Burnside, Prudent Streetcars at Planning Commission


Planning Commission took testimony for about 4 hours on the Burnside Couplet plan last night.

Proponents and opponents were relatively balanced (a few more opponents). As one Planning Commissioner noted, about half the opponents referenced Couch from 15th to 19th specifically, which indicates that the Cathedral and school were effective in mobilizing their constituents.

The Commissioners asked some pointed questions about costs and options, but no decision on a recommendation was reached, and it was left that the Commission would try to schedule a special meeting in order to arrive at a recommendation before City Council consideration on February 8th.

My favorite quote of the evening came from Commissioner Sam Adams (who presented the plan personally). When asked about the Streetcar component of the plan he said “It’s prudent to get these Streetcar plans into the hopper because it takes about a decade to get from concept to construction” (I’m quoting from memory, so that’s probably a paraphrase).

So let’s get some more of those Streetcar corridor ideas into the prudent hopper.

,

44 responses to “Burnside, Prudent Streetcars at Planning Commission”

  1. So let’s get some more of those Streetcar corridor ideas into the prudent hopper.

    Absolutely. I raised the Hawthorne Streetcar as worth exploring at our last SE Uplift Land Use & Transportation Committee meeting.

    City of Portland…you’re on notice!

  2. From the story in the Oregonian, it sounds like the first phase of this Streetcar line will turn around at NW 2nd. Too bad…it should cross the Burnside Bridge and go to NE 12th before turning around. I love the view of that bridge.
    The line up Sandy to Hollywood we can argue about later; both Burnside and Broadway offer excellent options to the east. Developable property and owners willing to do LIDs will decide. Take note Frank.

  3. the first phase of this Streetcar line will turn around at NW 2nd

    That’s nothing more than speculation. The city-wide rail plan will sort through those issues.

  4. 10yrs. Hmmm. Didn’t take 10 yrs for private industry to get it done. It didn’t take 10yrs to discourage recent interest in private Streetcar operators either.

    Sure wish it didn’t take that long. Sure wish we had a more free market for this stuff that was based on cost and value.

    :( Cheers to wishin for a faster process.

  5. did they talk about bike lanes? burnside is nigh-unbikeable right now.

    The Burnside Plan calls for a new parallel bikeway on Flanders, including a new bike/ped bridge over I-405. The BTA was part of the discussion and the decision to do a parallel facility rather than try to make Burnside bikeable.

  6. It didn’t take 10yrs to discourage recent interest in private Streetcar operators either.

    Portland Streetcar Inc is a private streetcar operator (isn’t it, Chris?), so I’m a little confused about this comment. Is there some history about this unsuccessful effort posted somewhere that I could read, or could you elaborate?

  7. Developable property and owners willing to do LIDs will decide. Take note Frank.

    Thank God! I wouldn’t want neighborhood need and support for transit to be a factor.

    And tell me, Lenny, how much did Homer Williams actually pay for the streetcar that helped build his Pearl District properties?

  8. Way to discard the rest of people opposing NW 15th through 19th Avenue stretch. The Catholic school was just one component of the opposition and I wish you and others would acknowledge that there is three blocks of quiet neighborhood life in that area that’ll be displaced or severely disturbed for… what?

    This new addition got foiled into the major plan very conveniently, and yet no good reason was ever put forth as to why the change. Not Adams, not anyone else every voiced a good reason for this change.

  9. Homer put in enough to make it happen, and that is what it will take on the next alignment, be it Burnside, Sandy, Broadway or Hawthorne. And with it you will get a string of Clinton Condos to boot.
    The other way is to put it to a vote for a property tax increase or create a URA.

  10. Portland Streetcar Inc is a private streetcar operator (isn’t it, Chris?)

    PSI is a private non-profit that builds and operates the Streetcar under contract from the City. We’re essentially an outsourcing vendor for the City, but it’s still the City’s Streetcar.

    Way to discard the rest of people opposing NW 15th through 19th Avenue stretch.

    Fair enough. I certainly did not mean to say that all the opponents of this stretch were associated with the Church. There were a number of property owners from that stretch who spoke up. And I don’t deny that the couplet would change the character of that stretch of Burnside. I just don’t agree that it’s a change for the worse.

