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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Portland gets away with rogue tax abatements

We've got a followup on our post of yesterday about those illegal property tax abatements that Portland gave out to landlords who built "transit-oriented" "mixed-use" developments. The City Council didn't have the authority to abate the taxes on the commercial portion of the apartment bunkers, but it did so anyway. And when the state and the county called the city out on it, the city ran down to the state legislature crying about how it had promised the giveaways to the landlords. "It's too late to turn back now" -- the classic Portland scam song.

As it turns out, the legislature gave the city just what it wanted -- retroactive authority to grant the abatements -- in the special session just concluded. The vote was unanimous. And of course, Good Old Governor "I See Nothing" Ted signed the deal into law.

What a way to run a city and a state. The locals give out illegal tax breaks to their favorite real estate sharpies, and when challenged, all they have to say is "We promised, so please make it o.k." And the state goes right along with it. Beautiful. This is why we need to have the legislature meet every year, I guess -- you don't want to have too many travesties queued up for the next biennium.

I doubt you could get away with this anywhere else -- even in Illinois or New Jersey.

Comments (14)

I think Chicago runs Illinois the same way.

Ever wonder why some keep supporting higher taxes? It's because the don't pay them!

Ever wonder why do some of the richest people on the planet...Warren Buffet and William Gates Sr. take a position against repealing the estate tax? It's because they don't pay it!

The punch line here is that all of the abatement revenue then has to be replaced with other taxes and fees.
Just like all of Urban Renewal funding schemes.

But public officials and bureaucrats pretend that the tooth fairly takes care of it as they BS the public with PR on how these schemes make sense.

Then we have the subsidized mixed use developments themselves which have been monumental failure.

Yet, they art still being pushed by every planning agency in sight.

Stop Urban Renewal schemes and tax abatements and they end.

Most people don't understand that Urban Renewal, freezes for decades, the funding for basic services while the cost of those services continues to rise every year.
With little public understanding and awareness the red ink created by UR must be paid, with increased taxes and fees.

This problem is growing worse in two major ways.

One is the addition of new districts and the future diverting of 100s of millions more to pay for things like Milwaukie Light Rail.
The other is the increasing difficulty in this economic crisis and stagnant economy for taxing jurisdictions to find replacement revenue.
Especially with taxpayers growing more aware of the bad spending schemes and becoming more reluctant to hand over more.

The business as usual approach by most politicians has them failing to recognize the problems they are exacerbating.
Some continue to mislead the public with claims that UR pays for itself.

And the upcoming budget cycle has the State facing an enormous budget hole.

While public officials at all levels appear to be AWOL.

And how many politicians live and work down in the Pearl District? I'd love to have a list of those who do.

Kind of interesting that Sam has any pull with Salem or that Mult COunty would go along with this.

Of course, once these things start falling apart when there is no "I" in TIF, then there's another story.

How odd to use this as an excuse to give this government employee union dominated legislature just what they want, that being annual sessions. I think it much more preferrable if the legislature were allowed to meet only once every five to 10 years, and then only for forty days and nights. This should I think more effectively limit the transfer of wealth from everyday Oregon families to government employees and corporate favorites.

There's a delightful tax loophole hidden in the existing legislation (not what got amended this year) at ORS 307.518. Oregon grants a property tax exemption to property held by a public benefit non-profit corporation for low-income housing, but the definition of "non-profit corporation" includes a partnership in which a qualified non-profit corporation is a general partner and in charge of operations. So: form a partnership, find a friendly non-profit to be the general partner and operator, and bring your friends to be additional partners. It works even if the non-profit is only a 1% partner.

Let's hope that when a class action suit for equal justice is filed that the courts aren't corrupt too.

Meanwhile my little rental in SE Portland is subsidizing the downtown Safeway, the streetcar, the tram, the soccer stadium, SoWhat condos...the Police and Fire Pension Fund..."urban renewal"...

Why is this a surprise. You get what you vote for.

Let's call a spade a spade here. I believe that the fact this is part of the Church of Green agenda is completely relevant. Would one be so successful receiving retro-active benefits like this if these weren't Church of Green Monuments? I speculate the answer is no.

At first I thought the Church of Green was just part of this 'new' Portland. The one that is depicted in the brochures. The one being 'sold' to the rest of the U.S. What I've learned since then is that there is a cadre of about 3,500-5,000 people in our metropolis of a mill and a half calling all the shots. This. Is. A. Church. And just like all Churches there are followers that don't make it to the Sunday meetings, sure. But those would-be parishioners are often, get this, rational people who grow skeptical. What I initially thought of as an endemic problem is anything but. We are getting led around by the nose and the BES, the BTA, and the readers of BikePortland.org - which pretty much sums it up I'm tellin' ya - are the ones doing the leading. There simply is not the kind of support for this sort of thing that its perpetrators think. It's only because Portlanders believe there is more support than there is that we all sit on our hands hoping they will just go away.

