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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fish on Lents stadium deal: Nuh-uh

A reader sends along this update from Portland Commissioner Nick Fish, who runs the city's parks and housing bureaus, on the latest permutation of the ill-advised Paulson stadiums deal:

May 26, 2009

Earlier this year, the Portland City Council voted on a stadium deal that would renovate PGE Park for Major League Soccer and build a new baseball stadium for the Portland Beavers. As you know, I voted against the proposal (which passed 3-2).

Although I am a big soccer fan, I concluded that the proposal was the wrong deal for Portland. It requires too much public subsidy for too little economic benefit – at a time when we face the worst recession in my lifetime.

My core priorities during these tough times include public safety, family-wage jobs, education, parks, and affordable housing. Stadium deals are "wants" not "needs."

The process of identifying a site for a baseball stadium is now underway. With the Rose Quarter/Memorial Coliseum proposal off the table, the focus is on Lents.

While no formal proposal has been made public, options on the table include siting a stadium and related parking in Lents Park, and financing the stadium with urban renewal dollars dedicated for housing.

Here are the principles which will guide my deliberations going forward:

(1) I strongly support significant City investments in family-wage jobs, infrastructure and housing in Lents.

(2) I am skeptical of claims that a minor league stadium will jump-start economic development in the Lents community. The experience in many other cities is otherwise.

(3) I do not believe that any stadium deal should come at the expense of promised investments in housing, infrastructure and small business development.

(4) In particular, I am opposed to using dedicated affordable housing funds to pay for a stadium deal. This is the wrong time to reduce critical investments in foreclosure prevention, down payment assistance, home repair, housing renovation and other safety net housing programs.

(5) I am generally opposed to using public parks for private ventures, absent a compelling public benefit.

Lents Park, a thirty-eight acre community treasure, is a vital public space for community gatherings, youth sports, relaxation, and much more. The public benefit must be very compelling before we remove up to 16 acres for private use.

(6) I can't think of any justification for locating hundreds of parking spaces in Lents Park. And I am concerned about the potential removal of dozens of mature trees from the park.

Even if the case could be made for siting a baseball stadium in Lents Park, any lost parkland must be replaced in the neighborhood. And the full cost of a replacement park must be part of any proposal.

Thanks again for contacting me with your thoughts on this issue.


Nick Fish

Comments (25)

Growing up, we always had a lot of Fish during Lents.

Obviously Mr. Fish has not been informed that the brick pavers for the stadium parking lot will be "green".

Oh-oh. N. Fish just opened the door for the reapers to proffer eminent domain as a tool to knock down acres of "blighted" acreage and structures in Lents to build Great Mitigation Park.

Oh, with some nice new native trees, of course, but no parking. Go by maglev!

The City of Portland:
"We put the 'ew' in urban renewal."

Fish's comments make way too much sense. What the hell is this guy doing in Portland city government? Go Nick.


Eminent domain only applies when the government takes land for public use from private land owners. Lents Park is already public land, owned by the city of Portland, so there would be no need to use the mechanisms of eminent domain. The stadium is still a bad idea though.

So long and thanks for the fish!

Anon, you missed it: The E.D. would be used after they convert Lents Park for Paulsen's Ballpark -- E.D. for the creation of the Great Mitigation Park. BTW, public use isn't the only purpose allowable for E.D., mere "public benefit" (very loosely defined) is permissible.

Remember Suzette Kelo!

See also, for example:

Oregon Revised Statutes 456.145 Eminent domain. (1) An authority may acquire, by the exercise of the power of eminent domain, any real property which it deems necessary for its purposes after adoption by it of a resolution declaring that the acquisition of the real property described therein is necessary for such purposes. An authority may exercise the power of eminent domain in the manner provided for in the laws of this state for the condemnation of lands or rights of way by public or quasi-public corporations for public use or for corporate purposes; or in the manner provided by law for the appropriation of real property, or rights therein or thereto, by private corporations; or in the manner provided by any other applicable statutory provisions for the exercise of the power of eminent domain.


Time to go fishing elsewhere. I read Texas just passed a increased budget. bush needs something to do. You and da da and the bushes. I can see it now. new team, new stadium, someone else's money

How refreshing to read a reasoned, down-to-earth argument against the Lents deal, particularly one coming so soon after Randy's "Jaws of Victory" polemic.

Thank you, Nick Fish.

Fish on Tuesday?

m - You are right about Texas and the Bushes. That's how W 'earned' his small fortune, by greasing the way for a "public/private partnership" whereby the taxpayers built his ballclub a fancy new stadium which made the franchise worth more, so daddy's cronies could make him rich by buying him out at an inflated price without raising too many eyebrows. Of course, such things could never happen here in our Green Beervana...

Yes Mojo, I read Kelo, but the point is that the city already owns Lents Park and therefore cannot condemn its own land. Any transfer of ownership would be a simple assignment by the city, not requiring the use of eminent domain.

Aha- some perfect common sense stuff to forward to the Eugene City Council who recently steamrolled the 300 million dollar UO/ Nike arena boondoggle into Eugene. I am sure they will not read it. They already drank the Kool-aid in that arena deal. The $mart growth masterplan and surrounding expenditures will surface later.

