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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Promises, promises

Here's an interesting take on the handing over of Washington High School to a developer for housing and commercial space: The president of the Buckman neighborhood association says she's o.k. with it, even though it means that the building won't house a community center. Apparently there's still hope that the city will build a stand-alone rec center on the adjoining lot.

She's got more faith in the city than we'd have. It's been seven years since the City Council agreed to acquire the property, and now they're talking about three to five more years of hemming and hawing before anything could be built. And only if voters citywide pass a property tax increase to pay for it. Uh huh.

And just wait until the high school building has tenants. They're going to hate the parking situation -- all the immediate neighbors will, too -- and the thought of dozens of cars streaming in and out to go to a community center is going to bring lots of opponents out of the woodwork. Once again, private development is the certainty -- public benefit is the longshot. And on publicly owned property, no less. That's the Portland way.

Comments (17)

Chaos for the sake of density for the sake of pretending it's all well thought out central planing that works.

They do
what they do
and then say
"It's for you."

More property taxes for no benefit? Andiamo baby....

I think things could be worse regarding this whole fiasco.

Venerable did an excellent job with the fire station just down the street on 11th and Stark.

There's some vacant land opportunities in the area, notably to the south next to a soon to be art gallery.

Historic preservation is tricky and it looks like these guys know what they're doing. We know that if the historical renovation of this building were done on the public's dime and costs were overboard, there would be some angry Portlanders and posters on this site.

Just some perspective.

Buckman needs some help. Most notably it has a terrible vandalism problem. Why not start there and work our way up? A community center is not going to solve that.

We had that conversation a decade ago. A promise was made. It is being broken.

"We had that conversation a decade ago. A promise was made. It is being broken"

You're right Jack....Ditto, in saving our functional and beneficial drinking water open reservoirs at Mount Tabor and Washington Park many years ago. Promises broken but not forgotten indeed.

The promise was the entire space. Now, we have only the promise of the now open space. The footprint of the building is gone as a public asset. Sold for a song.

More density is being subsidized and the community amenities thereby degraded. They are being degraded because there will be more demand, and more use, of the public amenities because they were not expanded when the increased density was subsidized and encouraged. There is such a thing as 'carrying capacity', y'know.

This strategy is one of degradation. Rather like a cancer.

Have you been keeping up on the On-Point shenanigans? Last week they fired the MGR. of the McMinnville branch because the teachers union did a smear-mail on her.
Her crime against the union was to read a letter perpared by the government Affairs committee in McMinnville COC. This heinous act was done at a public School Board meeting and the letter was a composite opinion piece from the Chamber member businesses.
Her half million dollar bosses ran like hunted meadow mice from this podunk little association. Leslie has no recourse untill she can prove "intent to do finacial harm" because Oregon is an "at will employment" state. The union was just exercising their free speech as proven by the Supreme Cout last week in the funeral protest case. We no longer need to play nice and the teachers are preaching that gospel to children and families alike.
Feel free to call Leslie Monday or when ever you get this comment. Her number can be had by replying to this comment and locating a secure site because the venomous snakes are dancing in their minds to have sacrificed an independant third party volunteer.

"The footprint of the building is gone as a public asset. Sold for a song."

I thought PPS still owned Washington HS if that is what you are talking about.

However, PPS has no money and has been letting the building rot away. I understand not liking developers, but Venerable is not that bad - Of course, they're not doing anything without a profit.

If one of these guys had a plan with substance that left open area, I think I might go for it - as long as it wasn't subsidies galore.

Otherwise, we're going to kick this around for another 10 years. In addition, if Venerable wants to keep the shell, I'd give them some credit, seismic retrofits (required by CoP if they pull a permit) are not going to be cheap.

Skipper Bob,
Those reservoirs were placed on a National Historic Resister, were they not? How can that be ignored? That should hold more water than a "promise" by this group that apparently doesn't really mean much.

If the current building is a liability for public recreation facility, then get rid of it. It's not like it is some kind of unique architectual gem; there's a near copy right north on 12th at Benson. And another in Jefferson High. Both still serving as schools.

Public space, particularly public open space, is at a premium and becoming ever more scarce.

I still think the installers of greater density should be responsible for the cost of providing adequate public amenities.

"We had that conversation a decade ago. A promise was made. It is being broken."

Agreed. What would be the projected cost of this community center in 2010?

Godfry:I still think the installers of greater density should be responsible for the cost of providing adequate public amenities.


As for the land, how much does the building occupy on that site? Since the city likes us to focus on years from now instead of the problems we face today, what would the projected cost of the land be by 2040?

Too many unknowns, but even today open space is at a premium within this UGB, and that is why I see the importance of publicly owned land being the best investment to keep in public ownership. That is also why so many eyes are on school properties. Can we trust city officials to be the good stewards they should be?

On second thought, I don't think this Council has any sense of good stewardship to protect what has been entrusted to them on our behalf.

They need to be sent to school to learn about stewardship.

However, I think they know exactly what they are doing and be damned with public interests.

After biking by Washington High yesterday it seems like a metaphor for the City of Portland management and it's leadership. Broken windows filled with plywood, rotting infrastructure, and neglected by poor decision making.

Godfry: "I still think the installers of greater density should be responsible for the cost of providing adequate public amenities."

clinaman: "Agree."

Its great in theoru and i'm all for it, but the devil is in the details, and the details of what happens in PDx are pretty ugly.

BDS in its Land Use silo routinely allows developers to avoid the cost of putting in needed curbs and sidewalks by filing a waiver of remonstrance, coupled wiith a System Development Charge (SDC)for park or street infrastructure.

The SDC charges go into a bog pot and are seldom if ever spent in the area where collected; usually the funds wind up in the downtown core or are siphon...stolel by the Mayor to fund Milwaukee light rail bridges... totally outside the scope of the allowable use for SDCs collected in residential SW, at least, ...and the city never goes ahead with the curb projects in residential SW...

The game of subsidizing developers and cheating residents, old and new, in residential SW goes on and on and on.

Don't hold pour breaths waiting for the integrity free planners in BPS or BDS to require that the folks profiting from the higher densities the planners are pushing to ever require those making the profits to make the improvements required.

The elected members of the PPS School Board are the ones who decide what the parts of our public commons, that the public has already paid for, and that they hold in trust for us, will be given away at a token price for development by rich people for rich people. If they can't find a way to keep it functioning beneficially in the commons (which they clearly have refused to try), they also have the choice to lease it for a time without giving away ownership. That is, they could do if they cared about preserving the commons rather than making already rich private developers richer.

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