Lents Park & stadium: Outrageous travesty of public process

Chris Lowe

Update/Correction – The date of the vote has been moved back one week to June 25. Thanks to Tony Fuentes (see comment below). This information was on the Friends of Lents Park website at 7:51 last night, more info there on the change, so I apologize for my error in posting outdated information (the agenda was not yet on the PDC webpage as of when I opened it but I am not sure when that was). The schedule for this evening remains the same including the rally. While having another week certainly is better and a victory for community demand for a voice, it still is rushed, still 3 weeks before the regular meeting, and still driven by the stadium deal timeline rather than full public deliberation and input.

At long last the City of Portland has unveiled some specifics of costs of proposals for a AAA baseball stadium to be built in Lents Park.

The City did this suddenly, posting a slew of documents on the PDC website Monday and calling a previously unscheduled meeting of the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee (URAC) for today, Thursday, June 18 to vote immediately on recommending one of several proposed alternatives or a modification to City Council, without any second reading opportunity for public comment on their proposal.

This timing is an attempted railroad, plain and simple. Neighborhood residents have had less than a week to even become aware of the documents, much less analyze or discuss them and deliberate on their implications. URAC members from several affected neighborhoods will have no opportunity to consult with their constituencies.

A fig leaf of public process is provided by PDC offering an "Open House" from 4-6 p.m. Thursday at the Mt. Scott Community Center (5530 SE 72nd Avenue, i.e. SE 72nd & Harold). Most working people who work conventional hours will not be able to attend this "Open House." It will be followed immediately by a meeting from 6-9 p.m. at which the URAC will be asked to vote on one of 8 options offered by PDC staff or another of their own devising.

Mitigating features of the situation are that the options PDC staff has offered the URAC for its consideration include rejecting the entire proposal outright, rejecting the use of Urban Renewal tax increment funds (TIF) without rejecting the stadium per se, or tabling a decision for later. Also suggested by staff are some possible restrictions to limit the recommendations. The fact remains that this is a rotten process being pushed through against the public interest.

Friends of Lents Park has called on people to protest at 5 p.m. at the Community Center to oppose a railroaded decision – to go to the Open House earlier if they are able, and to attend the meeting afterwards. Read at that link for their well-reasoned and important critique of lack of transparency and an undemocratic travesty of public process. (Continued after the jump.)

A myriad of "scenarios"

Most of the options on offer (downloads small pdf) would divert tax increment funding (TIF) urban renewal moneys for the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Area that are already planned, and in some cases preliminarily budgeted, for other development purposes, to the new stadium. Most of them would cut the 30% affordable housing set-aside recently adopted as city policy either entirely, or in half. All of the options except one would massively reduce the one large green space in this low income neighborhood, while dramatically increasing parking areas in the vicinity to meet AAA baseball requirements, departing from ostensible city commitments to sustainable development. Both of these departures from stated policies have the potential to set precedents for other city neighborhoods, so this decision and the abusive process involved are matters of citywide concern as well as obvious importance to Lents and other URAC area residents.

A separate document (another small pdf) must be examined to compare the stadium scenarios to the baseline of current plans.

Lack of information and bad process

Lack of information has beset public debate over the proposal. Pro-stadium leaders of the Lents Neighborhood Association, led by Chair Damien Chakwin, have resisted calls from opponents within the deeply divided community, many of them associated with Friends of Lents Park, for a Neighborhood Association vote on the stadium proposal, on the grounds that there hasn't been enough specifically known about what the proposal actually is. Chakwin reiterated that point on a call in program on KBOO last Thursday morning.

However, Friends of Lents Park reports on their website that LNA Chair Chakwin agrees with them in calling for no decision to be taken on Thursday night, but rather that enough time given for neighborhood residents to work through the complex information, talk it over, and reach better informed decisions.

Similarly, a panel discussion those who attended the Multnomah County DP monthly meeting last week for its panel discussion of the stadium(s) deals and Lents Park and Lents urban renewal money will know that its most striking feature was lack of specific information. The nice, brave woman from the Lents Neighborhood Association who was representing the pro-stadium position alone, because someone else had dropped out, kept saying over and over again that nobody really knew what was being proposed, but that she supported it because Lents needed something, anything, to kick-start stronger economic development.

In opposition, Lenny Dee's remarks focused on the lack of coherence in Portland's planning process, which the current proposals exemplify in spades, threatening to undo years, even decades of work and violating planning principles and goals established through long advocacy and deliberation with breathtaking unconcern. Steve Novick raised general concerns about opportunity costs for the public moneys to be spent, both in Lents and at Civic Stadium (aka PGE Park), about green space loss & parking, about the quality and pay of jobs projected to be created by a stadium, and about the questionable likelihood of visitors to the stadium boosting other local businesses. But none of the panelists could really answer specific questions.

One interesting point that was brought out at the MCDP meeting, by URAC member John Mulvey, now confirmed by the PDC documents, is that the actual public $ costs of the "$42 million" options will in fact be much higher. The TIF money for five years is front-loaded to be spent in the first two years, which requires large borrowing and expensive debt servicing (and presumably greater risks if the putative economic advantages of the stadium don't pan out in increased tax revenues). The extra expense extends the opportunity costs and restriction of other projects into out-years.

