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Monday, January 31, 2011

"Urban renewal" is not worth it

Not even close.

Comments (7)

Moonbeam is turning into a breath of fresh air!

The LA Times article is very well stated.

A few weeks ago the NW Examiner asked and answered some of the same questions about Portland's urban renewal in light of Adam's proposal to include essentially all of Central City Portland including NW Portland in a new urban renewal area. Many times this new ameoba-like tentacled creature overlaps old URA's that have been in existence for over 40 years. Apparently the cancerous "blight" continues according to Sam.

Like Cali's URAs, Portland's have the same favoritism of who inhabits the "advisory committees"-the "stakeholders" that are suppose to help the URA agencies place the property tax dollars in the right citizen beneficial holes.

For example, when the Central Portal fly-over freeway ramp to allow more direct access into SoWhat was abandoned (even though ODOT said it was needed), OSHU being one of the famous "stakeholder" members of the URAC, suggested that the $70 Million be given to them to help build their streets in the donated Schnitzer property. Or the $5 Million given to OHSU for creation of biotech jobs in their new Health Club building that produced no jobs. Or the $3 Million "forgiven" by PDC to OHSU for a parking garage that hasn't been built. Or the $4 Million net gain by Homer Williams (another "stakeholder" on buying and selling Block 49 back and forth between himself and the city. Or the parking spaces under Homer's The Strand at RiverPlace that cost taxpayers over $62 thousand per space while the going rate was $30 thousand. The list goes on. URACs need to be reconstituted with real citizens represented.

The best way to examine Portland's UR experience is to look closer at SoWhat. Its URAC is mostly made up of all direct beneficiaries of the TIF dollars. But just as monumental are the total dollars added on top: the federal, state, city, grants, SDC, LID and tax exemption dollars that far exceed the $289 Million of SoWhat's TIF dollars. It's monumental. And to top this off is the debt cost, because almost all of SoWhat has been financed on borrowed bond dollars. Our future, and not on the little of the increased property tax values of SoWhat. As calculated a few years past with a PSU economics professor it was over $1.2 Billion dollars of tax dollars.

The Portland Tribune did a disservice in their recent article, "Road a piece of waterfront puzzle". They should carefully examine all the parts of SoWhat. But Jim Redden stated:

"Despite the false starts, missteps and financial setbacks, the pieces keep falling into place at South Waterfront, the master planned neighborhood rising on the west bank of the Willamette River south of the Ross Island Bridge."

It would have been interesting to have Redden ask the PDC to give an accounting when PDC stated, concerning the monies already spent:

"But that money has leveraged more than $1 billion in other public and private funds, says Portland Development commission spokesman Shawn Uhlman."

Please provide us with an outside or internal auditing to prove this to be true, with the real totals of all funds, sources spent. Well, they haven't done it.


Sen. Rod Monroe, D-Portland, sponsored and introduced a bill earlier this month - SB 217 - that would permit urban renewal plans to include school construction or reconstruction projects.

Monroe could not be more foolish.

Where did he get this idea? From the OEA or COSA.

This type of UR/TIF use is the worst possible. It would take on debt with no way to pay for it but by stealing every dime for debt service from schools, public safety and other services already short on revenue.

Where does Rod think UR money comes from? The tooth fairy.

He's the poster child for horrible leadership.

Ben: Rod Monroe is a CAREER POLITICIAN that hasn't held any real job outside of public office for over a decade. Time to throw this tired old fart under the bus at the next election..

"We have very powerful anecdotal evidence about what happens to urban properties"

Sounds like an urban planner.

It will be interesting to see if Governor Moonbeam can slay this dragon. If it can be slain in California, it's not safe anywhere.

Another point, Rod Monroe is not even a real blue Demo. He just runs as Demo because he lives in the metro area and wants to get elected. The sc**bag represented my district at a long ago address. I believe I used to write in names on that ballot position.

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