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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

You see this sign?

Fireman Randy's shocked -- shocked! -- to see that the Portland Development Commission and former Mayor Vera Katz cut a backroom deal with developer Trammell Crow that allows businesses building near the airport to put up any old size signs they want, even those that don't comply with normal city rules. The latest product of the toxic-smoke-filled room laughingly called "urban renewal" is a giant Ikea sign that would fit right in on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike. Today the good city commissioner's stomping around and acting like he's going to do something about it. He's got the city attorney investigating.

Hey, Randy, it's the PDC -- try to lie back and enjoy it with the rest of us.

According to the press reports about this flap, under the secret deal made a while ago (back when Sam the Tram was running the "economic development" circus for Vera), design issues at "Cascade Station," as the new strip mall site is amusingly known, are governed not by regular city bureaucrats, but instead by a special four-person committee. The media don't tell us who's on the committee, but come on, it was late '90s or early '00s PDC (and the Port was in on it too), and so it doesn't take a genius to guess: somebody from Trammell Crow; a couple of Goldschmidt lieutenants, like a Tom Imeson and a Matt Hennessee; and somebody from the community to keep it light, like a Randy Gragg or a Mike Lindberg. They get continuing authority to override all the rules, far from the public eye. It was a "complicated deal," according to Gragg as he reports in this morning's O -- that's Graggtalk for scam. (You Craftsman-huggers are too stupid to understand, but Gragg does.)

It's just another instance of the ongoing development boondoggles that have, sadly, become the defining feature of Portland since about 15 years ago. And if you step back and look at the big picture, you see how ridiculous this particular episode was. The city and the PDC went crazy, throwing money at Goldschmidt clients like there was no tomorrow, making all sorts of dubious deals, even doling out light rail pork. And 10 years later, what do we have to show for it?

The ultimate big box retail store -- Ikea -- next to the freeway. Just like in Newark. What an achievement.

Comments (45)

You're not kidding. When I first saw that sign a couple weeks ago, I thought it was bigger than the actual store was going to be.

That Sign has my Wife salivating like Pavlos Dogs.

I hope Pavlov taught his dogs how to assemble furniture kits using instructions written in broken English.

Truly sick and wrong. In my former career as a civil servant, part of my job was to enforce and regulate signs for one of Portland's suburbs. We can all expect more signs like this with M-37 being the law of the land here--I guarantee it.

Ala Randy "The Fixer". "I'll Huff and Puff and Blow the Sign Down" all by his lonesome. Randy always has a lot of hot air.

Here's 5 ways to make the sign okay:
1. Paint it green.
2. Put a windmill on it to run the lights so it's carbon neutral.
3. Use it for one wall of a condo.
4. Build a tram from it to the airport so it will be a scenic icon.
5. Declare that the sign has an actual value of minus 3 million dollars and pay them 10 million to take it down.

Now Jack, everyone knows that IKEA instructions contain no words at all. Just pictures. For a spatial relations challenged individual like myself it has led to many bouts of swearing and scattered pieces. My engineer wife on the other hand can put together an entire room without even referring to the instructions...Grrr.

As for the sign itself, aren't FAA height restrictions a sticking point in the options for a new I-5 bridge? How can a 100+ foot sign on airport property be allowed?

The four person approval committee cosists of

The Port of Portland
The Portland Bureau of Planning
The Portland Development Commission.

The fourth non voting member of the approval committee represents Trammel Crow...the developer for IKEA.

I am not kidding.

Why am I not surprised? And don't tell me: For the Port... Wyatt or Imeson. For the PDC... Hennessee or Mazziotti. Where's Bernie? Oh, that's right, he's running Tri-Met.

And the other tie-in for TriMet...the reason for building Ikea there..."Transit Oriented Development". Or was it that the MAX needed stop there because of Ikea...I dont remember. Their lies tend to blend together over time. But there is a MAX stop for all your delivery needs.

"Hey, Randy, it's the PDC -- try to lie back and enjoy it with the rest of us."

Just close your eyes and think of Portlandia?

Better keep those eyes closed. It isn't Portlandia, it's Neil.

