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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Saltzman looking for easy way out on Paulson stadiums?

KXL Radio is reporting a couple of interesting things this afternoon on the infamous Paulson stadiums deal. First, as our reader correctly noted yesterday, the deed by which Lents Park was conveyed by Multnomah County to the City of Portland on April 9, 1913 does indeed specifically state that the land "and every part and parcel thereof" must be "used and occupied exclusively for public park or playground purposes." If any part of the park is ever used for any other purpose, the deed says that the entire park reverts to the county. And the county commissioners have already spoken loudly and clearly about the Paulson deal -- they'd rather not be involved.

Second, the station is reporting that city Commissioner Dan "Big Pipe" Saltzman, the swing vote on the plan to rip out a huge swath of the existing park for a professional minor league baseball stadium, has asked the city attorney, Linda Meng, for a formal opinion on whether the deed condition would be violated by the proposed new pro baseball stadium. Reportedly Saltzman is requesting that this legal opinion be issued before he casts his vote.

What this indicates to us is that Saltzman wants the plan to go down, but without his having to vote no on it. Let's hope the city attorney doesn't ruin her own reputation by issuing a preposterous opinion that Beavers Stadium, a highly commercialized facility that would charge admission and sell alcoholic beverages (among other items) at a huge markup, is somehow a "public park or playground." If she tells Saltzman it's illegal, Lents exits the Paulson equation.

But if she does somehow rule that the legal condition in the deed won't be violated (or that it's invalid), here for Saltzman's consideration is another suggestion of an easy way out: Dan, just say that you'll vote for the stadiums only if the complete plan, including the financing, is placed before the voters in a citywide election. There -- you haven't voted no, but you've killed the deal. Because guess what. Many people in Portland are waking up.

UPDATE, 6/4, 3:24 p.m.: This deed covers only a small portion of the park -- and not the part on which the stadium would be situated. See our newer post here.

Comments (67)

What a bunch of dumbasses, not even reading the deed. They almost gave Lents Park away to the county. Imagine the mess that could have caused.

Now now, let's not call names. Some people think with their big brain; then there's Creepy and the Fireman.

UPDATE, 8:55 p.m.: Commissioner Leonard apparently thinks that the original version of this comment suggests that he has engaged in some sort of sexual misconduct. To my knowledge, he has not. My apologies for any such implication.

In fact, in this case there is no evidence of his having thought at all, with any organ.

This reminds me of something Sten would do.

Yes, but look at the bright side -- at least now we have two commissioners smart enough to just say no. One more, and some semblance of sanity will be restored.

July 1 is coming around quickly.

If Esq. Meng opines a AAA ballpark is "used and occupied exclusively for public park or playground purposes" t hen it follows that it will conform with all applicable laws and city ordinances concerning the use of public facilities.

Per the City Charter:

20.08.070 Non-Park Use of Park Property. -
Sections 20.08.010 and 20.08.020 do not apply to non-park use of Park property. Unless authorized in writing by the Director and in accordance with the terms and conditions of said written authorization and with the Council’s adopted policy for the non-park use of Park property, it is unlawful for any person to make any non-park use of Park property, including but not limited to excavating for, erecting or installing or doing any act as part of or commencement of excavation, erection, or installation for, a permanent or temporary structure or facility in or on any Park.

20.42.010 Purpose.
The purpose of this is to regulate the cutting of trees in order to help preserve the wooded character of the City of Portland and protect the urban forest. It is not the intent of this Chapter to regulate the cutting of trees on any single-family lot, which cannot further be divided, upon which a single-family residence already exists. Further, it is not the intent of this Chapter to require a permit for tree cutting in situations where the same activity is already regulated and reviewed by other provisions of the City Code.

I have said this on BlueOregon to much ire and I will repeat it here:

Portland City Council: Shoving it down your throat and forcing you to like it because they are not held accountable to voters by precinct.

Simple solution for people like Randy Leonard acting like little barons is to change the way they are elected.

Divide the City of Portland into 4 precincts each with equal populations in each precinct and make it so that each current or future City Councilor has to live in and pay their bills out of a registered address in their precinct for 180 days out of the year.

This elected "city wide" crapola is what produces this baronesque behavior from cowards who hide behind ALL of the City of Portland voters.

