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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another "urban renewal" scheme shot down

Down in tiny Stayton, Oregon (population: 7820), the voters have seen the light and said no to robbing essential services to line the pockets of the real estate guys and gals, who would probably wreck the place with the money. And just as in Tualatin, it was the firefighters leading the way to defeating the money grab. Good for them.

Why a place like that would even be considering such a thing is beyond me. It's another example of that curious Oregon phenomenon, "urban renewal" without the urb.

Comments (7)

Somebody romanced their elected officials. It would be interesting to know who, but I doubt you'll get them to fess up. Wonder if Stayton has a sunlight code for confessing meals and entertainment from people trying to romance business out of the city?

Also, how do we get our Portland firefighters on this bandwagon?

I should think it in firefighters' interest to stop urban renewal debt expansion as it ultimately threatens their pension benefits. The city of Portland is another Greece in the making, with its cityhall throwing monies into numerous money losing projects like South Water front, Milwaukee Light rail, convention center, PGE remodel, gifting millions to an ineffective school system, and the list goes on. One more future disappointment: The funny thing about the increase in water and sewer rates is they are based on a static forecast of water volume use. Guess what? When these rates escalate sharply as they are folks are going to cut back use of city water. Businesses, especially those heavy on water use, will be locating and/or expanding outside the city. This will cause even sharper rate increases.

If you are a long term citizen of Portland like me, you are very fearful of a financial blow up and consequent spike in government taxes and fees in Portland. As a result, you seriously entertain moving out of the city.

At least, Fritz voted no on the city budget. I knew Saltzman would go back to his old ways as soon as he was re-elected.

I don't think Portland Fire could stop/vote against urban renewal because they are part of the City of Portland. Tualatin uses TVFR which is it's own fire district and I think it is a similar arrangment in Stayton.

NoPo Guy, your thoughts about PFD is probably the best answer why someone from PFD hasn't spoken against urban renewal at any of the budget meetings, or Sam and Randy's inside meetings.

But what about the Portland School District? I still hope they are still an independent government agency, even though Sam thinks he's the Superintendent. The $38 Million lost to PPS each year because of urban renewal would go a long way in keeping schools open.

At least Wheeler when at Multnomah Co. recognized the urban renewal lost dollars for county services. And he confronted the issue with Sam and Randy in a memorable showdown at City Hall.

Recently we've had three other cities in Oregon recognize the implication of urban renewal to other entities budgets. I hope this realization comes to Portland.

We have an "urban renewal district" in our town (under 10,000 population). Some guy with pie-in-the-sky plans moved here a few years ago, organized a big campaign for an URD, and then left shortly after voters approved it.

The URD's biggest move so far has been its plan to buy a vacant lot--so that it can stay vacant. Wow! What an "urban" renewal strategy.

What most Oregon towns--small or large--need isn't urban renewal districts. It's civic leaders who will cut the red tape, reduce the systems development charges to reasonable levels, and get the land use bureaucracy's boot heels off the necks of those who want to invest in Oregon and its communities.

This would allow businesses that aren't looking for a handout to locate here, providing jobs and making the local economy more dynamic.

Maybe if we'd stop chasing away people who make and sell things people want, tax revenues would rise and unemployment would fall. I know it's a silly idea, but maybe it's time to try it.

The $38 Million lost to PPS each year because of urban renewal would go a long way in keeping schools open.

Lee ... Actually the $38M isn't lost to the Portland School District. That's one of the inequities created by the use of URDs in Portland and other bigger cities.

Oregon's school finance system takes that $38M and spreads the loss across the state on the basis of student population. Portland gets almost the same amount of money it would get without the URD. The rest of the state's 197 school districts each get a little less than they would otherwise get because the overall funding available for K-12 education is reduced.

Rural Resident, the total loss because of urban renewal to the Oregon Common School Fund is over $68 Million per year. School districts then grab their portions from the Fund.

The total assessed value of all property in Portland's 11 urban renewal areas is over $6.1 BILLION. A good portion of that value is then lost in property taxes to Portland schools through this Oregon Common School Fund matrix.

In all of the 107 urban renewal districts of Oregon, Portland naturally has the most URA's proportionally and highest property tax valuations of all. A careful auditing study needs to be done to see how Portland and PPS is actually harmed by urban renewal and the Common School Fund matrix.

I sympathize with your town's urban renewal experience. There's other stories like yours throughout small-town Oregon.

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