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Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Cottage"? Geez.

We blogged last evening about the scandal that the O's got brewing over the bargain rental of a developer's beach house to Portland's transportation director, Tom Miller. The property, owned by Beam Development chief Brad Malsin, was rented out to Miller for a sum that Miller said he couldn't recall, but Malsin said was $100 a night.

The O story called the place "Malsin's 450-square-foot cottage steps from the beach," but is that accurate? Look at this web page, particularly the photo on the right, of "Malsin Cottage." If that's the same place, it looks a lot bigger than 450 square feet from here -- as in, maybe 10 times that size. And it's so nice that they put it on a house tour.

Here's the Google street view: Link.

And here's the Google satellite view: Link.

Aside from Miler's preposterous assertion that he didn't remember the rent, there's something extremely funny going on here. How many other Portland officials have gotten the sweetheart deal on renting that place?

UPDATE, 1:32 p.m.: An alert reader has sent us to the Mapquest satellite view of the property, and it appears that yes, there are two ever-so-slightly detached buildings on the parcel, connected by a deck or walkway of some sort:

Perhaps the Miller party was confined to the back building. Perhaps. But it's still not going to have a rental value of only $100 a night on a June weekend.

Comments (43)

Gee, Brad has learned something! over the last few years since loosing out on the Burnside Bridgehead project!

The real shame is that a part-time blogger can conjure up more juicy tidbits in a couple of hours than full-time reporter for the state's "paper of record" who has probably been working on this for a week.

The REAL shame is that a dumb*ss commenter on this blog can find the assessor information in about 5 minutes, showing that the property is way bigger than 450 square feet.

Good link, Garage Wine. Clearly Miller is a weasel on this failure to report. Although page 3 of the "Annual Appraisal Report" link on the assessors link you provided does show an "Improvement 2" on the property of 432 "finished" square feet.


What bothers me most isn't the deed (?) itself but the complete lack of respect that's displayed. Not just here, with Miller, but everywhere in politics, from Kitzhaber/Hayes to Leonard/loos to Sam's envelope "loans". From no contract bids, 130mil bridge "planning" and systematic and deliberate fragmentation of the constituency, this the middle finger, folks.

During the first recall, I held a sign in front of City Hall telling anyone who could read that Adams was a Cheney-esque shill being marketed in a queer suit - and all the media could focus on was my homophobia!

84 paid PR hacks indeed. There's your job growth folks. Oh, and don't forget - you're # 1.

Facts are just so tiresome!

Garage Wine:
Great job!

I would add some blame going to the news editors if the Oregonian still has any. They're the ones that should be pushing their reporters. Perry White comes to mind.

Perhaps the positive outcome for all this will be twofold:
1. Oregonian will do a better job reporting; especially when they can be shown up by part-time bloggers
2. This house will show up on VRBO for $100/night so all can benefit!

Hi Jack,

As I wrote in the comments section of your earlier post, the property has two structures, a main house and a guest house/cabin/cottage.


Beth Slovic
The Oregonian

"Miler's preposterous assertion that he didn't remember the rent"

Because it was $0

Slovic, did you ask Miller or Maslin what Miller rented, house or cabin or both? Did you notice that even the assessors info has the cabin at 954 sq/ft and not 500? Reporting usually has followup questions, especially if you're going to step on Sam's toes or any of the other insider politicians/developers in town.

the property has two structures, a main house and a guest house/cabin/cottage.

Not on Google satellite view it doesn't. Unless the guest house is on Gulcana Avenue, it's one attached structure.

As I've stated here before, the thing with Portland corruption is they don't even realize they're doing it.

Everyone is a good progressive, on the same side. Everyone is on board with the same grand vision of transit-oriented redevelopment. They're all on the side of angels, so how could any of this stuff be wrong? It's just how it's been done here with zero push-back for decades and decades and decades.

Nothing will come of this story, unfortunately. Probably a one-off email from City HR reminding people to "be careful about the appearance of impropriety."

The real story, reported on once or twice, then forgotten, is how this Adams crony got into his current job in the first place. A very lucrative position for which he is completely unqualified.

Beth, the Oregonian's problem isn't just that it misses many of these stories, it's that you don't pursue the ones you find for more than a day.

How many other Portland officials have gotten the sweetheart deal on renting that place?

This is the point, not the size.

If I were an elected official, I would be careful to rent a place that had no political connections and pay the going rate. Would I be branded a fool for
turning down sweetheart deals?

Snards:...The real story, reported on once or twice, then forgotten, is how this Adams crony got into his current job in the first place. A very lucrative position for which he is completely unqualified...

That is the real story and there are many many more like it that the O prefers to not uncover.

The Oregonian has a lot of writers on the payroll. Most of them seem to spend their time rewriting PR releases. I wonder how many actually qualify as journalists.

Jack, if you use Google street view there *may* be two structures on the site after all. The sat view is a bit blurry and Google Maps doesn't quite nail the location. But if you go the the beach-end of the street and move east just a bit, you can street-view into the back of the lot -- it might very well be two structures. Not that this changes the debate...

If you look on satellite view, it's not ambiguous; there's one huge structure. The back is an add-on from the original house, which is probably 100 years old, but it's all connected. There is a small house northeast of the main house that faces north onto Gulcana; maybe that's part of the same parcel as what's pictured on this post as "Malsin Cottage," and maybe that's what Miller rented. Maybe. But even so, especially if it sleeps five or six people, it's worth more than a $100 a night in June. $100 that Miller can't remember paying.

