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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mike Powell hits the neighbors up for money

An alert reader writes:

I just got a letter in the mail today, as a property owner, announcing that a new group has begun the process for a new LID [local improvement district -- JB] to help fund the "Westside segment of the Burnside/Couch Transportation Project from NW 2nd to I-405." This LID would be $3 million. There is the announcement of a meeting on April 21st at Big Pink at 4:30 pm. Of course these announcements do not go to mere renters in the district. Most property owners pass along these taxes to our long-suffering tenants to pay and do not tell their tenants the fees are coming. And in this economy, too!

The letter says this LID will be necessary because our Mayor has "directed the city staff to reduce the budget for the project." The Board of Directors for the Friends of Burnside/Couch, Inc., includes in order on the side of the page: Philip Kalberer, Treasurer; Christopher Kopca; Richard Parker; Michael Powell, President; and Greg Wentworth, Secretary.

At the end the letter says to call someone by the name of Vic Rhodes at 503-224-0709 if "you have any questions." The letter is signed by Mike Powell....

Talk about scams!

I do not know who Kopca is but Parker and Wentworth own property on the EAST side of the ditch. Kalberer is of course currently the PDC's landlord.

I intend to tell my tenants about the meeting and maybe they can spread the word. Will the condo owners be hit up, or will only first-floor businesses be taxed, as in the last proposed LID in the Pearl that was abandoned in the late 1990's? This could be an interesting issue.

LIDs are officially explained (with a highly favorable spin) here. In the case of the proposed, totally misguided Burnside-Couch "couplet," it would be all about narrowing Burnside, probably with a streetcar and who knows what else (maybe mega-bike lanes), setting the stage for apartment towers.

It's fascinating that Mike Powell, master of the Powell's Books empire, is pushing this so hard during so deep a recession, when retail is fleeing the rest of the mediocre Pearl District. No doubt Powell wants some day to put a giant condo tower where his store is today, with the store preserved on the lower levels. But for that, he wants everyone in the area to pay -- not to mention the obscene drain on property taxes that "urban renewal" would inflict to pay the bonds for the street "improvements" and accompanying land giveaways.

It's also hysterical that the couplet keeps coming back like a zombie when the reality of the city's abysmal financial picture is just now becoming apparent. Mayor Creepy tells everybody "We have to tighten our belts," but that's no brake on a runaway plan to turn the busiest street in the city to a one-way street and build a wasteful streetcar. It's all too insane any more.

Go by straitjacket!

Comments (18)

I bet that the $3 million LID 'liars budget' is only the beginning.
Call me dubious, but the bus mall was 70% over budget and the tram was supposed to cost only $15 million not $60 million, and the trolley was way over budget too, and, the poop tunnel, and, and, and...
I am sure the fix is in on this, but still maybe an angry mob at the meeting might set some people back.

Go by alcohol-fueled funny car!

I, too, love the budget.

About 4 - 5 years ago a clown from PBOT, Andrew Abbei, was pushing a concept called a HALO - L.I.D. invented by Sam the Scam in my arae. The proposa never talked about budget until well into the process, then hard numbers came out - over $ 900,000 for a 800 freet of sidewalk on one side of the street, to be paid for by folks owning property in a sort of sphere / oval / circle a 1/2 mile in diameter around the project.

No city general fund or other dollars were to go into the project.

I think I read Powell's letter to say that their LID is a supplement to a City project. I guess if you are a downtown property owner and campaign contributor you get different rules and city general funds.

The HALO - L.I.D. out here died after both the numbers came out and a small group at the far nw end of the proposed "halo" started asking questions about the state LID statute, the city lid ordinances, and the concept of actual "benefit" to the non abutting property owners who would be taxed for the project.

I observed one meeting where a fellow asked Abbei and the then and thankfully now retired city engineer Don Gardner (?) and their pet consultant "OTAK" to define the benefit to his property five blocks away from the site and to provide that person with the a copy of the City Attorney's opinion that non abutting propery owners could be dragged into a LID and be taxed for the LID.

PBOT folks do wonderful impressions of fish gasping out of water when asked questions like that.

Vic Rhodes ... Name rings a bell ... Where could I have heard of Vic Rhodes ...

Oh yeah! Right here at this awesome, but short-lived blog.

If the City believes that one-way couplets are better for the inner Northwest, then before the City fiddles with West Burnside and NW Couch it should return NW Lovejoy and NW Marshall to one-way operation so that traffic can get around the streetcar when it pokes along or stops. That's a much higher priority than shrinking West Burnside.