After struggling in this information vacuum, now, suddenly, Lents residents, the URAC and other interested parties are confronted with multiple documents giving permutations of financial and development project consequences of eight different scenarios, written up in dry bureaucratese and presented in complex matrices. They were given essentially 100 hours (assuming no sleep) to make sense of them.

The documents themselves are interesting -- they convey an impression that PDC staffers may not be happy with the process at hand, which after all has the potential to undo years of work on their part along with the URAC and concerned residents. Thus the cover letter announcing the meeting notes the early date of the meeting is "a result of the timeline imposed by the MLS/AAA agreement" – i.e. the special interests that will benefit if the deal goes through. And the staff has gone to considerable lengths to suggest possible conditions the URAC could impose on its approval of any given scenario other than those involving rejection of use of TIF funds or delaying the recommendation.

Substance

Likewise the summary of the staff's "Impact Narrative" reads:

Providing $42.3M in TIF for the AAA Baseball stadium in LTC URA would reduce the financial capacity to fund projects which were identified as priorities for the community by the URAC during the 2009-10 budget process. Providing [$]27.3M would also have an impact but not as severe. Both cases of funding the stadium would also reduce the overall resources available to the district due to the early utilization of large amount of TIF and the required debt services and fees. Additionally, under each scenario, the stadium financing would consume enough financial capacity (maximum indebtedness) that potential projects beyond the five year forecast (post 2013-14) would also be reduced. Effectively, this could alter URAC's ability to accomplish all of the goals established in the 1998 URA Plan and reiterated in the 2008 Plan Amendment.

(My emphasis.)

The Coalition for a Livable Future makes the following preliminary analysis about what substantively is at stake in the decisions the City is attempting to rush the URAC to make, based on the PDC documents:

Projects that might be cut from the Lents Town center Urban Renewal budget in the next two years if the stadium proposal is adopted [could vary according to "scenario" adopted]:

Town Center Redevelopment $6.4 million
Streets and Sidewalks $1.0 million
Transportation Improvements $4.6 million
Community Livability Grants $ 500,000
Business Finance $1.6 million
Community Economic Development $ 500,000
Rental Housing $2.5 million
Senior / Disabled Home Repairs $ 300,000
Homebuyer Assistance $1.1 million

(Total $18.4 million)

In addition, as the CLF points out, there is a huge paradox in cutting the affordable housing set-aside. Already the advent of the MAX line scheduled to open in September may spur economic development leading to rising housing prices.

If the stadium really has the economic boosting effect its proponents proclaim, housing prices may skyrocket, creating the greatest need for the affordable housing set-aside to prevent displacement of the current population. This risk is reduced only if the stadium is an economic flop.

As the CLF puts it, the goal is, or should be, "urban renewal, not urban removal."

Likewise, as CLF says "We need better priorities in tough economic times: Whether or not you support a baseball stadium, taking the funds slated for housing and foreclosure prevention away from families, seniors and people with disabilities does not make sense."

Beyond these strictly economic points, there are issues around livability and sustainable development raised by the loss of Lents Park as it exists. Parks are not just empty spaces. They goods in themselves that improve the quality of life, as Portlanders have repeatedly recognized in voting support for the Parks Bureau over recent years and decades. Likewise the anticipated expansion of auto traffic, both in the neighborhood and on I-205, and the expansion of paved surfaces, has potentially deleterious effects on air, water and noise pollution and public health both through pollutants and increased stress.

In sum: To rush decisions with such huge implications to the local community, and to the city at large in the integrity of its policy making process and the precedents set, for the convenience of wealthy sports business interests is grotesque and unacceptable.

If you live in the Portland area, come out to the Mt. Scott Community Center Thursday evening if you can to support Lents and other URAC area residents in demanding proper public process that doesn't privilege the convenience of the privileged over the public good.

Also, direct you concerns about the stadium proposal to:

Mayor Sam Adams (503) 823-4120 [email protected]

Commissioner Dan Saltzman (503) 823-3036 [email protected]

Commissioner Randy Leonard (503) 823-4682 [email protected]


Comments

  • jamie (unverified)
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    This is a prime example of the cockroaches that free money attracts. Portland is full of these cockroaches and their enablers.

  • J Grants (unverified)
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    It's sad how many irresponsible spenders are seated in positions of power.

  • Tony Fuentes (unverified)
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    The agenda that is now posted on the PDC site implies that no vote will be taken tonight. Instead it will be moved to 6/25:

    Meeting Agenda

    Also it is important to note that slew of possible funding scenarios now include options which will transfer $15 million from a new Central City URA to the project.

    When the City Council accepted the Task Force Report on March 11, that acceptance included a a very clear amendment proposed by Commissioner Saltzman.

    Commissioner Saltzman's amendment removed funding from a new urban renewal district from the table. The amendment was agree to all five members of the council.

    In light of this, I don't see how presenting budget scenarios to the Lents URA Advisory Committee that include Central City URA can be viewed as legitimate.

    Beyond the legal question, if the Lents URA Advisory Committee adopts a scenario that uses Central City URA funding, they are no longer only playing with their money. They are also determining the use of another URA's funding (the same can be said for options that pass the onus of affordable housing funding to another URA).