Folks behave similarly in nonprofits where the top executives spend thousands and tens of thousands of donor dollars on various little personal luxuries for themselves and family, have their accountant mark it as "gas" under "travel" expenses on the balance sheet, and then hide behind the mission of the nonprofit once an outside skeptic questions their behavior.

I love it when people a long time ago anticipate the actions of weasels far far ahead of them in the future.

Frankly, the Oregon Constitution also seems to anticipate these public-private partnerships and tries to prevent them - from what I can tell anyway.

So what have we learned here: Don't celebrate how great a deal is 'til there is one.
Even if you think you look cool in those soccer scarves and - by the way - you don't.

I also think we should learn how to bargain like the rug merchants who taught me as a kid. Be prepared to walk out and see how serious MLS really is about these requirements. I don't think they're in any position to be insistent on anything much less this.

The whole point seems to be to have a crowd in the background of the soccer match. How about adding that digitally? They're faking attendance numbers, they're faking the major league part, their TV numbers are one step above a test pattern. Why not just fake the crowd in the background and get on with it?

Jack, you're still a lawyer yourself, but my wife says that as she remembers, "dead hand" provisions like this one aren't entirely unbreakable.

One thing's been clear throughout Saltzman's City Council tenure:

He *always* looks for the easy way out. he likes his job, and plans to keep it.

problem is - once lents is off the table randy and sam will propose another location that will be even worse for PDX...I am not a fan of this proposal and I think merritt should go back to the east coast, but if you think this will stop randy and sam from giving merritt sky and the moon I think you are mistaken...

Isn't PGE Park a public park, as it is owned by a government entity? And, the city isn't giving the stadium/land to Paulson, it will retain ownership and probably use the park for other purposes i would imagine.


This conveyance appears to be a longwinded fee simple determinable, which are generally valid and enforceable. The Rule Against Perpetuites, for example, does not apply to this type of conveyance. But this is all general "bar exam common law," and I have no idea what Oregon law has to say about this type of thing. I do love that this whole affair is turning into a bizarre real-life law school hypothetical...


The issue isn't transfer of ownership but that the document conveying the land to the City form the County requires the City to use the land exclusively for public park and playground purposes. If the City uses the land for any other purpose, the conveyance states that the City will automatically loses ownership and ownership of the land will revert back to the County. Thus, it doesn't matter who owns the park but only the purpose for which it's being used. Hence, the question becomes whether operating a baseball stadium is a public park or playground purpose.

I would think the fact that the stadium will charge admission fees and exclude those members of the public who don't pay to get in severely undermines any claim that using the land for a baseball stadium being a "public park" use.

OK you legal beagles let us find a way to permanently stop street renaming race hustler scams while we are at it. Make it a daily double. And folks let this be a lesson to you all. The next time you are voting don't vote along party lines, race, or gender. Vote for the best dam person for the job. A real set of leaders go a long way during bad times.

This is what I was talkin' about with this post (but beware city attorneys trying to do some linguistic ju-jitsu on command to twist Paulson Stadium into the defintion of "park"):

Why would Portlanders sacrifice a nice and historical public community park to give it away to private owners to build a private stadium? Bizarre.

Some good comments here: http://www.katu.com/news/44529712.html#respond

Who has looked at the details of the deeds of the original Lents Park, and more importantly, the conditions of the deeds of the parcels added to the park during the 1940s and 1950s?

What if those magic words "so long as used as a public park" appear?

Posted by Mojo | May 7, 2009 4:27 PM

The phrase, "every part and parcel" and the word, "exclusively" seem to preclude the Beaver stadium deal.

If these weren't a part of the stipulations I could see the council trying to push the deal by claiming that part of the park would still be accessible to the public for multiple uses.

This sort of disclaimer isn't uncommon. There is, for instance, an area in Columbia County once located adjacent to the Lower Columbia River Highway on what is now Beaver Falls Road. When highway 30 was relocated, it was given over to the county by the state with the stipulation that it was to be made into a park. Over 50 years later, that hasn't yet happened. If, for instance, the county tried to put a minor league ballpark there (not likely) the property would revert to the state.

FYI & LOOKOUT! (but note, this definition may not apply since its vintage 2004 --let's find what the definition of "park" was at the time of the Lents Park deed):

Online Code & Charter Title 20 Parks Chapter 20.04 General Provisions

20.04.010 Definitions
(Amended by Ordinance No. 178282, effective April 30, 2004.) As used in this Title, unless the context requires otherwise, the following definitions apply:


E. "Park" means any publicly or privately owned real property, and the buildings, structures and facilities thereon, placed under the jurisdiction of Portland Parks and Recreation for park or recreational purposes, and includes all land granted to the City for such purposes.