  11. The public should not have its transportation dollars raided to promote and/or subsidize development, particularly when there is an urgent need to reduce the backlog of street repair and maintenance.

    Burnside is the only through street in Portland that traverses from Gresham on the East, to the Multnomah County line on the West. Being the one and only direct route through downtown, it is a well traveled street by the motoring public doing far more that it was designed to do with little disruption to neighboring streets.

    A lady who I recognize but do not know her name testified at the hearing that she had not yet made a decision whether she was in favor or against the proposal, but that she was disgusted with people who started their testimony by saying they were a stakeholder in this project. She went on to say all Portlanders are stakeholders. From my vantage point, her testimony appeared to receive some of the most moving reactions from the Planning Commission with the chair breaking his own rule and commenting on it. And she is right! Stakeholders include all Portlanders including the drivers and passengers of the almost 40,000 cars and trucks that use Burnside everyday. Yet this group of motorists has been the most underrepresented throughout the entire process.

    From my prospective, the proposal on the table will gum up and further congest motor vehicle travel in the Burnside corridor, in addition to taking Couch Street from a pedestrian oriented street and adding nearly half of those 40,000 vehicles each day.

    For starters, there are lane width reductions (to 10 ft, narrower than a TriMet bus mirror to mirror) and tight turns difficult for large delivery trucks to maneuver that reduce motor vehicle capacity. Planned curb extensions make truck movements even more difficult and further create more congestion when transit vehicles stop for passengers in travel lanes and obstruct other traffic. Twenty-one foot sidewalks on any portion of Burnside are totally unnecessary.

    Adding the streetcar to the mix only makes the entire couplet idea worse, and on both sides of the river. Some people have called West Burnside a barrier that needs fixing. This is more psychological barrier than a physical barrier. The answer however is NOT to create additional obstacles motorists must maneuver around such as streetcars and curb extensions. Slow moving streetcars act like slugs that also will stop in travel lanes and create even more congestion than busses stopping in travel lanes. Streetcars do NOT belong, and have no place being added to high motor vehicle volume streets like Burnside, Sandy, Hawthorne, Broadway, MLK and/or Grand Avenue. Social engineering of this type only increases traffic through neighborhoods and on parallel streets.

    It is as if some people did not receive a Lionel train for Christmas in their early childhood and now want create a full sized toy train layout at taxpayer expense. It seems as if many in public office view the public, except for bicyclists, transit riders and developers, as an infinite source of money for transport and social engineering exploitations while not owning up to the real need for city-wide increased motor vehicle capacity and infrastructure. If the streetcar was a tool that actually stimulated development, the City Council would NOT be handing out property tax abatements like free candy to developers along streetcar routes. The streetcar system itself needs to become financially self-sustainable as well, thereby not relying on motor vehicle parking subsidies and fleecing taxpayers for operations.

    There is also the question of the decking on the Burnside Bridge that has just recently undergone an expensive renovation. The draw bridge section is still being worked on. Tearing it up now to put down tracks after spending all this money to replace the deck is yet another tram like boondoggle. If the streetcar does end up crossing the Willamette on the Burnside Bridge, the tracks should be placed in and share the right-of-way with bicycles in the existing bicycle lanes, thereby not taking up space and vehicle capacity in the motor vehicle lanes that were reduced from six to five when the bicycle lanes were added.

    A much more common sense and probably less costly approach would be to keep all the cars and trucks on Burnside with a minimum of four 11 foot lanes from 2nd Avenue to 23rd Avenue. Then make Couch into a two way transit/pedestrian oriented street. Improvements on both streets would be made as natural development occurs. By using the streets in this manner, transit vehicles would not impede motorists, and motorists would impede transit vehicles. Not every street in Portland needs to become pedestrian oriented with ultra-wide sidewalks and bike lanes. Furthermore, designating Couch as a transit street would also accommodate bicycles and eliminate the excessive expense (3.5 million that should be paid for directly by taxing bicyclists only – not motorists) to make Flanders into a bicycle boulevard.

    Burnside has developed to what it is over a period of time; and that is how it should continue to happen. One overpriced project to do it all over again in an instance is totally unacceptable.