The desk I bought at the location in Washington was dirt cheap and it looks snazzy. IKEA is many things but it will fill a niche in Portland not being served by anyone currently. Where else can you find cheap furniture around here that isn't used and covered in coffee stains?

At least more people will make use of the store and its oversized sign than another row of condos/townhouses and, thankfully, they stuck it out by the airport. Bring on the rickety Swiss crap, I say!

Just close your eyes and think of Portlandia?

Pay no attention whatsoever to her trident.

Randy says, "I am not kidding".

Hey Randy, try this on. The make up of the Inter-Governmental agreement and Public-private partnership was exactly the same for the entire Cascade Station plan.
Vry much like the SoWa deal making.

You think the sign is a bummer?
How about the Cascade Station plan itself?

Gragg writes about IKEA today and once again serves his masters, the planners well. He says "develpopment sputtered".
He leaves out the failure of a planned ped/bike/trasnit mini-city to appear at Cascade Station saying "development sputtered until IKEA signed on"
Well, Mr Gragg, that's neither funny or true. But so what? Huh?
Never mind that the Cascade Station plan purposefully prohibited BIG BOXES because city planners and public officials viewed auto oriented BIG BOXES as the worst possible outcome for the enormous Urban Renewal investment. Roughly $200 million was spent to extend light rail and create a ped/bike/transit oriented "mini-city". That's what Charlie Hales and the rest called the vision.

The plan failed, not "sputtered", because it made no sense and because city ordinances prohibited BIG BOXES. IKEA signed on only after the city changed the zoning ordinance to allow the "dreaded" big boxes. I mean come on folks, who among us doesn't know that BIG BOXES are hated by planners as much as sprawl around here.
A little bit of genuine investigative journalism would also reveal the BIG public money-BIG public asset concessions by officials to make IKEA "happen" as Katz put it.
A no bid MAX contract to Bechtel led the way.
Not unlike the horrible giveaway that led to the public losing ownership of our drydock and shipyards the Port, PDC and city also handed over 120 acres at Cascade Station, for a song, to Bechtel/Trammel Crow.
Who later crafted a deal to hand IKEA 19 acres for virtually the same $14 million amount paid for the entire 120 acres.
A Sweet deal for Bechtel and Trammel Crow. These Savvy pros are forever working over our amateur hour visionaries at city hall, PDC, Metro, TriMet and the Port. And no one ever sees the details.
But we have a fresh mayor now who sugar coats the whole thing with, "IKEA measures up on every count".

Excuse me, but can someone direct me to the department of "measuring"?
Because as I "measure" Cascade Station, it's becoming the auto-oriented BIG BOX cluster that our professional planner's plan, planned to be not in the plan.

Myself and most other people will be fine with the new shopping. But on paying countless millions for it and funding silly planner's plans year in year out? Not so much.

So when will a newspaper tell the public they paid planners to spent $200 million on a plan that didn't "measure up"?
Yesterday's news? Sure, but it's happening over and over again today.

I went to a developer presentation on Cascade Station - The funny thing is its going to be an open-air mall a la Tanasbourne with lots of big-box stores.

Best part - plenty of parking also so tantalizingly close to MAX which is pretty rare for CoP to allow that much parking so close to mass transit.

Just wait until Sam's mayor, now that Vera's geting bored we should see a lot of these friends and family deals coming down the pipe. I am sure he will back into a deal and then start giving away the farm to keep it alive. They'll just keep getting bigger.

Somebody needs to go to jail. Where's the FBI when you need them?

busy monitoring Mcdonald's phone calls

Since they are now accepting "big box" stores at Cascade station this would be an ideal spot for a Wal Mart...or have they already been rejected ?
And for what reason?
Certainly not traffic conjestion, no mom and pop stores in the neighborhood, actually, no neighborhood at all.
Who could complain?

"this would be an ideal spot for a Wal Mart, Certainly not traffic conjestion"

So would SoWa. There's no concern about traffic down there either. More nice planning isn't it.
Same cooked up deals. And we'll never know the details of how bad they really are any more than we know about Cascade Station.