    Ultimately, the Lents URA Advisory Committee is being placed in a very tough position. A bad deal was negotiated and now these volunteers are being put in the hot seat to make the final decision - or maybe "finaler" decision.

    If I were them, I would punt this hot potato back into the Council's lap and take no action.

  • Anon (unverified)
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    But I like to drink beer and go to soccer games! How dare you raise objections that might inhibit my ability to do so!

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    There has not been a positive article, editorial, letter to the editor about the Lents stadium in weeks. It is pretty clear that the community in Lents and the broader community does not support the stadium there. The only question is when does Leonard throw in the towel. Does he wait for Saltzman to say no or join in admitting it is a bad idea.

  • muhabbet (unverified)
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    thank you

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    I resent the implication that this is an aberration in good government. I think you could have called it, "Business as Usual in Portland, Oregon".

    Maybe you should have attended the "town hall meeting" at Portland State about the tram. That's when I first saw the light - I mean dark.
    
    Each politician actually entered the room escorted by a dog and pony.
    
  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Make that "an aberration from good government"

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    As I see it:

    You shove Chavez Blvd. down our throats, we'll shove the Lents stadium down your throats.

    The only way I see the Lents Stadium not being built is having the Chavez Blvd. proposal taken off the board.

    How does it feel, Chavez people?

    Seems fair to me.

  • (Show?)

    Cesar Chavez Jr. street renaming has nothing, nothing, nothing to do with a baseball field. The group helping with the name change has followed all the rules in getting a legal street name change. Honoring a civil rights leader does equate to an overpriced baseball field.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    "Cesar Chavez Jr. street renaming has nothing, nothing, nothing to do with a baseball field"

    Acutally it does when you consider that both ideas are being shoved down our throats in the face of negative neighbourhood opposition and glaring facts that would tell those people supporting them not to proceed. They are being forced onto us because someone in power said "This is a good idea" and they are going to make it happen come hell, high water, or common sense.

  • Richard (unverified)
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    Hey BlueOregon, you're losing your touch.

    Shouldn't you be figuring out some way to blame Republicans for the "Business as Usual in Portland, Oregon". Bill, like many other local progressives, has it figured out.

    But BO doesn't sway from the path of Portland correctness.

    There are many examples of worse goverment than this Lents matter reveals in Portland. BO has been either AWOL or supportive for all of them.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    "To rush decisions with such huge implications to the local community, and to the city at large in the integrity of its policy making process and the precedents set,....is grotesque and unacceptable."

    Shouldn't we tell that to the Chavez Blvd. people too? Isn't that what they are doing to us too?

    Talk about hypocritical...

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    Again, Eric, Chavez has nothing to do with baseball in this thread. If you have something to say about it, choose a Chavez thread.

  • Nick Christensen (unverified)
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    Eric -

    As a steering committee member of Friends of Lents Park, I'm offended that you're equating these two projects. People in Lents are too busy working to have time to push the city council to rename a street.

    If you're following a stereotype — Lents is Hispanic, therefore Lents is pushing the 39th renaming — shame on you.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Karol, while I share your ire with Eric, he's drawing a parallel. Yes, to dance out his favorite little pony again... but you allow others to mix and match parallelograms in other threads. Why not this one?

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    Chris,

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. Readers may also want to check out Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz's letter to Willie Week in which she succinctly delineates some of the most troubling aspects of the Lents proposal.

    http://blogs.wweek.com/news/2009/06/11/fritzs-take-on-the-great-baseball-debate/

    Among her observations is this: The construction of the Lents stadium will be done by the builder selected by Merrit Paulsen with no input from City or community. We have no say in who builds it or what it looks like, nor are there any options for a competitive bidding process.

    Further research reveals the Lents numbers to be out of whack. According to the Confluence Research Group (PDF: Minor League Baseball Stadium Construction: A Primer on the Key Issues and Considerations), the average price of a 6000 seat stadium should be under $20 million, particularly if it is located in a non-downtown venue, where property is less expensive.

    A recent real-world comparison is the new Reno Aces Stadium. The 10,000 seat stadium is an outfielder's lob east of downtown Reno and actual stadium costs were around $40 million.

    In this same report, suburban vs. downtown stadium location advantages are compared. The 2 "pros" cited for the suburban model - lower cost and ample parking - are clearly not available in the Lents model.

    Perhaps the most distressing part of the entire escapade (setting aside the dollars that will be ripped away from Urban development funds, and ultimately all Multnomah County residents), is that the broad community has been pistol-whipped into a no-win situation by an sports franchise owner that wants it his way and his way only.

    Paulsen has publicly stated that if a stadium deal falls through, the Beavers days in Portland could be numbered. As much as I personally love baseball, this multi-team, multi-neighborhood manipulation of Portlanders is beyond the pale.

  • Nick Sauvie (unverified)
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    Exerpt from a letter to Mayor Adams from ROSE Community Development, a nonprofit neighborhood revitalization organization that has served outer southeast Portland neighborhoods since 1992:

    The Board of Directors of ROSE Community Development voted to oppose the proposal to use Lents Town Center urban renewal funds to construct a minor league baseball stadium in Lents Park. We believe that there are more productive ways to spend Lents urban renewal funds. Even more so, we believe that it is immoral to spend a quarter of the total of Lents funds available over the next ten years on professional sports at a time of national economic crisis.