  12. Homer put in enough to make it happen…

    And how much is that, Lenny? Do you have any idea of what he actually paid before he sold off his interests? Let’s keep in mind that Homer –unlike anyone else in the Local Improvement District– got to move ALL his assessments to a still undeveloped vacant lot. And condos already sold weren’t assessed ANYTHING if they were owner-occupied.

    The string of Clinton Condos you seem to be threatening our neighborhood with…those condo owners wouldn’t be paying anything, would they?

    South Waterfront…same deal. PDC has given Homer the right to move THOSE future assessments elsewhere.

    , and that is what it will take on the next alignment

  13. I just don’t agree that it’s a change for the worse.

    Unless, of course, you happen to be a property owner, resident or student on one of those blocks.

  14. Unless, of course, you happen to be a property owner, resident or student on one of those blocks.

    My belief is that any of those groups benefit from Streetcar service. Indeed, I believe that being tied into an active street grid will be a benefit.

    But of course I understand there are other perspectives. If we all agreed, it wouldn’t have been a four hour hearing :-)

  15. But what you fail to see is the complete degradation of quality of life as a result of three lanes of traffic where there was virtually no traffic before. At some point you have to look past the streetcar-colored glasses. Those homes will be un-sellable. And when your bedroom window is several feet from what is now a quiet street with perhaps two or three dozen cars per day, no, a streetcar and two lanes of traffic, let alone a parking lot full of idling cars stopped at the red light on Couch and NW 19th Ave would not be beneficial. The air pollution alone would be unbelievable.

    The streetcar is not a solution for everyone. In fact, it’s not a practical solution for most. Just because someone is a fan doesn’t mean everyone has to be and just because some people ride it, doesn’t mean everyone will. So you can’t blanket it by saying “everyone will benefit.” It’s okay if you believe in the street car as a concept, but it’s not okay to force it on neighborhoods that are not designed to be bisected by a MAJOR thoroughfare. It’s a residential street, it’s nothing like the Pearl. And further more, that block already is tied to an active street grid – it’s two blocks away from the Max.

    I understand your point of view, but it’s frustrating reading some of this, because the push for a streetcar clouds seems to common sense.

  16. Actually, I support the couplet primarily for the pedestrian benefit. The Streetcar is an added bonus.

    And I understand that the equation is very different for the handful of single-family houses than it is for the multi-family buildings.

    And whether it’s a benefit or not is of course an individual assessment, and I’m not one of the affected property owners. I absolutely support your advocacy for your point of view. If I appeared dismissive I apologize.

  17. Regarding the idea of a streetcar on Hawthorne Blvd, I am pleased to announce that the HawthorneStreetcar.org site is now online.

    I invite an encourage anyone interesting in pursuing the idea of streetcar service for the Hawthorne Blvd. corridor to join up, create a basic profile, and help get the discussion rolling.

    – Bob R.

  18. So let’s get some more of those Streetcar corridor ideas into the prudent hopper.

    Here’s one:

    At the west end of the proposed Burnside Streetcar (24th place), have the westbound trains turn left at the intersection and enter Washington Park. There’s a reasonably climbable grade up Sterns drive (currently closed to traffic) and a pedestrian path (which would need to be significantly widened to support both a rail line and a walkway) to a point near the Lewis & Clark Memorial and Holocaust Memorial, and not all that far from the Rose Garden.

    It could be served by a single track with a two-track terminal platform at the top.

    Returning eastbound, the streetcar could enter Burnside at Osage Street, right next to the current Tri-Met bus stop.

    It would be a pretty expensive station, with a lot of ramp work required to make the platform ADA compliant. But if the streetcar served Washington Park — especially if there was a short, easy path to the Rose Garden — it probably could generate additional ridership for the whole system.

  19. jeez, portland maps is down so i can’t check the zoning, but i believe it is untrue that the couch couplet would negatively affect the value of the handful of family homes along couch around 15th to 19th.

    (not that it would completely change the quality of life etc…)

    if its zoned commercial, the busy street cache would most likely make up for the loss of residential cache in the market.

    those families will probably have to move, which is very sad. but i believe they will be well compensated for it.

