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Friday, June 29, 2012

Fish, Cogen, and the bunker boys

With the Sam Rand Twins leaving Portland City Hall in six months, the real estate developers must have new puppets to take their places. Obviously, Char-Lie Hales is the prime candidate for this role, having done nothing but serve apartment weasels for the last two decades or more. All you need to see to know where Char-Lie is coming from is this election night photo with Homer Williams playing the ventriloquist on the stage behind him.

But other players are kissing up as well. This week Multnomah County chair Jeff "Farquaad" Cogen and city commissioner Nick "Jelly" Fish sent around a press release about how they're going to be a lot smarter about handing out tax exemptions to the builders of junk infill apartments:

In Portland and throughout Multnomah County, we believe that people of all income levels deserve a fair shot. That is especially true when it comes to housing. Everyone should have a safe and decent place to call home, close to where they work, in a neighborhood that provides opportunities for a good quality of life.

Unusually low vacancy rates in Portland’s rental market have driven up the cost of apartments in the urban core. It's getting so that that young families of modest incomes and even young professionals starting out are finding it harder to afford life in the inner city.

"We want a complete community," said Portland Housing Commissioner Nick Fish. "We want all kinds of working people to be able to afford homes in neighborhoods citywide – we don’t want to become like San Francisco, a city of rich and poor."

This afternoon, the Portland City Council will consider updates to the city’s Limited Tax Exemption program. The program grants 10-year property tax exemptions to developers who reserve at least 20% of the units in their multi-unit projects for people earning 60% of median family income, $30,660 for a single person or $43,800 for a family of four, or lower; or for new single-family homes sold at an affordable price to modest-income homebuyers. The exemption applies to taxes on the improvements (usually the building) – the land is still taxed.

"The proposed updates will balance the program’s cost in foregone revenue with the value to taxpayers of affordable housing and other public benefits that the program encourages" said Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen. "The updates align the LTE program with our community’s goals for housing and improve the program’s efficiency, accountability and transparency."

The multi-unit projects would generally be located in dense areas downtown, along transit corridors and main streets citywide, and in regional centers. Tax exemptions are also available for new construction of for-sale homes in distressed areas and for multi-family affordable housing projects owned by non-profits. These ensure that people can afford a home in their current neighborhood while helping to improve the community and the quality of life for its residents.

These tools increase affordable housing stock and work against the cycle of low- and modest-income families being priced out as property values rise. This small but effective program counters prevailing market forces without drawing on deep, up-front government subsidies because it leverages the activity of private developers who are building in response to the market. New apartments are being built all over town, including along major transit lines in Southeast and Northeast Portland.

"Why not capitalize on that," said Chair Cogen. "This is an opportunity for us to get new affordable homes in projects that would be built anyway."

The city and county have been working together for months with people in the non-profit housing community, developers and other stakeholders to iron out the specifics of the new program.

Executive summary: We're using your tax dollars to make sure that the bunkers that are going up in your neighborhood are as cheap and cheesy as they can possibly be. It's for "equity." And for the children.

It's also curious that Jelly says "We want all kinds of working people to be able to afford homes in neighborhoods citywide," but the handouts for the shlock are concentrated "in dense areas downtown, along transit corridors and main streets citywide, and in regional centers." Those winding streets in the West Hills don't seem to be part of the program. Just an accident, no doubt.

Comments (21)

Don't forget unfinished looking. Every time I drive by one my first thought is they forgot to take the Tyvek protective covering off.

Will be fun when they start turning into Cabrini Green.

The term "sock puppet" comes to mind.

One of the big reasons there's a shortage of available rental housing in Portland is due to the fact that over the past 10-15 years a great many apartment buildings were dressed up, some no better than lipstick on a pig, and redesignated and sold as "condos", thus taken out of the rental pool.

I don't know why this happened or why it was so popular with landlords, except I do know we now have a shortage, so it should be no surprise.

If I thought the real estate market in Portland was being manipulated, I'd call it a manufactured shortage. But I'm not there quite yet.

