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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 26, 2007 10:35 AM. The previous post in this blog was Taking it personally. The next post in this blog is County cans debt limit increase for building. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Truth, stretched to the breaking point

"Every street in the city has been paid by adjacent property owners."

Not if they've got friends in the "urban renewal" bureaucracy.

Comments (12)

How many ways can you slice a piece of baloney?

How about this, disband PDOT's work crews and let people hire contractors to do street improvements. They could go thru the bid process and then have a city inspector approve it like they do with houses?

The whole idea of giving it to govt and then having govt give it back seems fraught with the potential for abuse. If you remember, SDCs were supposed to be used in district, however, they tended to divert a lot of those to downtown projects.

This is off topic, but....bring back the picture of your fireplace. My furnace is out and the only thing keeping me warm was your nice fire.

This is basically not so different from the way it is done now. In the usual scenario property owners immediately abutting the street to be improved form a Local Improvement District and pay for the work to be done. In this scenario it looks like the same thing only the LID will be larger than just property owners abutting the street or intersection.

And Steve the way it works now is that the City bids out the work to private contractors and then inspects the work to make sure the street is done to City standards. In new subdivisions (the few that are done) it is not uncommon for the developer to hire the paving contractor rather than the City. So long as the street is done to City standards, the City doesn't really care who hires the contractor.

At least that's my story and I am sticking with it.

Greg C

Greg C, the point Jack is making is that in large part all streets of Portland have been paid by adjacent property owners, or developers of subdivisions, from 1850 to now. Those costs are then transferred to the land,improvement costs. But since the beginning of urban renewal, starting with South Auditorium in the late 1950s, the taxpayers have been paying in large part for streets excluding the more recent LIDs (Local Improvement Districts) that sometimes pays a small portion for infrastructure. In URAs the city does inspect, but they certainly do not pay for the streets from the general funds transportation budget (except for some interesting transportation budget robbery by Sam Adams for improvements in SoWhat).

Since URAs comprise 15% of Portland land area, that leaves 85% where streets if upgraded, added, etc. are paid by the adjacent property owners or developers. Is this disparity fair?

Been there, done that. LID was for purpose of a renewal and directly paid by adjacent property owners.The cost was figured by footage to road inprovement e.g. 100 foot frontage paid double 50 foot frontage. There was some federal money kicked in and made the deal quite acceptable. No more, I see. I see no Fed money and Halo is another name for pick-pocketing. Leave to Sam, the scam and Bad Smell Randy to hoodwink you Portlanders.

HALO... You get someone with a real good reputation to propose this nonsense and then no one realizes its just a way to get someone else to pay for your street improvements. If you have that halo wearer throw in a few buzzwords about pedestrians and cyclists and some speech writer work in the word apple-pie its not difficult at all to have everyone else paying taxes to pay for your street improvements.

"This is basically not so different from the way it is done now."

My point was let the neighbors contract it out themselves. Having CoP project manage it probably 2x the cost.

As a native Portlander who grew up on the East side, it's never made sense to me that major thoroughfares in close-in SW Portland lack sidewalks.

The streets over by Bridlemile Elementary are treacherous. We live 3 blocks from the school, but wouldn't dare let our kids walk on Hamilton due to safety concerns.

If the City's objectives are to cut down on car trips and to improve pedestrian safety, then it seems to me that sidewalks in otherwise family-friendly neighborhoods make sense.

It's too bad that the City can't find a way to fund these types of sensical projects without tapping the neighborhoods (since arguably the whole city benefits from having safe children & encouraging alternatives to car transportation), but if the neighborhood of, say, Bridlemile, as a collective, decides to do it -- and to pay for it -- then what's the harm?

The argument of city pays for improvements versus residents pay for improvements has been hashed over many times. The most recent big battle over this was in annexed east county areas lacking sanitary sewer hookups in the 1980s and 1990's.

In theory, a developer who originally skips putting in such amenities as sidewalks, sewers, streetlights, etc. will, in a competitive market, pass these savings on to homebuyers. These are in turn passed on to successive buyers in perpetuity. If later mandated through an LID or other mechanism, the local residents are merely paying for what they've never previously had to pay for.

In practice, of course, it looks like a game of musical chairs, and when the music stops, those residents assessed for the improvement appear to be stuck paying for something the developer got away with skipping out on.

It's not even true that all streets outside of urban renewal areas were paid for by adjacent property owners. See more history in this Guest Post by Frank Dufay on my blog in July, regarding who has paid for streets in the past.

SW 35th, one of the Halo Local Improvement District street projects, is in my neighborhood. I'll pay even though our home isn't on the street designated for improvements. I support the concept. Many local residents benefit from new sidewalks on an arterial street, not just the properties fronting it. If the sidewalk had been in place when my kids went to Jackson Middle School, they would have been able to walk there. In fact, the two Neighborhood Associations bordering SW 35th first floated the proposal of a broader assessment area to upgrade the narrows between Stephenson Elementary and Jackson, more than 16 years ago. This isn't a new idea. It was generated by area residents seeing the need and wanting a mechanism to ask if a wider group of neighbors would be willing to help pay to fix it.

This is all well and good if the neighbors agree.
But for the city to pretend it has no money to throw in makes me sick.
At the very least Sam should fork over a matching amount raised by the property owners.
Among many other shady schemes, PDOT diverted $3.5 million from their general fund to OHSU, by way of a little money laundering in SoWa.
Many millions followed and more is being diverted to OHSU to pay their Tram share. Sam knows this but wants the voters to think the public share is small.

Sounds to me like this HALO is a noose.
Watch you wallets people!


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