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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nothing to complain about

The Portland "urban renewal" establishment says that some worthy development projects are going to be delayed or terminated because of the pending legal challenges to the City Council's latest actions -- setting up a supposed "satellite district" to build a school on the outskirts of town, and expanding the supposed "blight" in the area that includes the toney Pearl District.

Where should we send the thank-you note?

Comments (13)

Per the article: The critics include PDC’s former executive director, development director, attorney and board chairman.

I've always said that there's no one better equipped to fight sleazo developers than someone who's done it themselves and come to see the error of their ways.

Typical - Unless you give us the money for pet projects, we can't fill potholes or fix schools (which never get fixed anyways). What's new about this approach from our govt, they've been honing their methods for years?

Tim Boyle was correct.

You can thank FOUR, Friends of Urban Renewal, for attempting to get the City to follow State law on Urban Renewal. One of the Attorneys is Ollie Norville, the original author of Urban Renewal law in the 1950's. Ollie is an example of how I want to be in my 80's..active, sharp and full of fight. He is disgusted that Urban Renewal has been hijacked by City Council and the resulting lack of respect for State Law. City Council is an example of Lord Acton's law of power. Anyone interested in contributing to the cause (that means cash) contact me directly.

It sure didn't take this bunch of directors and lackeys long to figure out the system of graft, greed and corruption. Once Sam the Tram's slate is in watch out!
The only mitigating factor is the screwed up economy, which could put a damper on the "development plans".
Oh and those potholes, don't hold your breath waiting for those to be repaired.
I don't know which is worse, or if there is a difference, between having the city council over see PDC or having it be quasi independent.

What I thought was always fishy about this "satellite" urban renewal scam that Sam and the council are trying to pull over the taxpayers of Portland is the simple fact that once they do this one, what would stop them from creating an urban renewal district in middle Southeast Portland and then a "satellite" for that district in the middle of downtown for one of their developer cronies?

The David Douglas satellite was just a "camel's nose under the tent" maneuver to allow them to bilk other areas for their pet projects downtown.

No question that our city fathers have been WAY too creative and profligate with the urban renewal tools. However, the group leading this charge is representing the interests of good-old-boy big real estate and development types, rather than pushing for responsible government. Those guys are the original authors of all the tricks in the PDC book. They aren't really in favor of quitting the tricks and plugging the hole in the civic boat, just returning to a game in which their already-rich buddies get the maximum benefits.

As smelly as the original Pearl subsidies were, at least they boosted the tax base, and ultimately paid for themselves or came close. New generation of urban renewal spending subsidizes a lot of tax-exempt developments like OHSU, schools, low-income housing, rail, etc., so there is a much lower chance that urban renewal spending will come close to paying for itself in the future. Developers see that this wild spending, particularly on tax-exempt developments, threatens their future for-profit development subsidies. As much as I dislike the old boys getting free money, the new way of spending urban renewal money is much worse for the public.

Can we at least acknowledge that the satellite district was a rare (unprecedented?) attempt to move a large amount money from a wealthy part of town to a poorer one, contrary to traditional practice?

Not that that good intention excuses unlawful manipulation of urban-development laws. But if we're going to complain here when money is lavished on yuppies and wealthy boomers in the Pearl and SoWhat condo bunkers, we should not then condemn an attempt to spread some money around for schoolkids in Outer Southeast. Even if it came from Jack's bete noir, Eric Sten.

As smelly as the original Pearl subsidies were, at least they boosted the tax base, and ultimately paid for themselves or came close.

Uh, I dont think so. Most of the Pearl developments were tax-deferred for at least 10 years. People with million-$$ condos are paying next to nothing in property taxes.

The PDC is hemorrhaging cash like a wafarin-poisoned rat. Hopefully it gets put out of its misery before it makes an even bloodier mess.

Satellite districts are certainly smelly, plus illegal. There are other recent happenings at PDC that need to have serious public involvement to prevent future smelly situations.

One is the very recent consideration by PDC to redefine what constitutes "affordable housing" for the city. Urban Renewal districts are required to have 30% of TIF dollars dedicated to affordable housing. It is now being proposed that
affordable housing to be expanded to include "student housing" and a new concept of "workforce housing".

To simplify, the present definition is any housing that is to be rented/bought by those making less than 60% of MFI (medium family income). The new proposal is to increase that to 120% of MFI. Simply, that means that an intern doctor in SoWhat could be elgibible for taxpayer subsidized housing. And possibly a 30 story condo tower could be totally tax exempt from paying property taxes, etc. If it was built by OHSU it would be tax-exempt anyway, but this just adds more possibilies to more socialized housing with taxpayers footing more of the bill.

If PSU wants student housing in SoWhat, they first could possibly get benefits of building a student tower with taxpayer TIF dollars, then get other tax benefits, subsidies.

Who is going to pay for all this-the remaining 40% above the MFI? God forbid.

Maybe there is a good idea in this, but at least the PDC should be having this conversation with all the city, other bureaus, other regional governments, school districts that have tax dollars because of Urban Renewal TIF dollars.

The PDC has been hiding this major redefinition under an obscure budget subcommittee of just one of eleven urban renewal districts. The issue of "Affordable Housing" touches on at least five city bureaus and several other public agencies, and it needs to be discussed openly and not just with another "blue ribbon committee" if any one is listening at City Hall.

It's beginning to sound like CoP and PDC's mantra has changed the bumper sticker saying to:

"Live Simply (Work Hard) So Others May Simply Live (Free)".

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