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Friday, May 6, 2011

The false promises of "urban renewal"

Jerry Brown's idea of doing away with it in California has prompted a lot of wise commentary, including this.

Comments (22)

An excellent summation is this paragraph:
"The lesson: deregulation and private enterprise work better than central planning. Developers don’t need subsidies and eminent domain to build in older cities; they need the relaxation of burdensome government rules and a reduction in taxes, which tend to be higher in urban cores. And they need the freedom to develop their own plans, rather than blueprints from city-hall planners."

Hey, this is Portland. Why do you think the obvious and common-sense approach would gain any traction amongst the apparatchiks.

If they keep bleeding schools, its a lot easier to pitch bonds for schools than Homer's streetcars.

Good one, Jack! Sounds like our own secret PDC!

I quote from the article...
In theory, RDAs (redevelopment agencies) spearhead blight removal. In fact, they divert billions of dollars from traditional services, such as schools, parks, and firefighting; use eminent domain to seize property for favored developers; and run up California’s debt to pay those developers to construct projects of dubious public value, such as stadiums and big-box stores. Most Californians have long been unaware that these agencies exist. As the activist group Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform puts it, RDAs constitute an “unknown government” that “consumes 12 percent of all property taxes statewide,” is “supported by a powerful Sacramento lobby,” and is “backed by an army of lawyers, consultants, bond brokers and land developers.”

WOW! an effort to change using common sense.

There are still too many people making too much money from RDA's or Urban Renewal or what ever it may be called.
The lobbying efforts to kill Brown's elimination of RDA's in California have paid off so far, and unfortunately it won't happen yet. Maybe someday it will happen.

Greenhut's article is one of the best I've ever read, even being broad to include any "Urban Planning" articles.

One of the first things that popped into my mind in relating this to Portland is the case of The Red Lion Hotel/Restaurant complex in downtown Portland near PSU and 405 on SW Lincoln. When South Waterfront URA was first formed this large property wasn't included. It wasn't even near the URA boundaries. But PSU wanted to expand their domain, and being a "stakeholder" and on the URAC of SoWhat, one day a request was made to form a "tentacle" boundary up SW Lincoln from the Willamette River for 7 blocks to envelop the Hotel site.

Red Lion was a viable business. Wasn't blighted. And once was part of Portland's first South Auditorium URA from the late 1950, early 1960 period. But, low and behold, it was now called blighted. PSU, CoP and PDC threatened Red Lion with condemnation. There were objections based on that even Red Lion's financial's showed profits, the misuse of "tentacles", no relationship to South Waterfront, and the surrounding area was certainly not blighted with several highrise apartments, retail, parks, and fountains adjacent to the site. PSU bought it with a forced sale claiming that they needed space for student housing, offices, etc. They have done nothing with the property in the past 10 years but to run as a hotel with no maintenance and let it become "blighted" and rundown. The actions of Urban Renewal is the real cause "blight" in this case, thus the need now for Urban Renewal. How sad.

We have an enormous collection of examples like this, just here in Portland, of the misuse of urban renewal. It is time that we have state and local officials go beyond re-examining urban renewal and to actually do something about the misuse. And if they don't act soon, citizens will.

Portland needs something like WikiLeaks, a "PDXLeaks".

The article mentioned Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform here is a nice little booklet they put out:

and a video of the founder: blip.tv/file/2649592

And a video of Greenhut: blip.tv/file/3407617


For a Portland property owner, $1 dollar of property taxes goes to Urban Renewal for every $3 dollars that go to all other city functions combined.

And that is for everyone, whether or not you live in an urban renewal area. I think that very very few Portlanders are aware of that fact.

Oh, but Snards, we have to do something about the rampant "blighted" neighborhoods all over our city.

It's just another cash-cow the parasites have discovered, like the Portland Revenue Bureau, er, I meant Portland Water Bureau.

(Anyone login to PWB and see how it changes to Revenue Bureau?)

If this were Fark, Jerry Brown would get the HERO tag.
Also don't forget all of the African Americans who lost their homes between Williams and Vancouver streets so that Emanuel could expand (how's that coming along by the way?)

Not to mention the wonderful Plaza and fountains within the vibrant and diverse community of the South Auditorium renewal project now 50 years old and another jewel in the Portland crown.

Shamefully, the Republicans in the California Legislature, supposed defenders of private property rights and fighters against wasteful government spending, are almost unanimously opposed to Governor Brown's proposal.

Gordon, it isn't only some Republicans against it, look up the list of Demos too. Political labels have almost become transgender. Means nothing. And if you care to read between the lines around here, many of the pro-urban renewal mafioso are demos permeating all the way through the Planning Empire. Who do you think Homer and Mark Edlen give most of their help-me money to, and their accolades to?

If our Gov really wanted to take a stand on our financial situation, he would follow Gov. Brown's lead.

Good to see the sobriquet "Moonbeam" has been retired from this forum. Mr Brown labored productively for the people of Oakland and learned a lot that he will apply as governor-once-more. Speaking of re-governors, does it seem that Mr Kitzhaber spent his out-of-office eight years in a personally edifying manner that may redound to the benefit of OR residents?

When Jerry Brown was mayor of Oakland, 15 percent of his salary came from urban renewal (TIF) funds. Now, that's what you call ironic.

lw: my point was that, while we expect Democrats to look to government solutions and increased tax revenues to engage in social engineering, we expect Republicans, especially in this era of Tea Partyism, to renounce such activity.

The California Republicans aren't following our expectations. Either they are corrupted by urban renewal money, or they are reflexively opposed to anything Governor Brown proposes for reasons of political calculation. Either answer is a great disappointment.

Gordon, I largely agree with your point in regards to Cali. And it is somewhat playing out the same here in Oregon. Behind the scenes, some Republicans who could at least bring up the Urban Renewal issues in caucuses, or Legislature, nod in agreement about the negative aspects of how we are practicing UR. But it isn't going very far except with a few. That is why initiatives like in Clackamas and Lane Co and a few other spots are gaining momentum. And there will be more if either Dems or Repubs don't start acting. We need to vote on urban renewal issues, especially when there has been UR malpractice.

It's also interesting to note that today's O had an article on AG Kroger's push to get local governments statewide be more transparent in their wheeling and dealing.

Apparently a lot of pushback is coming from Portland's very own Metro. (I know it's supposed to be the region's Metro, but... )

Want to keep the Portland School's huge "ouch" levy off of your property tax bill? Abolish PDC and put the money they take from schools back into schools! Force the issue. Vote NO on the PPS levy.

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