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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 3, 2011 8:49 AM. The previous post in this blog was The Trib at 10. The next post in this blog is Fireman Randy sees pot of money. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Developers pack house, get their way in Oregon City

They get hundreds of people to show up and say, "Please don't give us a chance to vote on giving our tax money to the California real estate sharpies! Please commit to giving them the money now!" And so the politicians basically hand it over.

Guess the folks down that way have money to burn -- or think their kids will. They now will get what they deserve -- a lovely shopping mall, and less police, fire, and education. What next? Maybe a streetcar.

Comments (27)

Watch out OC! You all are in way over your heads.
Those CenterCal boys play rough...but maybe you all already know that!

I was there last night and saw nothing but concerned citizens that don't want the Urban Renewal Charter changed to force citizens to vote on each and every bond issue the Urban Renewal needs to improve blighted areas. I'm not a developer but no developer is going to wait until an apathetic/indecisive/uninformed voting block decides on a proposed project - costing the city additional money for special elections. There won't be any developers submitted bids for Urban Renewal jobs in Oregon City if the Charter is amended.

And that's a bad thing? You should come up and see what's happened to Portland. While you're up here, ask to see the city's books.

You have a nice town down there. Not only will "urban renewal" wreck it, but you taxpayers will also get to pay for the wrecking crews.

I was there last night and saw nothing but concerned citizens that don't want the Urban Renewal Charter changed to force citizens to vote on each and every bond issue the Urban Renewal needs to improve blighted areas.

The devil's in the details, which attendees were mislead about. Specifically, these two details:

(1)"Urban renewal" funds are *rarely* used for addressing "blighted" areas--instead, areas that are ripe for development, regardless of condition, are declared "blighted" to make them eligible for manipulation.

(2)*Not* voting on urban renewal issues means that if the municipality decides to play ball with a developer, you have little recourse--and urban renewal abuse is legendary everywhere.

The attendees were, in fact, somewhat rigged. Look into how they were enticed to attend for clues.

But more simply, I'd suggest that Oregon city voters watch what happens now and in the next 3-5 years in Oregon City, urban renewal-wise. I'm confident that you're going to bitterly regret last night's decision.

And, notice where the preponderance of opposition came from: businesses that believe they would benefit from the building of an enormous mall.

I'd also suggest that Oregon City voters track the "1,500 permanent jobs" claim blithely made by the developer. I promise I won't laugh when that figure doesn't materialize. But that's the beauty of evening promises, isn't it? In the morning, the deed is done, and the past is ignored.

Most of the time, it's as if local municipalities function as 17-year-old boys who just got their driver's license.

A Cabela's will generate a lot of traffic if they keep them in the deal. Just like anything else, some of these projects will fail, some won't. It seems like these should all be analyzed on their particular merits rather than putting every construction project into the "evil developer" category. If they can keep the Cabela's involved I think this project will be more successful than most. I know a lot of people that have driven 100 miles, several times, to visit their store on I-5 in Washington.

I was there last night and saw nothing but concerned citizens that don't want the Urban Renewal Charter changed to force citizens to vote on each and every bond issue the Urban Renewal needs to improve blighted areas. I'm not a developer but no developer is going to wait until an apathetic/indecisive/uninformed voting block decides on a proposed project

Those "concerned citizens" are the uninformed. And developers count on them for stuff like this. Citizens SHOULD be voting on every dollar given to developers for private projects.

1500 jobs assuming that the mall does well. The big problem with this one is that Oregon City is the mid point between the high end Bridgeport Mall 10 miles to the west and the mid-market Clackamas Mall 5 miles to the north. As a resident of north Clackamas county I can vouch for the fact that we are already saturated with pretty much every kind a retail outlet and chain restaurant the mind could possibly conjure. Oregon City needs to get back to its roots which are high paying SKILLED blue collar jobs. 90 % of the mall jobs are a dead end and you can't raise a family and pay the bills with the low wages they pay at most mall stores.

