The primary reason for the bond measure is to prevent property tax rates from dropping. At a Metro Council retreat in July 2017, Metro’s Chief Operating Officer explained, “Debt service on the 2006 bonds is expiring. If we wait past 2020 for another bond measure, the current tax rate of 19 cents per thousand of assessed value would drop to zero, and then we would have to admit that our bond measure raises taxes.”
Press Coverage of Metro’s Parks and Nature Program
Nick Budnick, “Green Acres,” Willamette Week, February 2, 2000.
“But a five-week WW review, including dozens of interviews and stacks of real-estate files, found an agency so anxious to secure land that it has streamlined fiscal controls, creating a process that allows even overpriced land to look like a good deal. In 16 out of 32 real-estate acquisitions reviewed by WW, the land values determined by Metro appear inflated, and the combined cost to taxpayers could easily run in the millions.”
“Body Politic,” Willamette Week, October 18, 2006.
“Conceptually, who could argue with the desire to have Metro, the regional government, buy land for green spaces? We do, for the following reasons. First of all, there are several money measures on the ballot deserving your support, and this is the least pressing among them. Second, critics have pointed to the fact that part of the land Metro seeks to buy is so far outside the urban growth boundary that it’s not only beyond Metro’s jurisdiction but is unnecessary, at least for the next several decades. Others have pointed out that some of the targeted land is farmland, which would be taken out of cultivation.”
Nicholas Deshais, “Field of Schemes,” Willamette Week, March 27, 2007.
“The plan would try to return the park’s entire 25 acres back to nature. That includes removing most artificial structures, non-native plants and anything else that smacks of humanity, such as the two baseball fields used by Lakeside Little League. Eventually, the city wants to see a wetland prairie instead of a pitcher’s mound. … ‘The fact that the ball fields are there is an accident of history,’ said Mike Houck, director of the Urban Greenspaces Institute and a member of the master plan’s advisory committee. ‘You wouldn’t put a ball field in the middle of Oaks Bottom.’”
Tim Curran, “Headwaters work gives neighbors headaches,” Mid-County Memo, October 29, 2011.
“Steve Lynch, who has lived next to the property for 12 years, said his experience with city and Metro officials has been frustrating. ‘They’ve done the most possible damage in the least amount of time I’ve ever seen any neighbor do,’ Lynch said. ‘They will look you right in the eye and tell you what you want to hear, and tomorrow the trucks are in. I’m not going to be nice anymore.’”
Nigel Jaquiss, “Mayors Urge Metro to Delay Planned May Bond Measure,” Willamette Week, December 6, 2012. Quoting letter from mayors.
“In addition to concerns regarding compression, the plan for the remaining natural area’s bond purchases and impacts on long term maintenance needs are still unclear to our group. Without further information and clarity regarding the plan for past voters’approved investments, it is hard for us to see the value in asking voters for additional resources.”
Dana Tims, “Metro’s bargain land becomes a burden to restore, maintain,” Oregonian, April 13, 2013.
“‘We were rejecting more real estate deals than any private development team in the city,’ Metro Council President Tom Hughes said. ‘The ones we accepted let us stretch those bond dollars a lot further than we thought we could.’ All that stretching, however, came at a cost. Since the bond money can only be used to buy land, Metro’s been stockpiling acreage for years with scant means of maintaining or restoring it.”
Rob Manning, “Metro Has The Land, But Needs Money To Make It Parks,” OPB, May 15, 2013.
“Thousands of people drive past these creeks every day – on Highway 213. But the forest along the creeks can be hard to get to. There are no signs. You have to know the way in – past power lines and thickets of scotch broom and blackberry bushes. Metro land manager, Dan Moeller says the gate in is narrow – on purpose. ‘To manage what’s able to get in and out of here, we had to create some fencing, and we actually had to design this little post system to stop shopping carts from coming into this site.’ Moeller says the gate keeps shopping carts out — but it also blocks kids’ strollers and visitors in wheelchairs. Officials say homeless camps crop up often.”
Peter Wong, “Metro Council seeks extension of park levy,” Portland Tribune, July 5, 2016.
“Metro Councilor Bob Stacey said the North Tualatin Mountains plan, which the council approved April 21, calls for opening only about 25 percent of its 1,400 acres to trails for walking, cycling and horseback riding – and putting most of the rest off-limits.”
“Howl, no: Metro seeks more money for anti-dog park network,” Oregonian, July 5, 2016.
“It may surprise many people in the Portland area to know that Metro is, among other things, the owner of vast swaths of park land. Its holdings, at about 17,000 acres, were amassed largely as a result of two voter-approved funding measures totaling more than $363 million. Metro officials swept up this property for a number of conservation-related purposes, from preserving wildlife habitat to improving water quality. But that’s not all. Improving access to people — who are, after all, paying for all of this — was a goal as well.”
“Voters should say no to Metro’s bid to renew parks levy,” Oregonian, October 19, 2016.
“Most of [Metro’s] efforts are large and expensive, such as committing $60 million in bonding capacity to an otherwise private hotel project at the Oregon Convention Center, which it also oversees. Pockets of rancor about the agency’s reach and influence nest in some suburban and rural venues, where folks have argued Metro has grown too large and operates without sufficient accountability.”
Rachel Monahan, “Portland Begs for Bond Money to Finish Park Work It Started,” Willamette Week, June 5, 2019.
“Behind closed doors, the city of Portland has been lobbying for more money—because the last Metro parks bond, in 2006, helped buy properties for Portland, but City Hall lacks the money to finish restoring or improving them.”