  20. And how much is that, Lenny? Do you have any idea of what he actually paid before he sold off his interests? Let’s keep in mind that Homer –unlike anyone else in the Local Improvement District– got to move ALL his assessments to a still undeveloped vacant lot. And condos already sold weren’t assessed ANYTHING if they were owner-occupied.

    The string of Clinton Condos you seem to be threatening our neighborhood with…those condo owners wouldn’t be paying anything, would they?

    I’m repeating the questions, because I think they deserve answers.

    Frank

  21. And how much is that, Lenny? Do you have any idea of what he actually paid before he sold off his interests? Let’s keep in mind that Homer –unlike anyone else in the Local Improvement District– got to move ALL his assessments to a still undeveloped vacant lot. And condos already sold weren’t assessed ANYTHING if they were owner-occupied.

    The string of Clinton Condos you seem to be threatening our neighborhood with…those condo owners wouldn’t be paying anything, would they?

    I’m repeating the questions, because I think they deserve answers.

    Frank

  22. In reading all of these worries about subsidies or dense urban development this blog has an interesting question:

    http://www.urbanplanningoverlord.blogspot.com/ second story down. He links to this recent Oregonian story

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/11695263447380.xml&coll=7

    Where the homebuilders association reminds us: “People should remember their own neighborhoods were new once, too, says Jim McCauley of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland.

    “It was a shared community investment at the time,” McCauley says. “It needs to continue to be a shared investment.”

    It seems to me that it is easy for some of us who live in developed neighborhoods that they were a product of government intervention and investment on a massive scale. While Adron would probably argue that two wrongs don’t make a right, I think that we should be thinking about what kind of subsidy/investment we want. Personally, I’ll take condos on Clinton over tract homes in Gresham for that investment.

  23. Frank, my understanding is that as part of that LID transfer, Hoyt Street committed to a fixed dollar amount pay-in greater than what their contribution based on their properties would be. I’m trying to find the number and will report back when I get it.

  24. It seems to me that it is easy for some of us who live in developed neighborhoods that they were a product of government intervention and investment on a massive scale.

    When the people on unimproved streets in Southwest and Southeast Portland come to the City to ask for improvements…the City’s answer to them is YOU have to pay for it. And far fom subsidizing these costs, the City tacks on overhead charges for “engineering & superintendence” that have gone from zero –orginally in the Charter– and a few percentage points over time, to what can be HALF the cost of a project.

    Commissioner Hales, when he oversaw PDOT, came up with a plan to help folks pay for this backlog of street (and sidewalk) improvements. Then dropped it after conning the City Auditor into turning over responsibility for Local Improvement Districts to PDOT, and monsieurs Vic Rhodes and Matt Brown, who instead put their energy (and PDOTs money) toward…the tram and South Waterfront. (Matt Brown now works, of course, directly for Homer Williams.)

    I did my Masters thesis on funding transportation infrastructure in Portland and it’s true, we’re all over the map in how –and when– governmnet subsidizes projects. Subsidies are a legitimate government investment. It’s just too bad that far too often they are less about providing an overall public good then about enriching a particular developer.

  25. And how much is that, Lenny? Do you have any idea of what he actually paid before he sold off his interests?

    I am told by PSI staff that Hoyt Street’s contribution to the original LID was $700K.

  26. Frank,
    dollar amounts are not the issue; to get a Streetcar project there has to be an LID as part of the local share. For a property owner to agree to that they have to see a “return on the investment,” i.e. the prospect of their property increasing in value. That increase is magnified by the prospect of new development, i.e. more intense housing/commerical along the alignment inaccordance with zoning.
    To want Streetcar without greater density along the line is a non-starter. Since Belmont, Hawthorne, Division and some of Clinton are already zoned for higher density, the effect of Streetcar would to speed up development or at least that appears to the effect in the West End.
    Your community should have final say…slower development with the 14 bus or faster development with Streetcar. But it is unlikely that you can have Streetcar AND a slower pace of development.

  27. 1. LIDs are one form of funding, and certainly not a requirement. Matching funds can come from anywhere, including the General Fund, or Tri-Met.