"we don’t want to become like San Francisco, a city of rich and poor."

Niok, don't worry, no one who doesn't work for the govt is getting rich here.

Portland is becoming Stockton, not San Francisco. Maybe Detroit if you elect Jefferson Smith Mayor.

The middle class can't afford the City of Portland's rising property taxes, water/sewer/garbage rates, user fees, licenses, leaf taxes, and parking tickets.

We moved to Vancouver six months ago. Our property tax went down by 45% for a bigger home, we get TWO 32 gallon trash cans emptied EVERY WEEK for $48/month (including the recycle bin), and there are no spangers when I park my car or eat lunch. Our quality of life improved and it costs less. Beautiful parks, community libraries and open spaces, and nearby outdoor recreation.

My commute is easier, the crime rate is lower, and we can shop at Portland Costo and Target on weekends. True, there are fewer restaurants, and we still have old friends that live in Portland's suburbs. But many of them will move to Vancouver before they retire.

Why pay income tax when you don't have to?

People looking for change will never have success running for office here. There are specific guidelines one must adhere to before being considered by the city elite. The physical attributes of any particular candidate may be diverse, but they can never choose to be diverse in their thinking. Never may they stray from the unspoken spending, sustainability, and transportation rules laid down by the Portland city gods so many years before them. Blasphemy is simply not tolerated.

Does anyone have a link to the press release? I cannot find it on Nick's website.

"Farquaad"? are too funny. Thanks for a laugh before the weekend starts.

These clowns are too stupid to realize that the Portland had a very affordable housing market before the planning nazis at Metro got into building a wall around the region to drive up prices.

Tear down Metro's wall and kick out the planners and housing will become affordable again.

Want proof? Read Paul Krugman, Harvard Institute of Economic Research, Federal Reserve Bank of NY, University of Alberta, HUD, University of Washington, etc:


I know correlation is not causation - but it's still irritating being priced out of here as the city government plows ahead with so much "affordable housing."

There's really no reason for any developer to move into low cost housing on their own when it's subsidized as "affordable housing".

I'm reminded of Habitat for Humanity's multimillion dollar campaign to buy up land for years of future projects. Well intentioned to be sure, but having the twin effects of taking such properties off the tax rolls as long as Habitat owns them and driving up housing costs to others by increasing land values and reducing the supply of buildable land.

"The multi-unit projects would generally be located in dense areas downtown, along transit corridors and main streets citywide, and in regional centers."

That is the same stale crap being peddled everywhere in the region.
Milwaukie/Oak Grove/ McLoughlin, SW Corridor, Vancouver, Lake Oswego and Damascus.

Not a single official or planner ever points to the crap already done as examples of their fine work. Because it sucks everywhere in the region.
Every center, station, commons, corridor and infill.

There is no learning curve or honesty at all.

There is one thing for sure. The public would never vote for this crap. So no votes are allowed.
Just 1000s of planners and consultants getting paid to screw the communities.

If ATU, OPAL, AFP, and a few more groups and supporters aligned they could kick the planners' butts and stop it all.

Lets start with section 8 apartments around the corner from Mr Fish..

Does anyone have a link to the press release?

Here's the version that was sent to me.

“It's getting so that that young families of modest incomes and even young professionals starting out are finding it harder to afford life in the inner city.”

How hypocritical! With all the bond measures that keep increasing property taxes along with ratepayer increases in water, sewer, storm water run off and garbage; the City Council is it’s own worst enemy when it comes an affordable life in Portland. Add to that Sammyboy’s proposed pet project art tax, the Portland Public School bond measure, Cogen’s library taxing district and Metro’s bond to maintain green spaces, and the affordability gets even dicer for nearly half the Population.

"We want a complete community," (Fish)

Complete requires slum-lord developers to add off-street parking to their tenement buildings so the family car does not sit on the street in front of somebody else’s property. The absence of parking for a new multi-unit cracker box projects needs to disqualify any kind of tax abatement, not qualify it. An individual or family without a car means they are not helping to pay for streets and roads everybody benefits from, and that should NOT qualify Homer or Remmers or any developer for a tax abatemetn that exempts them from paying their share for schools and basic city services.

