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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 11, 2012 8:38 PM. The previous post in this blog was Trouble in Gatsbyland. The next post in this blog is Musical interlude. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sam Adams's Mars mission

We had to laugh last week when we read that Portland's mayor was resurrecting another totally absurd idea -- burying Interstate 5 on the east side of the city.

Here's a region that's blown $200 million on "planning" to replace the interstate bridge, with pretty much nothing to show for it. And now it's going to do a big dig through the inner east side? Sure. Sure.

So why is The Creepy One dredging this up? The only reason we can think of is that he's trying to burnish his "planner" profile in preparation for assuming a patronage job as some sort of professor at Portland State next year. (Heaven help the students.) When his political godmother Vera finally gets off the public pad, there'll likely be a nice, warm seat in the Portland State real estate development company for Adams.

The freeway burial pipedream reminds us of Bush Jr.'s proposal, toward the end of his presidency, that the U.S. start working to land a human on Mars. As Nathan Lane put it on Letterman one night: "Bush says he wants to go to Mars. Let him go."

But upon reflection, we realize that actually, we should get behind Adams's plan. It would be great for the lame duck mayor to get absorbed over the last 264 days of his political career with chasing after unicorn-pooped rainbows. It's that much less time that he would have to destroy Portland in other ways. Yes, Sam, you smart growth genius, you -- make this your legacy!

Comments (22)

Another reason...

The city owns the waterfront property under the freeway. Think condo towers.

Oh, no question. That's what it's been all about since the start. But watching the clowns of Portland actually try to get it done? Too, too funny.

Vera established the "beach head" for the developer assault on the CEID with the Eastside Esplanade. The esplanade is actually a good thing for the city... as long as things stop there. I called out this I-5 tunnel BS on February 28th here:

The cost of this monstrosity runs into the billions. It's one of those Portlandia Zombie things that just can't be killed no matter how hard one tries. They just count on everyone wearing out, dying, or getting bought's sort of mind blowing when you get right down to it.

The best part about this one is that it's never, ever gonna happen.

Seattle's gonna put the Alaskan Way Viaduct in a tunnel - to reconnect downtown to the waterfront. Portland can't be outdone...

Are there going to be bike lanes in Seattle? A streetcar? Because this can't be done in Portland without both of those. It would be hilarious.

Probably not while we are still alive, or at least strong/sane enough to do anything about it, but it's gonna happen, and our kids and grandkids will foot the bill while the big shots clean up. The estimated cost of this concept was $5.5 billion in 1993 dollars! These people don't give up. If they can't turn their low six figure real estate investments into high seven figure returns, their kids or grandchildren sure as hell will. It's one of those long con schemes. The whole eastside development thing is a developer's wet dream, just look at it. Sammy is working this one HARD as evidenced by his lame attempt to re-label the CEID as the '"Produce Row District"'.

The problem is that the city is approaching the maximum amount that Bank of America is willing to lend it. At $6.5 billion of bonds and pension obligations, it's pretty much over.

Jack, I truly and sincerely hope you are right about that one. Charlie Hales kiilled the freeway on-ramp from the CEID/Water Ave. onto I-5 back in the day, which was a huge set up move in this whole game of chess/developer pork/ CEID to "Produce Row District" to Eastside River District boondogle, because killing the freeway onramps undermined the ability to use the area as a true industrial rail to freight zone. Now days trains don't stop down there...they pass through. It's hard to say what will happen if Hales gets elected because he turns tricks for whoever happens to have the biggest wad of bills on hand at the moment...and who the hell knows who that will be... They have their Esplanade to the west and the Eastside Streetcar to the east. The place in the middle, the CEID/ "Produce Row District" is the target for their next scam that magically turns beans into gold for the MAC big shots who pull the strings. It's a perfect set up and it will be some kind of sustainable LEED certified snow job that will be the linch-pin to 10,000 jobs or whatever, and it's my bet is that they will get their way eventually.

There won't be enough public money for it to "pencil out." Hales knows this, but he'll hold out hope to the real estate weasels for as long as he can string them along. Some of them aren't too bright.

Back when Vera was kicking around covering the I-405 freeway downtown to create more usable land, I wrote a column suggesting that we really go for it and redirect the Willamette River down 82nd.
Sounds like an idea whose time has come. You're welcome, Portland.

I like Bill's idea.

I would agree to cap the freeway if we could keep Vera and Sam on site there, a la Jimmy Hoffa.

"So why is The Creepy One dredging this up?"

He saw the gig Erin Flynn (ex-PDC) got from PSU, $180K/yr with full benes for doing some kind of PR thing where she basically sends out a PR notice every once in a while.