    In our work every day, ROSE has a front row seat where we see the devastating effects of this crisis at a very personal level. The long waiting list for our affordable apartments. People who have lost their jobs and fallen out of the middle class. Renters who’ve been displaced because the of their landlords’ foreclosures – even though they’ve been paying the rent each month. Homebuyers who need Portland Development Commission financing because banks won’t lend...

    We oppose any attempts to weaken the affordable housing set-aside, which was adopted unanimously only three years ago by both City Council and the PDC Commission.

    The reasons that policy is necessary are the same today as they were then. Urban renewal is about revitalization and increasing property values. It is unjust to displace long-time residents through urban renewal. Tossing aside the set-aside will have real impact on homebuyers who won’t get mortgages, seniors who won’t get home repairs, renters who won’t see their slum properties repaired and children who walk past those dumps every day on their way to school.

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    K.C. & Nick, Thanks for the added substance.

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    Bill,

    I don't think that I've made the implication you impute to me. The only characterization of general governance in the city in the piece is my paraphrase of Lenny Dee of Onward Oregon which are critical of the general practices albeit in a less pointed way than your comments.

    Rather I am a) comparing what has been happening very recently relating to Lents to basic standards of good governance, and b) noting that if this kind of process is allowed to succeed it will undo the hard work of people who have struggled in recent years to create equitable, sustainable development standards. Being recent, those standards are not yet established in city or civic practice or culture. This episode illustrates how vulnerable they are (along with early episodes in the whole sad saga of the stadium(s) deal).

    A key condition of equitability in such standards be predictable and applied even-handedly to different communities.

    I'd certainly agree that this is "business as far too often" at least, if not not business as usual, and that there are comparable elements in the structure of the situation to the tram debacle, in terms of city hall relations to wealthy and powerful interests (disclosure: I am a graduate student at OHSU, but as a scholar for over 25 years I am critic of the kind of corporatization of universities that has shaped OHSU among many others since the 1980s). Since I wasn't at the meeting you mention or otherwise involved in the local process, I'll take your word for the comparability.

    But, IMO, if we want to change this sort of "business as all too often" or as usual, we need to defeat this wrong-headed use of public resources. And we still have a chance to do that in a way that is not just a battle between insider development interests and others more on the outs at the moment, but actually works to establish consistent standards and practices based on equity and sustainability more firmly in our civic life and culture.

    To do that, we have to understand and conduct the struggle in those terms, IMO. Episodic opposition just reflects the same incoherence that produces lurching opportunistic embrace of bad big ideas because they're big, and the attendant tendencies to inequity on the broad scale and favoritism on the narrow one.

    So I won't apologize for trying to invoke and articulate and advocate for consistent good standards in criticizing inequitable bad process.

  • Dianne Riley (unverified)
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    For those of you who have not experienced it, and for those who have, but take it for granted, I want to tell (or remind) you how amazing and wonderful it is to work in coalition and/or collaboration with other folks for equitable and democratic purposes. Chris Lowe is doing an amazing job sharing the news on the Lents-Stadium proposal and because it is such a dynamic issue that role is a critical one. I also want to say that Coalition for a Livable Future relies heavily on our member organizations to provide us with insight and guidance. Key players who contributed to the information attributed to CLF include ROSE CDC, Oregon Opportunity Network, Urban Greenspaces Institute, and Community Alliance of Tenants. We are able to develop a regional big-picture approach because of our member organizations stellar work "on-the-ground". I thank them and hope you will, too. GO TEAM!

  • (Show?)

    At last, a legitimate reason to recall Mayor Adams! Where do I sign?

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    rw, Eric isn't drawing a parallel. There is no parrallel. He's making a comparison, which is like the comparison between an elephant and an ant -- yes, they both have legs and anatomical features that stick out of their heads -- and trying to pretend it's a parallel.

    The key thing that is missing is the sense of proportion. K.C. and Nick have both added to what I had to say about the scale of what is at stake in the Lents decision, and even combined we haven't reached the full picture. None of us has adequately addressed the destruction of the park. No one as far as I know has really looked at the traffic and community public health implications of the stadium that I touched on briefly. The points Steve Novick raised that I mentioned could be gone into in much more detail. The opportunity costs in terms of what sustainable affordable housing preservation and creation mean in terms of community jobs and people retaining control over their lives and community will extend beyond the immediate (2-3 year) crisis of which Nick / ROSE Community Development wrote so eloquently.

    So there is no parallel in the scale of implications for the community.

    Likewise with the citywide stakes for coherent, systemically thought out planning and criteria for planning. What is at stake is the city's commitment to equity in economic development as embodied in affordable housing and limiting displacement of people, and whether there is any content at all to its commitment to sustainable development.

    There is no parallel in debate over renaming 39th Avenue at all in terms of the stakes for the community. And even the very bad process issues of last year's naming controversy did not related to policies as fundamental to the city's future as equity and sustainability in development.

    Eric, I completely deny hypocrisy in this matter. As I have just laid out, what I wrote about the size of the stakes in Lents just has no parallel in renaming a street.

