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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The O says, "Kill the Lake O. streetcar"

They said it the day after Christmas, when nobody would notice, but still -- they said it.

When even the O is against something shiny and Goldschmidtty, you know it's a screaming waste of money. The nattering nabobs on the Lake O. City Council can keep pushing this for Homer Williams if they like -- they may soon be rewarded by getting to spend a lot more time with their families.

Comments (35)

Every once in a while the citizens come out ahead.
It's about time!
But the cynic in me wonders what will be next?

These projects never really disappear. It's like Whack-a-Mole. The most we can hope for is that the project will be temporarily stunned. While folks are diverted by the eastside and Lake O transit projects, the specter of the unsustainable sustainability center and the ongoing Cecil B. Demillesque drama of the CRC, I can feel the Convention Center Hotel preparing to rise again . . .

There's a LOT of money invested in getting these rail transportation projects working. Investors have been buying up real estate assets for years in anticipation of light rail or streetcars coming their way. Land speculation, local people with hope of retail gold, shameless government handouts at all levels, and ego-driven folks with their own special visions will not easily let go.

Since three of the disliked LO councilors (including the Mayor) are up for reelection in Nov. 2012, the recall would appear to be a colossal waste of time and resources. No decision they make up till then couldn't be undone.

NW Portlander,

Now I know what to substitute for an avocado!

I think citizens can win. I think this is doable. There is a lot of anger and determination out there, and a growing safeness of how we have been manipulated and used for others people's benefit. We are ready for a change, and if nothing else, having a country that is broke is having an impact on the way we look at things those days. The developers can't put a bird on that.

Benjamin J.
Disagree on that. These three would most likely line things up that couldn't be undone!

One year is a very long time, look what our Sam/Rand twins are up to until their time is up, speeding up plans rather than slowing down and easing out.
Even with only one month left, there will be no rest until they are out. . . and then if they retain too close connections with those left in the inside, not good either as they are not "really" out of the picture.

Look at Katz, working with Paulson on the stadium deal, some of these people cannot stop. Some of them hang around for years.
If they can't get reelected, some find something more lucrative, become lobbyists.
Has Goldschmidt retired?

But, in my opinion putting an R for Recall might at least put a tarnish on their name or alert others in the future to beware of them.
For example, some wanted to start a recall on Charlie Hales years ago, that did not happen, and now, here he is and wants back in again!

They can't put a bird on it but they "can pickle it", which is the general theme of next season's Portlandia, according to an article in the New Yorker magazine.

Sorry. I'm blaming the typos on the iPad. Still getting used to the thing.

No decision they make up till then couldn't be undone.

That is 100% wrong. The more time and money they spend, the more inevitable the debacle becomes. Say no now.

A recall is today's version of tar and feathers and I think in this case well deserved.

I'm telling you...

A State Constitutional Amendment requiring an up or down public vote for all public works projects with a project cost of $10 million or more.

Applies for any project, anywhere in the State of Oregon. Would grant exemptions for "routine maintenance or wear and tear" items of existing infrastructure (i.e. a paving project that doesn't increase capacity would not require a vote; repairing equipment at a wastewater treatment facility that doesn't expand capacity wouldn't require a vote).

It's like Whack-a-Mole. The most we can hope for is that the project will be temporarily stunned.

That is by far the most succinct and accurate analysis of our situation that I've seen. Thanks, NW Portlander!

Agree with clinamen and Jack.
Our former mayor, Judie Hammerstad, is still pulling the strings on the current mayor and other councilors. She's the one who wants the streetcar so desparately, among others. At least one of the three will run for re-election, so good to get him out now with a recall.

Also, they want to form an urban renewal district for Foothills ASAP, and also for the Lake Grove business district. Can those be undone?

Generally recalls can be difficult to pull off, but this group may be too dangerous to wait.

An urban renewal district in Lake O ?
You have got to be joking.
And the ballot measure idea, I'm down with signing the petition to put it on the ballot..

Maybe even Blumenauer and Ray Lahood (Federal Transportation Secretary) will let the Columbia River Crossing Project be built without the costly 2 to 3 mile Yellow line Max extension (pretty costly $1 billion for a slow moving light rail system extension).

Metro is starting to take water...several regional city mayors are looking at development independent of Metro, Clackamas County and Damascus are in revolt, and the light rail/build a city planning is getting a more difficult time in the court of public opinion.