On the county property tax map, the house on Gulcana is a separate parcel, owned by somebody else. Forget that theory. I don't see two buildings owned by Malsin.

Hi Jack,

You win; I shouldn't have used the word "structure." However, Malsin calls one part the "main house" and the other the "guest house." That's according to a public record.


Beth Slovic
The Oregonian

Someone should check with the City of Cannon Beach to see if (and what) is registered as a vacation rental? The City requies registration of vacation rentals.

I'd love to see the floor plan. It's hard to believe that the guests have to go outside to get to the kitchen.

I have to believe there's a second unit there--nobody would ever expect to get away with calling the structure pictured above 450 sq feet. Perhaps it is a housing unit above a garage or something?

It's probably an addition with a seperate entrance. A way of squeezing a second unit onto a lot that is supposed to have one unit. Something that Pdx planners love to do as well.

We're getting bogged down in details that are really beside the point.

Not really. If Miller was confined to 450 square feet, the size of the gift wasn't anywhere near as substantial as it would be if he had the run of that big beach house.

Portland Corruption is an insidious snake. It can be in a form like this beach house.

Or it can be like the situation at a meeting with Developers Mark Edlen and Homer Williams with CoP/PDC regarding SoWhat and the John Ross skyscraper. Mark promised a bunch of LEED energy components, making the surroundings GREEN. The staffs representing CoP/PDC complemented Mark/Homer and said that is why we enter into Public/Private Partnerships (without any public bidding) with developers that agree with Portland's agenda, how we want to develop the city.

Just do the Talk and you are on Portland's Goodwill Tour and considered The Favored One. Exchange of money can be diluted in many ways so that Ethic Committees can look the other way.

Well Jack, that raises a second question, of course, which is whether or not the 450 sq feet was where he stayed, or if it was a "you can stay in the cottage but feel free to use the main kitchen, media room, deck, etc." kind of deal.

Sheesh, at this point the easiest thing will be for Miller to say "hey, you know what, this looks bad, so I'll just go ahead and pay another $150 per night" to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

For me, it's not the money, but the fact that he knows the developer well enough to get in on this kind of deal.

I'd like to see somebody investigate which other government officials have stayed there.

I hope you have some free time, Jack. The O has already moved on to other stories and the other news outlets havent even touched this subject.

Maybe he actually stayed in a tent in the yard?
Did you try that one Miller?

Tom Miller's enjoying himself while he can; the city rumors are that (a)he's laughably incompetent, and (b)he's out the door with a change in administration.

I think Miller sees the writing on the wall. He's entirely out of his depth, and knows it.

The blatant cronyism exhibited by Miller's appointment as head of PBOT might be one reason that Adams saw polling that indicated he was toast. Maybe we should thank him. He'll be sweeping out skate parks a year and a half from now.

Mapquest has better defined topview. There does appear to be a sliver of space between the two buildings, but also a very cozy deck or porch common space. If you can get either of those beach properties for $100 a night out West in June that's where I'm taking my next vacation.

Newleaf, thanks for that excellent clarification.

"The blatant cronyism exhibited by Miller's appointment as head of PBOT might be one reason that Adams saw polling that indicated he was toast."

Cronyism that was illegal in Portland under the City Charter until Saltzman convinced city voters to give Commissioners the authority to hire anyone they wanted for these jobs. I wonder if he feels even a little bit of shame for this. By this one act Saltzman did more damage to the City than anyone other elected I know. OK Randy is worse.

If configured as you all have researched , it appears to be a fire-trap. If the second exit from each building is into a narrow passage it may be less-than-code....
Gotta wonder if he got permits to build [overbuild] in that fashion?

I rented a little place in pacific city (basically a little shack) probably not much bigger than 475 sqft, and paid around $125 a night, which was a great deal. And this was 3 years ago in the winter off season.

I would guess that the market rate for that place would be at least $300/night.

It's not *that* horribly underpriced--we got a full house (3 br, so way more than 450 sq feet) in Manzanita last year, last house on the road (so there was nothing between us and the beach except a small dune), and it was 225/night. So I'd say something around $175-$200/night would be market. As I said before, though, the money is not the problem as I see it-- the problem is that developers are just loaning out their houses to the heads of city departments.

There are in fact two separate houses on the property with different keys and alarms. Access to one does not mean access to the other. The guest cabin that Tom and his family stayed in is built above a garage. It is a tiny house with a sleeping loft built over the kitchen and bathroom - 450 SF or so - that can sleep 6 at the most (couch included), unless of course people are willing to sleep on the floor. We donated the house to a charity auction on several occasions...not sure if that means we should have registered the house with the local authorities or not, but I'm certain someone is willing to look into that for us.

Anyways, I thought I would clarify that they are in fact two separate structures connected by a common deck. No one has access to the main house unless visiting with Brad and Liz when they are around...no guests are allowed to stay in the main house.


Did other PDC and CoP employees get the "friends and family" rate?

Do you still believe that renting to those who have the power to forgive (or lobby those in power to forgive) half million dollar loans doesn't raise any moral/legal concerns?


So how was the payment handled? Cash, check or card of some sort? There should be a record somewhere. Maybe I missed this part of the discussion.

Gee Whiz! Maybe I'll give Brad a cal and see if he will rent his "cottage" to me for a hundred bucks a night.
I feel slighted.

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