    Moveover, I live on 39th Avenue and support the change to name it for Cesar Chavez. I would be proud to live on a street named for a great civil rights leader, a great Mexican-American community leader and a great labor leader. Also I agree with Sean Cruz that he could be honored with naming a park, or the new pedestrian/ bike/ transit bridge, or other prominent public site. But I am a member of the community directly affected by the proposed change and support it. No hypocrisy.

  • Terry Parker (unverified)
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    This is typical of the entire public process in Portland - Assemble a stacked deck citizens committee of the usual subjects of yes people and then go foward. The Mayor calls this transparency.

  • Jay (unverified)
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    I's still waiting for the legions of architects and planners massing to protest the demolition of Lents Park...

    Of course, I forgot -- this is Lents. Not our Portland "skyline."

    By the way, many architects at the time the Memorial Coliseum was built called it mediocre and unremarkable.

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    RW: I don't want to control comparisions, if the comparisions are apples to apples. An example would be to compare a Lents Stadium to a Convention Center Hotel. I'm always open to debating and bringing in other examples. I think Eric just doesn't like a street renaming and he's using this post to make example of it.

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Sorry, the comparison option is wide open.

    You want a comparison of Lents to the Convention Hotel? How about a comparison of the general process in Portland to Dick Cheney's approach to Iraq?

    When the studies of the Convention Hotel proposal come back with different conclusions than the Mayor wants, he just orders a new study. Then he makes some BS statement about looking at the project with "fresh eyes."
    
      That's right out of the Cheney playbook although he personally went to the Pentagon and pressured them for the conclusions he wanted. But it's not that different.
    
      Maybe that's what we're missing with the Lents plan. We need to look at it with fresh eyes.
    
      Oh wait, it still looks ridiculous.
    
  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)
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    The moment Paulson starting making blackmail-type noises about "my way or I take the Beavers away" the city should have booted this project, and Paulson's ass, out the door.

    Moreover, I wasn't aware that the city/citizens would have no input on the design of the stadium---which is beyond ridiculous. Thanks for the info, Kari....another reason to oppose this boondoggle.

  • Eric Parker (unverified)
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    Let me be blunt here - I do not like having things shoved down my throat because someone with money and power is going ahead with it (because they feel its' "a great idea") despite common sense telling them otherwise.

    Leave 39th and Lents park as they are and leave us all alone.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Chris Lowe, thanks for a fantastic write up regarding this potential travesty. Actually, the Lents folks can (and should IMNSHO) settle everything this evening. To borrow a line from Nanacy Reagan. "Just Say No".

    The one canard here is that Paulson's boys, Adams and Leonard have succeeded in getting the discussion focused on; "Is the AAA stadium a good fit in Lents?". the discussion still should be, "Why in the Hell is Portland even considering use of public funds to build a new AAA stadium and refurbish a perfectly good existing stadium?"

    I just hope and pray that this folly will not end up spilling out and affecting the rest of Oregon.

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    Amen to your second paragraph, Kurt.

    As to your first, now there will be no vote tonight, it will be next Thursday June 25. If the URAC does vote no, the Council can still override them, since they are an advisory committee, but Saltzman has said that he won't support it if there's sufficient public opposition. So a URAC no vote, or even a punt as Tony Fuentes suggests way up top if combined with other forms of opposition, might bring that into play.

    According to my best information, which I guess to be safe I would count as third hand by the time it reaches me, as of last week there were a number of solid opposition votes, a number of solid pro-stadium votes and a somewhat larger group of undecideds on the URAC.

    While there are other issues to be raised in relation to other steps necessary to get to actually building a stadium that could stop it later if the URAC makes some kind of build recommendation, I would really like to see this attempt to hijack urban renewal funds fail or at least not be supported in the urban renewal advisory process, for building a stronger culture of community consultation and also in terms of defending the affordable housing set-aside.

  • Mike Miller (unverified)
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    Bottom line: the City of Portland has no business financing or underwriting the proposed "improvements" to PGE Park so that Merritt Paulson can bring a soccer team to town. That's the domino that started the talk about the "need" to build a new minor league baseball park in Lents (or elsewhere). There is no community need for either effort, especially in these economic times. Let's hope Commissioner Saltzman has the guts to vote against the Lents ballpark.

    If Paulson wants to bring a soccer team to Portland, he needs to a) persuade Major League Soccer to allow him to host games in a reconfigured multi-sport PGE Park; b) reconfigure the stadium in such a way that PCL games can continue to be hosted at the PGE site; and c) pay for the improvements himself.

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    Ugh, no soccer. Word on the street is that there will be a resolution introduced next Wednesday that will "reaffirm Portland's committment to soccer," or some such business. Can we please not give someone who is already wealthy Portland tax money?

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    From your keyboard to Dan S' ear, Mike.

  • Kurt Chapman (unverified)
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    Watch out Chris, the brain trust behind this public money rip-off has just changed course and de-coupled the soccer deal from the AAA stadium. According to the Oregonian:

    http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2009/06/portland_will_pursue_soccer_re.html

    They will now go ahead anyway with renovations (I assume taking that URA money) and make PGE soccer/football only. Then there will be an emergency next fall and they will find a need to scramble for a new AAA stadium.

  • PJB (unverified)
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    Leonard and Adams, and the spineless Saltzman, should all lose their jobs for this fiasco. Bojack.org has been doing Yeoman's work on this issue, and the audacity of these idiots is truly ridiculous.