I must say, I can think nothing which smacks of poetic justice more than siting a Wal-Mart in SoWa.

Sam would be proud.

Where else can you find cheap furniture around here that isn't used and covered in coffee stains?

Furniture Outlet, Walmart, Kmart, Target, Fred Meyer, BiMart, etc, etc.

Oh, and we cant forget Tom Peterson.

the FBI couldn't find IKEA, even with 2000sf of signage hanging over the airport

at the risk of playing devil's advocate, i wouldn't heap too much ash on the heads of planners (other than the Planning Commission.)

in the end, what gets done rarely resembles what professional planners recommended. politicians negotiate away much of what made the plan meaningful in the first place.

small case in point, the deal between PDC/Katz/Trammell Crow.

large case in point, SoWat. originally called North Macadam, but NoMac wasn't as catchy.

Randy, of the four Cascade Station Approval Committee members, you and the City Council have oversight over three of them in some fashion. Where does the buck stop? Where is your staff? Where were you? Heck, where are you?

I can't wait to hop a MAX train out to the new Ikea store to bring back a nice living room set. Now with the sign, the train operator shouldn't have any trouble finding the Cascade Station stop. I just love synergy.

"i wouldn't heap too much ash on the heads of planners"

If I may be mean,,,
Yeah right, and when the planners testify in favor of these plans with cooked up planner's numbers it's not part of the problem? Small case in point: Trammel Crow's Alexan Tax abatement. A PDC planner pitched the case for the applicant in a city council public hearing. The background work for his testimony had to have devoured a considerable amount of resources. The content was asinine and on this rare occasion the application was narrowly rejected.
Now let's presume the staff was ordered to concoct and present the tax break case for Trammel Crow? As they surely were.
This isn't rocket science.
This is corruption in some form. The taxpayers should not be funding public staff to help Trammel Crow get a huge tax break. But this is common practice. Big time. Public staff working on behalf of a private developer's project in an attempt to get as much public contribution as possible. Transit oriented developments, mixed use "Smart Growth", infill and increased density all excuses for the public to help pay the way. And staff always lays out a puffed up caricature of public benefits that never quite seem to show up as promised. SoWa took this to a new level.
There's an insatiable desire to avoid blaming "central planning", the center piece of all these problems.
Presumably because no matter what they do or what happens it's better than sprawl?
And when shiny things pop up the Oregonian handles the rest.
Katz/PDC/Metro/TriMet/Port all relied heavily upon the planners "preparations".
The multi-colored bound copies of planner's enamor to stack on hearing's tables and usher the next folly along.
We'll be seeing plenty more of this handy work as the Hotel moves forward. Just like the whole Metro scheme to expand the Convention Center after the voters rejected the expansion.
Same goes for Cascade Station. Voters turned down more light rail and the PDC/Metro/Port/TriMet/CoP conspired to cook up a plan to hatch airport MAX with behind the scenes funding schemes.
The Cascade Station plan was designed, engineered, depicted and promoted in living color as the mini-city envisioned. A massive number of planner's and public relations' man hours were devoured along with the $200 million.
Just like the PDC the CoP planning guru Gill Kelly is as bad as it get's. So is his support staff and the overall mission. Metro, same.

Furniture Outlet, Walmart, Kmart, Target, Fred Meyer, BiMart, etc, etc.

A nice thought, but the Flex Cars have one of those shopping cart devices attached to the front right wheel which engages when the vehicle leaves TriMet zones 1 and 2. Those stores are CLEARLY located in zone 3 leaving them inaccessible.


i don't have an "insatiable desire" to avoid blaming Central Planning. sounds kinky, though.

take a look at the original plan for South Waterfront. compare it to the final plan, after it was hacked to pieces by city government and special interests. do the same for Cascade Station.

the Trammell Crow farce was the work of politicians, not planners.

bottom line: who makes the decisions? n

do planners have some bad ideas? oh yeah. definitely. i'm no fan of Smart Growth (tm) either. but if we're parceling out blame, the lion's share goes elsewhere.

I like the sign. Portland needs more of them - maybe it would do a little to slow the outflow of jobs.

