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Monday, January 5, 2009

Satellite urban renewal? Sure, what the hey

According to the state land use appeals board, it's o.k. to dedicate Pearl District property taxes to pay for a new public school way out on the eastern outskirts of town, rather than using those taxes to pay off the Pearlie "urban renewal" toy bonds or (heaven forbid) to pay for police, fire, street lighting, and other municipal services provided to Pearl District residents. If the state statute doesn't say you can't do something, then I guess the city bureaucrats can go for it, regardless of how badly they're twisting the intent of the law.

Oh, but you have to recite some sort of "benefit" that the Pearlies get from having a new school out in David Douglas. How long will it take the city's small cadre of paid liars to come up with that? About a half hour.

On with the bizarre story of Portland City Hall. Go by streetcar!

Comments (11)

Who cares any more? They make the rules up as they go and if not, then can venue shop until they find a judge to agree. I mean who the heck even knows what the exact purpose of a Urban Renewal district now is.

However, now that they can earmark taxes like this just think of all the opportunities for political favoritism. Now we can do all sorts of bright and shiny things to the exclusion of the boring things like infrastructure and potholes. All the better to distract the average Portland voter with.

I am still mystified as to how CoP can have any say in schools, but what the heck do I know - I just pay taxes.

I wonder if there are issues involved here other than land use? Maybe a venue other than LUBA could issue a verdict here.

It will likely go to the Oregon Supreme Court. Beyond, if needed? Other jurisdictions, possible.

Is there a measure 5 problem here with local money going to school funding?


Couldn't they require David Douglas to rename their school "Cesar Chavez High School" in exchange for the funding?

Two birds, one stone.

"Is there a measure 5 problem here with local money going to school funding?"

The more I think about this, the more it bugs me. CoP took its most palatable case (taking money from an URD to build a school) to set a precedent.

If they get away with this, then they can probably start funding soccer stadia in the boonies with other URD monies leaving the taxpayers on the hook for the bonds for the improvements while they fund the unpopular items.

I wonder how this sits with the Pearl dwellers who have been wanting a park or playground for a while now? And I am not that familiar with the Pearl neighborhood...are there any schools of their own there?

I read LUBA's opinion. LUBA summarizes the City's argument to be basically this: the urban renewal area was so successful that it priced housing in the urban renewal area out of range of most people, who had to move out of town to places like the David Douglas School District. Therefore, funding the new school benefits the Pearl District because it provides a school and play area 10 miles to the east for people who can't afford to live in the Pearl District. LUBA told the City that it has to find families that were forced out of the Pearl District because they couldn't afford to live there any longer who then moved to David Douglas. If the City can't find these people, it's going to lose the second time around also.

Oliver Norville, the attorney who wrote the original charter amendment creating the PDC and most of the state legislation governing URA's was one of the plaintiffs. If the father of urban renewal in Oregon thinks this is dirty pool, I think LUBA is wrong.

Hopefully LUBA's decision will proceed to Oregon's Court of Appeals, then maybe on to the OR Supremes, because the LUBA ruling is setting very bad precedence.

Think of how this ruling could be used by other government agencies. Every statute, administrative law will have to include every use, benefit that an item can not be used for. LUBA's ruling states that since urban renewal didn't explicitly exclude "satellite" urban renewal extensions, then it is allowed. Forget the legislative intent(s), or Norville's direct imput on state legislation.

When did courts start to disregard "legislative intent"?

This is like telling your son, "Yes, you can have the car to go downtown to see a movie", then later find out that he also went to downtown Gresham, and son says, "Well, Dad, you didn't tell me exactly what downtown I could go to". I can now visualize new legislation having 500 pages of descriptions qualifying the parameters of how something can be dispensed.

This is a stretch, no matter how you look at it and however much anybody would like to see it work.

Erik Sten's plan resembles - in every way - the actions of the Cowbird which lays its eggs in the nests of other birds and then flies away.

The State of Oregon, which - in large part - funds schools, abdicates any further responsibility by forcing local districts to get frequent bond elections passed in order to keep schools running. It's a terrible system - particularly for small or poor districts - and David Douglas is one of the largest districts in the State.

Sten's other brainchild, the East Portland Action Plan is moving forward at a somewhat glacial pace. I believe it's up to these people to find a viable funding medium:

Here is a link to Sten's memo from September 2007 which clearly does NOT make a case for a "non-contiguous expansion of the River District Urban Renewal Area." Egad, one might as well try to link Rockwood and the Centennial School District to the west side of the Willamette.

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