    Hey Randy, despite what you think, this isn't a monument to yourself, and I doubt that you'll get any special privileges from Little Lord Paulson once it is completed.

  • PJB (unverified)
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    Let's hope Commissioner Saltzman has the guts to vote against the Lents ballpark.

    Come on, you're talking about Saltzman here. Of course he is going to go along with the pack after hemming and hawing. This man is NOT a leader.

  • marv (unverified)
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    Presumably the residents of this neighborhood can sell their homes and move. Then, the neighborhood can be bulldozed and returned to open space.

    The most important thing is that Hank Paulson's son is given what he wants. Randy Leonard can not be expected to retire on his pers salary alone. Love those off shore accounts. Baseball games go past midnight. Thanks Randy.

  • Pedro (unverified)
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    I like soccer and I like baseball. They both belong at Civic Stadium.

    It seems to me that this entire mess is because we have accepted the demand of MLS Soccer for a soccer only stadium. It's time to call MLS/Paulson's bluff and insist that Civic Stadium be renovated for both sports. Let MLS take their precious team to a market with half the support as Portland if they don't like it.

  • Seo-Mio (unverified)
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    I'd like to see a Leonard and Adams, and the spineless Saltzman 3-some.

  • Seo-Mio (unverified)
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    Keep Portland Weird !!!

  • Douglas K. (unverified)
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    I agree -- call the bluff. Offer to turn PGE Park into an improved multi-sport venue. Thus far, defenders of the "soccer only" stadium proposal haven't demonstrated any insurmountable (or even particularly challenging) obstacles to putting both sports there. MLS needs access to Portland's market a hell of a lot more than Portland needs an MLS team. The City owns the stadium that MLS needs and controls access to the market MLS wants. Portland is in the power position, and should be setting the terms here.

    If Paulson wants a place for his team to play, let him build it himself, or work out a way to share a stadium with HIS soccer team, or take his baseball team elsewhere. Based on the attendance, the Beavers have the support of maybe two or three percent of the population. They aren't exactly a wildly popular attraction in these parts.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    Um, you people need to realize how the game is played. Sam or Randy (or Vera for that matter) does a little kabuki (says he's gay, hates the JTTF, issues the weekly no war in Iraq resolution) and then we can help the follwoing people:

    • Paulson (QED) and PFE before him not 10 years ago
    • Williams/Edlen (you want 300 ft tall condos on the river bank and tax breaks - OK)
    • Hank Ashforth (we really need a CC hotel)
    • Walsh Construction (official propper-up of the Portland dream)

    Meanwhile, schoold are still lousy, Randy gives himself a 35 raise when 12%+ of Oregon is unemployed, raises water rates 18% and lets Sellwood bridge fall apart.

    Portland - The city that works.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Ms Mel Harmon:

    The moment Paulson starting making blackmail-type noises about "my way or I take the Beavers away"...

    Bob T:

    It's only "blackmail" to those who actually think that a sports team is as necessary for an urban area as a water system or a court system. It's all about ego on the part of team owners and the politicans.

    Ms Mel Harmon:

    ...the city should have booted this project, and Paulson's ass, out the door.

    Bob T:

    But what would "the city" (if you mean Adams, Leonard and Saltzman) do that when they they want this as well? In fact, you can find that out in other cities whenever a team owner decides to relocate (and means it), the politicians make the first move to keep him in town. They want to brag about having a team, too, and want to have such a project as proof that they are "governing" and bringing "jobs" and stuff.

    Remember, they have the power, not Paulson. Paulson can't get a dime from us unless the three crooks on the city council do it for him.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Chris Lowe, I appreciated your response to my first comment. Thanks for taking the time. Way to follow up defending your post. ---Bill McDonald

  • rw (unverified)
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    Karol - yah, I agree. He's doing the one-trick pony thingie. Transparently. But there are times when a desire to squelch a particular poster who is spinning out a more-ethereal conceptual parallel will be couched in terms of "stick to the point" (specifically, speak to MY points only or shut the hell up). :)...

    I was such a supporter of Adams. At this point the guy is a big embarrassment on so many levels. He is NOT what we need. He only broke thru on the tail wind of the Something Different of Obama, I am beginning to believe. And seems to lack the ethos I was expecting. I am so disappointed. I usually kind of resist the scintilating sibilance that erupts in the media when there is Ssssssscandallllllll.... but I'm mighty tired of this man's misfires already. Times are too serious, and somehow I feel like he pulled a reverse-Jimmy on us. Remember when the racists thought they'd bought and paid for the right stuff, and then Carter socked it to them in the acceptance speech? One of my fave moments. Well, as someone who daily drives by the ever changing cascades of homeless sleeping on damp cardboards and leaking tents, I cannot say strongly enough how incoherent and basically out of touch I have found him to be thus far.

    I'm officially over the stocky gay guy in the hipster horn rims.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Will they zone it for homeless refuge too, as hundreds continue to lose homes and jobs? Just askin'.... while we're dicing and slicing the use thingie.

    Jeebus golly.

  • (Show?)