P.S. -- 20.04.020 Use Encouraged.
The Parks are maintained for the recreation of the public and the greatest possible use is encouraged, subject only to such regulation as will preserve the Parks for the purposes for which they are laid out and the enjoyment, convenience, and safety of all concerned.

Man (woman and child) the bastions!

20.04.030 Powers of the Council. -

The Council, except as herein otherwise provided, shall have the general management and supervision of all Parks, squares, openings, and public grounds surrounding public buildings now owned or hereafter acquired by the City, and also shall have power to regulate and control the planting, trimming, growing, use, preservation, and maintenance of all shade or ornamental trees, shrubs, plants, or flowers in, upon, or over any street, boulevard, path, or sidewalk of the City. The Council may adopt such rules and regulations for the use, management, and supervision of the Parks, squares, openings, public grounds, and grounds surrounding public buildings, bath houses, or other places of recreation, now belonging to the City or hereafter acquired by it, as to the Council may seem reasonable and necessary.

20.04.040 Commissioner to Make Rules and Regulations.

The Commissioner is authorized to make such rules and regulations not in conflict with the ordinances of the City as the Commissioner finds necessary for the better control and management of the Parks. If any person feels aggrieved by any such rule or regulation, the person may appeal to the Council for its amendment or repeal by filing with the City Auditor a petition which shall be presented to the Council at its next regular meeting. Until and unless amended or repealed by the Council, any rule or regulation made by the Commissioner shall be in full force and effect as if it were an ordinance.

Save the Lents Park trees!

20.40.150 Heritage Trees.

(New section substituted by Ord. No. 165530, amended by 166542, May 19, 1993.)

A. The Forester shall prepare or cause to be prepared as soon as possible after passage of this Section and annually thereafter, a list of trees within the City which, because of their age, size, type, historical association or horticultural value, are of special importance to the City. Upon recommendation of the Urban Forestry Commission, the Council may designate such a tree a "Heritage Tree", provided that the tree’s health aerial space and open ground area for the root system have been certified as sufficient by a qualified arboriculturist. No tree standing on private property shall be designated a "Heritage Tree" without the consent of the property owner; however, the consent of a property owner shall bind all successors, heirs and assigns. Upon unanimous recommendation of the Urban Forestry Commission, the Council may remove the designation of any tree as a Heritage tree if it finds that such designation no longer is appropriate.

B. When a tree is designated as a Heritage Tree, a plaque so signifying may be placed near the tree. The Forester shall maintain all Heritage Trees located on City property or on public rights of way within the City. Subject to the requirements and limitations of subsections C and D of this section, it shall be the duty of every owner of property upon which a Heritage Tree is standing to maintain that tree. The Forester may give advice and assistance to property owners regarding proper maintenance of Heritage Trees. If, in the judgment of the Forester, a Heritage Tree, whether standing on public or private property, has become a hazard, the Forester shall have the authority to effect its removal, subject to the requirements of Subsection D of this Section.

C. It shall be unlawful for any person, without a prior written permit from the Forester, to remove, destroy, cut, prune, break, or injure any Heritage Tree, to injure, misuse or remove any device set for the protection of any Heritage Tree, or to cause or authorize or procure any person to do so. The Forester shall report to the Urban Forestry Commission all such permits issued.

D. No Heritage Tree shall be removed without the consent of the Urban Forestry Commission after a public hearing.

"dead hand" provisions like this one aren't entirely unbreakable.

Perhaps. But with the deal tied up in court for years, there ain't gonna be no bonds sold, and therefore "major league soccer 2010" ain't gonna happen.

Anyway, let's hear Linda Meng explain why it isn't enforceable just as written.

"Perhaps. But with the deal tied up in court for years, there ain't gonna be no bonds sold, and therefore "major league soccer 2010" ain't gonna happen.

Anyway, let's hear Linda Meng explain why it isn't enforceable just as written."

The County is not required to accept the deed. . . , or if does accept, nothing to prohibit it from leasing it back to the City. In other words, do you really think the County will want to pay for the maintenence and manage Lents Park and get into the field permit business?