    2. Property owners don’t have to get a return on investment, nor even agree to be part of an LID. The first streetcar LID had many property owners who objected to being in the district and claimed not to benefit, including many non-profits and churches. A majority of property owners in a district can –and often does– force the minority to participate. Sometimes this can even be ONE property owner who may own a majority of the property in the district.

    3. If you truly believe, Lenny, the “prospect of development” will determine the Hawthorne streetcar’s fate, then we need to IMMEDIATELY shut down all the development currently going on in our Hawthorne/Belmont/Division corridors because the more we develop now, the less likely we’ll need a streetcar to “stimulate” development later. That’s the problem with the logic of streetcar as development (and not transportation) tool…since we already HAVE apartments, condos, shops and relatively high density, we’ll never get a streetcar to serve our existing transportation needs.

    4. No one has addressed the issue of owner-occupied condos being zero assessed for the cost of the first streetcar. What kind of development is planned for the East Side Streetcar? What kind of development do you think we should be putting in our east side transit corridors to warrant a streetcar? Aren’t we looking for residential density? But then we’re NOT going to assess owner-occupied condos? Who IS going to pay?

    5. “I am told by PSI staff that Hoyt Street’s contribution to the original LID was $700K.”

    Neither Hoyt Street nor Homer Williams cut anybody a check for $700,000. The question was, how much did they PAY, not how much Homer shuffled off ALL his assessments, on a variety of LLCs, to ONE empty lot Homer no longer has an ownership interest in, and which a new owner is making payments on. (An empty lot used, by the way, for transfering its development rights to OTHER Pearl properties…whose owners are now demanding higher Floor-to-Area Ratios to restore its development potential.)

    This whole Development-Oriented-Transit business is a really slippery slope. I’m out at BOEC for training today and taking the bus out here…you know there’s no sidewalks? And, across the street, to go home, I have to stand in a ditch to catch the bus. But we’re subsidizing trams and streetcars while our kids walk in the street.

    I think we need to think about transportation “equity” a bit more in this conversation…

  28. I rode the 14 into downtown with Frank last Wednesday during the snow event. Got off on 2nd, where it now ends, said goodby to Frank, and walked across town to 10th to catch the streetcar to NW.

    The 14 was crowded (as usual) — every seat taken and more people standing. There wasn’t enough room to take off or even unzip my heavy coat without elbowing someone in some personal space better left unvisited. It was hot in the bus. I was carrying too much stuff.

    In contrast when I got on the streetcar it was lovely — only 12 passengers total and plenty of empty seats. I sat down and piled my bags and books on the seat next to me. Took off my gloves. Unzipped my coat. Read the paper.

    I thought about that ride when Frank told me about having to stand in a ditch on the side of Powell Blvd to catch a bus home last night. Transportation equity is, yes, a subject whose time is past due. A bus stop in a ditch — no sidewalk, no shelter — is evidence of an immoral disdain for “some” of our citizens. It would not be tolerated in quite a few other areas of town we can all name.

  29. Neither Hoyt Street nor Homer Williams cut anybody a check for $700,000.

    Frank, what makes you say that? My understanding is that PSU, Good Sam and Hoyt Street ALL paid special negotiated assessments for the LID. As I understand it, these are collected at the time the ‘improvement’ is delivered. What’s your evidence that Hoyt Street didn’t pay up?

  30. As I understand it, these are collected at the time the ‘improvement’ is delivered.

    At assessment, property owners have 30 days to pay OR contract their accounts. Both PSU and Homer elected to contract.(Can’t remember about Good Sam.)

    And, actually, before the 30 days was up, the streetcar LID was re-assessed –on the consent agenda– to “correct” the assessment roll…which moved all of Homer’s assessments to ONE property (a benefit no other property owner, including PSU which REQUESTED it, received).