Cindy,

Urban Renewal doesn't work like you seem to think.

Some municipallities already require voter approval. But it's not for, as you say, "each and every bond issue the Urban Renewal needs to improve blighted areas."
It's for the UR district as planned by the city (or county).

Your claim that "no developer is going to wait until a vote decides on a proposed UR district plan is thoroughly baseless.

Most developments don't even require public tax money. Many that have never got the scrutiny that an election would have provided.
I'm not even convinced this one needs tax millions.

Bridgeport didn't and this much larger site has much more potential for protfit.

As for the cost of an election being a problem that is laughable.

Homer like.

Redevlopment has, can and does happen without UR. Even the flop Beaverton Round was not with UR. But it's a shinning example of more scrutiny being needed. Not less.

Your notion of developers not "submitting bids for Urban Renewal jobs" if the Charter is amended falls flat.

It's what should be a dirt cheap huge parcel, in a prime location next to a freeway.
CenterCal was all for this plan long before Cabellas arrived as an anchor.

If they blow away and CenterCal walks it is preposterous to conclude nothing else will be possible.

Even CenterCal must have a lower figure they could live with.
Perhaps their $200 million plan should pay less for the plan take a smaller public share. If any.

It seems like these should all be analyzed on their particular merits rather than putting every construction project into the "evil developer" category.

I agree. "jobs, jobs, jobs" is not sufficient to make a decision about the fate of the next several decades of a parcel of land and the local economy.

But if you read the article (and other similar), you'll notice that being trumpeted as the primary (if not sole) reason for development--despite a *stunning lack of evidence* that the promises come true. Developers of large parcels like this know that--and know that it never needs to be proven. That's why they make the promise (then quickly claim "but it was only an estimate" later).

I meant
Perhaps their $200 million plan should pay less for the land and take a smaller public share. If any.

Of course not all jobs are going to provide a family wage. But with Oregon's minimum wage at about $8.50 there are a lot of single young people and seniors who could be helped by a new large employer anywhere in the region, even if 90% of the jobs created are minimum wage. Dreaming of high-paying skilled blue collar jobs shouldn't be a reason to pass on lower paying jobs that can be added to the base.

Cindy,

I am also hopeful all future economic public projects can continue to go forward without hearing from the ever pesky "apathetic/indecisive/uninformed voting block"

If the land owner just sold the land for what is was worth without the subsidy there would be no need for any subsidy. Or vote.

Dreaming of high-paying skilled blue collar jobs shouldn't be a reason to pass on lower paying jobs that can be added to the base.

I disagree. We have (rightfully) chosen to limit developable land inside the UGB. Putting raw land into more retail use, with its limited (and questionable) employment potential and low wage base, is one of the least efficient uses of such land. But once you make that decision, it's very difficult to reverse. You should therefore choose very, very carefully.

Have you seen some of the vacant retail in the metropolitan area, e.g. SE 82nd Avenue, recently? The transportation infrastructure is there, and they still can't seem to lease it.

And let the people who need any job eat cake, I guess.

And let the people who need any job eat cake, I guess.

Why not just let anybody build anything they want, anywhere they want? I say let's do away with any kind of pretense of having standards for the place we call home, and make it simply all about money. Let's get the most money we can from developing land, as quickly as possible. Further, I say we sieze unused land from its private owners and auction it off to the highest corporate bidder, and dispense with any kind of environmental or other regulation--let them build anything they want, as tall as they want, and put 250-foot cell towers on top of it. More towers! More malls!

Then, finally, we'll have dispensed with the inconvenience of small, local businesses, of a middle class, and of land that isn't paved over. Only then can we be truly happy.

This is one of those things like publicly-financed stadia - Until everyone of these politicians says no to developers, it'll continue to happen.

I guess there's a possibility that allowing a Cabelas to be built on an ex landfill in Oregon City will lead to those things happening. If the project gets built we'll all have to reconvene in a few years and debate whether or not it resulted in the things you are afraid of. I remember when everyone was making the same arguments about the Hollywood Fred Meyer. Downfall of civilization as we know it if it gets built. I have a feeling a lot of the people who had those signs in their yards are buying organic vegetables there as I am writing this.