I love the idea of being able to live adjacent to my small business. Fairly a dream-come-true really. I love our splendid natural gallery of beauty that we all enjoy. I like that I live in a city that is willing to challenge national paradigms and that does it's own thing. What I don't love is a small cadre of the recently arrived using duplicitous, disingenuous language, the rule of law, unprecedented time to monkey around with civil government, and all manner of bulls**t, to force lifestyle changes that are tantamount to indoctrinating us all into their Church.

Asinine situations like this have an antidote. If the BES, BTA, and Jonathan Maus say 'yes', we simply say 'no'. It's really just that easy.

You're missing at least half of the equation. There's an unholy alliance between the Green police and the condo weasels. Green means taxpayer-subsidized dense, Soviet-style housing, and streetcars. Follow the money; the bike children are their pawns.

No, Professor Jack, this is evidence that the legislature should meet only in leap years.

Nothing says Green like a new high rise condo. Because, of course, if you don't build it, you'll have miles and miles of "low density" "auto intensive" single family developments. Even worse, the "sprawl" will be in Clark County. Gotta save them for themselves, you know.

Jeez Mr. Bogdanski, I leave this comment for two reasons, one obvious, the other not so much. I just realized you're you. I blame the teensy-tinesee font-face denoting the authors of comments! Hehe. Have you made comments about my comments before? I guess I can put to rest now the notion I HAD that you don't comment on your site. This confusion of mine has led me to be obnoxious on occasion. Forgive. I simply never noticed you comment before.

With that said, sir, you are preaching to the choir when it comes to the Church nepotism down at City Hall. This is a corollary issue but check out this link: http://www.portlandonline.com/police/index.cfm?&c=42988 Scroll down and take a peek at the items listed under, "Take Action". Notice the BikePortland.org link?

That link has been scaled down, and down. I raised a huge, giant-sized, fuss over this link. That used to be accompanied by a giant business logo for that for-profit business. The styles, and layout, of that page have changed, and changed, to make that link less ubiquitous. At one time it was the size of the PTD logo there now.

One can search the entire site and find not one, not one, outside link to any for-profit business. It's fairly a saga for me, bear with me as I try to be concise, but I raised holy hell about that link on several grounds.

1) As a competitor with Jonathan Maus, we essentially operate similar businesses, I felt as though my puny tax-contribution is being used to subsidize somebody else and their competing business. That link is a hit-funnel. It's also a tacit endorsement, by the city, of that guy's website.

2) It's the only link of it's kind on the entire site.

3) It was placed there as a result of some BAC hard-media (PDF and paper brochure combo) being converted to web-content. See: Roger Geller put it there.

4) When I complained I was systematically dismissed.

5) I initially began inquiry seeking an application process for this benefit only to find out there wasn't one. Refer to #3. Even though there's no application, or person to approve an application if there were, I still had several city employees tell me that the content of my site precludes me from this benefit. That is to say that prior to my even applying for this benefit, which I could not do, I was denied this benefit.

Presumably a site would only need have a bicycle-theft resource available to be afforded this benefit, right? Well we won't know because there is no process for vetting would-be providers of such a service.

Moreover this is a public entity. As many pointed out from said entity placing links to private businesses raises the issue of the content on those businesses' web-sites. When content comes up so to does the 1st amendment of the constitution on account of that's a public site. Many of their employees, and I can, and did, name names, told me that links of that sort are strictly verboten because of this obvious liability.

The link, regardless of how small, or how much it's been scaled down, is still there though. Would you care to venture a guess as to why? Roger Geller.

The BAC, a so-called 'advisory' committee gets a huge amount of money and resources to do any number of things that are anything but advisory. Every, single, person on that committee is an avid, ardent, member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. That's the Church of Green stacking the deck at the BAC and here's proof they are misusing this newfound power to censor opposition to their agenda.

It's really boring but check out the blog-post I did about it:

...and this one too:

These folks, members of the BTA, and to a certain extent people like WPC, BES, and a few others have, quite literally, taken over a significant chunk of planning the next half-century of how we are ALL going to LIVE. These actions transcend a prudent care for the environment and are nothing less than a hostile Church taking over our civic government.

Green Police? Nepotism? Nah, they are only doing FOR us, don'tyaknow?!! Puh-leeze!

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