This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 4, 2009 3:15 PM. The previous post in this blog was Oregon Media Insiders may fold. The next post in this blog is Dorothy! Dorothy!. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lents Park deed restriction: The plot thickens (or thins, perhaps)

We've done some more research into that deed restriction whereby Multnomah County, in deeding over Lents Park to the City of Portland in 1913, restricted the land's use to a "public park or playground." As an alert reader points out today, that deed did not cover the land on which Walker Stadium is currently sited. In fact, it appears to cover only the far southeast corner of the park, which the stadium arguably would not change from park use (depending on where the large parking lot goes).

We quoted the deed restriction in this post yesterday. But now here's the description of the land that the deed covers:

If you dig out the county tax maps, it does appear that this is the southeast corner of the current park -- only 5.33 acres out of the much larger park. We are not expert in land surveying, but as best we can tell, the original county land is shown here:

(Stadium area not to scale, but it will be in this general vicinity -- not counting the parking lot!)

It's not clear to us at this point how the city acquired the rest of the land for the park. Who knows? There could be restrictions in those other deeds as well. But as far as the one our reader dug up earlier this week goes -- the foes of the Paulson stadium in Lents Park had better not rely on it too heavily.

In the meantime, if anyone out there with the appropriate expertise sees that we've got the mapping wrong, please let us know.

Comments (8)


Nice work! Anybody know if there is a subsequent deed that consolidates all of the Lents Park parcels? How about any past County or City Ordinances regarding same? I think the plot is thickening. More murk to scare away financial speculators.

Here come da judge. Here come da judge....


There are plenty of other reasons that this deal stinks. And who knows? Other deeds may have restrictions.

And the parking lot could impinge on the county property, if they don't carefully pave around it.

Interesting. I heard our friends in Salem are encountering the same problem in attemping to close the Oregon School for the Blind.

It appears the original (1880's) deed stipulates that if the land is to be used for anything other than (the school) the land reverts back to the original owner, or their estate.

Sounds like the rain in the forcast...

I think your drawing is correct as to the bounds of the deed.
What you need are copies of the vacation ordinances that apply to all the stadium lands. You can see the ordinance numbers on the map, above. I wasn't able to find them on a quick look, but they must be around. The conditions might also be found in the titles to those pieces of land.

ORS 92.234(3): If the agency or body determines that it is necessary to vacate a subdivision, the agency or body shall adopt an ordinance vacating the subdivision and providing for the vacation of lands within the subdivision that have been dedicated for public use. Title to lands within a vacated subdivision shall vest as provided in ORS 271.140 and 368.366. Any owner of lands described in the plat of the vacated subdivision who is aggrieved by the action of the agency or body in vacating the subdivision may appeal such action in the manner provided in ORS 34.010 to 34.100. The ordinance adopted by the agency or body for the vacation of the subdivision and the lands therein dedicated to public use shall be filed with the county recording officer as provided in ORS 271.150.

That makes it sound like vacation is for "public use." Of course, the way the Supreme Court now does public use, that might mean baseball stadium (unless the Oregon laws are more restrictive).

ORS 271.140: The title to the street or other public area vacated shall attach to the lands bordering on such area in equal portions; except that where the area has been originally dedicated by different persons and the fee title to such area has not been otherwise disposed of, original boundary lines shall be adhered to and the street area which lies on each side of such boundary line shall attach to the abutting property on such side. If a public square is vacated the title thereto shall vest in the city.

Nice stuff, Bryan! That's a juicy piece of what I was referring to earlier regarding a deed consolidating multiple parcels acquired over time for the creation of a park.

Clarification: The SCOTUS ruling in Kelo v. City of New London (2005) focused on Connecticut's (and some other state's) eminent domain terms and the concept of "public benefit" which is broader in scope than "public use" which is more narrow in plain meaning. http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/04-108.ZS.html

Many states took steps in aftermath of Kelo to revise their e.d. statutes to either restrict e.d. to "public use" purposes only, or else to provide for better compensation terms for the taken, including more reasonable attorney & expert fees.

See, e.g., William Woodyard & Glenn Boggs, Public Outcry: Kelo v. City of New London - A Proposed Solution, 39 Environmental Law Review 431 (2009)

"This Article focuses on the United States Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London. It discusses the extensive public, political and academic reactions to Kelo, and makes suggestions for potential improvement in the jurisprudence of eminent domain law when private property is taken for public use in an economic redevelopment plan."

This really has little or nothing to do with Kelo. The city owns the property. City Council ordinances can be changed. Deed restrictions would be the opponents' only hope.

Clicky Web Analytics