"If the City believes that one-way couplets are better for the inner Northwest, then before the City fiddles with West Burnside and NW Couch it should return NW Lovejoy and NW Marshall to one-way operation so that traffic can get around the streetcar when it pokes along or stops. That's a much higher priority than shrinking West Burnside."

No kidding. Isaac for mayor! "The dean of common sense."

I think there is more to shrinking Burnside than creating more give-away real-estate deals for cronies.
No, I think the strategy is to shrink that major arterial to the point that it's slower than SE Hawthorne and completely useless. Then, suddenly there will be a big plan hatched to solve this manufactured problem that involves re-routing it and purchasing (at 150% market value, of course) land from some very familiar names and a massive no-bid construction contract to another familiar name. Just watch...

A reader notes:

If you did not know, Vic Rhodes was the former Director of the City of Portland Department of Transportation, now PBOT. Chris Kopca was formerly with PDC.

Vic Rhodes at PDOT, proposed a pot-hole surcharge for street maintainence in 2002-2003, to be placed.....where else? On the water/sewer bills. It failed, but the scam culture is alive and well living on today. Hello Detroit, thanks for showing us the way!!!

Greg Wentworth should be fighting the PWB water increases for his car dealerships on Grand Avenue. Not sucking up to Mayor Creepy. Go by unicycle!!!

I wish Michael Powell had never come west to "help out" his father run what was once Portland's greatest bookstore.

To Isaac: I read somewhere (perhaps in some materials circulated by the Pearl District Business Association a couple months ago) that the current streetcar expansion project does in fact include turning NW Lovejoy and NW Northrup into one-way streets between 9th and 16th. I can't seem to find those materials, though, so I can't confirm this. NW Marshall would stay two-way, but the streetcar doesn't run on Marshall.

Doug, I'm happy to hear that. The thing that annoys me about Lovejoy and Marshall is that until the streetcar was installed, Lovejoy and Marshall were a one-way couplet up to 20th or 21st. The city went to the trouble to change them to two-way operation, I think as part of the streetcar project.

It does feel like we are in a straightjacket!

Would it feel like the jacket was loosened a bit if the citizens would at least take the first step of rebellion to get enough recall signatures? If nothing else a symbolic step that we can and will for the others in council as well if they continue to drive us over the financial cliff with their agenda.

FYI, I am not connected to the recall office, just a concerned citizen. However, week after week of this "crazymaking" - I may go down to see what to do to help.
Enough signatures might feel like a breath of fresh air this spring instead of stale stupor over our city.
stupor definition noun
1. a state in which the mind and senses are dulled; partial or complete loss of sensibility, as from the use of a narcotic or from shock
2. mental or moral dullness or apathy

The LID is scary and expensive for many, especially when Adams wants to extend as in a “halo lid” - next thing you know he will put the entire city on a LID to pay for more pet projects. He simply is not prepared to take care of city finances. . . only to dream up projects for all to pay for whose benefit? Remember the leaf tax he proposed? These proposals, halo lid, leaf tax, sewer rates for bikes, emergency ordinances galore, will only increase as the economy tanks and the city is up against it. . . and with Mayor, the "new pet projects" are escalating instead of a moratorium.

The thing that annoys me about Lovejoy and Marshall is that until the streetcar was installed, Lovejoy and Marshall were a one-way couplet up to 20th or 21st.

Can anyone verify this? I've lived in NW Portland since 1987 and have no recollection of a Lovejoy/Marshall couplet. I distinctly recall the Lovejoy ramp of the Broadway Bridge carrying traffic in both directions. What went on underneath it at street level had little to do with transportation.

The ramp was two-way, but where it landed (I think at 10th Avenue), westbound traffic went north on 10th and then continued west on Marshall Street. My recollection is that Lovejoy became two-way again at about 20th Avenue.

Sorry - not 10th, but 14th. My 2001 Thomas Brothers map shows Lovejoy as one-way eastbound from 19th to 14th, and Marshall as one-way westbound from 14th to 19th.

Lovejoy up in the NW District has always been a two-way street, at least since 1967.

LID's are suspicious creatures. Remember the Ice Rink proposal for Pioneer Square-the city imposed a LID ring clear past NW Glisan with no benefit. A friend of mine was assessed over $5,000 for just the first year of assessment to make the proposal with their business on 9th and NW Glisan. Then when the idea met deep opposition, the City gave up and never returned the tax dollars collected even when the books showed an excess.

Powell's LID should have opposition from property owners and renters and the Couplet should fail too. But ask for a refund if they ever impose a preliminary LID. Sam was a major promoter of that idea while serving Mayor Katz.

What a ridiculoulsy low priority farce. Why would anyone even answer Powell?

Get a grip Powell.

Do something worthwhile like help recall Creepy.


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