    You're welcome, Bill. Glad you appreciated it, your comment sounded like there was something a little more complicated than cynicism behind it. It's something I struggle with, & when I get a chance to write it out based on a prompt sometimes I take it. What Dianne says about coalition work has been true for me in the last couple of years -- I've been meeting and working with enough good people trying to make things work better that it has been easier to keep up my own motivation and to feel like trying to do my bit if I can figure out what it is. And it makes me want to try to defend the efforts those folks have made and strengthen them.

  • (Show?)

    Kurt, That's very interesting. I just came back from the Lents meeting, will try to report a bit tomorrow. From what the PDC guys were saying in answer to URAC questions relating to whether Lents UR funds were in effect subsidizing past financial mistakes downtown, I don't think they can just take the Lents TC URA money & use it downtown. Both Paulson & Leonard were there early, Paulson said a few unsuccessfully mollifying words & left, his demeanor fit what you're reporting. Leonard spoke longer & while it could have been a last hurrah kind of thing he didn't seem to have given up yet. Also left pretty soon after though.

  • Bill McDonald (unverified)
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    Chris Lowe, My comment had a little something more complicated than cynicism behind it? It depends. I've admitted directing some of the anger I've felt at the Henry Paulson TARP plan towards this. I mean are we really dishing out more to his offspring at a time like this? Right after the taxpayers forked over billions to pay for other mistakes made on Wall Street? These are very rich people, and Henry Paulson was one of a few who helped blow up the economic universe running Goldman Sachs.

        I still want to know if these loans are connected to TARP or paying back Dad by rewarding the son. I know the Goldman Sachs connection was mentioned in reference to this soccer deal. And we've seen it before where a young George W was helped out financially because of ties to his father. I don't want Portland   associated with that sort of thing.
    
       Contrary to the spin that this project will help our image with the international language of soccer, I think it could very well taint our image with the international language of corruption.
    
       Now the uncomplicated part of my comment refers to the "public process" here in Portland. Your post called this Lents deal an "Outrageous Travesty" which implied there is the normal process that this deviated away from.
    
       I disagree with that implication. There's another name for today's process in Portland: We call it Friday. This is the everyday game plan from what I've seen. The public process aspects are theater. The tram meeting was a farce designed to pretend the powers that be were listening and taking the public's input.
    
      The public routinely tells these politicians where they can stick these projects, and then the council does what it wants anyway. And what it usually wants is to look out for the rich and powerful in Portland, Oregon. In this case it is even more galling because it's the rich and powerful son of a Bush official who helped bring America to the brink of economic ruin. Let's not do that here with his son's ridiculous scheme.
    
      My appreciation for your lengthy reply was based on the time you put into it, but it didn't change my opinion one bit.
    
  • rw (unverified)
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    I realize that I may be mixing apples and oranges when I keep bringing up social issues spending next to talk of stadiums and corporate boxes and sports teams. One is about trying to stir up revenue and gloss up PDX' profile as a ??? destination presence; the other is the suffering hordes. In my mind these are only nominally-different discussions, as I honestly feel that focusing his breathlessly excited energy on this inevitable boondoggle is misplacement of focus on the part of council and mayor. Destruction of shared natural spaces that stitch together the neighborhood no matter what the neighborhood says does not seem like a progressive or ethical endeavour to me. And to turn our minds to bread and circuses at such a time rather than real and serious business development planning... I just don't get it. The hubris of the hermetically sealed power bubble.

  • (Show?)

    Chris

    Thanks for the posting. From my perch, I see the whole package as a series of desperate attempts to salvage some sort of identifiable accomplishment out of the political turmoil since January.

    I regret that Lents has twice now been made the sacrificial lamb to attempts to build monuments to political hubris emanating out of City Hall.

    Oddly enough, even in the face of hubris, City Hall also lacks a political backbone. If we are going ahead with MLS and AAA baseball, the obvious location was downtown for both. Yet, the Rose Quarter proposal crumbled quickly in the face of a few protests from the city elites.

    What do we read into a City that supported a mayor with a 65% vote and now has turned so against him (I feel like sporting a "Don't Blame Me" sticker on my car)? What do we make of a County that regularly elected Bernie Giusto (and now he has been elected again!) to office given what seemed to be a clear history of sketchy dealings?

    I really can't puzzle out politics in this city, and I've mostly withdrawn, refocusing my energies and attention on the State and on the Feds. The City is just fodder for Bill McDonald's comic musings.

  • LT (unverified)
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    "few protests from the city elites"

    I live in Salem and did not want Memorial Coliseum demolished for a stadium, given not only the history of the building but also the history of stadium economics. Has the Rose Quarter met the financial expectations of when it was built?

    There are others who have lived in Portland long enough to remember why it is called MEMORIAL Coliseum.

    Paul, are you really saying such people are "city elites"?

  • robt (unverified)
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    It's still not clear to me why two teams can't share a stadium. Invest in upgrades to the existing stadium, if necessary. If seasons overlap, play on different days. Why is this so difficult?

  • Eric Cantona (unverified)
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    the "city elites" comment sounds like it was lifted from a Limbaugh or Hannity bug-eyed rant. i'm not an architect, and certainly not an "elite", but i believe in preservation and sustainability. there are far more of us in this city than you may realize.

    spot on with the Giusto comment. i am forever perplexed how he hung on to that position for so long. very bizarre.

  • (Show?)

