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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 3, 2012 8:43 AM. The previous post in this blog was Journalism? No, it's The Oregonian.. The next post in this blog is Not as we do. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

Portland borrowing even more for empty streetcar line

It's beyond bad policy. It's positively obscene. But the Portland City Council's about to go to the banks for yet another $5.4 million to blow on the eastside streetcar, which from all appearances is an unmitigated flop:

Authorizing the issuance of up to $5.4 million in revenue bonds to finish funding the Close the Loop project that will connect the westside and eastside Portland Streetcar lines over the new transit bridge being built across the Willamette River. Improvements to be financed include: automatic train stop vehicle safety upgrades, the Stephens Turnback connecting the southernmost streetcar track on Southeast Martin Luther King Je. Boulevard. to the track on Southeast Grand Avenue at Stephens, and connections to the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail bridge. The bonds are to be back by the full faith and credit of the city and are expected to be refinanced with longterm bonds within three years.

"Revenue" bonds? What "revenue"? Nobody's riding the stupid thing.

It's time for a moratorium on all things streetcar in Portland. But given that the incoming mayor has been pimping streetcars for a living around the world, that isn't going to happen. And so onward toward bankruptcy we march. It's too bad that the voters don't get as worked up about gross financial incompetence as they do about fluoridated water.

Comments (12)

"The bonds are to be back by the full faith and credit of the city..." Even excusing the typo, that's a pretty scary assessment. Of course, I'm not surprised that these dingbats are going for the credit so long as they can find someone insane enough to offer it. After all, it's not like they personally are going to be held responsible for the mess after they move on.

What's even more obscene is the likelihood that the city council will, as usual, vote unanimously for every crazy thing Adams tries to cram into his last days in an effort to seal the city's fate.

"Back by the full faith and credit of the city" seems to be a phrase used to describe the position the bondholders will have in the line of Portland's creditors. Somewhere down the block and around the corner.

"Back by the full faith and credit"

That's the excuse we've been using to sell trillions of bonds and T-bills at the Fed level also.

"It's time for a moratorium on all things streetcar in Portland."

Last election, Portland voted YES on every tax increase just about. The types running city govt see this as a mandate for every stupid spending proposal.

Besides it always more fun spending other people's money now when you can make future generations of other people pay for it later.

When will we see the data on how many paying customers the Eastside Street Car has moved around town?

How are they revenue bonds if they are backed by the full faith and credit of the city? Sounds more like general obligation bonds to me. Bad reporting if that is the case. If they truly were revenue bonds, they wouldn't have much success in relying on revenue from the streetcar.

Revenue? Seriously?
There couldn't possibly be enough riders to generate the revenue to repay the bonds! The cars will be rusted hulks, and the tracks will be pried up out of the concrete to be sold for scrap before that happens.
Hi Ho Hi Ho it's off to bankruptcy we go!

Uh oh. Heads up, guys. I can see Sam insisting that Portland needs a bike-only crapartment building, just because Seattle is making noises about one:

http://mynorthwest.com/646/2137966/Only-in-Seattle-An-apartment-building-designed-for-bicyclists

It's time for a moratorium on all things streetcar in Portland. But given that the incoming mayor has been pimping streetcars for a living around the world, that isn't going to happen. And so onward toward bankruptcy we march

Of course Charlie Hales will probably be living in Australia with Fred Hansen by the time the City declares Chapter 9 along with TriMet, who will probably sell off the buses and bus garages.

Maybe that is why there is a push to move TriMet's management into leased space in downtown Portland. Because when TriMet hits Chapter 9, they can sell off Center Garage as an asset to repay creditors, and I know there are people who would love to buy up that property if it were for sale. (Union Pacific has had their eyes on that property for a long time to expand their intermodal facility. Which is why the old roundhouse got torn down so they could pave it over. And PGE is cramped in their location but it's very central to their needs, so I'm sure they would love to buy up TriMet's space right next door and expand.)

2012 Dec 03 Monday 12:25 U (12:30 PM PT)

In the last 72 hours I have surveyed, read and cross related a number
of media items – movies, articles and government stuff.

Cannot decide which the following is more fictional or fantasy:
1. “How to Train Your Dragon”, Turner Broadcasting.
2. “Evacuate Earth”, National Geographical Channel
Following from Lake Oswego City Council (2011-2012)
2012 Dec 04 Tuesday 6:00 PM meeting agenda items including:
3. 7.1 – Resolution 12-60, Comprehensive Plan Update
– Public Hearing on Economic Vitality Goals and Policies
4. 7.2 – Resolution 12-65, Adoption of 2013 Master Fees and Charges
Where is budget committee review
suggested at 2012 May budget hearings?
5. 7.3 – Ordinance 2601, Foothills Urban Renewal Plan Adoption
Watch testimony on 2012 Dec 04 Tuesday.
Will Riverdale School District accept cut-through traffic off
OR Hwy 43 in front of Riverdale Elementary School without
Williams Dame & White along with City of Lake Oswego
paying for mitigation?
Will 2011-2012 LO City Council (dotted quad) ream
West Linn commuters that will confront policy approved
congestion on OR Hwy 43 / State St?
See policy and letters/emails (ODOT, Metro) on
MMA(s) – Multimodal Mixed Use Area(s).

Texas Triffed Ranch (Garland TX) along with BO Jack commentators
may also desire to comment on a couple of pieces in the San Antonio
Express regarding the evolution of their streetcar plans, from
2012 Dec 01 Saturday.
http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/Subsidies-make-streetcars-costly-4081550.php#photo-3814482
And
http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/columnists/maria_anglin/article/The-nostalgic-hip-need-streetcars-4081725.php

Thank heavens Lake Oswego and Clackamas County in the 2012 Nov
election(s) has about come to their senses financially with respect to
streetcar and urban renewal. Cross relate “subsidy” with “ketosis”
in Oregonian Article “The High Cost of Dying” Part 2 of 2 (2012 Nov 30 Fr).
Source article San Jose Mercury News
http://www.mercurynews.com/cost-of-dying/ci_21905632/cost-dying-simple-act-feeding-poses-painful-choices

I shudder to contemplate if terms in US DOT / TriMet
Full Funding Grant Agreement(s) – FFGA(s) and unspecified
Memorandum(s) of Understanding – MOU(s) documents between
regional, county, and municipal entities had been implemented and
overseen by rail / urban renewal / sustainability devotee(s).

Charles Ormsby (Skip)
Sentinel Skip
(Birdshill / Riverdale, OR 43, and LO Urban Growth Mgmt Area)
EM: sentinelskip@gmail.com

There is no serious attempt being made to get the streetcar system to pay for itself. Slack to nonexistent enforcement re. fares, a ridiculous price of $1.00 per ticket (reduced from $2.00 when prices are going up everywhere), non-paying riders. They might as well make it free and just admit that the citizens of Portland are underwriting the demmed thing (with, of course, the help of those magic federal dollars).

Portland Streetcar LLC should be ashamed of itself. Its board members are shamelessly driven by how close they can run these things to their businesses and how nice a board position looks on their resume.

Australia is nice...spent 10 months there 20+ years ago. Some of the roads in the bush need some tending to though. But no more so than in SE Portland.
I wonder if I can ask for political asylum from Portlandia?


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