It's cheaper than the massive hit to their property tax revenue that they're going to take if the Paulson Boondoggle Urban Renewal District goes through. The county will also get the pants sued off them if they go along with Sam-Rand. And ahem, they all have to run for re-election eventually.

Paulson needs to accept the inevitable: The Beavers and Timbers continue to share PGE, and they wheel in some expensive portable stands for the "major league" soccer team's TV purposes. If that ain't good enough, then I guess we ain't goin' "major league."

To spend $120 million of anybody's money -- in this case, more than half of it tax dollars -- on "major league" soccer is a sick joke.

The Saltzman-Meng pas de deux is a charade. Do you really think that idea originated with Saltzman?

I'd bet 177 big ol' trees and seven generations of kids' gleeful cheer that Meng pulls a chainsaw, an excavator, a lease, a Funk & Wagnall's, and a PR campaign out of her bowler. If I'm wrong, the trees and birds and shade and the kids' glee get to stay. Here's hopin' they get to stay.

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

Orwell, 1984.

Next up, new stadium at Portland Meadows. Maybe they finagle a way to pay for the new bridge with Paulson's money?

It's not just Meng. The county counsel, Agnes Sowle, and a majority of the county commissioners would have to agree. Hey, it's their political funeral.

Next up, new stadium at Portland Meadows.

It wouldn't be that bad. But let's not have the city pay for it. And let's have the five years of public involvement and land use proceedings begin today. "Major league soccer -- 2015"... if the league lasts that long.

Jon wrote:

"Next up, new stadium at Portland Meadows."

Now wouldn't that be interesting! But would it be Paulsen Field or Vanport Flats?
But wait, Mayor Creepy lives in Kenton, just a bit SW (...over the Freeway and through the woods...) of Portland Meadows. Would he logically declare Kenton as an enterprise zone and spur added taxes on fellow Kentonites?

Time will tell...

___Ora et Labora____


I understand that a similar weasel fest is going on with the Oregon School for the Blind property. That property was also donated for its defined use with a reversion clause. Version I heard was that the weasels got a 90-something family member to void the conditions. Now their weasel buddies are lined up to get the property for private for-profit development at the usual discount. The weasels will all get rich off public land, and the original donors are spinning in their graves. But, all the media are reporting it as nothing more than a debate about segregated education for the blind vs mainstreaming.

This is all the Naomi Wolf Shock Doctrine in play: turn the commons over to private profiteers for looting.

Though at a smaller scale, a similar deed issue involving a cemetery in the Corbett/Terwilliger/Lair Hill neighborhood happened about 10 years ago.

The Caruther family in the mid 1800's deeded a plot of land for a cemetery to the city. If it's use was ever terminated, then it was to be diverted back to the heirs. The land is where the newly built condos are north of the intersection of SW Hamilton and SW Corbett. The Red Cross had their headquarters next to it and had control of the parcel. They wanted to capitalize on the increased value of their land and this parcel, and to build a larger facility.

The CTL Neighborhood Assn. and others fought for the cemetery open space, the historical nature of the cemetery, etc. But, you know the outcome: the city attorney ruled against the neighborhood, and with no attorney money it is now full of condos-over 150 units. Open space was lost, the dead were disturbed, heritage is gone, trees were cut down, two historical houses are gone and the historical qualities of Lair Hill are depleted.

But Portland got some more property taxes.

with no attorney money

That's too bad. I doubt there'd be any problem getting a sizeable legal defense fund up for Lents Park -- and an attorney willing to take a bargain-rate fee in exchange for an extremely high-profile case.

And under the circumstances, THAT activity would still fall within the definition of a playground. Nothing like a merry-go-round, some freeze-tag, see-saw, and a bit of hide-n-seek -- ally ally in come free! But not you Paulsons, you gotta pay. Imagine that.

Lents residents speak out against pro baseball stadium
by Mark Larabee, The Oregonian
Wednesday June 03, 2009, 8:30 PM

They lined up their lawn chairs and, one at a time, took the microphone tonight.


Allen Jaenke said he's lived in Lents for 50 years. He played baseball and football in Lents Park as a boy, brought his kids here to play and is getting ready to do the same for his grandkids.

"This park is for kids," he said. "Frankly, it disgusts me that big money and adults want to take the park away."

