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Monday, April 16, 2012

Will "urban renewal" favor Lincoln High at other schools' expense?

Here's an interesting take on the Sam Rand Twins' crazy new "urban renewal" district that would surround the Portland State University Patronage Center and extend its clutches all the way over to Lincoln High School: The parents and others who have been busting their tails trying to secure better funding and programs for Portland public schools are worried that the district would doom any attempt to raise money for renovations of schools throughout the city.

"Urban renewal" works against these parents' interests in an obvious way: It steals property tax revenue from schools and other basic public services, diverting it to politicians' pet projects and their developer overlords' bank accounts. For example, in the case of the "education district," or whatever label they stick on the thing, intelligent observers know what the plan is really about: building the dopey "sustainability center" to make Mark Edlen a bundle, and handing over the Lincoln High School site to some real estate sharpies for apartment bunkers. The Homer Williams types have been drooling over that land for years.

But it's the Lincoln feature that is really sticking in the school activists' craw. As part of the deal to turn the existing site into a condo jungle, Lincoln would be moved to a shiny new location, somewhere over where there used to be actual industry in deep northwest Portland. If Lincoln is taken care of in a backroom deal, it's feared that the powerful Lincoln constituency -- all the West Hills money -- will give lukewarm, if any, support to a tax levy for renovations district-wide.

If schools CEO Super Carole and the school board really cared and were smart, they'd be opposing any and all "urban renewal" expansion in Portland. But they seem to be going along as this plan gets super-fast-tracked and shoved down the taxpayers' throats.

Speaking of shoving, people continue to howl about how fast this particular "urban renewal" plan is going down. Apparently, the actual plan just hit the streets late last week -- a slick brochure had been floating around for a while previously -- but there's going to be a wham-bam open house tomorrow night, and the Portland Development Commission is going to take its vote on the deal just two weeks from today. The whole shebang is set to be approved by the Portland City Council just a month from today.

It stinks to high heaven, doesn't it? That's Sam Rand Portland, and it's only get worse as the Twins realize how quickly their time at the helm is running out.

Comments (14)

Absolutely, it's going to get worse. I'm absolutely serious when I ask what kind of options Portland has, other than a recall, to get Sam and Randy out early. If not, expect them to be standing over your bedside three days before they leave office, trying to pry out the fillings in your teeth.

We suggested a recall a while back. Nobody was interested.

If one were willing to collect enough signatures for a recall, one might at least try for a referendum on the city ordinance establishing the "education urban renewal" district.

Re: "It steals property tax revenue"

A chart derived from county assessors' offices by the PTrib lists Portland as having only 51% taxable land; 29% is tax-exempt and 20% is right-of-way land. 51% is quite low. Beaverton, for comparison, has 62% taxable land, Hillsboro 69%, Tigard and Tigard are both 71%.

The chart is included in the deadtree edition of 12 April; it does not seem to be attached to the online version:

Is there a bottom-line loss of taxable land included in the description of this latest "urban renewal" gambit?

When the city was planning to sell off a chunk of Mt. Tabor Park to Warner Pacific College, (2006), the documents we requested thru the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), included a few rogue documents that didn't have to due with the sale of the park property. Several had to do with the closing of schools and sale of PPS properties. These likely came our way because of park properties that are adjacent to many schools. (What a cool idea was that! Too bad it's being dismantled.)

The documents included the outline of schools to be closed, which has basically gone off as planned. Does anyone recall the Real Estate Trust for Schools? Sam Adams was treasurer years ago when Vera ran this group, and Homer Williams was president. The Magellan Report, which was this group's baby, detailed the back log of maintenance and was the basis for the big bond last year. As for Lincoln and how difficult it is going to be to get it past the public; clearly these things take time.

The documents including emails between city staff, detail a plan for a new narrative to be dished out to the public by staff and specially chosen community members after the initial announcement to move Lincoln HS failed dramatically. At that point, the process of closing elementary and middle schools was separated from the high school debate.

Although the closing and moving of high schools has been tricky, the city and the developers plan to prevail by making another run at it. Each time they refine the message until...it's too late to turn back! The only way to stop it would be for policy to change regarding the sale of public land.

If PPS is so smart with all it's real estate deals, why doesn't it long term lease it's properties instead of selling them off, and develop an on going stream of income to help fund schools?

A long term lease doesn't enrich PPS administration buddies....

Expect a spectacular acceleration of smash-and-grab as the year comes to an end, which coincidently is both the end of these guy's terms and the Mayan calendar end of the world.

"Kelo vs New London" opened the door for cities such as Portland to do pretty much whatever they pleased as long as it was "for the public good". Portland has already said children and families are a revenue sink and not a revenue source, and around the time of the SCOTUS ruling announced that Lincoln HS wasn't being used at its highest economic potential. Translation: that parcel of real estate is too valuable to waste on children or education.

As part of the deal to turn the existing site into a condo jungle, Lincoln would be moved to a shiny new location, somewhere over where there used to be actual industry in deep northwest Portland.

Is that the plan? Send the kid"s school over to an industrial site? Where would that be? Is the site contaminated? Of course, we the public would pay for the clean up then. How safe are brown-fields after clean up, trust has been lost on what we are told. This chess game of lands being exchanged, or just the land deals going on, it is usually the public who is getting screwed and by those who are supposed to represent the best interests of the people and the children.

The case that school activists are making is well presented at 1:18:00 of this video:


There's also some thoughtful testimony at about 1:08:00.

I listened to some of the tape, there is no reason to put Lincoln High School in urban renewal. There was testimony that Lincoln High is one of the best schools, and in good condition and does not need a new building. There are many other schools that are in terrible condition that would need to rebuilt before Lincoln. So this makes no sense, but we all know why this is happening. Others testified to slow this down, there is no need for this, Lincoln and PSU are not going anywhere. People testified that they have not been given adequate time or answers needed to questions. S L O W down was the theme.

"Rome is burning" + "I'm pedaling as fast as I can" = "I'm burning as fast as I can" = Portland.

We need to kill Grendel before it devours more of the village.

Urban Renewal is an issue to which Democrats are living in zombie land. They like to think they are being progressive while supporting one of the most regressive policies ever created.

Republicans on the other hand think that interfering in the pursuit of profit is a sin right up there with the 10 commandments. No discrimination about how the profit is acquired- legal, illegal, shady, heavy-handed all good.

So even though both groups support the scam known as Urban Renewal, they do it because of different brain-washing techniques that have been carefully applied.

It's a simple case of deja vu; there's precedent. Lincoln has already been engulfed and turfed out once by PSU. This is just a repeat performance. Someone should remind them that, were it not for high schools, there would be nobody available to attend their college. So who's ultimately more important here?

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