Detail, east Portland photo, courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.

For old times' sake
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!

To order, click here.

Excellent tunes -- free! And on your browser right now. Just click on Radio Bojack!

E-mail us here.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 29, 2008 4:41 AM. The previous post in this blog was Another back-room deal on the aerial tram. The next post in this blog is Why Sten's "satellite urban renewal" scheme is illegal. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
World of Work
The Faculty Lounge
Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
The Daily E-Mail
Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
Litterbox, Scratch
Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
Rally Monkey
Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

Oregon News
The Oregonian
Portland Tribune
Willamette Week
The Sentinel
Southeast Examiner
Northwest Examiner
Sellwood Bee
Mid-County Memo
Vancouver Voice
Eugene Register-Guard
OPB - Portland
Salem Statesman-Journal
Oregon Capitol News
Portland Business Journal
Daily Journal of Commerce
Oregon Business
Portland Info Net
McMinnville News Register
Lake Oswego Review
The Daily Astorian
Bend Bulletin
Corvallis Gazette-Times
Roseburg News-Review
Medford Mail-Tribune
Ashland Daily Tidings
Newport News-Times
Albany Democrat-Herald
The Eugene Weekly
Portland IndyMedia
The Columbian

The Beatles
Bruce Springsteen
Joni Mitchell
Ella Fitzgerald
Steve Earle
Joe Ely
Stevie Wonder
Lou Rawls

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Friday, February 29, 2008

There is no "off" position on the genius switch

It's the perfect ending to the dubious Portland City Council career of Erik "Opie" Sten: a hare-brained stunt that will cost the taxpayers hundreds of thousands in legal fees and ultimately be declared illegal. Maybe after he's gone (only five weeks to go), the rest of the commissioners will come to their senses and stop the insanity. One can only hope.

UPDATE, 2:46 p.m.: More details here.

Comments (21)

This isn't the first time that Opie has ignored the legal advice of the City Attorney, and decided to "go for it" anyway. We can all thank our lucky stars that it will be the last.

Casting dispersions on Robin Hood?

I think the money line from the Trib article is, "Unfortunately for Sten, it was questioned by special taxing districts (such as water and fire districts), which oppose urban renewal because it sucks" - although I was a little surprised by the language.

Surprising that the money is being syphoned off from the rich folks rather than the typical other way around.

I knew this was illegal the first time I heard about it. Why didn't he just ask someone at the PDC, instead of spending half a year on an "analysis."

What everyone conveniently forgets about the Pearl (or doesn't know because they moved here last year) is that it was "blighted" or underdeveloped/underused not that long ago. The urban renewal district played a big part in turning it into what it is now. Do they still need the money? Probably not. But let's not whitewash history because the "rich people" live there now. The fact is that urban renewal was spectacularly successful in the Pearl. Why use this tool if we're going to whine everytime it actually works?

The fact is that urban renewal was spectacularly successful in the Pearl.

for whom?

ecohuman is right, Brendan. The homeless people who used to sleep in or around the railroad yard and abandoned building now have fewer places to go. That's why it is so inappropriate that Commissioner Sten has championed more ways to treat and end homelessness.

But a direct answer to your question, ecohuman, would be that anyone who goes to the Pearl benefits from it. Powells trips, restaurants, theater, parks (yeah, not enough, but still). I don't live there, and wouldn't particularly want to; I even get a little snarky about the Pearl, sometimes. But it is a truly remarkable urban adventure.

If your point is that it's a better urban adventure for those with money, than those without, of course you are correct. In my view, that's an important part of the conversation, along with a discussion of homelessness, and trying to get more children living in the Pearl, but it isn't enough (for me) to take away from a great showpiece of urban redevelopment.

Brendan, shiny new buildings and over-priced restaurants do not a success make.

I'd like you to provide some objective, concrete data proving the city of Portland is not upside-down with its total monetary investment in the Pearl (including subsidies, tax-breaks and the like).

If you can do that, I'd then agree with your assertion that the Pearl is "spectacularly successful."

The Pearl was becoming the "Pearl" well before being designated an URD. They just jumped on a moving train.

would be that anyone who goes to the Pearl benefits from it.

Spoken like a Walsh Construction Company lawyer.

Ironic, isn't it, that these urban renewal district descrease revenues that would otherwise go to school districts....doesn't this sort of point towards telling us that these urban renewal districts ought not keep getting renewed?

"Brendan, shiny new buildings and over-priced restaurants do not a success make.

I'd like you to provide some objective, concrete data proving the city of Portland is not upside-down with its total monetary investment in the Pearl"

Urban Renewal works by taking a place that isn't bringing in much tax revenue because the prop values are low. You take out bonds to do projects there. You dedicate the rising prop taxes to paying back those bonds. At the end of the usually 20-year period, those revenues go back to the city, schools, county, and all the taxing jurisdictions.

When the Pearl URA expires, and those funds start to flow back to the city and school instead of paying back the bonds, the city will be very very well off indeed.

Cities grow over hundreds of years. We're talking about sacrificing 20 years of revenue (that didn't exist anyway when the area was blighted) to create the richest neighborhood in town. As the Pearl pays tax revenues over the next 100 years, the UR investment made now will most likely seem like an incredible bargain.

Urban Renewal is very complicated. I would hazzard that most people don't understand it very well at all.

I should add that I don't think Urban Renewal is flawless, or that there isn't an imbalanced situation in the Pearl right now. And I'm definitely not saying that I love the Pearl.

I just think that the "developers and rich people are subsidized and not paying taxes" argument is greatly oversimplified.

You take out bonds to do projects there. You dedicate the rising prop taxes to paying back those bonds

Except that they arent paying property taxes. They gave out tax abatements to lure the developers and buyers in the first place.