  31. Homer was never assessed the promised “contribution” of $700,000. His assessments totalled $584,349.

    And, even at that, combining all his assessments on one lot, he further reduced his costs. From the May 20, 2002 email I sent to the City Auditor’s Chief Deputy:

    “State law is very explicit that assessments are based on the ‘special and peculiar benefit’ each property receives from an improvement…I’m troubled by how 42 separate liens were subsequently moved to one account by ordinance this week…”

    “This was taken to Council as an emergency ordinance this week with a Council finding that it ‘…is allowable under Chapter 17.12.120, Correction of Mistake in Assessment when, in fact, this is not the correction of a mistake, but something being done for the benefit of the developer, Homer Williams…(and) could easily be argued it gives a competitive advantage to Homer Williams because unlike all the other condominium owners who have been assessed for this project, Homer Williams has moved those assessments off his condominiums to an as yet undeveloped parcel of property. As the Ordinance states: ‘…satisfying the liens (at sale) means that Hoyt Street Properties (HSP) would not be receiving the benefit afforded by 20 year financing terms, which is HSP’s desire, and which is available to others within the Streetcar LID.’”

    “In fact, liens under $2500 are not eligible for 20 year financing. 23 of the 43 original assessed properties would not have been eligible…In addition, instead of $107.50 in transaction fees each month for 43 separate accounts, there will now be one account, and one $2.50 charge. In addition, each contract has a base set up charge of $40, so Hoyt Street saved $1,680 in financing fees alone.

    “Finally, this is a benefit that other property owners would love to have availed themselves of. Portland State has assessments on a number of properties and had requested they be consolidated on one parcel, but that was not something we would do. Nordstrom had three assessments they wanted to consolidate but, again, the answer was no…”

    In short, Chris, Homer didn’t pay what he promised, had all the assessments moved from his condominiums, and got a break on his financing costs.

    And Council approved this as fixing a “Mistake in Assessment” slipping it through, without discussion, on the consent agenda.

    Anything not clear?

  32. “People should remember their own neighborhoods were new once, too, says Jim McCauley of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland.

    “It was a shared community investment at the time,” McCauley says. “It needs to continue to be a shared investment.”

    I am not sure that is true historically. I think in places like Ladd’s addition the public facilities were paid for by Mr. Ladd and ultimately by the folks that bought the houses built there.

    But, far more importantly, it ignores the question of equity now. The owners of those lots that get free services added make a lot of money from that investment in public services, paid for by other property owners. They turn around and sell that “shared community investment” as part of their property. Its long past due that the public recover the value from their investment rather than it going into the property owner/developer’s pocket.

  33. It’s not part of usual oral history of Streetcar

    Always happy to share, Chris. The thing though is not only is this history –and a not very pretty one– but this abuse of the system is almost guaranteed to happen again in South Waterfront. If we’re not assessing owner-occupied condos, how are these folks paying for the infrastructure?

    And I still don’t get –I’m slow– how Lenny figures we need more condo development on Hawthorne to get our streetcar when we’re zero assessing owner-occupied condos?

  34. how Lenny figures we need more condo development on Hawthorne to get our streetcar

    I didn’t see Lenny say anything about “need” for condo development. He was addressing the need for a local improvement district. That means the local property owners have to pick up the tab for the streetcar. Unless they stand to make money from that it isn’t going to happen. And the way they make money is by increasing the density of development.

    Maybe if you can get Homer interested he can figure out how to get someone else to pay the bill. But for mere mortals, streetcar improvements are followed by higher densities.

  35. local property owners have to pick up the tab for the streetcar. Unless they stand to make money from that it isn’t going to happen.

    The churches downtown made money from the streetcar? The Portland Art Museum? Safeway? PSU?

    And let’s remember that rental agreements often require tenants to pay for these assessments, which included many social service non-profits.

    True, Lenny didn’t say “condos” per se, I just happen to know what our corridors are zoned for, which he did reference.

    Maybe Portland Streetcar Inc isn’t a good mechanism for developing streetcars, since a line “penciling out” with new development plays the determining factor in where lines should be developed. Imagine if Tri-Met provided bus service only when and where it was profitable?

    Whatever happened to the idea of public good? And it’s not like Portland Streetcar Inc isn’t getting public subsidies, from the City as well as Tri-Met.

    What I’m hearing is that relatively established neighborhoods, even those adding density, will never truly pencil out. Please tell me how I’m wrong?