But not all is good. The mayorial candidates to replace Adams are cut from much the same cloth...borrow big, spend big and tax and fee is still the winning political strategy in Portlandia.

Streetcars are similar to dandelions.
Once they get started in your yard, it's delusional to think you can killed them off.

Oh yes, we've had one for years to remodel our "blighted" downtown. They plan to use the current URD to build a new library as part of -- you know it -- a "mixed use" development.

The Foothills URD would "join" with the downtown to create a new urbanism utopia with apartment bunkers and a streetcar. All to line Homer Williams and Dike Dame's pockets (and probably some pockets in LO). Homer has said that Foothills "won't work without a streetcar".

A third URD would be created to placate the long ignored Lake Grove district, where private development is occuring without any government help.

REALLY? Three urban renewal districts in a town the size of LO?!?!? What a joke.
But then you have to remember that our mayor wears a bright pink bicycle pin on his lapel -- given to him by his hero, Earl Blumenauer.

For more reading fun check out the city of LO's site on Foothills/streetcar:

Note that the project director is Brant Williams who, when head of PDX bureau of Transportation, brought us the Tram and SoWhat district. He is aided and abetted by a former PDC employee, Jane Blackstone.
Need I say more?

Like my friend said who several years ago abandoned PDX for similar job in Seattle, "planning" around here is as crooked as a box of corkscrews...

Homer has said that Foothills "won't work without a streetcar".

And whose fault is it for building a development in a flood plain some 100, 150 feet below the elevation of the rest of the city?

A funicular railway would actually be nice and useful for Foothills (the floodplain issue aside). I hear Los Angeles has a pretty nice one in downtown, except when the brakes fail. Heck, even a tram would work nicely here. Or...get this...

The City Commission approved a resolution to study the feasibility and costs for a new elevator. A total of $7,000 was spent planning the structure that, under City Commission direction, was to be “as plain as possible without adornment.” A special election in May, 1952 authorized bonds for $175,000 to build a new elevator. Bids were received in November, 1953; however, the low bid was over $200,000 so all bids were rejected.

In January, 1954, the firm of Stevens and Thompson submitted a new design proposal that could be built within the bond amount. The new design produced a low bid of $116,000 and a contract was awarded to James and Yost, Inc.

On time, under budget, no art or "adornment". And it's a lasting legacy that still defines the city of Oregon City and is a tourist attraction of sorts to the historic downtown - and the upper observation deck has a variety of interesting "then and now" photographs and historical signs relating to the history of one of Oregon's founding settlements.

And it doesn't attract crime.

L.O. Resident,

I could be wrong about this, but I believe there are many more in Portland who knowing what they know now, would have been on board for the recall here. A recall for both Adams and Leonard might have worked. In Portland, quite a few said they were unable to sign a recall for Adams as they feared Leonard would become Mayor, so who knows why some recalls don't materialize.

I know if I lived in Lake Oswego, I would take one look at Portland and seeing what happened to our once beloved city, I would seriously consider a recall as soon as possible. You do know what color their stripes are, learn from our mistake, don't think it will just somehow get better, perhaps people in Portland did, and look at the mess we have, horrendous debt and loss of quality of a livable place to live in.

L.O. Resident,
As I read your post above, about the library, are you writing that there is a proposal to do a "new mixed use library?"
Is this in addition to the current one?

We met a friend recently in L.O. and she took us to your current library, we were so impressed with the marvelous library you have.


When I lived atop the hill in Oregon City, I often took that elevator - loved it! Always a safe and reliable ride. And it really doesn't need adornment - the stonework cascade to the right of the elevator (as you exit at the lower level) is adornment enough.

The majority on council want a new library more than twice the size of the current (award winning) one, and then sell the current site.
From the city's website:
"North Anchor Project
The[UR]agency is planning a mixed use project on the north side of B Avenue at First Street. Preliminary plan concepts include a new 60,000 square foot public library, public parking, retail and housing uses. The project will feature a library facilty that better meets current and future community needs and will contribute to the vitality and economic activity in the downtown core."

You see, our mayor is friends with Sam, he loves Metro, TriMet, Homer, streetcar, the Pearl and all things Portland. We've encouraged him to move there and leave Lake O alone, but no luck so far. He's a land use attorney with a big PDX law firm and has plans to urbanize not only LO, but the Stafford triangle as well. Along with the Clackamas Co. commissioners. The cabal is relentless.

But the Clackistan rebellion is alive, well, and growing, even into the formerly complacent L.O.

