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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Perfect timing

Here the State of Oregon is irrevocably headed into the biggest fiscal crisis in its history, and yet the characters out at the Port of Portland have chosen this time to welcome us all to their preposterous, unnecessary new $100-million-plus headquarters building out at the airport. (Together with the attached parking garage, the construction tab is $241 million.) They had just built a headquarters in Old Town 11 years ago, but in order to keep feeding the hungry mouths of the construction companies who pull all the strings in Oregon, they went ahead and built a new one. In this case, the pork went to the sweethearts at Hoffman Construction -- the guys that brought you the Convention Center expansion, endless airport re-configurations, and so many other good things.

But wait -- it gets better.

Guess what the new building has.

Come on.

You know....

Yes! LEED gold certification! Woo hoo!

What earth stewards those Port of Portlanders are! Nothing says "green" like jet air travel and dredging up the Columbia River.

And of course... wait for it... you can see it coming, can't you?

Yes, it's...

An eco-roof!!!

Win-win-win, people.

Comments (18)

What's so cool about an eco-roof? After this wet spring, there are tons of houses around here sporting green mossy "eco-roofs" and some have a bonus of bird-planted weeds growing in the gutters.

And only gold LEED? I thought platinum was the approved standard these days. The slackers.

But the big question--can you get there by streetcar?

"Bicycle Parking: Open bicycle parking is available at the terminal"

Thank God.

And all of the Port employees will be able to live at Cascade Station and walk to work.

Well sort of.
They'll get free MAX passes and free parking at park and ride lots at Sandy, Gateway and the other MAX stations.

Then TriMet will claim increased MAX ridership.
It's swell to be special.

The eco-roofs will provide sewer savings so Sam the Scam can pay for his new program: "Pedals to Planes."

What, no grade-separated bike viaduct parallel to Airport Way / MAX Red line?

An Eco-Roof, AFAIK, is only for stormwater mgmt. However, if they just painted the roof white, they'd save a lot more in energy costs.

However, once these things become the rage at the cocktail partied these guys go to to tell each other how smart they are, then it's the de rigeur feature.

I am amazed at how PoP still takes that much money out of the economy when we are losing shipping and the airport is trending down.

Waste of money? Sure.

But at least it didn't come from taxpayers. It came from Port Revenues. In other words, the Port made money.

Really, I don't understand the hatred of the Port of Portland. They get very little tax dollars (and those are earmarked for marine operations) - in fact the Port got just $8.7 million in property tax revenue in FY2009 - in fact the Port made more money just collecting interest at the airport, and three times as much in Passenger Facility Charges (one of the "taxes" on an airplane ticket). Meanwhile, TriMet loses over $3 million a year just operating WES - never mind the $4 million given to the City of Portland Streetcar each year, operating the bus with just two daily passengers to Boring, debt repayment on MAX, employee benefits, Fred Hansen's trips to Australia and the Netherlands... TriMet can run through $8.7 million in a matter of days.

The Port is a financial king compared to TriMet (and any other government agency in Oregon), and even if they didn't build the headquarters building - what else would they do with the money? (OK, they could use it to subsidize the maritime operations and cancel out the property tax collections for a few years, but I don't mind paying $8 a year. At least it creates real jobs, and the majority of harborside employees are NOT government workers.)

Erik- I believe much of the impatience with PoP comes from the fact that they are "making money" selling access to public water and air ways. This should be a money-making venture for the public, not an excuse for the PoP to line their own pockets and build unneeded infrastructure. The fact that they even take a penny of tax dollars should be seen as a problem.

The reason why the PoP makes money is because it has monopoly over port operations. There has never been competition among potential providers.

Imagine how different things would be if port operations went to the firms that offered the highest bid and/or offered the lowest user costs. I guarantee that you would not see the HQ moving every 10 or so years.

Well that was rosey.
"General Port operations include the following: marine and industrial development, navigation, engineering, and the administrative divisions. The primary resources for general Port operations are from marine operating revenues, property sales and leases, and the Port’s property tax levy. Property taxes are assessed at a rate of 7.01 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value on property located within the Port’s political district of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties."
The aviation side does not get property taxes but air passenger and cargo carriers as well as all shippers are charges fees which are then absorbed by the cost of products shipped and passenger ticket purchases.
Factor in other costs such as the giveaway of our once publicly owned shipyards and dry docks and it's not so rosey.

Would you argue that Metro is run well and not count garbage excise taxes or facility ticket excise taxes as tax funded?

Then TriMet will claim increased MAX ridership.

When I park at a MAX parking lot and ride the rest of the way to work downtown using my company subsidized bus pass, it sure seems like I am a MAX rider. Is there a difference if you work at the airport?

Is there a difference if you work at the airport?

When MAX is used as a PoP employee's remote parking lot shuttle from Sandy or Gateway lots merely to avoid building more infrastructure at the Port HQ itself, then TriMet's claims of increased ridership gains are bogus. If it's possible, MAX is supposed to be used to avoid getting the car out of the garage in the first place. And what about the parking space that car fills up during the daytime? That's one less space available for more legitimate uses by people employed in the more productive private sector.

And yes, I can't believe it, but I'm agreeing with Ben.

Is there any hope they will drop the "eco-roof" for cost? The dropped the "eco-wall" at the federal building downtown because the project is way over budget.

What, they couldn't find a Moyer property to move into?

It came from Port Revenues. In other words, the Port made money.

Yes -- money that should have been used for so many other important public purposes.

The Port of Portland is a state agency, right, with board members appointed by the Governor? And yet it's funded in part by property taxes from residents and businesses in Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties.

Are any of those board seats reserved for those three Counties, in order to give them (and their voters) a say in Port operations? I hope so, because if not, we can add taxation without representation to the list of reasons to rein it in or abolish it.

Like helping with this.

Hmm... the State of Oregon has a $563M budget deficit, eh?

How much is the local match for Milwaukie light rail again? Around $600M?

Sounds like a problem easily solved.

The State's share of Milwaukie Light Rail is $250 million in lottery backed bonds.
So in the long haul, with interest it will be closer to $400 milion.

The current lottery revenue stream already going to other needs will soon be partially diverted to begin paying debt service if TriMet is not stopped.

And TriMet is broke making this madness near criminal.


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