It's your turn, Randy.

Go Fish!

This is a far cry from his earlier braggadocio about never having bounced a check or missed a payment. Of course he hasn't; he never has been poor.

But when it comes to housing policy I think we need to watch him. Building low income housing in city parks may be the sort of compelling need that would justify private use.

I am not going to say it is all bad, but that we need to be looking at the whole picture, including how "smart growth" has displaced people and destablized stable neighborhoods, and the profit there can be in creating an affordable housing juggernaut.

Nick gets himself on the board of advisors to Campaign for Equal Justice and Portland's great critical thinkers begin the usual sycophantic waddle and quack. I am getting too old to want to be one who says I saw Foxy Loxy lurking all along when things start to fall apart, but planning is about more than development projects.

Grow up you Portland housing advocates is all I have to say.

In line with part of what Cynthia has written, I hope Fish sees that Affordable Housing shouldn't be only a Government Enterprise.

AH can be encourage without spending taxpayer money on all endeavors to achieve it. Zoning needs to consider that not all AH patrons want to live in high density zones which actually have appreciably higher land costs than less dense zones and more in the smaller scale fabric of our neighborhoods. This agenda doesn't require money. Case in point is the land costs in SoWhat that is now up to $8 Million per block. Wouldn't more AH be achieved on land along King Blvd. selling for $150,000 per block?

Building regulations can also be modified to help make AH costs lower. Taller buildings usually cost more per sq. ft. than lower buildings. Has any assessments been made with all the building regs and zoning regs, if AH owners/renters actually use many of their requirements? What percentage?

Wouldn't more real Affordable Housing people be served if the 75% of MFI (medium family income) standard is enforced versus allowing Work Force Housing patrons having income up to 125% of MFI? (around $70,000 in Portland)use AF dollars? Equal to that is allowing Student Housing be AF. There is no limit to that standard. A student with parents making a million per year could qualify for AH dollars.

I hope Fish can look at the whole gamut of AH. There is much to fine tune without even spending more dollars. In the past there were builders/lenders/architects and planners in the free enterprise system that produced Affordable Housing without taxpayer subsidies or government being the sole, major "partner" in it's creation.

Oh well, cross him off Randy and Sam's XMAS list.

Finally a voice of sanity in the mad house.

Anon, the scenario is that E.D. would be used to replace Lents Park with another parky park in "mitigation" for Lents Park after it's converted to Paulsen Stadium & Parking. And, it was a joke. But, you gotta get the premise straight. I guess I went too fast in the delivery.

By the way, the AH discussion developing above is quite interesting.

Nicky boy certainly did grow up rich.If he had ever got out of the Georgetown circuit he would have seen the destruction of large scale AH projects. Yet living in Irvington, with no AH, he fosters large scale AH on other neighborhoods and then refuses to provide the public information to the public to figure out what is going on. As a lawyer he should be disbarred for this action alone

Small scale AH not only achieves mixed income neighborhoods, it stabilizes them and allows the low income folks to be part of a stable landscape and to take investment in their neighborhoods. Large scale projects as Columbia already are coming apart at the seams. Ask the police or private home owners in that project.

Between the Nicky, Merritt & Wheeler rich boys and the whores like Adams and Fireman Randy that serve them ,God help us all. After they really F%#* it up they move on with their money patting themselves on the back and leave the mess to us. Like the banks, they privatize their success ans socialize their failure

I'd cut Fish & Wheeler quite a bit of slack - they may not be perfect, but they are so much better than the usual incompetent hacks, crooks & careerists (Adams, Leonard, any of the County Commission women lately dismissed, Kulongolschmidt, etc.) that they deserve support. Call them out on individual items, but I think so far they're a breath of fresh air.

Nick, just the added traffic alone would make that an impossibility. For an idea on how bad traffic can get on SE 92nd, visit 92nd and Powell during rush hour, then drive over to Lents (through the neighborhoods) and see just what a negative this proposal would be for the relatively quiet neighborhoods there.

Why not put the stadium along McLoughlin? That area needs quite a bit of help from an infrastructure standpoint and there are fewer neighborhoods that would be directly impacted. Baseball/softball are already very popular there.

The added traffic could force a rebuild of the Sellwood and the replacement of the Powell bridge with the addition of another bridge. All of which could revitalize the Macadam/McLoughlin areas which are areas that historically have found business to struggle for survival.

Plus the location close to the water allows for a great view from the South Waterfront area and Tram, which would make for a great visual for tourists riding the tram.

With the proposed lightrail line running much closer to the stadium at McLoughlin than it does at Lents, public transport works better for the occasional public transport riders.

Best Regards,

Fish is a refreshing breath of fresh air.

The silence frem Fritz is deafening.

Are you out there Saint Amanda?

The silence frem Fritz is deafening.

Silence from Fritz?

What a novel concept!

Some people who move west to Portland think they've died and gone to turnip truck heaven, not seeming to realize that Portland may not be exactly the haven for naive incompetents they expected to find.

To me, the rich boys are more like stale polluted air blowing in on the West Wind.
The other bozos are: All Together Now: Scychophants!

stadiums are a bad investment. just have another beer.

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