You can screw around all day and get paid for it. Why wouldn't you want that?

How can you talk about working on I-5 on the east side and not mention the need to widen the freeway through the Rose Quarter? Spending billions of dollars on freeway work that doesn't increase capacity and address some of the city's many choke points is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.

Once again Sam wants to emphasize form over function.

I'll say the same thing about Sam's plan that I said when I first heard the particulars on the "Bush In Space" initiative. Namely, I refer people to the Hawkwind song "Uncle Sam's On Mars". (I'm regularly asked by friends as to why the whole mission to Mars failed. Well, it had everything to do with Bush giving everything to Lockheed Martin for design, and they grunted out the Constellation system to replace the shuttles. Problem was, Constellation was so insanely expensive that not only would constructing it double the deficit, but we'd have to shut down the rest of the US government to pay for a Mars launch. He took a lot of grief for killing it, but Obama did the right thing by cutting the program when he took office: as far as Bush was concerned, it was an unfunded mandate that was intended to get the Cat Piss Man vote in the 2004 election, not as an actual viable mission. His father did the same stunt in 1992, making noises about a return to the moon by 2019, and doing nothing more than handing out lots of contracts to campaign contributors that went nowhere.)

It's not necessarily a bad idea in and of itself, but it is an odd thing for a lame-duck Sam to latch onto during the waning days of his administration. The chances of it actually happening anytime soon are extremely small, given that the feds would have to pony up most of the money and they can barely scrape by themselves these days. Like Jack said, it's probably just resume polishing. If he really wanted to leave office on a high note with at least a shred of affection from the voters, instead of tilting at windmills he should be finding ways to get some more sidewalks and streets paved and more gang-enforcement police officers hired (or bring back weekly garbage service).

Some years ago the last time this cropped up I remember reading that the Feds said we could move it if we wanted to, but we'd have to pay for it on our own, which sent this particular Count Dracula project back to its coffin for awhile.

Seattle's gonna put the Alaskan Way Viaduct in a tunnel - to reconnect downtown to the waterfront.

It's a good thing I don't live in Seattle because this is a joke of an argument.

Seattle has a thriving, popular waterfront. There are actually condos - very nice ones - built between Alaskan Way (the street) and the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Underneath the viaduct are streets and pedestrian walkways and parking lots - if anything, Seattle needs more parking lots - not less. The Waterfront is very popular with tourists, hosts a wide range of public events, and is a transportation hub - the Ferry Terminal, which brings tens of thousands of people in and out of Seattle each day. (Can you say that about Union Station in Portland?)

Portland's Waterfront, in comparison, is largely deserted save for some homeless folks. On a summer day it might attract runners and bikers. There's a handful of events that do a great job of destroying the sod, requiring the city to replant grass each year. (Seattle's Waterfront is on piers, so public events don't come with a major replanting bill.) There's no transportation hub. No businesses. Waterfront Park could arguably be "separated" from downtown by Naito Parkway, an unfriendly, uninviting street, and basically an "expressway" for motorists not wanting to brave the interior downtown streets (mostly 4th Avenue and Broadway). Alaskan Way is hardly a street one travels on to get somewhere fast - they use the viaduct, which is well removed from pedestrian interaction as the cars go over the pedestrians.

To argue that East Portland needs to be reconnected with the Willamette...why? Wasn't the Eastside Industrial District supposed to be a "sanctuary" protected from gentrification and redevelopment - it seems the city has thrown that out the window and just wants more low-wage service sector jobs, more human warehouses rather than business warehouses. Why? How is that better? Isn't the Vera Katz Esplanade sufficient - why must we have more empty "greenspace"? It seems that Sam just wants to eliminate Portland and turn it into Disneyland, a city devoid of industry. Devoid of "undesirables". Devoid of reality.

I'm wondering if this isn't just a stalking horse for a revival of the plan to cover I-405. That would tie in with the plans to move Lincoln High out of that juicy plot of land near the MAC Club.

The three words that will prevent this from ever happening:

Boston Big Dig.

$22 billion if you include debt service costs (which, btw, is almost 3x the cost of building the Panama Canal in inflation-adjusted dollars), and 20 years of construction (with a likely 20+ years of crushing debt tacked on).

Oh, and it wasn't just an insanely expensive boondoggle, turns out it was a rather shoddy dangerous one too, with multi-ton panels falling off the ceiling and crushing cars as they drive through.

Lets bury the bicyclists and get them off the streets, at their expense of course.


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In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
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Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
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Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
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Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
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Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
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Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
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C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
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William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
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Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
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David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
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Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
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William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
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David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
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Road Work

Miles run year to date: 113
At this date last year: 155
Total run in 2016: 155
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In 2013: 257
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