  36. but this abuse of the system is almost guaranteed to happen again in South Waterfront

    Frank, I would note an important difference in SoWa. The property owners there are paying about 50% of the capital cost of the Streetcar compared to about 17% on the initial alignment. Some of this is the unique timing in SoWa (just before the condos get built is the ideal time to ask for money, as it translates directly into higher prices for the condos). But I also think it’s a recognition of the proven value of Streetcar, compared to the leap of faith on the first alignment.

    Assessing condos after they are in individual ownership is a separate issue. After the debate on the transit mall LID, I would be surprised if Council let another LID get formed that excluded a large number of condos. Which probably also means that assessing owner-occupied single family homes is on our future too. Think about that for Hawthorne!

  37. Maybe Portland Streetcar Inc isn’t a good mechanism for developing streetcars, since a line “penciling out” with new development plays the determining factor in where lines should be developed. Imagine if Tri-Met provided bus service only when and where it was profitable?

    We have one demostrated model for funding Streetcar. That doesn’t mean there can’t be others. Some have suggested a bond measure to fund Streetcars city-wide. This would take a lot of pressure off the LID component (you probably still want some LID involvement to demonstrate local commitment).

  38. Tssessing owner-occupied single family homes is on our future too. Think about that for Hawthorne!

    I don’t think that would be much of a problem until you got past 50th. There are some single family homes on Hawthorne, but not many. There are a lot of apartments. At least if you limit the charges to those fronting on Hawthorne.

  39. Streetcar LIDs have traditionally gone a couple of blocks from the alignment. I suspect that picks up quite a few houses along Hawthorne.

    But each one is a unique creature and potentially could be crafted otherwise. It’s all about what you can get agreement on from the affected parties.

  40. In short, Chris, Homer didn’t pay what he promised, had all the assessments moved from his condominiums, and got a break on his financing costs.

    I had a chance to get further info from PSI staff on this point, and the pretty clear understanding is that the original assessment of $700K is accurate (and considerably more than the properties would have been assessed just based on their value).

    However, by the time the assessment was made, Hoyt Street had sold several of the properties, and that portion of the assessment was transfered to the new owners. This accounts for the difference between $700K and the $584,349 number Frank quotes.

    [Otherwise we would presumably have come up $100K+ short in our construction budget!]

    Yes, Homer may have gotten a few thousand dollars in breaks on transaction costs, but the City presumably also saved on their transaction costs by not having to issue and process multiple assessments and payments. I have a hard time getting excited about that.

  41. We sent out assessment notices to every single property in the district, including each individual condominium owner. People could then apply for an exemption from the assessment if their condo was owner-occupied, as most were. This meant we –the City– recovered NONE of the costs of these zero assessed properties. Just as we assessed ALL of Homer’s properties…TWICE. Once for what they should have been assessed, and once for what they were finally assessed, after the “correction.”. That’s EXTRA costs, not less.

    Tell me what the “mistake” was in the assessment methodlogy that staff used to “correct” Homer’s assessments. The City Code language is pretty clear, which is why this bit of shenanigans was done OUTSIDE and AFTER the public hearing process. “A few thousand dollars in breaks on transaction costs” may not be much to get excited about, but put in the context of the Women’s Crisis Center cutting back services to pay their assessment, maybe you need to reassess that (I was, at the time, since I COLLECTED the money, and was dealing with a lot of angst on the part of non-profits.)

    Not to mention we have to ignore the fact that Homer was not entitled to 20 year financing agreements on more than half his accounts. Ot shifted financial liabilities, illegally, between different limited liability corporations.

    I don’t blame Homer, especially. He has a role to play to maximize his profits, and I give him props for mastering the con. Where we fall down in is the oversight our committees and city government are supposed to provide. Leave your wallet behind on the table, don’t be surprised if someone picks it up and strips the cash out. But the Auditor’s Office was supposed to be the watchdog on this and the Tram…and, once I was muzzled on this, stuck its tail between its legs, and turned this over to Vic Rhodes.

    If you think Homer’s actually going to shell out any more cash in SoWa than he did in the Pearl, Chris, I’ve got a new bridge to Vancouver to sell you. :-)

    I the meantime, I’ll be happy to post a copy of the “correction of assessment” ordinance that passed Council on the consent agenda…you can decide whether it’s an honest document or not.

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