shakers and movers.

Every time a commissioner promises an improvement, residents should ask if this promise is as good as the one made to Corbett/Lair Hill.


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