Category: Land Use

Re-arranging Deck Chairs on the Housing Titanic

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The Portland City Council wants to spend at least 30% of all urban renewal dollars on housing subsidies. Their concern is that skyrocketing home prices have made it difficult for lower-income families to live in the city.

Unfortunately, Council members are boxed in by (more…)

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Eminent Domain is Never the Solution

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard wants the government to use its power of eminent domain to take property from one set of owners in SE Portland and transfer it to some others, in the hope that they will build an upscale supermarket. Commissioner Leonard believes that the lack of development on a four-acre parcel in the Lents neighborhood is evidence of market failure, which justifies government intervention.

Many local property owners object, but (more…)

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Property Rights Defended Before Court

Steve BucksteinQuickPoint!

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a case that will help define property rights nationwide. The City of New London, Connecticut is using the power of eminent domain to condemn private homes and small businesses to allow a commercial development. The city argues that greater tax revenue from the development is a public purpose worthy of taking the homes of people who, in some cases, have lived their all their lives.

Eminent domain is supposed to be (more…)

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Metro "faithful" lose their religion

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Portland’s regional government, Metro, is held up as a national model for how to get local governments to work together on such issues as land use planning. But now Metro Executive Mike Burton has proposed expanding the urban growth boundary to urbanize the 3,900 acre parcel known as the Stafford Basin. This is an area just north of I-205 between Lake Oswego and West Linn, which is surrounded on three sides by upscale suburban developments. The Basin has poor soil but was improperly zoned “farmland” years ago, which has prevented the landowners from building homes the way their neighbors have.

Burton has appropriately concluded that (more…)

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Wildfires show need to decentralize federal lands

Angela EckhardtQuickPoint!

In the 1970s the U.S. Forest Service came to look at fires as a natural part of a healthy forest ecosystem and officially ended its long-standing policy of putting out all fires by 10 a.m. Unfortunately, the policy change was only on paper.

There are bureaucratic obstacles to letting fires burn. In addition, the Forest Service receives a blank check for fire suppression-needed revenue in light of the 80 percent decline in timber sales that occurred in the ’90s. Thus, the Forest Service continues to suppress (more…)

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Westside story shows land use planning flaws

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Recently the Westside Economic Alliance and others sponsored an economic “summit” to examine the economy of the Portland metro region. The centerpiece was a presentation by economist Joe Cortright.

Cortright’s extensive research showed that Washington County is the economic driving force in the region. Not surprisingly, high technology leads the way. That sector has over 60,000 jobs and is (more…)

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Columbia River dredging: It’s the pork, stupid!

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The Oregonian has stirred up debate recently with its investigative report on the proposed deepening of the Columbia River navigation channel. Now proponents and opponents are arguing about whether the net benefits will exceed the net costs, and which interest group will gain the most from federal investments.

Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable problem when (more…)

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Urban renewal gets another black eye

Angela EckhardtQuickPoint!

The Portland Development Commission has put 70 urban renewal projects on hold due to the recent Oregon Supreme Court decision in Shilo Inn v. Multnomah County. Amidst the collective hand wringing over the loss of funds, few are discussing the public financing sleight of hand that has been exposed thanks to Shilo.

The court determined that some property taxes dedicated to urban renewal projects were (more…)

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