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Monday, September 21, 2009

Portland transit mall tax hit jumps 70 percent

An unhappy reader in Portland writes:

Yesterday we got in the mail the LID assessments for some property we own in the area of the "Portland Mall Revitalization Project Local Improvement District." Our property is on the fringes of this scam.

There is a lot of stuff about the total cost, $22.033 million, and the voluntary (not) LID etc., and how they gave us all an estimate back in November of 2006 of these expenses and how now they are more... blah blah blah... But now the costs are more because of all the increased value this project has bestowed on our properties... blah blah blah...

Well, I went back in my files, and lo and behold, I have actually saved the original estimates... example:

November 14, 2006:
Current LID estimate: $2378.00
Proposed amended LID estimated assessment: $3167.00

This was interesting, as the completion date was years away but this figure already was inflated to reflect increased costs.

Fast forward to September 16, 2009:
Proposed assessment: $4045.00 (One wonders if this is in fact the final assessment or just another guesstimate.)

Now, we property owners and the businesses who will actually pay the tax have until October 7, 2009 to object to these taxes at at "regularly scheduled city council meeting" on that day. However, you must object in writing first and get that in by Sept 30, 2009. I wonder how many folks will object and if a significant number do so, how can this possibly be handled in a regular city council meeting. Or will the powers that be just blow off everyone who writes in? Oh, and I almost forgot... the city in all its benevolence will offer 6.75% financing for monthly payments. Such a deal!

Here we are in the worst depression/recession since 1929-1933 and the city sends everyone who has property within the confines of the area from 1-5 to NW Northrup and from I-405 to the Willamette River a bill for a bus mall that has negatively impacted all the businesses in the area for three to four years. Now that is real economic stimulation. This may be the final nail in the coffin of more than a few businesses.

Not a happy camper, and I don't blame him or her. Portland officials will tell you that the federal government paid most of the money to rip up the mall and bring light rail trains onto it. But that's not much comfort to property owners if the local tax burden for this needless project jumped 70.1 percent between the original liars' budget and now.

Comments (23)

Too bad this story will never make the mainstream news.

Maybe Willamette Week will do something with it. Or KGW.

Get yourself familiar with the City Charter: "An assessment shall not exceed the apportioned share of actual costs nor exceed the amount of the benefits."

I would love to see a case where the City demonstrates before a judge that your property gets as "special and peculiar benefit" of at least $4,045.

Oh the ingrates.
The big boost in business and livability from the MAX mall isn't free.
They should consider their share a bargain.

With the upcoming Milwaukie MAX and new MAX/ped/bike/bus bridge they'll be benefiting again.

So says Metro, TriMet, the PDC and Creepy.

Randy should be assigned to collect the assessments.
He's got a nice way about him.

I would love to see a case where the City demonstrates before a judge that your property gets as "special and peculiar benefit" of at least $4,045.

Would the burden of proof be on the property owner or the City?

It is preceisely because of tax idiocy like this, that many small businesses will exit downtown Portland within the next 12-24 months. Combined with the growing number of homeless and gutter punks, lack of enforcement of quality of life issues, and reduced street parking; is it any wonder that more and more people are avoiding downtown Portland like the proverbial plague?

Well the property has increased in value has it not due to this project?

Like double maybe?

So, maybe the tax is not so unfair after all!

Hey, what else is new, this is SOP for CoP. Tell everyone that someone else besides local taxpayers (Feds, Merritt Paulson, OHSU) is paying everything but a tiny portion and we're getting a heckuva a deal.

Then the bills arrive . . .

We really need a campaign to raise the IQ of the average Portland voter, you'd think they would've caught on by now.

"Well the property has increased in value"

Downtown properties are getting hit harder with vacancies and resales than almost any other in town.

Ask any retailer downtown what 20+ years of rehab has done for the sales enviroment downtown. Or better yet, go to Wash Sq / Clack TC and look at how many shoppers are there with bags vs. downtown. Or even better, step inside Pioneer Sq above street level and look at the vacancies.