The Portland City Council has yet to vote on the plan, and it's unclear whether there are enough votes to pass it. Leonard and Adams are in favor, while Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz have already voted once against the idea of using city funds for professional sports.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman is seen as the deciding vote. Although he voted in favor of an earlier proposal to build the baseball stadium in the Rose Quarter, he's signaled some concerns about the Lents deal.

Leonard said he'd defer to the community on the use of its urban renewal money. A meeting of the urban renewal advisory committee has not been scheduled.

John Mulvey, a member of the committee, said the community would lose money for affordable housing and economic development grants if it spent millions on the stadium.The idea of dipping into the community's redevelopment pot in order to bring soccer to Portland is not right, he contended.

Lents is the cash cow that's driving the whole thing," he said.

"Urban renewal" in Portland -- one abuse after another.

Opponents of the Lents stadium shouldn't pin their hopes on the provisions of this deed. In Portland, a public park is whatever the city says is a public park. Charging fees for use or admission is commonplace. (Back when I was a kid, the zoo was in Washington Park and you had to pay to get in.) Since user fees have pretty much replaced general taxes to fund recreational activities, it probably isn't too much of a stretch to say that a city-owned baseball stadium is a park, even if the club playing in the stadium is privately owned.

Pioneer Courthouse Square is part of the city parks system, even though it is operated by a very private and corporate management company. It ain't right, but not much we can do about it.

In Portland, a public park is whatever the city says is a public park.

Sorry, not buying it. Washington Park does not have a deed condition over it, does it? The city does not make real property law for the State of Oregon (thank goodness).

The deed forbids not only the city, but also anyone holding the property from the city, from doing anything but operating a "public park or playground" there. Professional sports stadiums are not "public parks or playgrounds." They weren't in 1913, when the Beavers played on Vaughn Street, and they aren't now.

If we need the Oregon Supreme Court to rule on this, I predict the money and the legal talent will be there to have the court do so. In the intervening years, Paulson and the city can try to sell paper on this deal. Good luck.

Bill McD - one of the best things you've ever written - "Even if you think you look cool in those soccer scarves and - by the way - you don't." Classic!

Lents Park's fate?

Portland, Oregon - World's Smallest Park - Mill Ends Park

Portland is home to the smallest park in the world (452 square inches--about 20 inches by 20 inches). The park was created by Dick Fagan in the 1940s. Over the years, items have been added like a tiny swimming pool and diving board for butterflies, a miniature Ferris wheel and more. [Kristin Kolberg, 02/24/2002]

Mill Ends Park
SW Naito Pkwy & Taylor St
Acquired in 1976

Maybe we could build Paulson a scale model of his field of dreams at Mill Ends. Right next to the world's tiniest violin concerto. And the tens of dollars the community is willing to donate to help him grow his private sports empire.

(Can I commend Mojo for the sterling work he does above in laying out some of the minutiae of the law on this deed/park matter. If I was Creepy or the Fireman reading Mojo's posts, I would be punching the wall)

Why would you look to the City of Portland's code for definition of "park"? If we're looking for the original meaning of "park" would we look also to the state statutes and other materials?
For example, here's one from the Land Conservation and Development Department:

"(8) "Local park" is a public area intended for open space and outdoor recreation use that is owned and managed by a city, county, regional government, or park district and that is designated as a public park in the applicable comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance." OAR 660-034-0010

I love it that this whole thing is going to come down to Saltzman. This reminds me of something that Bill Clinton's chief of staff, Leon Panetta, used to say: "Anytime someone brings me a plan that depends on moderate Republicans standing up and doing the right thing, I tell them to bring me a new plan." Same thing with Saltzman. If my preferred outcome requires that Dan Saltzman stand up and act courageous, I just assume that the outcome will be the opposite of what I want.

I've got to agree with Gil that the city's argument is likely to be that a publicly-owned stadium is within the definition of a "public park" but you're right, Jack, that potential legal wrangling over this could make it a very unattractive option.

If my preferred outcome requires that Dan Saltzman stand up and act courageous, I just assume that the outcome will be the opposite of what I want.


Thanks haha. People need to stay vigilant and be tenacious to protect public lands, and the public fisc. People have a moral obligation to remain onguard and to fight back on those fronts and to help others who are. Don't be afraid or intimidated by fat cat bullies. Arf!