BTW how far is Ikea from the closest toy train stop? Aren't the stops on the other end of that wasteland?

BTW2: Are the toy tains still stopping at those unused stations because they couldn't figure out how to reprogram the comuters?


"the lion's share goes elsewhere".
I agree, but I listened to a PDC planner testify on behalf of Trammel Crow.

There no pass for the planners.

Planners and agency management work closely with the politicians. But in counltess cases the planners and agency management mislead the politicians who may desire the predetermined outcome but rely upon the agency information provided to wheel it along.
It's been something to watch.
But I'm with you on the chain of command and who calls the shots.

Much like when staff told City Council the Tram would cost $15.5 million.
In routine form, Commissioners not interested in halting the project kept their scrutiny in check.
Until much later when it became public that staff had lied.
Planning "staff" have done the same thing throughout SoWa and other projects.
They get deserve no pass.

A nice thought, but the Flex Cars have one of those shopping cart devices attached to the front right wheel which engages when the vehicle leaves TriMet zones 1 and 2. Those stores are CLEARLY located in zone 3 leaving them inaccessible.

Hmm, that could suck if you are in the middle of an intersection. Better keep a map of the boundaries.

"A nice thought, but the Flex Cars have one of those shopping cart devices attached to the front right wheel which engages when the vehicle leaves TriMet zones 1 and 2. Those stores are CLEARLY located in zone 3 leaving them inaccessible."

Umm. Got a source for that? Cuz it looks like that ain't so.

Yawn, why the heck is everyone acting like this is a surprise? Especially Council who should know better.

Hmm, didn’t the current Mayor and current City Council approve these changes to the Code for Cascade Station in 2005, changes that would allow this signage to occur? Answer: Yes. Also, didn’t council approval also include amendments that allowed the signage program to be developed and approved by the Cascade Station Design Committee as part of the Development Agreement with Ikea? Yes again, but oops, good old Randy Gragg, diligent as always, left out that important detail in today’s half assed Oregonian article. Oh, and wasn’t there a bureau of development services staff person (Commissioner Leonard’s Bureau) appointed to the project as a bureau liason who was asked by the Design Review Committee to be present at all meetings to provide recommendations regarding permitting issues such as signage and to communicate these decisions back to their bureau? Why, yes there was. Finally, didn’t the Bureau of Development Services approve the sign plans in order for them to be built? Yes, yes, and yes, again.

So, let me get this straight. Our current Mayor and City Council approved changes to the plan district that also allow for signage requirements to be dictated by the Design Review Committee rather than City Code, and that Bureau staff that report to Council and the Mayor (in the case of PDC) were on this Committee. And one would think that bureau staff appointed to this committee would provide reports and updates to the Mayor and the Councilmen that they report to. In fact, I do believe they did.

Sorry, but I call B.S. on any whining from any City Council member at this point regarding this issue. Council had up to January of 2005 (not 1999-2001 like Gragg alludes to) to put the kibosh on the project by NOT APPROVING the plan district amendments but instead passed them unanimously, I believe. If they didn’t know, or didn’t read, or didn’t understand this signage issue then it shows bad communication and due diligence on the part of Council and their bureaus, cause it’s pretty damn clear in the Plan District Amendment what would be allowed, and what wouldn’t. And this vote for approval in 2005, ladies and gentlemen, has little to do with Katz or PDC.

Heck if I can figure all this out in about 5 minutes using Google, then what is the excuse of the Mayor and Council?

Sources: – For Plan District Ammendments

Oh, and IKEA has delivery service so yeah, you can take Max out there and then have your stuff delivered.

"We can all expect more signs like this with M-37 being the law of the land here--I guarantee it."

You bet. Just check out the 75 foot monstrosities (aka: billboards) they're going to erect on Hwy 26 just West of Sandy. The owner of the property filed a M37 claim for - I think - 6 million. Clackamas County said they didn't have the funds to contest the claim - so they rubber-stamped it... without notifying the city or anyone else. Sandy is now suing to stop it, because it violates the green corridor regulations that exist between here and Gresham.

Thank you M37!

It looked to me like IKEA made their sign a cell tower too, so they would be making money off their big sign already.