$8.50 an hour @ 40 hours (and most minimum wagers are not getting 40 hours / week) minus taxes yields about $1100 per month for rent, food, utilities, transportation, health care, clothes, etc. Good luck living on that as a single person even with a crummy rental unit in felony flats.

I remember when everyone was making the same arguments about the Hollywood Fred Meyer.

And the lies that were told by the retail weasels. "We won't close the store on Sandy." "Traffic on 33rd won't get any heavier because of this."

The capper was when the Fred Meyer people (counseled by Steve Janik) figured out what they needed to do to get the crucial vote: Give 10 grand or so to Bud Clark's re-election campaign. Cha-ching! Done deal.

I guess there's a possibility that allowing a Cabelas to be built on an ex landfill in Oregon City will lead to those things happening.

But you're willing to ignore that possibility, right?

If the project gets built we'll all have to reconvene in a few years and debate whether or not it resulted in the things you are afraid of.

But you're willing to ignore the overwhelming evidence around the country that already exists, right?

I remember when everyone was making the same arguments about the Hollywood Fred Meyer. Downfall of civilization as we know it if it gets built.

Really? Then I'm sure you can point to available evidence that Fred Meyer there has improved people's lives, had no adverse impact on the environement, and has caused no harm to the local economy--right?

ecohuman:...Then, finally, we'll have dispensed with the inconvenience of small, local businesses, of a middle class, and of land that isn't paved over. Only then can we be truly happy.

Good points, ecohuman.

Yes, finally being truly happy and worn out working to pay $8. for a loaf of bread, $10. for gal. of gas and pay pay pay and really for whose benefit? Yes, we are all so inconvenient now except to pay more and get less and then be happy about the loss of our quality of life. Is the next step to be taxed out of our homes, as at some point subsidizing just doesn't pencil out. How many of those promised 1500 jobs will materialize into jobs that can allow the wage earner entry into middle class, oh excuse me, I forgot if the middle class is phased out, that won''t be a problem, will it?

Jobs? Well, what about the jobs? Looks like the word jobs is like a magic word and wand to wave above all. Similar to using the word children as reasons for projects. In my view, we need to look at the broad and balanced picture here. What about the jobs that will most likely be lost as a result of these URA plans? Schools losing revenue, less money for teachers, less revenue for services and public safety and less jobs there. So, what kind of jobs will be gained and as others have stated here, the talk about job numbers is what apparently lured people down this path, where are the hard facts about job results here?

Propaganda can work so well. . especially when in critical times and people are needy.

There will always be people who make decisions and form their opinions after first assuming that the worst possible things will happen. I'm just not one of those. Sorry. I think that Fred Meyer is a good corporate citizen of Portland and the rest of the state. I believe that a shopping center with Cabelas as the anchor store has a higher likelihood than most. Maybe I'm wrong. Like I said, if it gets built, we'll find out.

There will always be people who make decisions and form their opinions after first assuming that the worst possible things will happen. I'm just not one of those.

There will always be people who assume that any critique of an idea or plan is "extreme" and only focuses on "worst-case". I'm just not one of those.

Gary:

If you haven't the time to do it right, where do you get the time to do it over?

I remember when the 1st OC shopping center was built in the early 60s. Everything was going to be just wonderful! for all the small businesses in what is now the old town of OC. The town died! Nearly all the businesses went broke as the locALS went to the new shopping center and the large new Penny's than anchored the new mall.
The freeway got built and no one even traveled across the old bridge anymore and drove around town to get to the mall.
OK this new crop of proponents say...change is good; more jobs blah blah blah...
Make NO mistake; this development is about profit for the developer and nothing! more.
They do not give a hoot about the existing businesses or jobs or the health of the local economy. The goal is to build it and sell it at a profit and go on to the next project.


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