To be taken figuratively, in the American spirit (with a nod in deference and respect to our Native American relatives), from an account of the Battle of Bunker Hill --

"General Putnam seemed to have the ordering of things. He charged the men not to fire until the enemy came close to the works, and then to take good aim, and make every shot kill a man, and he told one officer to see that this order was obeyed."

Philip Johnson relates of Putnam: "I distinctly heard him say, 'Men, you are all marksmen - don't one of you fire until you see the white of their eyes.'" Other words of Putnam were repeated along the line by Knowlton and Reed and Stark to the men whose fingers were so impatient to pull the waiting trigger:

"Powder is scarce and must not be wasted." "Fire low." "Take aim at the waistbands." "You are all marksmen and could kill a squirrel at a hundred yards." "Reserve your fire and the enemy will all be destroyed." "Aim at the handsome coats." "Pick off the commanders."


Bring the City truly together. All rally for Lents, for ourselves, and for each other. Do what you can, as soon as you can.

Long Live the Recall!

Mister Tee, that was hilarious!

The only wrinkle I see is figuring out who has standing to enforce the reversion.

Are we expecting Multnomah Commissioners to direct a county attorney to bring a quiet title action to claim ownership of the park for the county under the deed provision?

If they don't, who has standing to go into court and do it for them? Friends of Lents?

The real question is actually this: Who could go into court to get a restraining order to keep the trees from being cut and the existing structures from being leveled while the deed provision is litigated? Because I guarantee you, weasels like nothing better than the law of fait accompli. What good is a partially destroyed park under ownership of a nearly-bankrupt county? If someone doesn't figure out how to get a restraining order against making any changes to the park itself, we could win the legal battle and lose the war, with the folks in Lents put in the position of having to go begging for money to put the park back together (and probably winding up with LLP and the Gang back in the saddle).

Another question: What act triggers the reversion?

Another question: if the city attorney finds (as I suspect she will) that the city can build a stadium in the middle of the park without violating the deed, who has standing to sue on behalf of the county? Could I, as a tax-paying resident of the county, sue? Could the MultCo commissioners?

@ Dave J: That's my point. I don't think taxpayer standing will get you past a motion to dismiss (for want of standing). I think the Commissioners could certainly sue to enforce the reversion, but the issue as I see it is not who winds up with title to the land but whether the deed provision can be used to prevent the damage from being done. Trees don't care who has title to the land, and they won't suddenly grow back if title is vested in the County.

There's a good argument to be made that a AAA ballfield is not within the meaning of "public park" language of the deed -- but it's not a slam dunk. As long as the facility is owned by the City, there's an opposite argument that the structure is just a big recreational facility, like basketball courts and tennis courts. Obviously, the weakness in the city's position is that they would be leasing it to a for-profit private interest; the parking may be the real deal-killer there.

But, again, it's all moot if Saltzman uses the predicted legal opinion as cover and votes for Lents. I predict that, if that happens, the bastards will have the chain saws out at the first possible moment so that, regardless of what the courts eventually do, the neighbors will be begging for LLP and Co. to come put something back on the site where their park used to be.

(And if someone doesn't get into court ASAP and get a TRO against felling the trees or knocking down the existing stands, then they'll use legalfu on anyone who does get into court -- in other words, they'll knock down the trees and the stands and then stop work so LLP can extort even better terms from the city, blaming the delay on the opponents who tried to stop the whole thing in the first place.)

Please, if you have any pull with the county at all, contact your favorite county commissioner and beg them to get the county involved to the extent of going to Mult. Co. Court and asking for an injunction against making any changes to the park until the deed restriction enforceability is completely settled (through all possible appeals). If the vote is taken and the chain saws start then the deed is done.

What is with all this legal conjecture? That's a morass.
It's time for the pick forks!
I'm with Bill on this one.

Keep PGE Park as home to the Beavers. Devise a flexible seating system that works well for both tenants. If the commissioner of America's second-rate pro soccer league doesn't like it, just wave goodbye. Let some other city be MLS's bitch.

Dave J.,

The county would probably have to bring the claim itself, as taxpayer standing is generally disfavored, though Oregon could have some funky provision on that.

