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Friday, February 29, 2008

Why Sten's "satellite urban renewal" scheme is illegal

Here are the issues that the city attorney has identified. And there may be more.

Comments (7)

If it is something that you want there is always a scheme or a way to wangle it. But if it is something the public needs like pot holes filled well there are rules and stringent policies about transportation funds.

Meng seems to have covered the most relevant points concerning the misuse of urban renewal for David Douglas.

The most disturbing (and I recognize that she works for the city that requested the opinion) interpretation she makes concerns "satellite districts". Her interpretation of ORS 457 is only an opinion and has been intrepreted differently by other cities and even the city's own PDC and PSU.

In 2000/01 after SoWhat's urban renewal district was formed, an addition was requested to accommodate PSU's purchase of the Double Tree Hotel site on SW Lincoln, over 20 blocks from the nearest SoWhat boundary. PDC attorney Chip Lazeby testified before the PDC Commission that there needed to be a connection (cherry stem) to connect the two boundaries to meet state statutes. The Commission members also asked questions concerning the feasibility of this interpretation even with a cherry stem. SW Lincoln R.O.W. was used as the connector. This issue has come before PDC in several other UR districts throughout the decades and the historical consensus is that districts could not be made as satellites.

The river issue as Sten alludes to in the Tribune for the Willamette Industrial UR if far different than what he is now proposing. The PDC made an interpretation that the Willamette river acts as a contiguous connection to both sides of the river. It was similar to how they had previously considered a street being a "cherry stem", and can connect two sides.

Using a street r.o.w. extending 14 miles from the Pearl to the school would be quite a stem. Sten is reaching far beyond common sense and is "cherry picking" his arguments.

I believe there will be formal legal challenges to this interpretation. It is a state wide issue that could affect taxpayers as well as other city governments adversely, as well as fire districts, school districts, and other governmental bodies that rely on property tax revenue. If this ever goes to the legislature, both sides need to be considered. As important has it is to the whole state, it should be voted upon by its citizens.

This hit the front page of the PDX Trib yesterday and I was quite astonished. That said, I do credit Sten for his 11th hour support of outer SE Portland. These aren't the homeless people he has gained his liberal cred by identifying himself with, they are just working poor trying to keep a roof over their heads. So good for Sten. If Portland is to avoid a major social stratification akin to what you might have seen taking the train from Bronx or Newark to Manhattan in the 80s (to strike a nerve with Jack), it needs to balance its redevelopment.

But this seems like a sacrificial lamb to get his Old Town/Pearl ambitions fulfilled. Why now, Eric Sten? After all these years, why pay attention to us folk living between SE 122 and SE 164th?

"I do credit Sten for his 11th hour support of outer SE Portland"
Huh? "Support"? How's that?

Boy that's a sweeping presumtion. Especially since his latest stunt and urban renewal won't do squat for the working poor in SE trying to keep a roof over their heads.
He's not even proposing fixing their shabby streets.
Throwing UR money at a new school in SE
is nothing but more chaos.
Poorly thought out, without any comprehension of the money, where it actually comes from or any of the prior promises about UR eventually returning the taxes to the varuous jurisdictions.

No he just coughs up a huge expansion and delay for another 30 years of paying off that UR district adding to the perpeutual Urban Renewal shell game.

He probably hasn't yet grasped that UR borrowing gets paid back in part with school money.
This guy never thinks through anything.

Ming is certainly right that "More uncertainy exists.." with calling a school site "blight". The fourteen definitions in ORS 457.190 that also allows urban renewal also is suspect for this case.

Sten and Ming have also coined a new term "Satellite District" that is not mentioned once in ORS 457. This naming is an attempt to give validity to the concept when the twenty pages of ORS says nothing about having disjointed URAs. Just as Ming argues that satellite districts may be permissible because there is no mention of this format in ORS, the contrary can be argued. There must be some Latin legal term for this. Just because some concept is not mentioned being allowed or not does not make it allowed. And note the post above about the historical nature concerning "cherry stems". We might have a new name-Sten Stem.

In Websters "area" is defined as, "A particular extent of surface", "a space on the surface", "tract on the earth", " The surface extent of any figure". Note that all these are singular-surface, space, tract, figure. The Pearl and the school site are plural in spaces-area. ORS 457.010 (b)(14)reads " 'Urban renewal area' means a blighted area included in an urban renewal plan or an area included in an urban renewal plan under ORS 457.160". Again "area" is singular as well as throughout all of ORS 457.

Sten has so far not followed another requirement of "ORS 457.220 Plan amendment; limit on additional land (2) Any substantial change in the urban renewal plan shall, before being carried out, be approved and recorded in the same manner as the original plan." Changing the statutes to include "satellite districts" is a "substantial change" in interpretation. The process so far has not followed the process required by any establishment of an URA.

There are also questions raised by "457.437 Consultation with municipalities; resolution requirements." The PDC URA is required to met with "governing bodies of the municipality that activatd the URA and other municiaplities affected by the UR plan..." Other governing bodies would be affected.

The five points of Meng's memorandum need to be fully explored besides those above.

If this is the highest and best use of Sten's vaunted brain power it is not too soon for him to slink into the shadows and join the other former city officials whom lived before their time.
I cannot emphasize enough the pleasure I gained from moving out of the "city".

What was going on when the Pearl infrastructure was being funded by taking SDCs from the rest of town to finance a lot of the projects? They are relaly great at finding ways of funding the projects they like while the rest of town gets screwed.

I think he knows the David Douglas thing is going to flop, but he can go out in a blaze of glory saying he tried - albeit at the same sad success rate of all his other flops.

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