"Too bad this story will never make the mainstream news."

There is No mainstream news.

Yep, and as long as Portlanders sit still for this the crooks in office will just keep getting bolder and bolder.

LIDs are wonderful hidden taxes that the general public knows little about, and the people within the districts have little control over the LID bills.

The weekend bidder winners in SoWhat are going to find out that their winning bids are only a small portion of the debt. SoWhat will probably end up with six LIDs before long: The Tram; The Local Street Improvements; The Trolley; The Greenway; The Milwaukie Light Rail; The Street/Poodle Park Maintenance LID; and the Street Cleanup/Patrol LID. Three are in existence and the Milwaukie Light Rail is on the drawing boards.

Then besides the HOV monthly fees, there will be the Special Assessment Fees for the Atwater Tower building mistakes. The monthly mortgage and property tax payments will be secondary.

This is the kind of information that the general public knows little about and the mainstream media never informs the public about.

"Well the property has increased in value has it not due to this project?

Like double maybe?"

Um, wow. Don't quit your day job, Al. Or do you work for the city?


Ken Lays take on transit and redevelopment...how to buy real estate on the cheap

Al M is a TriMet bus driver I believe.

As for the Mall property value increasing with MAX added?

That's a double dose of Portland BS.

Might as well say the Tram was the linchpin to 10,000 biotech jobs and all those succesful towers.

Since the new transit mall has made it harder for buses (which make frequent stops) to traverse it and bus rides through downtown Portland are no longer "fareless", most travelers will either use transit to get to work in the core area for simply travel through on their way to greener pastures. Retailers who remain there may find that their days are numbered.

Many bus routes don't even go downtown anymore. Downtown is destined to become a vacant luxury condo core with interspersed government buildings.

COP is beginning to remind me of the carter who overloaded his cart and, when his horse could no longer pull it, continued to flog it to death as it lay in the street and then screamed abuse at the corpse for having the audacity to die.

Um, wow. Don't quit your day job, Al. Or do you work for the city?

I was under the impression that when rail was put in the value of the property adjoining it increased substantially.

Is that wrong?

"when rail was put in the value of the property adjoining it increased substantially"

Look at all the businesses that have MAX running in front of them, it's a killer. It's like you imported Rockwood into downtown, unless you can find me someone who has a growing retail biz on the MAX.

The only way you can make money owning on MAX is by getting a huge PDC grant for being there.

Al, is isn't wrong that rail should raise property values , but it seldom happens without two or three tax subsidies, so how is that a net gain?

Take for example the Portland Fire Department burning down three houses for training purposes next to the Interstate Max Line last week. I guess property values due to Max didn't help there. In fact Interstate line has done little to raise property values.

"I was under the impression that when rail was put in the value of the property adjoining it increased substantially.

Is that wrong?"

Yes, that is wrong. It is just propaganda repeated by planners until they finally believe it. There is no hard empirical evidence that light rail or the street car increases property values. It's just something that people say. If you can find any credible study showing otherwise, I'd love to see it.

The city claims that street car adds a ton of value because they ran it through areas that were developing anyway. The street car is not "responsible" for the development or property values in the Pearl or South Waterfront, it just happens to run through there.

Now they'll claim that the bus mall is "responsible" for businesses returning to those two streets, when in fact the few businesses that remained were run off because of the work on the bus mall over the past few years.

Walk down the bus mall and look at the number of actual functioning businesses that front onto those two streets. There are hardly any. Then compare it to 3rd or 4th.

OK, so I was wrong about the property values increasing due to max lines.

I guess I was misinformed.

And yes, I drive a bus, and manage property, and possess a M Ed and BA from fully accredited universities, I've owned my own businesses and worked in government in top level positions.

Some of you think "bus driver" and jump to conclusions.

Al, I'm glad you have all those degrees. Now I hope you use them to investigate and followup on some of the comments posted because they have merit and data that helps prove their points contrary to your impressions.

If one does protest the tax I will bet money that you will be visited by the fire marshall, the city side walk repair police and any other agency that can fine or shut down your business.

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