I just think that the "developers and rich people are subsidized and not paying taxes" argument is greatly oversimplified.

No its not, its pretty clear.
There are owners of very expensive condos who should be paying tens of thousands of dollars in taxes, and instead paying a couple hundred dollars.

When the Pearl URA expires, and those funds start to flow back to the city and school instead of paying back the bonds, the city will be very very well off indeed.

Maybe. If and when it ever expires. In Stenland, these things take on a life of their own, and get extension after extension. The funds will get diverted, the bonds will get refinanced, and we'll carry the debt forever.

What is now the Pearl probably would have grown quite a bit without the handouts to the developers. How much, we'll never know.

Yes "Urban Renewal is very complicated. I would hazzard that most people don't understand it very well at all."

That would include you.
All you have done is echo out PDC spin.

Not the "objective, concrete data" you wrongly claim.

Urban Renewal targets an area for some municipal pan. Some of the targetted properties may have low values. However in some case the values have been artificially constrained becasue of city policies awaiting the grander UR scheme.

More importantly, and what you leave out like the PDC does, is the Urban Renewal District nearly always encompasses a much larger tract of land than the planned development. And much of the district is fully developmed high value property with poroperty taxes flowing into city coffers. Often times high value existing development is including to gain more property taxes for the plan.
Upon creation of an UR district every parcel within the district, (which is ususally 100s or 1000s or acres) is immedaitely locked into splitting all future property taxes. All of the routine yearly increases, having nothing Urban renewal projects, will no longer go to basic services. Those yearly tax increases average 5% and help keep pace with the rising cost of basic services.
Those city wide property tax increases occur every year and add to the general fund.
Diverting those increases under the cover of UR is essentially spending general fund money while claiming none is being used. That's not honest.
The other whopper frequently repeated is that the new development triggers all the tax increases and provides all the funding for the plan.
That is never the case. Not even close.

North Interstate UR district is 3744 acres. All of which is having it's property taxes skimmed for light rail and the subsidized development city officials enamor over.
SoWa URD is 409 acres, the plan covers only 130 acres and the current phase 1 central district while devouring all of the plan's revenue is but 50 acres.

UR in Portland cover 12,000 acres.
ALL of the property taxes from, All of the property is being skimmed away from basic services for DECADES.
$65 million per year from $4 billion in assessed value.

Perhaps you can tell me what district
"at the end of the usually 20-year period, those revenues go back to the city, schools, county, and all the taxing jurisdictions"?

If that's what usually happens perhaps you can offer up one example?

What nearly always happens is the indebtedness capapcity is increased, the district extended, the district expanded and/or a new larger distrcit is created a soon as one expires.

Urban Renewal in perpetuity with each and every expansion ushered along with the exact same propaganda you repeated here.

And of course all the while lining the pockets of the affluent at the expense of gneral fund budgets in perpetuyal fiscal crisis.
There is no "flow back to the city and schools instead of paying back the bonds".
You don't know what you are talking about.
You also have no grasp of what is being sacrficied for what reasons.
You apparently weren't even aware that Urban Renewal diverts general fund revenue arriving from large tracts of existing development.

This is a central problem that most UR supporters don't realize. Having been misled by officials they mistakenly think the money for the projects in the plan comes from money generated by the plan itself.
Hogwash. That's putting it politely.

This misinformation you repeat is used to advance every UR district in every city. At times city officals, and even city attorneys, have told the public that ALL of the money will be generated by the planned development.
And with always piling on more lies with claims that no development can happen without the UR plan.
And here you are telling people how it "will most likely seem like an incredible bargain".

Are you familliar with Airport Way/Cascade Station or any UR district numbers at all? I don't think you are.

Urban Renewal isn't nearly as complicated as you claim.

But then you don't understand it for what it is as you advise others.

One easy way to look at it is to imagine if you were able to use all of your own property taxes for the next 30 to 40 years to fix up your own house. And to spruce yoour own house up even more you get to use part of all your neighbors' property taxes too.
Your ptich is that yoour house is blighted and by fixing yours up all your neighbors will benefit down the road.
You tell them it will most likely seem like an incredible bargain.

Of course your pretense is that nothing in the neighborhood would ever get built or fixed up if you can't use Brendan Renewal for your house.

The most difficult thing regarding the Pearl, PDC and Urban Renewal is there's no tally available anywhere for what public monies were spent, who got the money, what it did or what the public benefit truly is.
It looks pretty.
Underneath it's all scattered information with shiny suggestions and impressions that it must have been worth it.
It's remarkable how little oversight and tracking there is.
The PDC web site is chuck full of hype materials, plans, theories and goals.

We get far more hype by PDC staff about their plans and accomplishments than we get actual accounting for their activites.

All the appointed and elected officials seem to assume it's someone else's respoinsibility to check, watch and make sure things are working out.

Howard, your post to Brenden is correct. Being very familiar with SoWhat and somewhat with others, your analysis is insightful, and those that disagree should research the points you make. I agree that if you research at the PDC, the answers are very convoluted and sometimes never discoverable.

The Purl or the Purloined?

How 'bout we run this scheme for the next Buhlighted Area:
If your property is the "worst" in the Area you will pay the most property tax. If you are achieving H&B Use, property taxes will be reduced by scale.


You are welcome.

I've got an idea: let's extend the SoWhat URD to include the Sellwood Bridge.

If Opie can build a school, why not a bridge?

They only make cherry stem expansions of UR districts when they can rake in a large piece of property taxes into the UR pot or include a project location they want to subsidize.

Bringing in the Sellwood bridge, although a prudent thing to do for using UR more wisely than half the crap they pick. But it would mean they would have to spend many millions on a real public use and have less for the boondoggles they prefer.

The short version is our officials are dishonest and stupid.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
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
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
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: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
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

Clicky Web Analytics