Personally the sign doesn't bother me.

Got a source for that?

Forgot to close the sarcasm tag.


My bad.

My point is none of the stores listed has the cache of Ikea and are thus out of consideration when it comes to purchasing cheap furniture for your post-college/creative class apartment. Plywood and cinder blocks just don't cut it anymore. And buying cheap Chinese crap isn't PC. Cheap Scandinavian crap is. And don't get me started on local businessman Tom Peterson. That stuff is for apartment dwellers in Clackamas. You can't take a girl home from Doug Fir and expect her to sit on an Englander couch. How gauche.

Look this whining by Randy is a win, win, win for him. First it kicks PDC in the rear, a very popular sport right now. Second it remonds the developers who's in charge fo development in this City so they will remember next time he needs campaign money. Third it makes a bow to Clear Channel who have always been happy to support whoever supports their bottom line. No one should be surprised this is just typical randy grandstanding.

Also Not Surprised

Madam Hatter: Just check out the 75 foot monstrosities (aka: billboards) they're going to erect on Hwy 26 just West of Sandy. The owner of the property filed a M37 claim for - I think - 6 million. Clackamas County said they didn't have the funds to contest the claim - so they rubber-stamped it... without notifying the city or anyone else. Sandy is now suing to stop it, because it violates the green corridor regulations that exist between here and Gresham.
JK: If you don’t like what someone wants to do with their property feel free to make the owner an offer to buy it. Just don’t steal it at the point of a government gun.

Madam Hatter: Thank you M37!
JK: My hope is that M37 will allow building what people really want in the outer areas, instead of those crappy skinny houses in MY neighborhood. The reason we are getting that crappy infill is because the planners have driven up the cost of land to point where it is profitable to tear down an affordable house to replace with a whole gaggle of overpriced, crappy, little, skinny houses. Free up some land through M37, or whatever, and it will no longer make economic sense to tear down affordable houses to build that expensive crap in our neighborhoods.


And buying cheap Chinese crap isn't PC. Cheap Scandinavian crap is.

Most of the cheap Scandinavian crap IS Chinese. Or Malaysian or whatever. It does, however, have a cheap Scandinavian label.

Appearance is everythang.

Notsurprised. Your research and analysis is correct. Randy and the Council knew the consequences of their Cascade Committee. "Just Do IT" is a major part of the City Council agenda, when they can agree on an agenda. Just provide a little "public participation" processes along the way and everything will be fine (make it LUBA proof).

Watch it play out with the Convention Hotel. I hope the city wide hotel industry fights it with whatever, and legal action.

With enough signatures, you can get public bonds referred to the ballot for approval. If you really hate urban renewal - that's the way to bring it to a screeching halt.

Ward system. I'm tellin' ya. It is the only way this is ever going to stop.

In the meantime, let's start a petition drive to get a crony committee that will greenlight the Mirador mural. Sauce for the goose, etc.

JK: If you don’t like what someone wants to do with their property feel free to make the owner an offer to buy it. Just don’t steal it at the point of a government gun.

This is off topic, but JK's above quote is a clear, concise portrayal of the pro-M37 philosophical argument. The problem with this argument is that property rights don't exist in a state of nature, where you only have property rights to the extent that you can physically defend your property from others.

Instead, property rights are derived from the social contract -- i.e., government. Under the social contract, citizens banded together for mutual benefit and established laws and a governing body to enforce those laws. Along with the granting of property rights to inviduals came certain responsibilities, like the fact that you can't produce Prius batteries on your property or build a 30-story condo tower next to a bungalow.

Citizens are allowed to change the social contract, and that's what they did under M37. I disagree with the outcome but respect the process. However, there is no absolute, inalienable right to private property absent a corresponding responsibility to the larger social good. Citizens may again amend the social contract and prohibit you from doing something that you want to do. That's not government extortion, it's the price you pay for the existence of property rights in the first place. And no matter where the line is drawn, you and I should be able to agree that it's better than a state of nature.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
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Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend

The Occasional Book

William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
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
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
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
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
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
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
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: 382
At this date last year: 241
Total run 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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