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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Portland "urban renewal" abuse hits new low

Check out the latest from Scam Central (Portland City Hall). Pretty soon the entire city will be declared "blighted," and all property taxes will be handed directly over to the developer weasels. This town is way off its rocker.

Fish and Fritz, are you on board with this? If so, you should hang your heads in shame.

Comments (23)

Crazy idea - Sam is so nutz about building things like streetcars and offices and condos, how about figuring how to fill those with people who make good wages and have good jobs to go to?

Right now, we are so over-capacity in all kinds of real estate and with the population growing 1% annually and not even a whisper of new jobs in Portland proper, I am mystified how they justify this?

Must be the smokescreen effect to distract voters that he is really doing nothing for the average Joe.

I'd like to see a map of the proposed "blighted" area.

With this kind of description: "The district would snake from the corner of Northwest 23rd Avenue and Wilson Street south to the Ross Island Bridge," it could easily encompass all of the inner NW & SW with exception of the West Hills. This area has already received far more attention than anything on the east side of the Willamette River.

Some heavy developer chumming will have to be built into any plan since what is already in progress (or scrapped/converted/vacant - isn't leasing) indicates a saturated market for condos, hotels, trendy storefronts etc. This leads me to believe that it's mostly about filling the trough for the upcoming ConWay and Post Office properties exploitation and the doubledebt enhancement of PGE Park.

None of which will benefit the average citizen of Portland in the least, particularly during this ghastly economic downturn.

Actually, there's now a later "latest":

So now we know how to plug a $15mill hole in a leaky scheme.

Wonder what the good people of Lents will have to say about this gambit?

God help us, here is a link to the map:

and in case you want to learn more . . . from the PDC Website:

Meeting: Westside Central City Urban Renewal Area Special Public Meeting
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
5:30 - 7 P.M.

The Portland Development Commission (PDC) and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) would like to invite you to attend a special briefing session regarding the possible formation of a new Central City Urban Renewal Area.
Contact: Joleen Jensen-Classen, 503-823-3352

Location: Portland Development Commission
222 NW Fifth Ave.
First floor Commission Conference Room
Transit Stop: stop #12776 NW 4th (northbound), stop #12778 NW 3rd & Couch (southbound)

Although the Emperor Nero is said to have fiddled while Rome burned in 64 AD, there is speculation that he actually started that fire and several others for his urban renewal projects, which included wider streets and improved water distribution. Somehow Sam's "urban makeover" of Portland reminds me of this, minus the fire.

God help us, here is a link to the map

I see it has been gerrymanded to include all of the critical W Burnside / NW Couch couplet - no surprise there.

But what's with the little peninsula between NW Glisan, Hoyt, 19th, and 21st? Who owns land there and stands to benefit?

I think that's a park and a public school.

Yes, Metropolitan Learning Center and Couch Park.

That peninsula is Couch Park and on the west end of the property is the Metropolitan Learning Center, a PPS school, that has a pool run by the Parks Bureau in the basement.

Portland Public Schools did not have a representative on the study group, but will on the upcoming work.

Isn't the Burnside-Couch couplet already covered in the River District, as amended last year? Some of the other study areas are now in older urban renewal areas, too, which aren't marked on this map.

Here's a link to Senate Bill 744. I think it's the measure referred to in the BizJournal article. It will permit inclusion of certain noncontiguous lands in urban renewal plans, among other things.


This plan seems to be more like a black hole than an urban renewal district.

Isn't the Burnside-Couch couplet already covered in the River District?

Yes, I believe you're correct.

And I misspoke on the distance it was intended to cover: it was to end at the I-405 freeway, not go up to NW 23rd.


This is the bill that the Business Journal referred to, HB3056, which sets limits on maximum debt in urban renewal areas, requires other jurisdictions to approve major expansions of existing URAs and allows revenue sharing with local jurisdictions after tax increment funding hits certain levels.

Speaker Dave Hunt encouraged all sides to come to the table to work this out -- including Oregon renewal agencies, the school boards association, fire districts. It's good legislation, supported by the PDC, City Council, Multnomah County and Portland Public Schools among many others.

Three-card monte writ large.

