Oregon Sustainability Center passes council vote- barely

Kyle Curtis Facebook

After a lengthy council meeting which saw testimony provided by City of Portland staffers, Portland State University administrators, community justice advocates, and private sector representatives, the Portland city council voted to partially fund the Oregon Sustainability Center on a 3-2 vote. Mayor Sam Adam joined Commissioners Randy Leonard and Dan Saltzman voted in favor of the Center, while Commissioners Fish and Fritz voted in opposition.

From the Daily Journal of Commerce:

Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish remain skeptical of the project’s financing plan. Fritz said that even though she supports the concept and many of her concerns have been dispelled, she still has concerns about the project’s funding mechanism. Fish also voted “no,” but with “some reluctance.”

Saltzman said that while there’s much to be excited about in the Oregon Sustainability Center, several factors make him nervous. To that end, Saltzman introduced two amendments that the councilors unanimously approved. One amendment states that the city will be unwilling to move forward with the project without a guaranteed maximum price for construction costs. The other states that no costs associated with the design or construction of the OSC will come from future urban renewal money.

So there you go, Portland. Thirty years from now we will be able to look back and see if the vote to construct the Oregon Sustainability Center was a prudent use of Portland tax payers money, or a $30 million boondoggle.

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    There are multiple problems with this building. Its cost is over $450/square foot; its tenants can not afford the market price of the rent; existing public buildings will be emptied to move functions to another higher cost facility; is building brand new truly more 'sustainable' than retrofitting and reusing existing space; etc. However I'm not a Portland citizen so thought it a Portland issue only.

    However, an article yesterday in the Oregonian states that Portland wants the state to bond up to $37 million in debt to help pay for this 'sustainable' building. Forget that this may double the actual cost to build. In a state that can not afford to complete the road projects promised when passing the recent fuel tax increase, bonding a Portland 'sustainable' building on the state credit card is certainly unsustainable.

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