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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

School board to city: Waaaaaahh

The revolt against the lifeblood-sucking juggernaut known as Portland "urban renewal" continues apace. Now the local school district has gained a seat on some sort of token committee that's supposed to have some input into whether, or rather how, the city decides to expand its unnecessary and ineffective developer welfare program. On that panel the school folks are joined by Multnomah County, which has also noticed that it's starving for tax revenue while the shiny, and empty, apartment towers rise on the money that it otherwise would have gotten.

The problem, of course, is that the future of "urban renewal" rests as a legal matter with the City Council and the Portland Development Commission, and not with some quaint advisory group on which disgruntled constituencies like the school board and the county will get to throw their little tantrums. As with all public "process" in the city, these advisors will be wheeled out when it suits the council and the PDC, and otherwise ignored. Mayor Sam the Tram will appoint a new slate of PDC commissioners within a year or two, and they'll do what Sammy and Randy's developer overlords tell them to do. The Post Office, the Convention Center, North Pearl, streetcars galore, the works.

Congratulations to the school board and the county on getting a chance at formal input. But don't bet on anything changing any time soon. Indeed, the new advisory committee will only speed the demolition of Lincoln High School and the surrender of the land beneath it to the developer weasels:

PDC officials also have committed to work closely with Portland Public Schools as the PDC considers a new urban renewal area downtown. There are conversations about adding a new urban renewal district around Portland State University, which could include land surrounding Lincoln High School.

The district expects to work closely with PDC on plans to redevelop the Lincoln site or add new development to the site, Sargent said.

No kidding. In Portland, the fix is always in. One can only hope that the real estate sharpies will wind up broke or in jail before their grand plans come to fruition.

Comments (5)

I don't understand why it has taken the school district this long to start crying. This has been going on for decades where valuable real estate is taken off local property tax roles, decreasing tax revenues going to the state. The state is then supposed to redistribute to the school districts. Urban Renewal has definitely had an impact on school funding for decades, and yet it is only now the school district gets concerned.

P.S Mayor-elect Adams has said we need to successfully fund development of the South Water front Urban Renewal District inorder to combat "sprawl." Gag-me-with-a-spoon. I can't tell much difference between sprawl and the densification that is now Portland city proper. Sprawl may actually be preferrable since it implies some open spaces.

I love how the school district didn't have enough money to fix Lincoln High when the tax revenues flowed like wine during the dotcom days, but only now is it a concern. This, my friends, is a perfect example of "keeping both hands on your wallet," because I'll bet good money that every penny intended to expand the school will be matched with at least 30 cents of unnecessary developer "inducement" to get them to participate. Naturally, asking a developer to help haul off big bags of cash? How can you expect a developer to think of such a thing?

Anybody who thinks tax revenues flowed freely during the dotcom days doesn't know or is misrepresenting the history of tax policy in Oregon. Measures 5 and 47/50 produced a tax paradox in which public institutions were impoverished even as the economy boomed. I don't necessarily disagree with your main point, but why start out with a false history?

This isn't false history-urban renewal has been on-going in CoP since the 50s. Not once, until just recently, behind closed doors, has any representative of PPS or Multnomah Co. made any comment on the over $25 M per year that is stolen by UR from our pockets.

Why don't the representatives of PPS and Multnomah Co. advocate for legal action to close down some of the long, continuing UR Districts that have way pasted their goals? Also, why don't they support legal action against CoP for "satellites" of urban renewal which is contrary to Oregon statutes?

Grab the tail of the tiger (PDC/CoP) and let them know how you really feel (and in public)and stop wasting time of four years of behind the scene meetings on Sam's "blueribbon, stakeholders, think-a-like, same old, same old committees".

This sounds like a job for the one man totally un-qualified for the position:

John Branam, Director of Development, Portland Public Schools.

Neil Goldschmidt is all over this one.

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