'Nuff said.

Are you sure that PDC is supporting House Bill 3056?

Section 4, subparagraph 11, reads like it would make the PDC superfluous:

{ + (11) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter,
a city with a population of more than 500,000 on the effective
date of this 2009 Act may, in lieu of its urban renewal agency,
take any actions that an urban renewal agency is authorized to
take under this section and any other actions that are required
to certify, collect, receive, hold and apply tax revenues raised
for the urban renewal agency under section 1c, Article IX of the
Oregon Constitution, and taxes authorized for the urban renewal agency by section 11 (16), Article XI of the Oregon
Constitution. + }

Who told you that's what the bill does?

Because it doesn't do what they told you.

I'll wager you haven't the slighhtest idea what the bill says or does.

The fact that the PDC supports the bill and it declares an emergency is an alarm that it means expansion of UR abuse.

The editors summary alone is beyond anyone's comprehension.

Take a shot at explaining it.
I guarantee not a single legislator knows what Bill 3056 does.

[Requires 50 percent of increment to be added to total assessed value of property within urban renewal
area whenever increment equals total assessed value.]
Sets initial maximum indebtedness for specified urban renewal plans.
Increases, on July 1 of each year, beginning in 2010, allowable amount of initial maximum
indebtedness for plans that are not large metropolitan plans by use of specified index and for
large metropolitan plans by use of change in average construction costs.
Allows urban renewal agency to amend certain plans to increase maximum indebtedness.
Allows urban renewal agency and entity authorized to exercise powers of urban renewal
agency to limit collection of taxes under specified circumstances and according to specified
Allows urban renewal agency to notify assessor to collect maximum division of taxes for
newly approved urban renewal plans and substantially amended plans, including certain plans
classifiable as large metropolitan plans. Creates exceptions.
Declares emergency, effective on passage.

ANYTHING the PDC supports, I am against!
The PDC in its current incarnaton, should be abolished.

The Glisan couplet would also encompass the recently completed Park 19 condos. Anybody know if this building, its owners and potential residents have received the famed 10 year property tax abatement?

Oops, my bad. Park 19 is not condo but following the trend of buildings that were designed to be marketed as condos but are now "Luxury Apartment Communities."


I would still bet that the owner is getting a property tax abatement and other perks for this project since it is sorta-kinda within distance of mass transit.

Sarah Ames; could you cite the date, motion, and content of PDC's support for HB 3056. I do not believe there is bonafide support for the bill as previously written and now amended in the record.

I also believe that Mr. Ames and others of Friends of Urban Renewal are looking suspiciously at this bill and may challenge it, especially in regard to its potential use to declare most of Central City Portland as "blighted". It doesn't meet the criteria just as the proposed PGE Park urban renewal district to accommodate Mr. Paulson doesn't meet the requirement.

It is amazing that Downtown Portland could be called a "blighted" area when the City of Portland, most politicians and the media laud the many trumped-up Livability, First In The Nation/World, Best, Leader, etc. nomenclatures assigned to Portland. Playing both sides of the coin doesn't cut it with us simpletons taxpayers that have to pay the developers and politicians Urban Renewal bills.

Well, the statutory definition of "blighted areas" is pretty broad. It seems that an argument could be made that downtown and most of the vicinity qualify. All that's needed are some "experts" to testify about "faulty planning" or "defective design."


Scroll down to 457.010.

ORS 457.010

Hopeful, thanks for the reference. I've read it many times since a group of us appealed a land use decision to LUBA and beyond. And won. Yes, "blighted areas" can be interpretive. But then we get into a form of law that I call "comparative" law: if Central City Portland is "blighted" then comparatively, all of the state is "blighted". "Blighted" has no meaning then, and that part of the statute is worthless. Law shouldn't be Politics, but we seem to be headed more that way.

I see a suspicious connection between the terms "blighted" and "bloated."

You know, not that long ago, the proposition that the public sector should contribute money to private real estate development projects would have been met with incredulity.

Now, it seems our leaders can't get their head around the idea that development will happen if they DON'T stick their noses, and our money into it.

The private market handled urban development for centuries. Let's just let it do its thing again.

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