    Karol, Paulson isn't getting a dime of taxpayer money; please stop saying otherwise. It's simply not true.

    The franchise award for MLS is conditional on a soccer specific stadium. There is no wiggle room--if we want the Timbers in Portland, either as MLS or the current USL, the Beavers cannot stay.

    And now it appears we're headed towards losing BOTH teams, with Randy pulling his Vote.

    So congrats, naysayers! You just cost the taxpayers $25mil or so, that now has to come from the general fund (unlike the Paulson proposal), because PGE Park will lose it's moneymaking tenants.

  • rw (unverified)
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    TJ: so it's bend over and take it like we give it Portlanders, or screw you we are leaving? Is that the juicy and wonderful deal we were asked to court? Gee... sounds like a real marriage made in heaven to ME.

  • (Show?)

    Explain to me how I should compare the $25 million you assert (hardly a done deal yet) to the $42 million plus much higher than normal debt servicing whose pain would have been concentrated on the community of Lents and the related urban renewal area, TJ?

  • (Show?)

    TJ,

    Your comment to Karol is only true in a "lemon socialism" sense: privatize the benefits, socialize the risks. The deal that now has fallen through would have created a new publicly owned baseball stadium on public land for what clearly would be a highly risky, marginal situation for the Beavers. The stadium's direct benefits were overwhelmingly reserved for one party: Peregrine, aka Merritt Paulson's company. If Peregrine flew the coop, the city would have been left with a second-rate AAA stadium with little prospect for alternative uses. The putative indirect benefits were speculative and matched by costs, some also speculative and some more certain, that most Lents residents thought outweighed the benefits, at least at the level of uncertainty involved.

    And this new quasi-privatized "public asset" would have been created, could only be created, by diverting urban renewal resources from a wide variety of other uses already planned or approved and widely valued in the community. Further that diversion would have required violating key principles of the city's ostensible development policy.

    Whether or not Merritt Paulson got public money in his pocket, the Lents Town Center URA would have lost for other real urban renewal uses $42 million dollars, plus extra debt servicing costs entailed by front loading 5 years of TIF borrowing into 2 years. It would have been taken for the benefit of Paulson. Further, it would have "developed" public land so that there was no direct property tax increment to be gained to pay for the tax increment financed bond.

    Those opportunity costs would go primarily to benefit Paulson's company, while limiting his exposure to a variety of risks. The combination opportunity costs in the redirection of public funds and costs saved to Peregrine/ Paulson would certainly have been a form of subsidy in the tens of millions of dollars. It's unreasonable to see or treat it as anything else.

    It would have had great value, or else Paulson would not have wanted it, nor made the various conditions he stated about the teams conditional upon it.

  • (Show?)

    Bill,

    For the sake of the argument, let's say that the process my title criticized is entirely business as usual in Portland.

    I still say it was outrageous and a travesty of public process. If it's business as usual, all that means is the characterization applies to business as usual in Portland.

    For me, to fight for something else means defining the right standards and seeking to have them applied. The Friends of Lents Park as organizers of people in the Lents community and their allies just succeeded in a small way in doing that, IMO. Their insistence on transparency and consultation derailed the railroad by getting the vote delayed a week, creating the space in which to show that the level of community support Paulson wanted, or the lack of opposition he wanted, wasn't there, by their active engagement with the slightly improved process they had caused by persuading the URAC to ask PDC to delay the vote.

    These fights are worth fighting.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Torridjoe:

    Karol, Paulson isn't getting a dime of taxpayer money; please stop saying otherwise. It's simply not true.

    Bob T:

    You're being dishonest again, Torrid.

    If Paulson knows that he's better off financially if he pays rent on a stadium built with taxpayer dollars instead of paying for a stadium with his own (and investor friends') money, then he knows that's as good as being given the money.

    If the city government used tax dollars to build a movie theater for someone who then leased it and then made a decent salary selling movie tickets, would you say that was okay because "he didn't get any tax dollars" directly?

    Torridjoe:

    And now it appears we're headed towards losing BOTH teams, with Randy pulling his Vote.

    Bob T:

    And Leonard and Adams made it worse by taking it this far in the first place.

    Torridjoe:

    So congrats, naysayers! You just cost the taxpayers $25mil or so, that now has to come from the general fund (unlike the Paulson proposal), because PGE Park will lose it's [its] moneymaking tenants.

    Bob T:

    Good reason why the earlier Katz-Sten deal shouldn't have been made. Every other city should have been saying "No" for the past six decades or so, and we'd have no concern over these matter now, no more than we're concerned about whether or not a new movie theater is coming to town (but I guess there are some people here who might actually think that without tax subsidies all these decades, major league sports would have disappeared. Yeah, you might actually believe that -- if you have no concept of basic economics).

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Chris Lowe:

    If Peregrine flew the coop, the city would have been left with a second-rate AAA stadium with little prospect for alternative uses.

    Bob T:

    Yup -- and the problem with that would be that the city government and like-minded partners (PDC etc) would then feel the "need" to sink money into finding a new use for it, using the same arguments they used to sell us the structure in the first place ("it'll bring jobs", and "civic pride", etc.)

    Isabel Paterson, in her 1943 book The God of the Machine pointed out that many government buildings turn into such rat holes because they generate nothing and get money thrown at them to justify their existence.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

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