On the other hand, in County of Clatsop v. Ehler, Clatsop County had deeded a parcel of land to Seaside in 1961, with the condition that it be used only for municipal purposes, or the deed would automatically revert back to Clatsop County. In 1967 Seaside sold the land to a private citizen to build a nursing home who, in 1989 then sold it to another private citizen who was planning to build apartments. In 2004, Clatsop County figured out that it had a claim to the land and sued to enforce the condition on the deed and won, with the Oregon Court of Appeals affirming just this past March. 226 Ore. App. 305 (Or. Ct. App. 2009). Bad precedent if you're the City of Portland...

People who currently use, or live near, Lents Park would be able to show injury far beyond that of mere taxpayers.

Once upon a time, under common lawe, a state Attorney General had the authority to file suit to enforce deed provisions such as this.

When the reverter guarantees a public access / public use, there is a constructive charitable trust. Cy pres and a host of other arcane principlaes apply.

I suspect that any member of the benefited public has the standing to sue to enforce the reverter, though the AG may have the strongest.

Is Ross Laybourne still at the Oregon Attorney General's office, or has he retired?

Sure looks like Genearl Kroger has yet another headache with Sam the Scam and Fireman Randy.

If Dan Salzman really insists on looking for an easy out to the Lents Park fiasco-to-be, in addition to two suggestions above (a lawsuit, a public vote), I have another one he could use: he could insist on a detailed plan to replace the park space that will lost to the new stadium complex and its parking. In Lents. With decent-sized trees. Square foot for square foot. With a realistic dollar projection (i.e. not Randy's math). And a timeline and a financial commitment from the rest of the City Council. Assuming that the land and the money can be found (a big if), the process itself should slow things down considerably. With any luck, the delay would result either in moving the baseball stadium project to a sensible location or killing the deal altogether.

It is unconscionable, at a time when the city's population is growing and skinny houses and condos with no yards are springing up all over town, to take park space away from the people.

Of course, the best-case scenario is that Dan does the right thing and just votes no. Sure, that will anger Sam and Randy, but those guys are political toast anyway.

I've never chained myself to a tree before, but I guess there's a first time for everything.

The deed was conveyed in 1913, but as I understand it, that was when Lents Park only occupied a fraction of the total area it now covers. Since then, parcels were added bit by bit in the 1940's and 1950's, including the northern part where Walker Stadium now sits and where the AAA ballpark is being proposed. (source = http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/finder/index.cfm?PropertyID=234&action=ViewPark)

Not being a property lawyer, but can a deed written decades before encumber property that was later added to become part of that tract of park land?

Perhaps not, but the parking lot and new stadium would extend far beyond where Walker is now.

And of course, one would have to dig up the deeds to all the affected pieces to see what restrictions might be on them all.

I predict that if the city attorney does find that the building of the stadium would violate the deed, Randy and Sam will wring some sort of fake "compromise" from Merritt that he'll make part of the stadium available for little league or something like that, thus keep it a quasi-public interest. That's how these things play out here.

Personally, I think that Sam and Randy have already won this because opponents are tying themselves in knots talking about technicalities like this deed situation. Who cares about the deed--the issue is that we're really proposing to spend $50M+ on a minor league baseball stadium during the worst economic conditions in 75 years. That's what people should be focused on.

There are many, many things wrong with this deal. The deed restriction is just one of them. There are opponents on several fronts, with many arguments -- financial, public, legal, and others. They're all worth making.

Dave J,

I don't think the deed conditions are the primary or best argument against the stadium deal. For the legally inclined among us, it poses an interesting hitch that brings up a lot of first year property law concepts.

You're quite right that the best argument against this is obviously that it's a terrible waste of money for dubious purposes. The trouble is that three of the five people who control the purse strings on this matter haven't seen it that way thus far...

Jack: I would not be too sure that Lents users or neighbors would have standing. The County is the party with a dog in the fight that doesn't have to be conjured up with handwaving (and could not be dismissed on standing grounds).

In your realm, there are plenty of cases holding that citizens who will be shafted by tax giveaways by municipalities have no standing to bring suit against them, despite the fact that the giveaways will directly cause them to suffer an injury. As the saying goes, stupid isn't illegal (and sometimes it seems to be favored).

In your realm, there are plenty of cases holding that citizens who will be shafted by tax giveaways by municipalities have no standing to bring suit against them

Lents Little League, all the neighbors -- their grievances are far from the attenuated wrongs alleged by someone who merely lives and pays taxes in Portland.

Obviously, the county would have standing. The question being asked here is whether anyone else would.

The entire standing discussion may have been rendered completely academic by the findings outlined in this update post.

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