Having grown up in PDX, I sadly know how it has been destroyed and I would never live there again.

Many of us here know the cabal is relentless!
Good for the Clackistan rebellion, we needed one here in PDX years ago, very sad indeed it could not have been stopped from the get go.

Some of us are hanging in because of our good water, should they take that too, another quality of life matter swiped from the community.

He's a land use attorney with a big PDX law firm and has plans to urbanize not only LO, but the Stafford triangle as well.

Doesn't that run counter to the "suburbs/'exurbs'" are bad, urban growth in city centers good, freeways bad, high speed rail good...?

It seems that those in support of streetcar/light rail are against suburbs, UNLESS a streetcar or light rail is built to it. Then it's plow over all the farmland they can! There's a light rail train going there!

(Ironically...that's how Portland grew. A trolley or interurban route went there first...just follow the Springwater Trail, the old Oregon Electric and Red Electric lines...all the old trolley routes...) Then look at the Sunset Highway near North Plains and all the non-development out there...or in Banks with more non-development. Or between Tualatin and Wilsonville, or so far the Stafford area of non-development along I-205 (the largest development along I-205 are a handful of megachurches that somehow get exempted from land use laws that would prohibit most anything else being built there)...

L.O. Resident, past PDC's Jane Blackstone, who now works for LO, was one of several PDC employees that preached that debt costs of Urban Renewal isn't part of the cost to be considered. They laughed at pointing out that debt costs should be considered. Unbelievable.

We've done analysis of Portland's UR Districts and debt-the bond costs are generally 35% and higher beyond the maximum debt allowable for a district. If a district is continued beyond the initial UR period, or reconfigured, then the debt/bond cost is even higher. For SoWhat, with its initial maximum $290 Million debt, the bond costs could be somewhere above $102 Million.

For Blackstone, others and city councils to disregard that fact helps put all of our government entities in financial Armageddon.

MAJOR CORRECTION to my above post. UR bond costs are much higher than 35% of a districts max allowed indebtedness. Even at the 3% to 4% interest costs of bonds back in 2004 when calculations were made by PSU Economists, the debt cost was approaching almost 100% of the debt amount based on a 25 year URD life of a district. Now with UR bonds costing around 6% interest, that figure is more than double.

LO officials should be held accountable in including debt cost in their Urban Renewal costs.

Every time I think somebody at the Zero's editorial board may have finally awakened - as with opposing the OR 43 Toonerville trolley - I am quickly brought back to the reality of the Zero's cupidity - as with today's paen to the "Sustainability Center".

I had same reaction today, Nonny -- unbelievable!

And Lee, thanks for the info!

Don't throw anything at me but I live in LO and I think the streetcar would be fine here. It's OK to get something cool, and the streetcar is cool, everything else being equal. No, it's not serious transportation, and yes, something else could be done with the money, but it will attract people and business as it did in The Pearl.

Theresa Kohlhoff,
I would hope that you understand that the streetcar and light rail are not really about transporting people, it is about the housing developments that align the streetcar line. High density and housing developments that look like so many others will be built, the character of where you live will be overshadowed. Trees and greenery are removed in order to accommodate the smart growth concept.

You will not recognize your Lake Oswego, by the time the developers are done, is that OK with you? This is simply not just about a cool streetcar. Do you really want Lake Oswego to look like the Pearl?

If you like that, why would you not live in South Waterfront or the Pearl?

There will most likely be LIDS, Local Improvement District taxes? Can the businesses in Lake Oswego afford to pay for the LID and then often these LID areas are extended so others pay as well. Who pays for all of this?

Anyway, all I can say is that I don't like what happened in Portland and the character of our area so changed that many want to move out. I might have considered Lake Oswego, as I think the place is lovely now, and to see it fall under the hands of "those" who want to change it so it won't be Lake Oswego, is sad. Sad to think that this smart growth mania hasn't run its course.

Theresa: The Pearl wasn't built by the streetcar. It was a consortium of tax incentives like Urban Renewal (TIF) dollars, LIDs, Transit Oriented Development (TODs), Historical Designations, Federal/State tax dollars, TriMet dollars, etc. that attracted development. But the most significant cause was the up-zoning. When land is changed from 2:l FAR to 12:1, increasing density by 6 times, then land value increases and development ensues.

The Streetcar was window dressing that in actuality costs over $12 per each boarding. It was not the impetus but part of the sales package.


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Road Work

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