In case you haven't seen this yet, the newest Randy Loo is going in right smack dab in the middle of the South Park Blocks.

Apparently the City had agreed to place it across the street, in a much more unobtrusive location. Of course, they didn't notify neighbors of the switcheroo.

Supposedly one reason for placing it here is to keep druggies from defecating in the Park Blocks. I've seen one of them do exactly that in the flower beds right across from the art museum.

It was high noon, with tourists and kids everywhere. The disgusting display was part of the schtick. The guy seemed to enjoy horrifying everyone who had to watch. Does modesty and public health appeal to him? No, but he might shoot up in that loo, if it's open.

In comparison, the public restrooms in my new community are unlocked, well maintained, and safe to approach. The restaurants and coffee places don't have to lock the doors. I still find this refreshing (pun intended).

This one is really sad -- Occupy squatters trash a North Portland home still owned by woman who moved out last year after receiving an erroneous (or possibly fraudulent) eviction notice.

Just watch the video:

They were in there for over six months, while the homeowner tried to figure out whether she still owned the place -- which she does. She's moved away permanently, and is trying to sell it now.

The police have evicted squatters several times, but they keep coming back. Why don't they ever get prosecuted? They look like the usual black bloc types, the ones who rioted in my old neighborhood.

Nobody is certain where the eviction letter came from, but the occupiers come off as totally unrepentant, and blame everything on "banks". They could hardly be less sympathetic here.

KGW also has a very good report:

One of the squatters has previously been arrested for vandalizing banks. They had the usual array of radical accessories, including, anarchist literature, &c

The homeowner did fall behind on her payments, but she wasn't a newbie or a flipper -- she lived there for half of her life, and seems to know right from wrong.

More precious snowflake coverage from the O:

I'm pretty numb and jaded from a year of ridiculous Occupy injustices, but this story still shocked me. To think, that these self-entitled children get over, again and again.

When finally caught, they just sneer and ride off on their stolen bikes, to exploit somebody else... no arrests, no repercussions (except for the victims).

With everything going on in the city lately, things seem kind of surreal. Does anyone else feel it? Only occasionally do I recognize the Portland that I used to love.

Each day I'm grateful for for my simpler (and less costly) life out in the sticks. There are things I miss, but it isn't as much as I thought it might be. Mostly I'm relieved.

"We want all kinds of working people to be able to afford homes in neighborhoods citywide – we don’t want to become like San Francisco, a city of rich and poor."

What?!! I thought this was PRECISELY the goal of the City of Portland and Metro!

Iconic Bridge? Golden Gate Bridge/Transit Bridge/CRC. Check.

Iconic Structure? Coit Tower/Waterfront Park Wind thing-a-ma-jiggie? Check.

Dense, urban structures? Check.

Streetcars? Check.

Disdain for motorists? Check.

Allowing minority interest groups to dominate politics? Check.

"In Portland and throughout Multnomah County, we believe that people of all income levels deserve a fair shot."

"It's getting so that that young families of modest incomes and even young professionals starting out are finding it harder to afford life in the inner city."

Just because everybody deserves a fair shot does not mean everybody is entitled to live in the most popular parts of town. A fair shot means you have the opportunity to earn the money to achieve your goals, not have your goals handed to you without you working for them.

And if wages kept up with inflation, young people could afford to rent.

It is pretty hard to make anything affordable when you are making the same or less than you made in the 70s.

The Loo at Jamieson Park is such a joke. The last time I walked by it a few days ago, hoping in fact to use it, there was a long line of little kids and parents. There were hundreds of kids playing in that fountain and what does the city offer? A one-seater stainless steel loo. I can guarantee you that those poor kids are probably not bothering with the loo and just letting it all go in the fountain. Me? I walked a couple of blocks to Starbucks, bought a tall coffee and used their restroom. When the city is more interested in making statements then serving the community, this is what you get.


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